Why Clark Howard Switched His Cell Phone Service After 18 Years With T-Mobile

Money expert Clark Howard has been on a grandfathered T-Mobile plan with family and friends for nearly 20 years. However, he recently left the major carrier for a more affordable plan with a smaller cell phone service provider.

"I recently went through the process of switching cell phone carriers. There are so many opportunities for you to save money on your bill," says Clark. "I had been a customer of T-Mobile for a long, long time. I think for 18 years, and I dumped them recently."

In this article, I’ll share why Clark Howard decided to leave T-Mobile, how he decided on his new phone plan and how you can save money by finding a cheaper phone plan for yourself.

Why Clark Howard Left T-Mobile After 18 Years

Clark Howard recently examined how much he and his family were paying for cell phone service with T-Mobile. He also reflected on the recent changes the company has gone through and how it’s affected him as a consumer.

"The reason that I left T-Mobile, and obviously I'd been a very loyal T-Mobile customer, is that T-Mobile is now owned by a foreign entity, a German company," says Clark. "When they went from being US-controlled to German Controlled, the purpose of the company changed. T-Mobile had been all about being the "Uncarrier" and offering much better deals than AT&T and Verizon. And the German owners now are really about squeezing more money out of every subscriber. There's no problem with that; that's what they decided their goal and objective is. Well, I didn't want to be squeezed." 

Since the new ownership, Clark reports that T-Mobile's customer service is not nearly as good as it used to be. Plus, recent price increases on older T-Mobile plans have made them less of a deal. 

Instead of accepting the new changes and paying more on the monthly phone bill, Clark decided it was time for him and his family to make the switch.

"Now that we've all gone different places, every last one of us is paying a lot less money than it cost for us collectively all added together and divided out to be with T-Mobile because of the price increases," says Clark. "This isn't a bash T-Mobile moment. It's about you, whoever you're with. If you're a creature of habit and you keep paying whatever you're paying, are you throwing money away?"

T-Mobile isn't the only company to assume its customers will accept higher prices. AT&T recently announced price hikes on older plans coming in August. Plus, Verizon Wireless changed its plan lineup last year.

No matter which cell phone service provider you're with or how long you've been with them, it's important to ensure you aren't overpaying for cell phone service. Instead, you can switch to a more affordable provider and save on your monthly bill.

Clark Howard’s New Phone Service Provider: Google Fi Wireless

Clark had several family members and even friends on his old T-Mobile plan. So where did they go after leaving T-Mobile?

Clark and several of his family members went to Google Fi Wireless.

"Why did we go to Google Fi? Because I love to travel. Google Fi treats your data plan when you're outside the U.S. as you're in the U.S. You don't have to deal with bill-shock when you're overseas," says Clark. "So it was a really clear choice because it was much cheaper per month for the four of us that migrated from T-Mobile over to Google Fi and the porting was really, really easy."

If you're also a frequent traveler, Google Fi Wireless could be a great phone carrier for you. The company runs on T-Mobile's network and offers three different plans starting as low as $20/month for one line. The Unlimited Plus plan costs $65/month for one line, and international data is included in over 200 destinations. Plus, you can save even more with multi-line discounts.

You can read our full review of Google Fi here.

What about everyone else that was on Clark’s phone plan? He helped them shop for cheaper phone plans that met their individual needs.

For example, he moved one of his daughters to Visible because of her cellular Apple Watch. The service was costing her an additional $15/month with T-Mobile, but it's included for free with Visible's premium plan. Plus, she signed up for an annual plan with Visible ($395) which makes the service $32/month.

"She now has unlimited everything on a rock-solid Verizon plan sold through their discount brand Visible," says Clark. "She gets the phone service and she has the watch. Porting her from T-Mobile to Visible happened in a blink."

You can read our full Visible review here.

Everyone else on Clark's old T-Mobile plan went to Mint Mobile. Mint Mobile is owned by T-Mobile and offers access to the same network. However, Clark says that T-Mobile's new ownership hasn't impacted the prices and customer service at Mint Mobile.

"These people are on three different rate plans depending on how much data they need and they're all on annuals where you just pay for a full year in advance," says Clark. "The customer service at Mint Mobile always was extraordinarily good. So far, T-Mobile has not changed that. It still seems to be really good at Mint Mobile."

Clark says that the individuals who switched to Mint Mobile months ago are very happy with their service so far. Mint Mobile offers plans beginning as low as $15/month. New customers can sign up for any plan at this rate for the first three months.

You can read our full review of Mint Mobile here.

How To Shop for a Cheaper Phone Plan

If you’re ready to start saving money on your cell phone bill, consider switching to a more affordable service provider.

It can be overwhelming at first to start shopping for a new phone plan, but we've researched hundreds of plans and providers to help you make the best choice. You can see all of our top picks for the best cell phone plans here.

To get started, consider how much data you use every month. You can usually find this information on your cell phone bills or by logging into your account on your service provider's website. According to a recent report, 76% of customers have an unlimited phone plan, and 63% of those customers use less than 15GB of data per month. At Mint Mobile, for example, you can get 15GB of data for as low as $20/month at regular pricing.

In addition to your data usage, consider which perks you use from your phone plan. If you have a cellular watch, like Clark’s daughter, Visible’s premium plan ($45/month) could be an excellent option. It includes cellular watch service for free.

Finally, as you're shopping for a new cell phone service provider, don't discount the small carriers. Studies show they have better customer service than The Big Three, and we know they have better prices. Plus, they operate on the same towers.

"The companies that are the best at customer service on the latest ratings from the ACSI— the ones that rated the highest, and it's not even close, are all independents that buy wholesale capacity from the Big Three," says Clark.

If you know which network has the best service in your area, you can start by shopping for an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that runs on the same towers.

Here are our top picks for MVNOs that run on each of The Big Three networks:

For more tips, check out these seven easy ways to lower your phone bill. Additionally, you can see all of our top picks for the best cell phone plans here.

How To Switch Cell Phone Service Providers

If you do decide to switch your cell phone service to a cheaper provider, we have a guide that walks you step-by-step through the process.

“I want you to know it’s easier than you might think for you to move your service,” says Clark.

After you’ve found a service provider and plan that you want to switch to, here’s how to port your current phone number:

  1. Check your phone's compatibility or buy a new one. The best way to save money is by bringing your own phone. First, make sure your phone is unlocked. If you've paid off the phone, your phone may already be unlocked. If it isn't, your current carrier can unlock it for you. Then, visit the website of the phone service provider you're switching to and enter your phone's information to make sure it will work on your new network.
  2. Gather all the necessary information from your old plan. To port your phone number, Clark says you'll need the phone number you're porting, the account number associated with your current cell phone provider (which will normally be the same for everyone on your plan) and a temporary-use PIN code for porting your number. Companies can be reluctant to give you a port-out PIN, but even if they send you to a retention specialist, hold your ground and ask for the PIN.
  3. Purchase your new plan and install your new SIM card or configure your eSIM. Once you've activated your new plan, you can start taking advantage of all the perks it offers at a lower price than you're currently paying for cell phone service.

Once you've set up your new service, confirm the cancellation of your old service to avoid any future charges. For more information, check out our full guide on how to avoid the #1 mistake people make when switching cell phone carriers.

Have you switched phone carriers recently? Tell us about your experience in our Clark.com Community!

The post Why Clark Howard Switched His Cell Phone Service After 18 Years With T-Mobile appeared first on Clark Howard.

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