If you're one of the brave men and women who serves - or has served - their country in a military capacity, you already know to be on the lookout for retailers that offer military discounts. But did you know that you can also get a break on your cell phone bill?
All four major wireless carriers offer some form of military discount. Even better - some of the smaller, cheaper carriers also offer a military discount on their already great rates.
Keep reading if you want to find out where to get the best prices on wireless service for active-duty military personnel and veterans, plus how to get the best deal on your smartphone!
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Military Discounts from the Major Carriers
While the four major wireless carriers tend to be more expensive than other providers, they do offer discounts for servicemembers.
The AT&T military discount measures up as follows:
- 25% off Unlimited &More plans
- Applies to active-duty personnel and their spouses, veterans, reserves, and deceased active duty or veterans' spouses
- Must meet regular qualifications for an AT&T wireless account
If you are an active duty military personnel you will need your .mil email address handy to sign up. If you are a military veteran you'll need to show your military ID at an AT&T store.
With T-Mobile's military wireless plan you get a graduated discount structure:
- 20% off the first line
- 50% off the second line
- 50% off lines 3-6
T-Mobile also offers an iPhone deal if you take advantage of their military plan discount. Discount applies to active-duty personnel, veterans, reserves, Gold Star families, and deceased active duty or veterans' spouses.
The Verizon military discount is also tiered. The following deals are for unlimited plans:
- $15 off one line
- $35 off two lines
- $40 off three or more lines
If you don't want an unlimited plan, Verizon gives servicemembers 15% off other eligible plans and 12% off select features. You also get 25% off select accessories. Discounts apply to active duty and veterans.
The Sprint military discount consists of an unlimited family plan deal, with 50% off lines 2-6. Active duty, veterans, and reserves members are all eligible for this discount.
US Cellular isn't one of the big four, however, they do own their own network. It's not as extensive as the other guys, service is supplemented by roaming agreements with the major networks.
This carrier's military discount is 15% off your US Cellular plan.
What US Cellular has to offer:
- Plans from no data up to unlimited
- $10 refund for unlimited customers for each month they don't exceed 3 GB of data
- Family plans
Veterans and active-duty members of all military branches, including the National Guard and reserves, are eligible for the discount.
Other Ways to Save Money on Your Wireless Bill
You may be familiar with smaller cell phone providers like Metro by T-Mobile and Cricket Wireless. These carriers are called MVNOs. They lease space on the major wireless networks and resell it at a lower cost.
MVNOs are cheaper than the big guys by up to 50% or more. In many cases, they're going to save you more money than taking the military discount with a major carrier.
Benefits of MVNOs:
- Cheaper rates - by 50% or more
- Service on the same reliable 4G LTE networks as you get with the big four
- No contracts or credit checks
- Custom plans that allow you to pay only for what you need
- Easy to bring your own phone and keep your number
- Great customer service ratings
- The simple online signup process
MVNOs are the best cell phone carriers for military personnel because you aren't tied to one provider. If you get relocated to another part of the country - or world - you can simply keep your phone and sign up with a different carrier that has better service in your new location.
Save Even More Money: Buy a Used Smartphone
According to a report by the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN), finances are a major source of concern for military troops and their families. If that's true for you, you're always looking for new ways to save.
When you buy a used or refurbished phone, you'll save over 50% off the retail cost of popular devices. You'll also own your phone outright, which means you're free to take it to any carrier you wish.
A couple of final tips:
- Always ask about cell phone plan discounts for military personnel, regardless of which carrier you're with.
- Remember that most carriers will suspend service at no charge if you're deployed out of the country.
- You may save more money by comparing cell phone plans from MVNOs.
- Buy a refurbished phone to save hundreds more.
- Sell your old phone for cash.
If you're experiencing difficulty due to PTSD or other service-related issues, use the Lifeline for Vets helpline. You will be connected with someone who has been through your situation and can offer help.