USA Only: Do you often send international SMS/text messages? Switch to Simple Mobile to get free unlimited international text-messaging (and potentially save money on your voice/data plans too).

$0.20-$0.25 per text message. 20-25 bloody cents per bloody text message. I realize it costs carriers more to deliver a text message internationally than it does domestically, but not enough to charge 20-25 cents per message. 20-25 cents per message is simply opportunistic. On top of that, the big 4 – T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T – don’t offer any sort of package allowing for unlimited international text messages, so if you do want to text internationally you really are SOL. Well, not anymore.

Want to know a simple trick to save money on your monthly phone bill? Go with an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) rather than one of the big 4. Sure, you will have to prepay as opposed to postpay, but the savings can be enormous (depending on your needs) and you are never bound by those ugly contracts (so you can get up and leave whenever you want). One such MVNO is Simple Mobile.

Simple Mobile is an MVNO that piggy backs off T-Mobile’s network (i.e. anywhere you get T-Mobile coverage you will get Simple Mobile coverage, and Simple Mobile’s network will perform identically to T-Mobile’s network) and offers customers with the choice of three plans:

In of themselves, the plans are very cheap, compared to what the big 4 have, considering the features they offer. However, the feature I want to highlight is the ability to send unlimited international text/SMS messages: All three of Simple Mobile’s plan come with free, unlimited international text/SMS messages though (“free” in the sense that you are not charged on a per message basis… you still pay for the plan, though). A list of all supported destinations (over 380 worldwide) can be found here.

And the cool thing about Simple Mobile is you can use your own phone (assuming you have a GSM enabled phone) – simply pop in the Simple Mobile SIM card (Simple Mobile has no “activation fees” but it costs $12.99 to purchase a SIM card) and you are ready to go.

However, Simple Mobile isn’t perfect either. The not-so-cool aspects of Simple Mobile are:

  • While you can send unlimited international text/SMS messages, you cannot send international MMS/picture messages.
  • The $40 plan does not include domestic picture/MMS messages. You need the $50 or $60 to be able to send picture/MMS messages within the USA.
  • Simple Mobile does not offer any family plans. So, if you belong to a family that shares a plan Simple Mobile may actually be more expensive for you since you have to purchase the $40/50/60 monthly plans for each phone.
  • Simple Mobile allows you to add on international calling for an extra $10 a month. However, even after those $10 a month you are charged on a per minute basis and the international calling rates are expensive compared to alternative services you can use to call internationally.

Another not-so-hot aspect to Simple Mobile is T-Mobile’s network. Although some may claim T-Mobile’s network is not as bad as AT&T’s (this point is debatable), T-Mobile is known for having spotty coverage (depending on where you live – be sure to check coverage map). If you despise T-Mobile’s network, Boost Mobile is an MVNO that offers similar plans as Simple Mobile (everything unlimited for $50 a month + $10 a month for unlimited international text/SMS) but Boost Mobile runs on Verizon’s network, which as I am sure all American cell phone users know, is probably the best in the USA in terms of coverage Sprint’s network. However, if you do decide to go with Boost Mobile realize that you can only use Boost Mobile cell phones and will have to purchase one from them if you don’t have a Boost Mobile phone already. (As a side note, if you are a data junkie, Virgin Mobile – which also uses Verizon’s Sprint’s network – is an MVNO that offers dirt-cheap unlimited data plans [no international text/SMS though]. However, like Boost Mobile, with Virgin Mobile you can only use Virgin Mobile cell phones and the Virgin Mobile cell phones list is very, very skimpy.)

All in all, though, Simple Mobile can be a very attractive service depending on your needs. If you are a regular international text-messager, don’t even think twice before switching to Simple Mobile (or Boost Mobile, if that is what you prefer), because you will save a ton of money by not having to shell out 20-25 cents per text/SMS message.

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17 comments

  1. Dizzle

    I down graded from T-mobil paying $73/mo to simple mobile $40 unlimited talk and txt. First 2 days were ok or maybe i wasn’t paying attention, now all my calls goes to direct to voicmail and im not even receiving txt messages from people, until i make a phone call then all messages comes in at one time txt and voice! I’ve called them twice and they’ve reset the location tower nearest to me, and it works for a minute or two, and they cant do anything else about it. I never had this problem before. Im in down town santa monica. I guess thats what you get for trying to be cheap. You get what you pay for! Im switching carrier again this week. This is unacceptable!

