Remember 2014? That’s when I cut myself off from my parent’s cell phone plan. I got my own plan and upgraded my flip phone to a REAL smartphone. In all reality, I was late to the game. My friends had long been fans of the fruit. But as a recent college grad, cost was a huge barrier for me.
Then I discovered Republic Wireless and life changed forever. Now my cell phone bill averages about $75 TOTAL per month for myself and my hubby. We get unlimited talk and text and 3 GB of data per month. Nervous about a provider that isn't a big name? Let me tell you how it works for me.
Launched in 2011, Republic Wireless is a wireless cell phone service provider offering affordable mobile phones and plans. Republic Wireless uses Sprint and T-Mobile networks. It specializes in flexible, affordable, and contract-free plans like unlimited talk and text, and affordable data. It also offers a build-your-own package with up to 15GB of cellular data per month.
How does Republic Wireless work?
If you want to get started with Republic Wireless, first you’ll need to order your phone or a SIM Card Kit (if you plan to bring your own phone).
Go to the Republic Wireless website, and under the SHOP dropdown at the top, select PHONES.
Once you decide which phone you want to buy, select ADD TO CART. In your shopping cart, you’ll be given the option to add more products (like additional phones or accessories).
You can also choose to spread out the cost of the phone over a set number of monthly payments using Affirm.
At checkout, you’ll be asked to enter your name, contact info, shipping address, and payment details. You’ll also need to create an account password.
After completing the order, your phone will be shipped to you, usually within the same business day. Once it arrives, depending on your selected shipping method, you’ll need to unbox it and follow the instructions to activate it. During activation, you’ll choose your plan (Remember: you can change it at any time).
How much does Republic Wireless cost?
When it comes to a mobile phone service provider, there are always two costs to consider: the phone and the plan.
Right now you can buy a phone from Republic Wireless for as little as $149. And one of the best things about switching to Republic Wireless is that you can bring your own phone if it’s compatible. It supports Samsung, Google, Motorola (my personal favorite), and more.
Plans start as low as $15 per month or $150 per year for the unlimited talk and text plan. Costs go up from there—but not by much! If you want data, you’ll pay just $5 per GB per month, plus a few dollars of taxes and compliance fees.
Here’s how my unlimited talk and text + 3GB of data service plan breaks down, per device per month:
My Choice Talk & Text: $15.00
Wireless 911 Surcharge - State: $0.45
City Sales Tax - City: $0.34
State Universal Service Fund - State: $1.75
Local Business & Occupation Tax - City: $1.15
Federal Compliance Fee: $0.60
Telecommunications Relay Surcharge - State: $0.03
Federal Universal Service Fund - Federal: $2.44
State Sales Tax - State: $1.06
My Choice Data: $15.00
SUB TOTAL: $37.82
Republic Wireless features
Republic Wireless offers quite a few attractive features, including affordable phone options, customizable plans, coverage from Sprint and T-Mobile networks, WiFi calling, and home phone service at no additional charge.
A variety of affordable Android phones
Right now Republic Wireless is offering 12 phones. As mentioned above, purchasing a new phone through Republic Wireless costs as little as $149 for a moto g play (2021). You can also choose a more premium phone like the Samsung Galaxy S21 for $799.
For the truly budget-minded folk, you can bring your own compatible Android phone. Or you can shop for pre-owned phones through its partnership with Swappa. The nice thing with this option is you’ll also get one month free of unlimited talk and text plus 1GB of data.
These days we all want personalized everything, and Republic Wireless delivers on that trend. Want an extra gig of data? Add it for just $5 from your online account anytime. You can also change your plan anytime your needs change, or switch between monthly or annual payments. How is this possible? No. Contracts. Period.
Coverage from two large cellular networks
If you’re a fan of Verizon, let me just say upfront that the coverage map with Republic Wireless is not as good. It just doesn’t cover as much of the country’s rural areas as reliably as Verizon’s network.
With that said, I’m able to get pretty decent coverage most of the time where I live, unless I’m on a road trip. That’s likely thanks to the fact that Republic piggybacks off of both Sprint and T-Mobile cellular networks. And when you have spotty cell coverage, your calls automatically switch to a WiFi network, if it’s available. About that...
Seamless WiFi calling and texting
One of the ways Republic Wireless is able to save money—and presumably pass those savings on to members—is with WiFi calling. In 2016, it really spiffed it up with what it calls “Bonded Calling.”
Why WiFi calling is important
What this basically means is when you call or text someone in a home or business, chances are you’re not using a cellular network at all—you’re using WiFi. So in areas of the country where cellular coverage isn’t great (rural Nebraska, for instance), you can still have great call quality because WiFi fills in the gaps.
