As long as Melissa and I have been married, we have never paid for a landline telephone. For the first few years of life together, Melissa’s job paid for a landline due to the nature of her work. I traveled through remote areas for my job, so a cell phone was only a necessity for me. This arrangement worked well for us for several years.
Eventually, as we had children and life changed, we added a second cell phone. Both Melissa and I had hectic schedules. I was traveling again for work and Melissa was left picking up the slack with transporting the kids. Before and after her workday. And often in the middle too. She was in the car a lot, so a cell phone was the only way to reach her for large chunks of time.
Life changed again when we became homeowners. Our phone situation did not. We decided we would continue with two cell phones and no landline. We would add a home phone if the need ever presented itself. After nearly ten years, we finally decided to explore our options recently.
We are now facing more life changes. Our kids are getting older. And busier. Melissa and I have found that it is more relaxing to run errands on occasion without kids in tow. No phone in the house has made that a little more difficult. With the realization that an additional phone would make life easier, it was time to start researching what would be the best option for us.
We first looked at adding a standard landline phone. There are several provider options in our area for landlines. Most of them want to bundle the service with television, internet, or both. We do not have cable television, and we already have internet. We compared bundling with our current internet provider to see if that would work.
What we found out is that, at least for us, a basic landline phone ranged in price from $20 per month to $50 per month. The definition of basic also varied. Some included long distance calling, some did not. Some had unlimited long distance calling. We did not need the long distance option, so that was not a big issue for us.
Minimal Minutes per Month Cell Phone
There are several options for pay-per-minute cell phone. While the companies may vary by region, some are nationwide. There are also many different ways that each company structures their costs. Some require the purchase of an airtime card every month. Others have longer intervals. Some carry minutes forward, other minutes expire after a set amount of time.
A few companies offer plans with a low monthly fee for a limited number of minutes. Some have texting options that go along with them. Others charge extra for the texting portion. Most of these plans require that you purchase a phone from them. There is normally a limited selection of phone choices, but some companies have better selections than others.
The table below lists some of the highlights we found with these types on plans.
Monthly “No-Contract” Cell Phone
There is an unbelievable number of cell phone companies now. The large nationwide ones most people are familiar with (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile), but there are also several others that were new to me. Most of them run on one of the major carrier’s networks, but they offer different price points. We chose to narrow the search to no contract phones because we like the option of leaving service providers when the mood suits us. We have not had a contract for years, and it is quite nice.
The table below shows a summary of some of the less expensive options we investigated. All the companies listed below provide the option of buying a phone through them. Boost Mobile and Republic Wireless are the only two companies listed that require you to purchase a phone through them. The others on the list will allow you to activate a phone you already own. Depending on the company and technology, not all phones will work with each carrier. Most carriers also will charge an activation fee to bring your own phone. One other note on the table below; I only included the AT&T add-a-line option because that is our current cell phone provider. The other major carriers offer similar options.
An interesting point to note with Republic Wireless: their philosophy to keep plan costs low is to route as many calls as possible through “free” and available WiFi networks. This means that when you are within range of an open WiFi network, the phone automatically switches to that network. This is the reason that you must buy a phone through them. Traditional cell phones are not set up to operate that way. Based on the split between conventional cell calls and WiFi calls, they also may add a credit to your account each month.
Now that we had lots of information, it was time to make a decision. Which way did we go?
In the end, we decided to add an additional line to our existing cell phone plan. Why did we choose a cell phone instead of a landline? We decided that being able to send the phone with the kids to their activities would add extra convenience. Especially since landlines and cell phones turned out to be roughly the same monthly cost.
Why did we choose to add a line rather than going with another company? We had an extra phone in the house already. Since we were adding a line there was no activation fee. We knew that texting was going to be more popular that talking. After less than a month, I think it is safe to say that we could have used a phone with no microphone or speaker.
By staying with the same provider, we still only get one bill. And we can control when and how the phone is used. We can lock out data if we want. We can make the phone not work at all during certain hours of the day. We are not concerned about poor choices being made, but it is nice to have those controls available anyway.
Hopefully the investigating we did gives you some ideas and a place to start when it is time to add a phone to your family.
Have you found any good phone deals for your family? Let us know about them in a comment or email!