Review: $30 Verizon Wi-Fi Smart Phone Plan

Big news: I got a smart phone.

I know, I just extolled my dumb phone in In Praise of Old Technology. But when Neil got a mobile upgrade at work and got to keep his iPhone 5s, it seemed like the right time to make the switch.

I knew it was inevitable. I was having problems receiving texts that contained emoticons—which comprised a lot of texts from a lot of my friends :). It rendered the whole message unreadable :(. I also couldn’t respond to group texts.  And I got lost on the way to basically anywhere off the beaten path.

There were other things I LOVED about having a dumb phone: no temptation to waste time online, my kids couldn’t ask me for constant entertainment, and my battery life was amazing. Once after a vacation I didn’t unpack my phone charger until 5 days had passed!

Anyway, my time had come. Now what phone plan to get? I’ve had Verizon for 10 years. Don’t judge me. Every time I start thinking about switching to a less expensive provider I hear awful things about it from a friend. Since Neil’s always had his phone paid for by his employer, who also discounted my dumb phone plan for a while, I’ve never been motivated to change.

I’m definitely not one to scoff at small savings that add up in perpetuity. But this is one area I’ve been willing to pay $5-10 more per month to avoid 1.) the cost of purchasing a phone and 2.) the hassle of changing phone plans. Because let’s face it, dealing with phone companies is a hassle.

While we’re on that point, let me clarify: I’m not in any way affiliated with Verizon. My recent experience with them has been a hassle. But I do think this little-known plan I’ve stumbled upon is pretty sweet—too good to keep to myself.

The plan is a $30 per month, prepaid Wi-Fi only smart phone plan. Talk and text are unlimited, of course.

This plan is not clearly visible on their web site. To find it, you have to begin the process of signing up for a different prepaid plan, and then go to the  shopping cart page where  you can downgrade to the $30 Wi-Fi plan.

Why it’s awesome: Almost everywhere has Wi-Fi now. It automatically connects to my home network. If I’m somewhere without Wi-Fi and really need it, there’s probably a McDonald’s or somewhere nearby where I can get it.

Thirty dollars per month is the same price I paid for my very first cell phone plan when I went off to college 14 years ago. I realize the market has changed a lot, but the fact that I haven’t increased this expense is nice!

I’m also not tempted to be browsing the Internet needlessly while out and about. I won’t bother getting on Wi-Fi unless I actually “need” to. Hey, price-checking is necessary! Plus, I’m usually surrounded by people (including my husband) who have data plans so I can just be that annoying person who asks questions and lets someone else look up the answer. (I consider this a great way to serve my husband since he loves looking at his phone!)

For directions I use the GPS on the Google Maps. I downloaded a map of my area—and it’s a big map. While offline, it can search nearby for open-ended destinations like “library” or “Indian restaurant” (both important!) and find it without an address. Then it offers offline directions, map, and navigation just like an old school GPS.

Having those maps downloaded is actually better than using Verizon’s network because it’s not dependent on signal strength. Just last month, we were driving back from a church retreat in the middle of nowhere and Neil’s phone service wasn’t working as we left. Because I had the map saved, Google maps app navigated us without a problem.

Drawbacks: sometimes there is no Wi-Fi available. This requires more planning ahead, including downloading maps, coupons, and other information ahead of time. You could probably get something similar for $5-10 less with a different provider.

I recommend this plan for anyone:

  • Interested in switching from a dumb phone to a smart phone
  • Who is home a lot and is paying for Wifi there, or has access to free Wifi most of the time.
  • Values having very reliable phone service.
  • Who (like me) reguarly gets lost in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t have a GPS.
  • Who comes by a good free smart phone and is ready to make the change.

Someday I may want data, at which point it’ll be time to shop around. For now, I’m happy with my Wi-Fi only plan, great service, and being able to keep my phone.

Would you ever consider a Wi-Fi only plan? Any recommendations for data plans with reliable service? 

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25 Responses to “Review: $30 Verizon Wi-Fi Smart Phone Plan”

  1. The Green Swan says :

    Nice deal and impressive work finding their “hidden” plan! I would consider something like this and wouldn’t mind annoying my wife if I needed her phone connection (her plan is also paid by work!). One thing I would have to work around though is navigation in the car. I don’t use my phone for that often, but when I need it I usually really NEED it! I could always go back to printing out directions I guess. Nice to know there is another lower cost option out there for when my plan expires though.

    • Kalie says :

      As I mentioned, you can download a large map of your area and use GPS in Google Maps app to navigate offline. You do not need data to get directions this way.

  2. Jake says :

    Presently using MetroPCS for us, it’s $30 a month pre-paid and is basically the same company as T-Mobile. Theirs includes unlimited data at that price, but it’s only 4g speeds up to 2gb. When i say it’s 30 a month, it really is just that, that price includes all taxes and fees as well. If you add another line, the price drops to 25 a month for each line. Since you were on verizon, you would have to buy a new phone from metro (or any phone from that carrier type).

    I’d highly recommend that you look at moving off of verizon and see what other carriers are providing these days.

    • Jake says :

      i misspoke, 1gb is included at 4gb speeds

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks for your recommendation. I have looked elsewhere and just haven’t found something worth buying a new phone and going through the hassle for. I used so little data when I did have unlimited, that I don’t see the point in going out of my way to get it/pay for it at this point. That could change though, and it sounds like MetroPCS is a good option.

