Understanding Republic Wireless's new Data Refund plans

August 13, 2016 UPDATE: Republic Wireless no longer offers their Republic Wireless 2.0 Republic Refund plans reviewed before. Please read my updated Republic Wireless review for the new "Republic Wireless 3.0 Clear Choice" plans now offered.

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If there was ever a question of whether or not Republic Wireless was a market disrupter or a radical new kind of cell phone company, there shouldn't be anymore. On July 7, 2015, Republic changed their cellular data plans from the industry-norm "unlimited" data to "pay per GB" data (but get a refund for what you don't use). If they can explain how the new Republic Wireless 2.0 plans work to the average person, and more importantly, how the new data plans will save most smart phone users more money, I think Republic might just change the American cell phone industry pricing structure. Here's my explanation of the new Republic Wireless Data Refund plans, and how they can benefit many smartphone users. For more about Republic Wireless in general and what I think of them, please read my Republic Wireless review.

Republic Wireless 1.0 [2012] - revolutionizing the cell phone industry with WIFI
When Republic Wireless first launched a few years ago, they changed the way cell phones work by developing a HYBRID smart phone that worked for talk, text, and internet on wifi, and used cellular when wifi wasn't available. The great thing about a phone that works on wifi is that wifi is FREE. Of course, one can't drive around and always be on wifi, so Republic arranged with Sprint to provide cell phone service when the phone wasn't on wifi. Republic soon offered four monthly price plans: $5 for unlimited talk, text, and internet on wifi only, $10 for unlimited talk, text, and internet on wifi plus unlimited talk and text on Sprint cellular service, $25 for unlimited talk, text, and internet on wifi plus unlimited talk and text on Sprint cellular service plus "unlimited" (actually 5 GB) of 3G-speed Sprint cellular data, and $40 for unlimited talk, text, and internet on wifi plus unlimited talk and text on Sprint cellular service plus "unlimited" (actually 5 GB) of 4G-speed Sprint cellular data.

Republic Wireless 2.0 [2015] - revolutionizing the cell phone industry with data refund (only pay for what you use)
On July 7, 2015, Republic Wireless ended their "unlimited" (actually 5 GB and not truly unlimited) data plans, including the $25 3G-speed data plan and $40 4G-speed data plan. They kept the $5 wifi only plan as well as the very popular $10 unlimited talk/text over wifi and Sprint plus unlimited internet over wifi, and they added pay-per-gigabyte-data plans where you buy what you need and then get refunded for what you don't use. The price per GB is $15. For example, if you want 1 GB of cellular data per month, your plan cost would be $10 plus $15 = $25. If you don't use all the data, you get a refund/credit for the unused part of the $15 (i.e. if you use 0.6GB, then you get a refund for the 0.4GB of data you didn't use, so you get a credit of $6 [0.4 x $15]). If you need more data during the month, you buy another chunk, but then still get a refund for what you didn't use.

The new Republic Wireless Republic Refund Plans (July 2015):
1. $5 per month - unlimited talk/text/data on wifi, no cellular coverage (same as old plan)
2. $10 per month - unlimited talk/text/data on wifi, unlimited talk/text on cellular (same as old plan)
3. $17.50 per month - unlimited talk/text/data on wifi, unlimited talk/text on cellular, 0.5 GB of refundable cellular data (new!)
4. $25 per month - unlimited talk/text/data on wifi, unlimited talk/text on cellular, 1.0 GB of refundable cellular data (new!)
5. $40 per month - unlimited talk/text/data on wifi, unlimited talk/text on cellular, 2.0 GB of refundable cellular data (new!)
6. $55 per month - unlimited talk/text/data on wifi, unlimited talk/text on cellular, 3.0 GB of refundable cellular data (new!)
* cellular service provided on the Sprint network, talk/text roaming on Verizon, there are restrictions on Verizon roaming data

new Republic Wireless smart phone plans with Republic Refund 2015

How it works, aka the Republic Wireless DATA GAS TANK
I think the easiest way to understand the new Republic Refund plan is to think of the data refund portion as your "cellular data gas tank." If you sign up for the $25 plan, you pay $10 per month plus you have a 1GB "data gas tank" that costs $15 to fill. After you fill it up the first time, then each month, because you are getting a credit for your unused data from the previous month, you end up only paying to top off  your data tank for the cellualr data you used the previous month. The plan you pick determines the size of your data gas tank. But you don't need to worry if it's "too small" and you run out part way through the month, because you can always buy another chunk of data at any time to fill it up (like going to the gas station), and you'll still get credited for any unused data at the end of each month.

For Example...
Let's say you sign up for the $25 Republic Refund data plan (1 GB per month, refundable). You would be charged $25 (plus taxes) for the first month.
Month 1) Let's say you use .3 GB of cellular data. At the end of the month, you would get a credit for your unused data of $10.50 (.7x$15). Your next monthly bill would be $14.50 ($25 - $10.50 credit).
Month 2) Let's say you again use .3 GB. You would get the same credit and you next bill would again be $14.50.
Month 3) Let's say this month you use .8 GB. At the end of the month, you would get a credit for $3 (.2x$15). Your next monthly bill would be $22 ($25-3)
Month 4) Now let's say this month you use 1.4 GB. Well, actually, you couldn't. You would receive a message when you hit 1 GB that you'd used up your data. You wouldn't get any penalty fees or charges, nor would you be automatically billed for more data. You would decide whether to go without cellular data until the end of the month, or you could buy another 1 GB of data for $15, and then get a credit for any unused portion at the end of the month. If you used an additional .4 GB for the month, you would pay the extra $15 and then get a credit of $9 off your next monthly bill.

