If you don’t know what an MVNO is you need to learn because chances are you’re paying more than you need to be for your cellular service. First of all MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Basically what they do is make deals with one of the “big four” networks, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint and they lease or buy up bulk network access and then resell it to you.
I recently switched from T-Mobile to MetroPCS and cut my bill nearly in half for the exact same features on the exact same network. In fact, MetroPCS was recently bought by T-Mobile. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against T-Mobile. In fact I’ve written about them quite a few times but staying on T-Mobile as opposed to moving to MetroPCS is like paying $100 extra for a pair of sunglasses because it has a brand name attached to it.
The reason why they can save you so much money by switching to an MVNO is that since they don’t own the infrastructure they don’t have nearly the overhead costs that the other mobile companies do. But that’s the “secret” that most people don’t realize. Those big four networks spend millions of dollars to convince you that their network is the fastest, best most amazing service on the planet. When you go through an MVNO you are using the same networks as the big boys at a fraction of the cost.
Each MVNO has different deal with a different mobile company so you’ll need to find out which of the big four companies has the best coverage in your area and then use this list below to decide which MVNO is right for you.
You’ll also need to pay attention to which companies offer actual devices. Some of these MVNOs are BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which means that you’ll need to either already own your phone or buy one straight from the manufacturer. So you if you don’t own a phone you will have to invest a little more up front but the savings in the long run will definitely be worth it. There are a lot of great quality phones coming out that aren’t going to break the bank but that’s for another article.
The list below contains five of the most popular MVNOs for each network in no particular order. You can research each of them and find out which one is best for you. Some have monthly plans, some have pay as you go plans and some have both.
MVNOs on T-Mobile
- MetroPCS (As I mentioned before they are actually owned by T-Mobile)
- Brightspot (These guys are subsidiary of Target Co.)
- Giv Mobile (not only will you save money you’ll be helping out a good cause. Giv Mobile donates 8% of your bill to a charity chosen by you.)
- Net10 Wireless (Formerly TracFone. Also available on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.)
- Speed Talk Mobile
MVNOs on AT&T
- 420 Wireless (They actually donate a portion of their proceeds to legalizing cannabis in the U.S.)
- Cricket Wireless (If you watched game 3 of the NBA Finals you may have seen their commercials. They’re actually starting a large advertising campaign.)
- Consumer Cellular (This company is marketed to seniors. If you have a parent or grandparent who is a senior citizen it’s likely that they don’t use nearly what they’re paying for with their cellular service.)
- Straight Talk (Straight Talk is actually available on Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint as well.)
- Good2Go Mobile
MVNOs on Verizon
- Selectel Wireless
- Red Pocket Mobile (Also available on Sprint and AT&T)
- Ready Mobile (Available on Sprint as well)
- Proven Wireless (Sprint and T-Mobile as well)
- Flash Wireless (Sprint as well)
MVNOs on Sprint
- Boost Mobile
- CREDO Mobile (Donates 1% of customer charges to non-profit and activism groups>)
- Virgin Mobile
There you have it. A list of some some of the most common MVNOs on each carrier. There are a few more choices available depending on which network you’re looking at, you can see a complete list of current MVNOs here.
The bottom line is, if you already own your phone or have the means to buy the phone you want up front without having to subsidize it with a 2-year contract (and paying more than you really need to be paying) then you really should check out some of these companies and see if any of them have a plan that fits your lifestyle and is able to save you money.