This summer marked a big event for me. For the first time in 15 years, I looked for a new cell-phone carrier: Republic Wireless.
You see – I’d been with the same cell phone carrier since college – Verizon – and frankly, I hadn’t run into any issues.
That is, until a couple of months ago when I went to upgrade our two Verizon phones to last years model “iPhone” – for 99¢ each…. They wanted to charge me around $180 in fees to do it.
I walked out the door and immediately started shopping around.
When we got home, I began scouting out other companies and even asked the Crumbs Facebook Community for service provider recommendations. Many of you had already evaluated this area of your budget and were using services like Ting and Page Plus.
After several days of internet sleuthing, one company really stood out to me and kept coming up over and over again: Republic Wireless.
Naturally, I did what anyone else would do: I googled them.
Here were the top results (as in user submitted reviews, less-biased). Notice the stars for the four major carriers.
Then notice the stars for Republic Wireless.
Tiffany and I were intrigued and wanted to know more. I talked to a few reps, learned more about their company philosophy and asked how their phone service worked (and how in the world they are able to make it available so cheap!).
They answered all my questions and offered to send us a couple of demo phones to try so we could share our experience with you guys… assuming we liked it, of course.
If the fact that we’re writing this post hasn’t given it away, Republic Wireless totally rocks (and no, we’re not getting paid to say that)!
Republic Wireless – Cell Phone Service for the Budget Conscious
(1) Republic Wireless Leverages Wifi
They are the ONLY cell phone company that utilizes Wifi to its fullest potential.
I know that sounds a bit geeky, so let me explain.
When you make a phone call or send a text with all other cell phone companies (Verizon, AT&T, etc.), your message is sent through your local cell phone tower. Republic Wireless was designed to route through Wifi FIRST, and THEN the local cell phone tower.
It’s a hybrid of connectivity, so to speak.
- When you’re at home, your phone connects to your Wifi. Your calls/text/data will be routed through your home internet.
- When you’re at Starbucks or the library or any other place that has Wifi, your calls/text/data will be routed through that internet connection.
- If you’re somewhere where is isn’t any Wifi, your calls/text/data will be routed using the local cell phone tower.
- If you start with Wifi and then go out of range, your phone will automatically transition to the local cell phone tower. And you won’t even notice.
Wondering if you can get service in your area? Republic Wireless has this awesome coverage map to help you out.
(2) They’re super affordable
Their phone plans start at just $5 per month. Seriously.
Republic Wireless can offer crazy cheap plans because of the Wifi leverage.
Remember how Republic Wireless is using Wifi first? Well most people have Wifi set up at home, or at work or a friend’s house. Wifi is really everywhere!
Regardless of where you are, Wifi data is free.
While the $5 plan is Wifi only, they also offer a $10 plan that allows you to have unlimited talk and text anywhere you go. You can get data – without any additional charges – by hooking up to available Wifi.
If you want to have data all the time, even when you’re not in range of Wifi, you can get 0.5 G for $7.50. Think you need more? Not sure if you’ll use it all?
Republic Wireless refunds you for any unused data every month.
Republic Wireless recently conducted a trial to see how much data customers were actually using, so that they could refund/charge for the usage appropriately. The average customer only used 0.3 G data.
This is what makes Republic Wireless so different. Most other cell phone carriers charge you for the full data package, and leave it there. It didn’t matter whether or not you used it all – you paid for it, and that was that.
For the average customer that uses only 0.3 G of data, this is a refund of $3, making the average cell phone bill for text, talk and data just $14.50 each month.
Update: I just found out that Republic Wireless offers an INCREDIBLE discount to teachers! Half off wireless plans AND half off data. This is in addition to the incredible prices I already shared.
(3) They have cool phones
As of posting date, Republic Wireless offers three phones that work with their Wifi-first hybrid technology: Motorola Moto E, Moto X and Moto G.
All three phones are smartphones (obviously), but even the “low end” phone has high-end specs (which you can read about here).
Price wise, the Moto G is the most affordable. It’s recently been slashed to just $99 – a HUGE discount compared to the $180 price tag you’ll find other places. (Republic expects to be out of stock on the Moto G before the month is up though. Just a heads up if you’re interested!).
