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Bring Your Own Phone Plans

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The best bring your own phone plans are often a good cost-saving option. After all, part of what inflates the cost of a contract is the phone that you pay for throughout the length of your agreement.

In my research, I made sure that cost, network quality, and compatibility were at the top of my list. Many of the monthly plans I found appealed to people with different personal device habits. Check out which plan best suits your needs.

What Does Bring Your Own Phone Mean?

Bring your own phone plans allow you to buy a service plan and apply it to a device you already own. The BYOD trend is captured by most providers who realize that a BYOD strategy is important in retaining and acquiring new customers. This BYOD trend is constantly growing due to the expenses of phones and because people like to keep their phone and information for just a little while longer. Wireless carriers deploy a BYOD strategy with this knowledge, offering incentives within their BYOP program.

The bring your own device system, along with no-contract plans, can help you save substantial amounts of money on your monthly cell phone payments. Take a look at some of these providers to see if one looks like a good fit for you.

What Does BYOD Mean?

BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. It's synonymous with BYOP, which stands for Bring Your Own Phone.

Not only is it a way for cell carriers to persuade customers into building a relationship with them, but it's also a great way for customers to save money.

Compare the Best BYOP Plans

Key Considerations When Choosing a BYOP Plan

Compare BYOP Plans

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a bring your own phone plan. Be aware, because some factors may limit your choices considerably. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. What kind of phone do you have?

Not every bring your own device program is compatible with every electronic device. Be sure to check the compatibility of your smartphone and tablet, as well as the BYOD policy, with a provider before you purchase a service plan. If you don't review the BYOD policy, you may be stuck simply buying a compatible phone. For example, some providers will accept the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, whereas others will refuse it.

2. What type of SIM card do you need?

Bring your own device plans typically come with a SIM that you put in your phone for service; however, different phones require different SIMs. For instance, the iPhone uses the nanoSIM while others use the larger Micro SIM, so be sure to check your SIM card before you order.

3. How do you use your cell phone?

No-contract BYOD phone plans offer a range of services and the cheaper plans may limit the amount of data, talk, and text you have each month. Cheap plans are perfect for casual users while the mid-range plans are the most cost-effective for moderate to heavy phone users. You can compare all cheap cell phone plans with our handy tool.

"The right service can save you lots of money, but the wrong one could place you at a disadvantage that you might very well regret."

What are the Benefits of a BYOP Plan?

Like all services out there, BYOP plans typically come with a set of pros and cons. So how about we look into them?

1. You'll Save Money

This is the major motivating factor here. There are a few ways to obtain a phone from a carrier: you can buy the phone directly from the carrier at full price, pay a monthly financing fee for the phone (which is normally tacked onto your phone bill), or you can take part in a provider's promotion. While the final option is your best bet when it comes to owning a glorious smartphone, the price still may be a deterrent.

Phone bills, unfortunately, also continue to rise. According to CBS Moneywatch, in 2014, Americans spent 50% more on mobile service than they did in 2007. Taxes are up, activation fees are higher, and unlimited plans are fewer in number. What you can do to fight against these rising costs is to use your current phone when you switch plans and/or services.

If you already own a good phone and are in no mood to upgrade, then you'll be pleased to know that, with the bring your own phone program, you'll be saving on phone fees. Let's say that by bringing in your own phone, you will save up to $20 a month in fees. Those fees add up! After a full year, you'll be saving $120, which could be spent on a night or two at the movies or a nice meal.

2. You'll Establish a Bond With Your Carrier Sooner

Sometimes people simply cannot give up their phones. They love the features the phone offers and aren't too keen on adopting the next iteration of a smartphone series. As a result, customers may not approach carriers who do not offer Bring Your Own Phone plans. This is a great start for a beautiful relationship between the carrier and the customer.

3. It's Better for the Environment

The environment is already going through enough, and tossing perfectly good phones to the landfills isn't exactly environmentally friendly. It was reported in 2015 that while around 70% of cell phones could be reused, only between 14 and 17% of cell phones are recycled every year. Furthermore, the EPA estimated that more than 135 million cell phones were trashed in 2010.

