I’m all about having a cheap wireless plan, preferably also a carrier that offers unlimited plans. The last time I changed my mobile provider, I waited until my contract ended – impatiently. I counted down the months and days starting at almost a year out. For months, I could have told you exactly how many days I had left because I was so done with that plan for a number of reasons.
While I had great reception pretty much everywhere, my phone had died and I was using an old borrowed phone that didn’t work as well as my previous one – but I couldn’t get a new one or I had to sign a new two year contract. I couldn’t text – and to add texting to my plan – for $30 a month for my husband and I, ouch! – I would have extended my contract another two years. My husband had no data, and we couldn’t add that or… yep, we’d extend the contract another two years. And we were paying – with significant employer discounts – almost $130 per month for a limited number of minutes, data for me and that was it.
There has to be a better solution, right?
So yes, when #cbias offered me the chance to test drive Walmart’s new Family Mobile Plan, I was all over it. Right now, the cost is $40 per month for the first phone (after May, it goes back up to $45 per month – so sign up quick so you can get and keep the cheaper rate!) and $5 less per month for each additional line. That includes unlimited talk, text, and web surfing. For $75 for two phones in our house. If you miss a payment, however, the cost will revert back to $45 per month for the first line.
So yes, there are caveats. The service is 3G, not the nearly ubiquitous 4G, and there is only 1GB of 3G service per month for the account before it gets throttled back further, though that is plenty for the two of us, since we primarily hook our phones up to our wifi, which doesn’t count against our data allowance.
You also have the option to purchase additional “speed boost” packages that range from an additional 1GB for $10 per month to 8GB for $40 per month if you are a hard core data user. The plan runs using the T-Mobile network, which works just fine in my area, though like any cell provider, you have to check your coverage before you sign up.
The best part is that there are no contracts. It’s a pay as you go service where you receive a monthly bill each month for the plan and extras you’ve selected. You can cancel at any time and without penalties, so if you want to change or you move or you want a different phone, it isn’t locking you into a long term contract, something I especially appreciate. I use my phone all the time for all sorts of things, and they wear out before those contracts are up!
I love the flexibility to purchase the extra data – or not – as fits our needs. We can easily add the data one month if we need it and then remove it later, something we couldn’t do with any part of previous cell plans we’ve used. For right now, we typically don’t use more than 1GB per month, but when I’m at a conference and constantly on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook and the like and can’t connect to the conference wifi, it’s nice to know I can up my allotment for the month at 3G and keep right on speeding by.
I don’t often look forward to receiving a bill, but I have to admit that I’m looking forward to this first Walmart Family Mobile bill so I can see that tiny amount and remember that yes, I do in fact have an unlimited plan.
Walmart offers a huge variety of phones that you can use with their cheap wireless plan. They range from a basic Samsung T139 flip phone that is great for those who just want to talk and text (I’m thinking my wee ones when they one day get their own phones – no web access for them!) to the Samsung Galaxy SIII, a high end phone that pretty much does everything other than make your coffee in the morning. There’s a phone for everyone at just about every price point. And if you already have an unlocked phone you want to keep using, you can activate it on the Walmart Family Mobile plan, with just a few exceptions (the iPhone 4 doesn’t work, for example, though the 4S and the 5 do).
I received the Samsung Concord, a $99.97 phone at Walmart. It’s a “starter” smart phone, which mean that it does all the basic functions, but there are definitely programs that I regularly use that are not compatible with this phone – from Google Plus to Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner t0 Cam Scanner (my favorite app ever). None of them are mission critical for me, where this my only phone, with the exception of Cam Scanner. That goes into making sure that when you purchase a phone, you research what it can and can’t do before you buy it.
For someone who is a moderate smart phone user – my husband, for instance, since Yahoo! Sporstacular works just fine on this phone – this is a great phone. It has Swype, which has to be the best invention for quickly entering words ever. The voice search works great, as does the navigation. My absolute favorite part about my new phone, however, is the battery life. With my Samsung Galaxy SII, I can run down the battery partway through the day with even moderate use. The Concord has a much better battery life and stays charged for so much longer, something that I really appreciate!
Getting my new phone set up was a breeze. Each new phone needs a starter kit that you can get from Walmart either online or at a store that is a Family Mobile store. It costs $25 and contains the SIM card you’ll need – both the regular size and a mini SIM – and the activation code to get your phone set up. I purchased my starter kit at my local Walmart and then decided to head home to get my phone activated. There is the option to set it up in store with a Walmart employee’s help, to do it online, or to do it over the phone with Walmart customer service.
Online was easy. I simply started at the activation page, then simply followed the instructions to get my phone activated. The whole process took under 10 minutes. Once I popped the SIM card into my phone and added the battery, I was ready to go. Fortunately, the battery comes partially charged, as I was too impatient to get started to wait for a battery to charge!
Even for a cell phone novice, getting the phone up and running is easy. Once I turned it on, there were step by step instructions on exactly what I needed to do next to get my phone running and then to set up my online account management and information.
Once I had it configured, I went into the Google Play Store, and I was thrilled to see that I no longer needed to remember exactly which programs I wanted to download. There is now a tab under “my apps” that lists all the apps I’ve ever purchased or downloaded. That saved me a ton of time and effort!
And using my phone has been a breeze. It’s smaller than what I’m used to, so I’ve fat fingered a lot of my typing and Swyping, but I’m getting used to it. I’ve had no coverage issues whatsoever, and the 3G speeds are working just fine for me. I can’t wait to check in after another month and share all about what I’ve learned about my phone and my experience with the lowest price rate plan out there!