Even the Moto E and Moto X (mid- and high-level, respectively) are competitively priced too. The Moto X in particular is $200 less than if you bought through Verizon!
iPhone users should also know that the Moto X has more features and costs less than the iPhone 6… which is cool, because Tiffany used to be an iPhone user (before she switched to Republic Wireless).
(4) 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
Directly from their website:
If you are not completely satisfied with Republic Wireless or your phone with WiFi Hybrid Calling, you can return it for a full refund (minus shipping). We figure a month is long enough to know whether the phone and our service are for you. Simply contact us within 30 days of joining and we’ll cancel your service, provide instructions for returning your phone, and process your refund upon receiving it.
Republic Wireless will refund the cost of the phone AND the service so you’re not stuck owning a phone that you’ll never use. Pretty nifty if you ask me.
Feel free to test it out and forward your phone number. If for whatever reason you don’t like Republic Wireless, you’ll get a refund on what you paid them and will still have your old provider to fall back on. Read the full terms and conditions here.
(5) No Contract and the Ability to Change Your Plan Twice per Month
There’s no contract with Republic Wireless. Leave if you want to, when you want to.
Or don’t. It’s your choice.
If you want to change your plan, no worries there either. You can change it twice each month without any penalties. Republic Wireless is constantly testing to improve their service, and it’s kinda cool to be able to test new plans to see if it saves you money in the long run (and not be penalized for doing so)… instead of being stuck in whatever was a good deal at the time.
(6) It Works Internationally Without Strings Attached
There are no roaming fees, no international fees and no hassle with international SIM cards. You only need Wifi, and there are very few places on earth now without internet.
We visited Costa Rica earlier this year without a phone. Simply put, our Verizon phones would not work. We would have had to “rent” a phone from a third party phone rental provider and pay several hundred dollars in return.
Um, not gonna happen.
If we had been with Republic Wireless while on our trip, it would have cost us just $5 for the month.
Too Good to be True?
We are so impressed with Republic Wireless, that we’ve completely switched over and cancelled our Verizon accounts.
Even the coolest services out there have some drawbacks. Before you jump ship, here are three things worth mentioning:
- You must use a Republic phone. Because of the super cool technology of seeking Wifi first, you will have to buy one of their phones (they start at $99).
- Their phones come with big, beautiful screens… which means you need to get a case. This might be a non-issue if you already have a smartphone, but it’s something I’ve had to learn coming from an old school flip phone… and I learned it the hard way, unfortunately. The good news is cases are easy to find. I chose a simple black one and Tiffany picked one with a pink/teal chevron design – and we paid with Swagbucks!
- You might get a little “static ” if you’re teetering the line between wifi and cell tower service. This is a rarity, and as we’ve been testing and using Republic Wireless exclusively for the past 30 days, we’ve noticed it just a couple of times (it resolved itself within seconds). Republic releases updates frequently (which we downloaded) and haven’t heard it since.
Republic Wireless is a hidden gem among cell phone carriers, and we’re honored to partner with and support them.
We love their hybrid service, which is both frugal and geeky. We love their phones and how easy they are to use. We love their customer service and understand why 95% of customers who try Republic Wireless stay.
The fact that we ended our 15+ year relationship with Verizon Wireless is proof in the pudding!
Is Republic Wireless right for you? Use this handy tool – they’ll walk you through your concerns and help you make the right choice.
Have you heard of Republic Wireless before? What do you think about their hybrid connection model?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By making a purchase through those links, I will earn commission that helps to keep the lights on in the Crumbs house – with no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Crumbs in this way. This post was sponsored by Republic Wireless: we were not paid to write this post, but received a phone to keep. All opinions are 100% mine. Read my full disclosure statement here.
Question, if using Wifi, are we needing to access it via ‘settings’ on our phone or it all happens automatically?
The phone will recognize that there’s wifi in the area, but you have to manually connect the first time. If you return to a wifi spot (like a coffee shot), the phone will automatically connect on subsequent visits!