  2. newJason

    I have been using Boost for almost 2 years now and I love it. 60 bucks a month, never a penny more. I get Unlimited Talk, Text, Web, and PTT (Push to Talk – Walkie Talkie) for 50 and I pay the extra 10 dollars for unlimited international Text. International Calls are extra but the call quality is amazing so I don’t mind paying a litttle more for super clear calls. The data network is slower than 3g, but i can live with that. My friend has the unlimited 79 dollar T-Mobile plan, but he always ends up paying over 100 for the bill. The days of extra charges are gone for me. Boost says 50 for everything, and they dont charge for overages because there is no such thing in thier buisness model. Brilliant!

  3. Lantz

    I’m still sticking with ATT. I have the unlimited internet under the grandfather clause and also my sons phone and as for the crossed out comment about Verizon, They are already under investigation for their claims….. They claim coverage in my area of NW PA and Western NY, yet my sons mother and stepdad live in an area that verizon claims to cover and they get no service. Their house is in a dead zone but even in town they get minimal service and lots of dropped calls. My sons At&T phone gets full service at the house and in the four years I’ve been with ATT, I have only ever had two dropped calls within a hundred mile radius.
    But what helps that people either don’t bother with or don’t know about is the retentions department often called the save team. when your contract is up, as long as you have paid your bill on time and have been a steady customer, you can get some good deals. Just call the company and tell them you want to cancel.
    I took my cellphone billing records and sent copies to the retention departments of the other three and negotiated deals to switch and then after getting those offers in writing, at&t blew them all away. We have more than enough minutes and unlimited texting (international too), and unlimited data for 25$ less than the deal above. And AT&T agreed to some other perks that arent usually done.
    Negotiate and you will be surprised at just how much you can get from the big 4.
    And I’m not opposed to prepaid service, it just isn’t helpful at this time for me.

  4. Jason Carver

    @Locutus: I live in a city where the cell phone tower well, its practically a walk in a straight line, if there was not a school yard and cemetery in the way. I can see it from my house. Anyways Tracfone Runs off of Tmobile, AT&T and Verizon depending on the phone technology inside the phone. The tower in my area is bad. It seems that is A CDMA tower. In the area I live in, if I am near that tower, I get very poor reception. If I move to a more commercial shopping center area the reception gets better. The phone I use is Samsung T301G. It gets 6 bars almost all the time. It uses the AT&T network for its reception. So far I am pleased. I once had a Tracfone LG 100C phone and it was horrible. CDMA service is bad in this area.

  5. Locutus

    @Jason Carver: That’s AT&T, right?
    One of the great things about living in a city, within half a mile of an AT&T store, a T-Mobile store, a Verizon store, and probably a Sprint store, next to a highway used for commuting both to downtown and to out of state is that reception is usually at least 3 bars or better.

  6. Steelers6

    I know a lot of people take their web enabled laptops overseas for business and they generally have web access.  This is the case for me.  My company won’t pay for my texts but, if you wish you can send texts via email for free, zip, nada.
    Yes, it defeats the who on the go option, but if you wish to keep in contact while overseas, this is a nice option.  Free text via email.  Here is the link with the info but there are many a sites that you can find about the subject.
    http://www.tech-faq.com/how-to-send-text-messages-free.html
    Hope it helps at least a few people.
    Vidimo Se!

  7. Jason Carver

    I use Tracfone Wireless as my mobile provider. I do not do the constant text messaging thing. I can pay $30 every 90 days and get 240 minutes. Minutes I do not use roll over and accumulate  when I add more time. And if I have to send a text message, it deducts 0.30 minutes from the phone ( 1/3 a minute to send a text, 1/3 a minute to open a text)

  8. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Locutus: Or, you could make it simple like this: $60 per month for all unlimited from Simple Mobile or $79.99 per month all unlimited from T-Mobile (no contract price and without international sms/texts).

    Calculate phone purchase price into that, if you need a new phone. (You can get the Samsung Vibrant for cheaper than $600.)

  9. Locutus

    Hmmm… let’s do some math.  Samsung Vibrant on Amazon.com, unlocked, 600$.  Monthly plan with these guys, $60.  Over two years, that’s 2240$, including the phone.  With T-Mobile, it’s 1 cent on contract, with a complicated contract involving setting up unlimited minutes, web, and messaging all separately.  It comes out to ~100$/month.  2400+.01=2400.01$ over 2 years.
    This service can get you 160$ in savings over T-Mobile if you choose the Galaxy S (the Vibrant)!