The Bring Your Own Phone plan ensures that your phone continues to see usage. Then again, it is with great hope that when a phone is traded into a carrier after it is no longer wanted, the carrier will either recycle the phone, refurbish it, or even send it to a charity or cause. Some websites will even buy your old phone and recycle it for you. Not many do, but we've compiled a list of great sites you can use to sell your old phone.

4. You'll Sometimes Receive Added Bonuses

This is rare, but it does happen. Sometimes, there are additional incentives for those who bring in their own phones. For instance, with the Lifeline SafeLink program, brought to you by SafeLink Wireless, if you use your own phone, you can get bonus free service. Depending upon your ZIP code and eligibility, SafeLink Wireless can provide you with fantastic service at no cost. As an example, in one ZIP code, SafeLink's free service includes 350 free monthly minutes, a free SIM Card, and 1GB per month of free data for the first three months of service and 500MB per month after.

Of course, there are other wireless carriers with a lifeline program that may include incentives involved with bringing your own phone. To read more about the FCC's lifeline program, please refer to this article.

However, if your phone isn't compatible with the BYOP service, then can always receive a SafeLink phone free of charge. However, the SafeLink phone models will be based on availability and may vary depending on the inventory.

5. Keep Your Apps and Contacts Without Transferring

It can be a time-consuming chore to re-download all your favorite apps and import your contacts to a new phone. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, the average American has a whopping 634 ties in their overall network.

The average cell phone user has a whopping 664 ties. Imagine having to backup and import all of those contacts to a new phone. So when you bring your own device to a provider, you won't have to worry about doing any of that. You'll be able to use your phone on a new network with ease.

6. There Are No Strings Attached

Freedom is a major benefit for those in search of flexibility. Though a lot of cellular providers no longer offer contracts, you could very well be attached to the provider if you purchase a phone through them and do not have the phone paid off. If you bring your own phone, you'll be able to experience the freedom you completely deserve.

What You Won't Get with BYOP Plans

1. You Won't Have the Newest Phone

You'll miss out on the latest smartphone and tablet selection if you're still stuck with your old device. Again, if your phone is reliable, then it's certainly not a big deal to keep your trusty personal device at your side.

2. You May Not be Considered Top Priority

Normally, BYOP plans are limited to no-contract plans. With that in mind, you may not always be considered the top priority for a network or a coverage zone. Then again, the limit depends on the carrier. Furthermore, people who rely on BYOP plans are also likely to receive second-rate customer service. Again, this is dependent on the carrier.

BYOP Activation Process

  1. You must first verify that your phone is unlocked. If you don't, make sure to unlock your phone with your current carrier or buy an unlocked phone. For more information, you can always read our guide on how to unlock phones. Fortunately, it's completely legal nowadays to unlock phones.
  2. You then bring in a phone that is compatible with the carrier you're either switching to or currently with.
  3. Typically, you then buy an activation kit, which would include the carrier's BYOP SIM card, and select a service for your phone.
  4. Finally, you activate the phone with the service you have chosen with the carrier.

How I Found the Best BYOP Plans

Searching for the best BYOP plans offered by the mobile phone industry is no simple task. Many wireless carriers out there now offer the option of BYOP, which is highly convenient for the customer. So how did I compile this list of the best BYOP plans? Well, here's what I did:

  • First I looked at the major providers. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer plans or programs that support BYOD.
  • I made a list of cellular providers that offered the BYOP plan. Some of the contenders included the popular MVNOs such as: Boost Mobile, H2O Wireless, MetroPCS, Net10, Ting, TracFone Wireless, Republic Wireless, and Virgin Mobile.
  • Next, I assessed the competitors with a primary focus on the BYOP plan. How simple is the activation of an unlocked electronic device? What's the price of a BYOP SIM card kit required to activate the device? What phones are compatible with the service? These factors affect the listings greatly. That being said, there was also emphasis placed on the provider's service. What was the quality of the service? How is the customer service? What is the range of service? The pricing? These all play a hefty role in what providers were eventually eliminated. Some carriers, such as Republic Wireless, TracFone Wireless, and Virgin Mobile, are known for their incredibly affordable plans.
  • Finally, the top five providers were reorganized and rated, utilizing the aforementioned factors.

