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  - revolutionizing the cell phone industry
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  - 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
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
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
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
|data gas tank
|monthly cellular data usage example
||data credit for next month
||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.
||This month you again use .3 GB of data. You will get the same
credit for the next month.
||This month you use .8 GB of data. You will get a credit of $3
(.2x$15) for your next bill.
||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.
||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
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
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
compare it to your other options.
If you use three GB of more of cellular data, Republic may not be your best
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!
* * * * *
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!
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read my original Republic Wireless