Mar 10 2008

Saving money on my AT&T wireless plan (and avoiding the $18 upgrade fee)

My cell phone is my only phone line. I don’t use it all that much–just a quick call to my husband once in awhile during his lunch hour, and longer conversations with my parents, his parents, and other family and friends.

The folks I call the most use AT&T wireless, so when we call each other on our cell phones, no minutes are deducted from either account.

My phone contract was set to expire in April, and I wanted to make sure I was still getting the best deal on my next plan.

I looked at my last several phone bills, and added up all minutes used (including minutes to other AT&T customers and the free nights & weekends minutes). I found that I used more minutes than I thought!

All told, I use about 450-500 minutes each month.

I decided that I didn’t want to decrease my phone time, because it’s not that much to begin with. Plus, if I cut back further, I would probably start to feel isolated. And, there’s no sense in depriving yourself just to be frugal!

When looking at pay-as-you-go plans, 450 minutes per month would be more expensive than having a regular mobile phone contract. At $0.25 per minute for one plan, 450 minutes would be $112.50! Yikes.

I compared prices for several carriers, and looked into possible discounts.

With AT&T, I have a 12 percent discount thanks to a former college affiliation. I could expect a similar discount with other carriers.

However, I didn’t want to switch carriers. A large chunk of my calls are to other AT&T customers, so those free minutes are really important to me. Still, I used that as a bargaining chip.

I called the AT&T customer service people and told them I was shopping for better rates, and I was considering leaving AT&T. I was immediately transfered to another department.

The next woman I spoke with wanted to know why I wanted to leave AT&T. I told her it was simply a money issue.

She tried to entice me to stay with AT&T by telling me that other carriers don’t roll over unused minutes. I told her that I rarely needed to use those roll over minutes to begin with.

I asked if she could match Verizon’s discount. She could only meet it. Not good enough, I told her.

"What will it take to keep you as a customer?" she asked me.

"Waive the $18 phone upgrade fee," I replied.

"Done."

So, I got to stay with the company I wanted, and I avoided that pesky $18 upgrade charge. I upgraded to a newer phone (mine was starting to act wonky) and I chose a free model with free shipping. Normally, they tack on that $18 "upgrade fee" but I was able to negotiate my way out of it.

I wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable, I think. I’m still paying $40.12 per month even with my 12 percent discount. But, for a wireless plan that fits my needs, I know I’m getting the best deal that I can get.

It just goes to show you that if you want a deal, all you have to do is ask.



11 Responses to “Saving money on my AT&T wireless plan (and avoiding the $18 upgrade fee)”

  1. Love your blog and look forward to reading it regularly. Dropped you a card!

  2. Cool! What phone did you get? i have the Samsung Blackjack, just the first one, because it’s already a year old. Most of my friend have AT&T, too. i used to sell cell phones at Best Buy. As a third party, we couldn’t give the same discounts or waive the upgrade fee, so you did right by calling them and getting the ones with real power to do it:)

  3. Glad your posts are back. Going to move along to read about spring cleaning now. I’m not a phone person. Just keep a land line and never add any features.

  4. Great tip. I wasnt as persistent at Sprint and got stuck with the upgrade fee. What a silly concept.

  5. You ever thought about doing family shared plans through AT&T with your husband. Your line would only be $9.99 then.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement, and thanks for reading!

  7. We did look into family plans, but that would actually cost MORE than what I’m paying now.

    You see, for us to have a shared plan, it would be about $60+ per month.

    Right now, my husband is still on his parents’ family plan. When he switches off of that, he’ll probably get a prepaid cell phone since he barely uses his phone, and can use mine when he’s home.

  8. Well done. It just goes to show that you get nothing if you don’t ask. And being a bit persistent especially if you have facts to back up your request should help you get what you want. Keep up the good work. Really inspiring.

  9. Your husband is good with the prepaid plan as long as he doesn’t go out of the area. I found that network availability is much more limited when using the prepaid plan. I found that our when I traveled in South Dakota.

  10. Att is the best deal in wireless now with the rollover minutes. I have friends on att,tmobile,and verizon. With tmobile they can get 1000 minutes for 39.99 but the network isnt the best. With verizon they get 450 minutes for 39.99 with a good network but no rollovers. With att i get 450 min for 39.99 and with the rollovers i have built up over a 1000 so this month i could use 1450 minutes if i wanted to and it would just cost me 39.99 plus tax and the att network is pretty good. Ill stay with att as long as they continue to offer rollover minutes.

  11. Att is awesome. Just when i think they are going to let me down they offer me bonus minutes to get me through the month in order to save me money. The network is really good too. The rollover minutes saved me quite a few times. Thats not something you can get with verizon plus my att bills are much cheaper than they were with verizon. In todays economy att makes much more sense, verizon is too expensive anyways. Im keeping att as long as they offer rollover.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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