Friday, May 25, 2018

My Mobile Service Dilemma

I've been experimenting with different MVNOs. MVNOs are basically wireless service providers except they don't own the network. Instead they lease off of the major providers (like Sprint, AT&T, Verision, Tmobile). I'm doing this because they tend to provide the same coverage as the major providers (same hardware) except they can be a lot cheaper and often times have no lock in.

I was recently on MintSim (now Mint Mobile) on their initial sign up deal $45 for 3 months of service that includes 2 GB of LTE and unlimited text and minutes. Pretty good deal if you ask me. I doubt most people have a better deal than this. Except the coverage around the house is a bit spotty. It mostly works but every once in a while I see the bars go to zero. A few dropped calls here and there. But its usable overall. Nonetheless I found that since I'm not big user of data (I probably only used 100mb out of that 2GB of data), I figure I should look for something else. Why pay for something I'm not using? And also something with more reliability. So I decided I would try Tello. Tello with unlimited text and minutes and 200 mb of data is $12/month.

So I tried to do that but I ordered too late. I didn't account that it would take over a week for my Tello sim card to arrive. And from there it takes maybe 24-48 hours to do a port. I wouldn't be able to do this before my Mint Mobile service ended. I also tried switching to a different existing provider I had used before but apparently you can't reuse the same sim card so they would need to send me a new one, which also would also arrive too late. So I had a bit of a dilemma.

I'd have no choice but to re-up my Mint Mobile contract unless I was willing to lose my number (which I wasnt). The pricing structure of Mint Mobile looks like this. I could renew for a year for $180(the cheapest per month cost of $15/month). 6 months for $108($18), 3 months for $69 ($23/month). Or 1 month for $35. At first glance getting a year isn't too bad. Its already pretty cheap. How could anyone pay $35 a month for service? That's more than twice as expensive per month as the cheapest price. But I need to consider this given my options.

So my options are basically

Comparing for a year:

1 year mintsim = $180 year
vs
1 month mintsim + 11 months Tello = $167
vs
3 months mintsim + 9 months Tello = $177
vs
6 months mintsim + 6 months Tello =  $180

Comparing for 6 months:

6 month mintsim deal = $108
vs
1 month mintsim + 5 months Tello = $90
vs
3 months mintsim + 3 months tello = $105

Comparing for 3 months:

3 months mintsim = $69
vs
1 month mintsim + 2 months Tello = $59

When broken down this way it was pretty clear that I should buy 1 month of MintSim for $35 and then switch to a cheaper service. This has further benefits for me since sometimes I travel and want to "park" my number cheaply and lets me take advantage of competitive deals from other MVNOs.

I thought this was notable since my first reaction was "no way am I going to pay $35 for 1 month" but when carefully considered, that actually turned out to be the most sane and cheapest choice longterm. In retrospect I'm glad that even though I made a mistake that cost me money in the beginning (not moving out after the introductory offer), I didn't double down on my mistake and considered my options carefully. In the end this is a small decision and saves me $23 for this year and $36 each year after that (assuming I like and stick with that service). But whats truly valuable is to build the skill to look at the situation you are faced with, and make the correct decision despite the circumstances that brought you there. Over time, that should lead to real wealth.

* I want to point out that I don't think Mint Mobile is bad. The coverage just didn't work well for me at my house. I've read reviews about people complaining about the service for each single major carrier. That means its important to actually try the service. The coverage maps are good generally but you probably want to know how it works specifically at home and at work. Coverage changes so I may test Mint Mobile again in the future, especially if my data requirements change: they seem to have the best deal if you need data. I'm specifically moving away from it because I don't need that much data at this time and am willing to deal shop.