Using Republic Wireless makes international travel super convenient! All you need is a WiFi signal and you’re all set to receive calls from the U.S. and Canada. Although the Google Maps feature isn’t as handy (because unfortunately, no roaming data), you CAN download map areas ahead of time and navigate offline.
Home phone service
Yep, you read that right. Home phones are back! (In a good way.) Your Republic cell number can extend to your home phone, which is great if you lose your cell, need better speaker quality, or want to take a digital vacay. Best part? After buying the initial home phone kit ($49), the Extend Home service is free with Republic’s phone plans.
Who is Republic Wireless best for?
Overall, Republic Wireless is a good choice for anyone who likes to save money, but some groups will really benefit from Republic’s unique advantages. These groups include young professionals, serious budgeters, and people who like to travel overseas.
Fresh college grads, young families, and people who live and work in populated areas will enjoy using a smartphone at pricing that is a fraction of most other carriers. Republic offers these groups a way to achieve independence from their parent’s cell plans without breaking the bank.
Republic Wireless is ideal for anyone serious about cutting monthly costs. Republic members enjoy being free from contracts, hidden fees, and random price hikes. Plus the monthly cost of a Republic Wireless plan is extremely low compared to most other carriers’ plans.
If you love to travel overseas, you’ll really enjoy Republic’s WiFi calling. When I took my parents to visit Europe, we were able to communicate with family back home anytime we were in a hotel or restaurant with WiFi, all for no extra charge.
Who shouldn’t use Republic Wireless?
While Republic Wireless is a good choice for many, there are some drawbacks that some people will not enjoy. Those people might include people in rural areas, iPhone lovers, and those who depend on in-person assistance.
Alas, some rural areas get spotty coverage and may experience dropped calls. For the most part, this is alleviated if your home or work has a good WiFi signal. But if they don’t, or if you’re frequently on the road in rural areas, Republic Wireless is probably not for you.
If you’re a fan of the fruit, chances are you will not love Republic Wireless. Unfortunately, only Android phones are supported.
While Republic Wireless does offer great online 24/7 assistance (including an active community forum), it’s not a good fit for people who like to drive to a store and get customer support from a real, physical human.
Pros & cons
Low cost. Plans start at just $15 per month. Not many other cell carriers can compete with that price.
Great WiFi calling. If you’re connected to WiFi, Republic automatically switches service over to WiFi. That means better call quality and faster data. (Also, you won’t use as much data this way, which saves you money.)
Flexible plans. With no contracts, you can change your plan at any time and upgrade or downgrade data to suit your needs.
No physical stores. Getting help is basically only available online. Bummer, boomer.
Spotty cell coverage in rural areas. Getting a signal in non-populated areas without WiFi is tough.
Only Android. Sorry, Apple fans. You’ll find only Android phones here. (Mostly Samsung, Google and Moto.)
Republic Wireless vs. competitors
Republic Wireless is a wonderful budget option for a cell phone plan. But there are other popular options to consider as well.
Cheapest available plan
Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
Ting is a close competitor of Republic Wireless, and for good reason. Its plans start off cheaper, and when you add data you also get 5G coverage, which Republic doesn’t yet offer. The downside is once you use up your plan’s fast data allotment, the data speed slows way down.
With Mint you get a lot of bang for your buck. For the same price as Republic’s starting plan, $15 per month, Mint offers unlimited talk and text PLUS 4GB of 5G or 4G LTE data. Compared with Republic, though, plans are not as flexible and cell coverage is not as good since it only uses the T-Mobile network.
What phones does Republic Wireless support?
Republic Wireless primarily offers Samsung, Motorola, and Google phones. It also supports some additional brands through its Bring Your Own Phone program, including Alcatel, LG, and Nexus.
Does Republic Wireless have unlimited data?
No, there’s no unlimited data plan. Currently, it caps the data usage at 15GB.
Does Republic Wireless have hotspot capabilities?
Yes, all phones on the My Choice (4.0) plans can be used as a hotspot at no additional charge.
The bottom line
Republic Wireless is a budget wireless provider with customizable plans that work for any wallet. The affordable phones and seamless WiFi calling make them a compelling option for travelers, young professionals, and budget-minded people of all sorts.
However, if you prefer in-person assistance, cell service in rural areas, or iPhones, you might be happier with another option. That said, Republic’s coverage with Sprint and T-Mobile networks means you’ll likely get cell service in populated areas, and its Extend Home Service and hotspot features are included at no extra charge. Plus, there are no contracts (YIPPEE!) and you can change your plan anytime.
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