This is a very helpful review. I am always looking for recommendations for lowering our phone bill!
As far as I can tell, in 2020, the lowest monthly charge is $15/mo. (or less, if paid by the year) but not just $10. Maybe this is a change in RW pricing? Or am I missing something?
Also, I am always careful about free wifi, especially if I am logging in with a password to something online. I’m not sure I would be comfortable with this auto-on feature of RW phones and service.
How do you feel about that aspect of your phone service?
I’m glad it helped, Judy! I think this is a change of pricing by RW. This review is a few years old. 😉 We haven’t had any issues using public/free wifi. We don’t do much password-related stuff on our phones outside of our house though – we might be the oddballs!
I have had RW for 2 years and have never been sorry. I just want to point out that with the new phones that rolled out 7/28/16, it isn’t a refund plan anymore. I did order a new one, and I will not be able to keep my refund plan. But I feel $20 a month is more than reasonable anyway for 1 GB data (I know I use less than .5 GB with the Wifi). If you buy or order an older model I believe you still can get it.
Thanks for the clarification Cindy! I read about the new phones, but not the change in plans. I’ll definitely go over and catch up on all the changes!
Thanks to your post we have decided to give Republic a try. We are trying everything we can to reduce our monthly bills. They only offer 14 day money back guarantee but that should be long enough to see if it is a good fit for us. We both use wifi the majority of the time. I don’t like being forced to buy data from the large carriers. And I love the fact that we will be reimbursed for unused data. Their phones are nice quality. It was hard to spend the initial cost up front for the phones but our monthly cost was the big concern. With two lines, each with 1 gb of data, our monthly will be 46.18 vs 127.00 for our current service. The bonus of no contract is awesome as well. Thank you for the post. I made sure to use your link and I also told them that you were the reason we switched!
Have a lovely day, I will do a follow up comment after our trial period to let the readers know what our decision is.
Congrats for making the switch Angel! I hope you like them as much as we do, and I think 14 days should be enough to decide whether to stay or go. Just be sure to really dig in and understand the WiFi features and such. One of the coolest parts about having RW is finding WiFi spots and hooking up. As you said, they reimburse you for unused data. So really the more spots you find, the cheaper your bill!!
(Tip: Always check for WiFi before connecting to the internet or to apps. Just make it a habit and you’ll have saved WiFi’s in no time!)
I want to share my experience with Republic Wireless with you and your readers.
My husband and I joined Republic Wireless and ordered our new phones.We did not cancel our current service because we wanted to try the service first. The phones arrived quickly, setting them up was a breeze. The phones they offer are top notch. We ordered the Nexus 6P and Moto G4. We have a tendency to look at all the reviews of a particular item we are considering purchasing for several days sometimes weeks before we make the purchase. Both of these phone met our satisfaction.
The wifi service is great. Our problem was and this is why we eventually cancelled our service, is that we live in a very rural area. When we traveled (to work for my hubby and to the grocery store for me) we would be in dead zones for way too long for our comfort. Since Sprint is the data carrier and their coverage of our area is spotty we couldn’t utilize the data option in the dead zones. Therefore, we cancelled.
Now, I said in my earlier comment that they reimburse for unused data, but that is no longer the case. All the phones offered are for the 3.0 plans and that plan does not offer the reimbursement. BUT, if you are in a more urban area then this service is still a wonderful option. Our bill for two lines was 43.00 a month and no contract. Although, you do have to purchase the phone upfront and they do offer payment plans though not interest free. But, considering that the big name carriers are moving in this direction and away from contracts it just isn’t that big of deal. Even in a contract you inadvertently pay for that “free” phone. If you want to cancel your service with Republic, you can keep the phone and take it to another carrier because their phones are unlocked. You will want to verify that the phone is compatible with you particular carrier. CDMA is used by Verizon and Sprint GSM is used by AT&T and T-Mobile. Republic uses Sprint as their data carrier and we are with Verizon so it all worked out fine for us.