BYOP Plans Recap

Bring your own device plans are a good way to avoid expensive contract plans from big providers. However, it is important to make sure that you are getting a plan that will suit your device and level of use. Compare different providers to see which one is best for you.

You should always take the time to compare and review providers with bring your own phone plans. That being said, if you are looking for more perks, added bonuses, and the latest phones, you should consider a different cell phone plan. We've done the hard work for you, so you can compare cell phone plans side-by-side with our handy tool.

A BYOP plan is a great how to save money and reduce your monthly costs. For more money-saving tips, you can read our guide on how to lower your cell phone bill.

Compare BYOP Plans FAQs

Q Is Cricket GSM?

A

AT&T acquired Cricket Wireless in 2014 and moved the prepaid carrier to its GSM network. Before the buy-out, Cricket operated on a CDMA network. GSM is the most widely used wireless telephony technologies, meaning it works in more parts of the world than CDMA. GSM also allows you to use your phone for data and for talk at the same time.

Q Can I use my Verizon phone for Cricket?

A

Only a few unlocked Verizon phones can be converted to Cricket. They include Apple iPhone 5/5s/5c, iPhone 6/6s/6Plus/6s Plus, and iPhone 7 and 7Plus. If you have an unlocked Nexus 5x/6/6P or Moto X Pure Edition from Verizon, you can bring either one over to Cricket.

Q Do Cricket phones work on AT&T?

A

All unlocked AT&T phones can be converted to Cricket Wireless. As of 2014, AT&T bought Cricket Wireless, so the phones on the network are actually running on a version of AT&T's network. If you aren't sure if your AT&T phone is unlocked, check with your current carrier.

Q Who has the best cell phone service?

A

According to a 2016 Consumer Reports survey, T-Mobile ranked the highest out of the big four cell phone carriers when it came to customer service and satisfaction. Smaller cell phone service providers, such as Ting and Consumer Cellular were ranked more highly in terms of service and customer satisfaction than the big four cell phone carriers.

Q Who is a BYOP plan designed for?

A

A bring your own phone (BYOP) plan is really tailored for those who love their phones and want to keep their phone numbers but change their plan. Straight Talk, for example, allows you to keep your phone, number, and network but cut down the cost of your current plan up to 50 percent. You first need determine if you have a GSM phone or CDMA phone.

After establishing that your phone falls in the range of accepted devices, you'll need to purchase a SIM card that is compatible with your carrier and select your service bundle. From there, you'll follow the step-by-step guide to activate your SIM then update your settings. The process is relatively simple compared to other types of plans that require you to change phone numbers and purchase new phones when switching. For each BYOP provider, the list of compatible devices may vary so it's important to check that factor before deciding.

Q What do CDMA and GSM stand for?

A

CDMA stands for "code division multiple access" and basically means that these use a network-based list to identify whose device it belongs to. Some carriers that use these systems on their 3G networks include Verizon and Sprint. GSM stands for "global system for mobiles" and uses a SIM card (unlike CDMA) to identify the owner of the device. AT&T and T-Mobile both use this system on their networks.

You can determine if your phone is a CDMA or GSM by looking underneath the phones battery, behind the rear cover. Phones that have a SIM card slot are considered GSM. Another acronym used frequently is MEID number and is the mobile equipment identifier number. This 11 or 8-digit number is used mostly by CDMA carriers. A BYOP carrier may be able to help you identify whether your particular device falls under CDMA or GSM. It's important to have this information in order to purchase the right type of SIM card for the BYOP plan.

Q What are the benefits of BYOP?

A

There are many benefits to a bring your own phone plan, compared to the traditional route. When you sign a two or three year contract with one of the major carriers, they sell you a phone that is significantly reduced, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. After that point, you're basically on the hook with that company until your contract expires, and should you choose to leave they'll typically enforce additional fees.

The beauty of a BYOP is that you don't need to purchase a new cell phone that's exclusive to the carrier so your monthly and annual rates are significantly lower. With a bring your own phone plan you can change your monthly usage, change phones without penalty fees, and leave when you choose. This type of plan works for a range of customers including those who want freedom, flexibility and savings. A range of phones are compatible with many BYOP plans and there's no need to wait for any more "contract upgrade" periods before you can change phones.

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