Over the past few years, I have been contemplating on getting a smartphone, but have been reluctant to as I could not justify paying the $30/month data charge. I work at an office and sit behind a computer all day, so I have immediate access to the internet and worldwide information throughout the day. I've also got computers with broadband internet access at home, so no real worries there either.
My wife and I each have basic phones, and have become comfortable with them over the past few years. However, they were getting a bit old and the features seem to be more of a drag on our needs rather than a benefit. Thus, I began researching smartphones to see which ones would best suit our needs.
After establishing which ones we wanted - iPhone for my wife (since she is technologically challenged), and a droid (Samsung Charge) for me - I began to weigh the costs and determined how we could afford them.
On our current family plan, we share 700 minutes for $70/month, each have 250 text messages for $5/month, and my phone (Samsung Reality) has a $10/month data plan for 75 MB (which I have never exceeded 20 MB over the past 18 months since I got the phone). Thus, our total wireless bill was $90/month (not including taxes, fees, but also not including a 25% discount I get via my employer).
Recently, Verizon Wireless launched two promotions specifically targeting my ilk:
1.) Data plan made available for $20/month (up to 300MB)
2.) $100 gift card when upgrading from a basic phone to a smartphone
Both promotions expire September 30th.
The temptation suddenly became irresistible. I contacted Verizon Wireless via their online chat service a few times to see if they could answer some of my questions as I was hunting for a way to find more discounts. They seemed clueless about the promotions, and did nothing to help convince me to make the upgrade. I then noticed other sources for upgrading my phones via Wal-Mart, Target Mobile, Best Buy, etc. However, none of those places were able to help me out either. Finally, I contacted Verizon Wireless' customer support, and was connected with a very patient and helpful representative named Anne from Wisconsin. She helped walk me through the process, and even informed me of a customer loyalty discount whereby I could lower my talk plan to 550 minutes for $60/month (my wife and I have never even exceeded 400 minutes in a month, so this was a no-brainer $10 savings). Furthermore, a colleague informed me that there are text messaging apps and Google Voice that would allow us to drop our $5/month texting plan - another $10 saved! Given that my current data plan was $10/month, increasing this to $20 would result in just a $10 monthly adjustment. My wife's would be a $20 monthly increase - thus resulting in a $30 monthly increase in our bill. However, since we will be scaling back $20/month, we would be netting out just a $10 monthly increase overall.
My wife got her iPhone for $200, and I got my droid for $200. However, since we EACH get $100 gift cards, that will be savings of $200 off the cost of the phones. And to add a cherry on top of the deal, Anne informed me of my loyalty upgrade discount of $30 off the cost of a new phone (and waived any upgrade fees - which as we all know, is a bogus charge that the companies try to ding on the customers hoping that they would not care or notice).
So all in all, we paid $170 for two new smartphones and increased our monthly wireless bill by just $10/month. I should be able to offset that $10 monthly increase by bringing my lunch to work rather than going out and spending ~$10 a meal. Now, if I could get my wife to kick her $40/month Starbucks habit, then we'll be golden!
The only way we could have gotten a better deal is if we took advantage of their "Buy-One-Get-One Free" offer on the Motorola Droid 3. However, I knew that my wife would not be comfortable using that device, and I did not like the touch screen on that phone either.