In the end we cancelled, sent back our phones for a full refund(the phones are inspected carefully before the refund is issued and they give a very generous window for return once the return order is started) and went back to our current carrier. We did re-purchase unlocked versions of the phones we ordered from Republic because we liked them so much. We decided not to keep the Republic phones due to our quirkiness with having someone fiddle with our phone before we get it. We wanted sealed up, untouched phones therefore the decision to send back Republic’s phones.
The return was super simple. Their website offers a link to start the return and they send you a postage paid label immediately via email that you print out and affix to the ORIGINAL box (don’t throw away your original box until you are certain you are staying with Republic). You can then put it into your mailbox, drop it at the Post Office or at a FedEx location. Easy Peasy! I love when the return process is simple, I hate jumping through hoops!
So that is it. Ultimately, I would say give them a try. I liked their service, I loved their phones and their customer service is very good, just not for rural areas.
This is a very thorough and great review Angel. I appreciate you sharing your experience, despite that it wasn’t a good fit for your family!
This sounds like a great company, however we avoid using wifi, especially at home, due to the health risks. Public wifi is also unsecure as others have mentioned. If we have to buy data it does not seem like the best deal, depending on data usage. It’s nice to see companies like this bringing in some competition. Hopefully, they’ll reconsider data plans.
Do you have any links to share on the health risks of WiFi Angela? I’ve heard about it through the grapevine, but haven’t seen any science to back it up. Plus just because you don’t use WiFi, doesn’t mean you’re not around it… not taking jabs, just food for thought. As for public WiFi not being secure, I’d just simply suggest to NOT use applications that require a password at those times. 🙂
Remember that when you’re using wifi, the signals only have to travel to the box in your house. Cell phone signals have to travel to the cell phone tower—they’re much, much stronger. We choose wifi over cell whenever possible for this reason.
I changed to Republic Wireless and am so happy with the cost and service.
I’ve been with Republic for a few months & absolutely LOVE it! I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t transfer my old cell number, but that is a small price to pay for the great new phone (Moto G) & service. I would recommend to anyone that you at least check them out & give them a try, you have 30 days to decide.
Awesome Rhonda! Glad you love them. We’re really happy we switched too! Guess it depends where you live, or who you’re previous carrier was – we were able to port our old number over.
Can’t beat the 30 day money back guarantee!
I love your blog. I wasn’t really considering switching. I have an iphone with Tmobile and my husband has a company paid iphone. But, I pay like $90 on just my service. I may have to make the switch. Thanks for doing this post!
Tiffany @ Dontwastethecrumbs.com
First off, thank you for the compliment! I’m glad you’re here!
I hear you! $90 is a lot for a phone bill! We weren’t considering switching from Verizon, until they pulled a “bait and switch” on us when we went in to sign a new contract.. We were paying $115(ish) for one smart phone and one old flip phone (with no text)!
We have been really pleased so far with Republic Wireless!. I am on month two and my husband is on month three with our Moto X’s. While I used to love my iPhone, the Moto X has turned out to be just as good (if not better) for our needs!
Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!
I want to switch. What ‘accessories’ come with the phone? I can’t find anything that lists them. I mean does it come with a charger? ear buds? pretty much the standard stuff? Thanks,
Tiffany @ Dontwastethecrumbs.com
Bobbi, it looks like just the standard phone and charger. They have accessories through Republic that are priced pretty reasonably as well. We ended up purchasing cases and screen protectors through Amazon for around $10 each.
thank! I was just making sure that the charger came with. 🙂 yay!
My question is: does using WiFi potentially make your phone more prone to hackers? And we do not have WiFi at home for this reason. I would be very careful about doing accessing your bank or doing financial transactions on these phones. All the WiFi users in our building are locked with a password so I’m guessing these phones couldn’t use them. I wonder if we are using a tower more than WiFi if that changes what Republic would charge? I need to ask them
Hi Ginger, we don’t do any financial transactions on our phones – but keep in mind that most banking sites run https, instead of http which (I believe) encrypts your traffic (whether you are on wifi or wireless). Also, consider that when you log into banking websites all of your traffic routes over the “public” internet.
The phones can use wifi locked with a password, you just need a password 🙂
Again, any technical/security questions, please direct them to RW!