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How I Turned Amex Credit Card Perks Into (Almost) Free Cell Service

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Free Wireless Service

Free Cell Service

I have a hot and cold relationship with my phone.  I enjoy my phone’s convenience and capabilities, but it fills my life with unnecessary distraction and connectivity.  Phone commercials and stores clutter everywhere, and I couldn’t be less interested in people who talk about their phones.  Today, I’m going to be one of those annoying people, but with the intent of doing some good.  How?  By sharing my plan for long term free (or close to it) cell service.  I’m using three main ingredients for free wireless service – a mobile virtual network operator, an unlocked phone, and my Amex Business Platinum cards.  Let’s go!

What Is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator?

I want to lie down after I type those four words.  But a mobile virtual network operator enables something I’m interested in – cheaper wireless service.  Specifically, a mobile virtual network operator is a wireless communications services provider that doesn’t own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.  An MVNO negotiates with traditional providers at wholesale rates then independently sets its own prices and provides services directly to consumers.

Many mobile virtual network operators exist today.  Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Straight Talk, Mint Mobile, Visible, and Republic Wireless are just a few examples.  I’ve found very reasonable rates with mobile virtual network operators in comparison to their more traditional counterparts.

Free Wireless Service

An Unlocked Phone

By owning an unlocked phone not tied to a contract or specific provider, I’m essentially a wireless free agent.  If I find a better price or product, I can cancel my service with one company and more quickly pursue the better deal.  Of course, buying a phone is a higher up front cost, but it’s a worthy purchase for the freedom it enables for me.  One also doesn’t need to overpay – I’ve historically found great phones under $200 that meet all of my needs.

My Wireless Situation

I’ve been with Republic Wireless for several years.  In the past, I’ve paid $20 monthly for wireless service and 1GB of data.  This service was cheap enough for me and kept things simple.  Based on some changes at Republic Wireless, I felt the time was right in December to consider a move.

After a bit of research, I decided to move to Mint Mobile.  Mint offers wireless service and 4GB of data for $15 monthly.  By committing to six months, I was able to obtain three of those months free.  That’s $45 for six months and $56.62 after various taxes and fees.  The move was a no-brainer – a cheaper rate, more data, and better coverage for my situation.  I’ve also found call quality and reliability to be excellent.

If I want to stay with Mint Mobile longer term, I can maintain the same monthly rate if I commit to 12 months.  But I can buy into a bit more flexibility if I want, instead.  Three and six month plans are $25 and $20 per month, respectively.

Free Wireless Service

Enter the Amex Business Platinum Wireless Credit

As part of the Amex Business Platinum refresh, cardholders enjoy a few enhanced benefits along with a future annual fee increase.  One of those benefits is the $120 annual/$10 monthly wireless credit.  Based on my previous research (and a helpful MtM Diamond member), I knew that Mint triggered this credit.  I also determined that Mint Mobile has a wallet function.  Customers can add wallet funds as needed for more data, international calls, etc.  I’ve been advised that wallet funds can be used to cover the monthly bill, as long as enough wallet balance exists.

Like many of you, I have plenty of Amex Business Platinum card accounts – more than I care to admit.  I paid for my initial fee of $56.62 for six months up front.  This purchase triggered a $10 wireless credit, and I earned 1k Membership Rewards via the Rakuten portal.  Incorporating my Amex cashout strategy, my service cost is $35.62 all-in for six months.

But what about the additional wireless credits on my other Business Platinum cards?  I’m using each of those to individually load $10 to my wallet monthly.  Each of my loads have triggered the wireless credits on my different Business Platinums.  By following this process across multiple Business Platinum cards over the next six months, I’ll have enough to cover my next service term, regardless of the length I choose.

There is one wrinkle.  I’ve noticed for each $10 I load to my wallet, Mint Mobile charges a “recovery fee” of $0.50.  The only available load denominations are $5, $10, and $20, so I’m stuck paying this fee in order to maximize the credit.  This won’t be completely free wireless service, but it’s close enough for me!

How To Get Free Cell Service: Conclusion

By moving service providers and carefully incorporating the Amex Business Platinum wireless credit, I obtained six months of service for $35.62 and enabled future service for a few bucks per month.  I imagine many have made similar moves with other mobile virtual network operators.  Of course, these services, including Mint Mobile, will inevitably tweak their pricing.  I can’t guarantee close to free wireless service long term, but I’ll be able to substantially decrease my wireless costs for the foreseeable future.  What methods have you used to decrease or zero out your phone bill?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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