Is a $20 Per Month Cell Phone Plan Real? What’s the Catch?
Is there really such a thing as a $20 per month unlimited cell phone plan? Full disclosure, I have not been paid by either Optimum/Altice or At&t. I had been a customer of At&t for about 15 years. For the most part, I really didn't have too many complaints. The biggest one I had was that for some reason I would end up paying more when my contract was up. When I say more, it would go up a few dollars, in general, no big deal. Their explanation was that they were offering me more services, like entertainment tickets or movie tickets on Tuesdays or something(?).
Allegedly, there were also fees that I was paying for what was supposed to be upgrades to the system. I have an iPhone, a data plan with roll over unused gigs, unlimited talk and text. I would pay, depending on if I was paying for the phone or not, $68-$98 per month for one phone. I did not share the plan or what ever with anyone. My phone has been fully paid for and I was out of contract in March of 2019.
So when I get an email from Optimum (aka the allegedly evil cable company/Altice) offering me a $20 per month unlimited plan, I had to do some research. I couldn't find out too much online, so I had to drive to their offices in Wappingers to ask them the questions.
So, here's the scoop. It's $20 for (allegedly) lifetime. To get that rate, I have to be an Optimum customer (if you are not an Optimum customer you would pay $30 per month) and the bill has to be on auto pay, either a credit card or checking account.
So I asked "Is this a cable lifetime? You know, like in 2 years you are going to increase my rates?" The associate said, no that this is just a promotion for customers to sign up and it will be offered to people who sign up before a certain time. If I chose to manually make payments each month and not have on auto pay, it would be $25 a month (plus taxes and fees). So with the $20 a month, I will be in for less than or at about $28.
The service is using the Sprint and At&t towers. In the Hudson Valley, Sprint does not have the best track record and somewhere in the small print I read that if I do go over 3 gigs of data, they can throttle it until the next billing cycle. I don't watch tv or stream to much video, so I am not too worried about that.
What kind of customer service do you get with a $20 per month cell phone plan? I am not sure I can use the word awful or not. There isn't a number where you can just call and talk with a person, you have to text chat via the website or mobile app. I started to ask a question on a Thursday afternoon, and after waiting 15 minutes for a representative, I signed off. Then comes Saturday, and I had to wait about 20 -25 minutes to get a customer service rep. Then the interaction took about 35-40 minutes and they still weren't able to solve one of my issues. Come to think of it, I signed off without having either issue truly resolved. *smh*
So, is a $20 per month cellphone plan worth it? I'm not lovin' the 'service' part of it, but the monthly payment is hard to not consider.
Side note, I owned the phone outright, so I was able to unlock it and transfer the same phone number. Once I got the phone unlocked, the phone got its new sim card and 'ported' over all the info etc which took about an hour until I could make calls and texts again. Optimum does have a selection of phones that you can lease on a monthly basis, I just wasn't interested.