Republic Refund $25 monthly plan
(has 1.0 GB "data gas tank")
actual monthly cost based on usage

mo month
service
data gas tank total
month
bill
monthly cellular data usage example unused data data credit for next month
1 $10 $15 $25.00 The first month you pay $15 for to fill up your 1 GB data gas tank. Let's say you actually only use .3 GB of cellular data during your first month. You will get a refund credit for the unused data of $10.50 (.7x$15) which will be taken off your next month bill. You don't have to pay $15 for another full data tank. Instead you only pay $4.50 for the data you need to refill (top off) your data gas tank. 0.7 $10.50
2 $10 $4.50 $14.50 This month you again use .3 GB of data. You will get the same credit for the next month. 0.7 $10.50
3 $10 $4.50 $14.50 This month you use .8 GB of data. You will get a credit of $3 (.2x$15) for your next bill. 0.2 $3.00
4a $10 $12 $22 This month you need 1.4 GB of data. You gas tank runs empty at 1.0 and you need to purchase another 1 GB of data for $15. 0 $0
4b n/a $15 $15 You purchased an additional 1 GB of data and used .4 GB of it. You will get a credit for the unused .3 GB for the next month 0.4 $9.00
5 $10 $6 $16      

As is hopefully clear above, with any of the Republic Data Refund plans, because you get refunded for the cellular data you don't use, each month you end up paying $10 plus $15 per GB for the data you actually use.

Put Another Way...
With Republic, for $10 a month, you get unlimited talk and text over wifi and Sprint (with roaming on Verizon) plus unlimited internet data over wifi. If you upgrade to a Republic Refund data plan, you pay each month for a chunk of 4G-speed data and then buy more if you need it or get refunded for what you don't use.
If your average monthly cellular data use is as follows, your average monthly cost would be as follows:
0 GB    -  $10
0.5 GB  - $17.50
1.0 GB -  $25.00
1.5 GB -  $32.50
2.0 GB -  $40.00
3.0 GB -  $55.00
4.0 GB -  $70.00
5.0 GB  - $85.00
If you don't use cellular data, Republic Wireless is an incredible value and should be a no-brainer.
If you use one GB or less of cellular data, Republic is an unbeatable value.
If you use two GB or less of cellular data, Republic is a good value. You should consider it and compare it to your other options.
If you use three GB of more of cellular data, Republic may not be your best choice.

In the end...
If you are a low to average cellular data user, the Republic Refund data plans will save you money. If you are a "high" cellular data user, then Republic Refund may not be the best cell phone service deal out there for you. You need to determine how much cellular data you need or want to use per month. Remember that all your data when you are on wifi is free. The average Republic Wireless customer (with a data plan) uses about .5 GB per month. The average AT&T customer uses about 1.9 GB per month. Once you determine what you think your average monthly cellular data use is, you can estimate your monthly bill. It will be $10 plus $15 times your-average-cellular-data-use (in GB).

An important thing to remember is that you control your cellular data use and cost. You control your your monthly bill. You don't have to worry about your bill ever being more than you expect, though if you use up all your monthly cellular data you will have to purchase more or go without for the rest of the month. The Republic Wireless app allows you to turn cellular data on and off, either for the phone or for specific apps. How much cellular data you use and pay for is totally up to you.

update: for August 2015, the average Republic Wireless Republic Refund customer monthly bill was only $13.82 (plus tax). The next month, in September, the average monthly bill was $13.79. This means the average Republic Wireless customer on a Refund plan used about .25GB of cellular data (which you can do when you have unlimited wifi data), and got their money back for all their unused cellular data. In contrast, for the second quarter of 2015, the average smart phone customer monthly bill on Verizon Wireless was $53.05, on Sprint was $46.12, on T-Mobile was $44.45, and on AT&T was $41.07. You don't have to pay that much for your smart phone monthly service!

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The Old Industry Pricing Model - scare the consumer into paying for what they don't need
Cell phone providers have done a very good job over the years of convincing people to pay for more than they need. I remember the pricing structure from the early days of cell phones when cell phones were only for talking, and one was charged by the minute. A typical price structure might be $30 per month for 100 minutes, or $40 per month for 250 minutes, or $50 per month for 1000 minutes. The catch was that if you went over on your minutes you'd pay an (obscenely ridiculous) penalty of $.50/per minute. If you accidentally went over by 100 minutes you'd have a penalty of $50, or if you went over by 200 minutes you could have a penalty charge of $100! Most people had no idea how many minutes they really need each month, or if some months they'd need more than other month, so they'd play it safe and sign up for the higher priced plan just to avoid the possibility of penalties. AT&T has apparently managed to do this with their data plans. Over half of their customers with data plans with at least of 10 GB data per month, but only use an average of 1.9 GB. The big cell phone companies are well aware of this phenomenon and call it "breakage". They plan on people using a lot less data than they pay for, and the cell phone companies get to keep all the money for the unused data.

Instead of paying for more than you need and then losing what you don't use, wouldn't it be better to just pay for what you actually use?

The New Republic Pricing Model - only pay for what you use
Republic Wireless is changing the cell phone industry pricing model with their new Republic Refund data plans. Now you have the option to only pay for the cellular data you use, and get your money back for what you don't use. The price per GB may initially seem high, until most people realize they weren't ever getting all the data they used to pay for with their "big data" plans. Now with Republic Wireless, you only pay for the cellular data you use, and for a lot of people this can mean that in the end, they pay less on their monthly cell phone bill.

Hopefully, my explanation of the new Republic Data Refund plans has made sense and helped you. If anything isn't clear, or you'd like to add to the discussion, please let me know!

Click here to join Republic Wireless and start saving money!!!

read my original Republic Wireless review

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