3 wireless carriers you probably never heard of can save you a ton of money

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ou don’t really need the talk or text portions of your carrier’s plan to make a phone call or send and receive texts.

With apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Google Hangouts, and Skype (to name a few), you can make calls and send or receive texts using just your data or Wi-Fi.

And in many cases, the voice calls over cellular data or Wi-Fi sound amazingly crystal clear compared to the usual call quality you’re used to.

Unfortunately, carriers don’t offer data-only smartphone plans without talk or text. Those plans are reserved for tablets. And that is unfortunate because a data-only plan could be less expensive than a traditional talk, text, and data plan.

But you do have other options.

Some companies like Freewheel and FreedomPop offer a Wi-Fi-only service for smartphones. That means no talk, text, or even data plans. You just need WiFi to do it all.

The Wi-Fi-only services make use of the countless free public WiFi hotspots for the times you’re away from Wi-Fi at home or at work. And some give you access to specific hotspots for added convenience and coverage for a relatively small monthly fee.

For example, Freewheel gives you unlimited access to more than a million hotspots from Optimum, as well as WiFi from certain Optimum users who have special Wi-Fi routers. The service costs $US29.99 per month.

And if you’re an existing Optimum customer, Freewheel would only cost you $US9.99 per month. Could you imagine paying only $US10 a month for mobile wireless service? Even $US30 per month is pretty good compared to the plans from the four major wireless carriers in the US.

Moto GThe VergeUnfortunately, you could be limited in the choice of smartphones you can use with these inexpensive services.

Most of these Wi-Fi services have no caps or limits on how much Wi-Fi data you can use. It’s a lot cheaper than most carrier plans that include talk, text, and data.

Other services like Republic Wireless only charge you based on how much data you actually use rather than charging you for a set amount of data you need to use in order to get your money’s worth. For example, if you use 1GB of data of a 2 GB plan, Republic Wireless will credit you for the 1GB of data you didn’t use.

Meanwhile, big-name carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint charge you for 2GB on your monthly plan, but you won’t get any credit if you don’t use it all. Your unused data mostly just goes to waste, and most of them will either throttle your data speeds to an unusable crawl once you go over the limit. Others will start charging you exorbitant fees for daring to go over your limit.

Some of these big carriers, like AT&T, offer rollover data with certain plans, but it’s still not as good as paying for exactly what you use.

Of course, these inexpensive services don’t come without their caveats. For example, you can only use the first-generation Motorola Moto G from about two years ago with Freewheel, though it is inexpensive at $US99. And while Republic Wireless gives you the choice to use the second-generation Moto X, Motorola’s premium flagship smartphone from 2014, the only other choice you have is the Moto E.

Those phones are good enough for many users, but if you want an iPhone or one of Samsung’s newest Galaxy phones, you’re out of luck.

Republic Wireless coverageRepublic WirelessCoverage map for Republic Wireless. You only get 4G in in and around cities, but you can check if your specific address has coverage through Republic Wireless’ website.

What if you’re not near Wi-Fi?

These services might also not be very good outside of metropolitan areas where you’re more likely to find free public Wi-Fi hotspots. If you’re not near Wi-Fi, Republic Wireless uses off of Sprint’s network, which doesn’t have nearly as much coverage outside of cities than AT&T and Verizon.

In short, you should only consider one of these services if you spend the majority of your time near a Wi-Fi hotspot, know that you have solid coverage from Sprint in your area, and don’t mind using an outdated Android phone.

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