  3. Kate says :

    That is fascinating! Especially because that plan could make Verizon more of a competitor to Republic Wireless or Google Fi (albeit without the monthly data allowance). I know why they don’t want to advertise it, but they would maybe keep more frugal folks on their service if they did! We switched from Verizon to Republic Wireless to Google Fi (because of the excellent international service) mostly because of the insane amount Verizon charges. Also, just so you’ve had at least one good review – we’ve loved both of them and never had issues. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks for the recommendation, Kate! I know, it’s crazy that Verizon is hiding their best deal! Maybe they just want to upsell. I only stumbled upon it because I had a prepaid dumb phone plan and for reason I was able to see it that way.

  4. Samantha says :

    We have the wifi only plan at Republic Wireless (and have for years). Half the price of the Verizon plan ($15), and no contract, which is a huge benefit. I’ve had them for years with no problems. You do have to buy the phone up front and iPhone is not an option. Which just means you save money there, as well, lol!

    • Kalie says :

      Good to know! I’ve spent only $10 on cell phones in the last 7 years! So I’m hesitant to switch and purchase a phone. At $15 per month savings though it could be worth it. $5 per month doesn’t really get me interested if I have to recover $100-200 cost.

  5. Hannah says :

    Have you considered Ting or FreedomPop? I’m on Ting, but about to switch since I use so little data

    • Kalie says :

      I have considered Ting but not FreedomPop. A friend in the area said she had horrible service with Ting so I was hesitant about it. When I had data I used less than half a gig so I don’t see the point in paying for it.

  6. Brian says :

    We had sprint for years, but their service was terrible. We use Verizon now. It is an item we are trying to cut cost in. We are a family of five phones and it’s not cheap.

    • Kalie says :

      I’ve heard so many bad things about Sprint’s service. Yes, I’m sure having 5 on your plan isn’t cheap! Though it seems having multiple lines can work out to being less per line. I hope you can find a good solution!

  7. jacksays says :

    Wait, so they have wifi-only data plans? Is that the story here?

    Someone above compared that to Project Fi. Project Fi isn’t like that at all. Fi attempts to use wifi first for everything – calls and data. If strong enough wifi isn’t present then it drops to cellular (a mix of three different carriers) to make calls and use data.

    VZW charging $30 for something that doesn’t work if there’s no wifi present isn’t exactly a “deal”, sorry.

    Of course, this is the same carrier that had unlimited data, forced everyone off of it, then brought it back as though it was the Second Coming.

    Disclaimer: I am a Project Fi subscriber for my personal phone and a VZW user for my work-provided phone. In my location there are many times when Fi has much better coverage/service than VZW.

    • Kalie says :

      The wi-fi covers the data only. Talk and text are provided through the normal Verizon network.
      I have heard about the wi-fi supported plans and it is an interesting option!

  8. Josh says :

    I still have my dumbphone, altohugh I also had a company smartphone for 4 years that slept underneath my pillow.

    I’m trying to keep mine as long as possible because I can fit it in my pocket, I’m usually near my computer to access the internet, and the amazing battery life as you mentioned.

    Reasons I want to upgrade: A smartphone is convenient & I do miss the apps, at least 25% of my text messages can’t be downloaded because they have emojis.

    I also have Verizon for 9 years now & have been pleased. Plus, the only realistic alternative for us is AT&T. Republic & other discount carriers won’t offer us coverage once we tell them our address since we literally live about 2 milesoutside their coverage area & can only get non-wifi reception by standing outside our house.

    • Kalie says :

      Yes, I know it is much harder to find service in certain areas, especially if they are somewhat rural. I’m sure the perks of living there outweigh this, though, and I’m glad you’ve found service that does work well there.

  9. Our Frugal Escapades says :

    We both made the switch to Total Wireless which is owned by Verizon and runs on Verizon towers. We live in the boondocks and Verizon is the ONLY plan that works for us on the East Coast. Total Wireless has now worked for us in three different states!

    Like your husband, we both have the iPhone 5S and like them. We took the deal for $60 for 2 lines, unlimited talk/text and 8gs of shared data, no contract. If you enroll in the auto refill program the phones never run out of juice and we get a 5% discount. Our bill for 2 “Verizon” phones now totals $61.15!

    Now I feel like an infomercial! 🙂

  10. David says :

    Unless data comes way down in price I won’t be buying. Like you say strong free WiFi is in many places and Google maps offline maps are really good. There are very few times I have needed data on my phone. If I had it I would be looking at my phone even more than now and probably more while in the car

  11. Fruclassity (Ruth) says :

    Sounds like this is for me – and while I wouldn’t be able to access the same plan (since I live in Canada), this is a reminder that I should always be on the lookout for better deals for my phone. So glad you’ll get to read and use emoticons now : )

    • Kalie says :

      Great takeaway, Ruth. It is a market that’s always changing. In fact, in the one month between me getting this plan and writing the review, Verizon added a less expensive prepaid data plan. It’s not a steal by any means, but it’s new, and it’s less expensive than the other options they were offering.

  12. DC YAM says :

    Really interesting option. I’m not opposed to a Wi-Fi only plan, but I would want it to be less than $30/month. We have a $100/month plan for 2 lines unlimited everything, so I’d have trouble giving up unlimited data for $40/month. Still…a great option if you are looking to cut costs and save (at least) $40/month for a couple.

    • Kalie says :

      Some commenters posted about less expensive Wi-Fi only plans with other carriers. Since I was coming from a dumb phone I didn’t feel like I was giving anything up. But I know what you mean about downgrading–it has to be worth the savings.

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