Ask Clark: Should I get cell phone service from my cable company?

Ask Clark: Should I get cell phone service from my cable company?
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One of the best deals in the wireless industry right now is from a company that you might not expect to offer a great value — your cable and internet provider.

RELATED: How do I get the cheapest internet service?

What you need to know about wireless service from Comcast and Charter

Last year, I wrote about how I switched to Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and lowered my cell phone bill to $12 a month. Now, there’s a lot of buzz about Charter’s Spectrum Mobile service.

DSLReports says that soon-to-be-launched Spectrum Mobile — like Xfinity Mobile — will run on Verizon’s network.

Competitive pricing

Pricing for the new service is also expected to be similar to Xfinity Mobile. Comcast’s wireless service has two simple monthly data plans to choose from:

  • Unlimited: $45 per line on up to five lines; speeds reduced after 20 GB
  • By the Gig: $12 per GB of shared cellular data across all lines

With Xfinity Mobile, you must be an internet customer to sign up for the mobile deal. It includes unlimited nationwide talk and text, 100 MB of shared data and no line access fees on up to five lines.

“The cable companies are making cell phone service potentially cheaper than any other provider out there because they want to keep you,” money expert Clark Howard says. “In order to keep the special deal that they’ll offer you for monthly cell phone service, you have to stay their customer for the various products they offer.”

Bring your own device — but only if it’s an iPhone 

In addition, Xfinity Mobile only lets iPhone users bring their device to the network. The provider sells about 15 smartphones, including Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Apple’s iPhone X.

The most affordable phone available right now is the LG X charge, which costs $150 or $6.25 a month for two years.

More Wi-Fi, less cellular data

I’ve been able to keep my Xfinity Mobile bill to $12 a month before taxes and fees by relying on Comcast’s 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots whenever possible, reducing my need for cellular data.

Here’s a snapshot of my data usage and monthly charges for the past six months:

  • December 2017: 0.7 GB / $14.93
  • January 2018: 1.0 GB / $15.07
  • February 2018: 0.1 GB / $3.07
  • March 2018: 0.4 GB / $15.07
  • April 2018: 0.6 GB / $15.04
  • May 2018: 0.2 GB / $12 so far
Xfinity Mobile
Xfinity Mobile

Since I only pay for one gigabyte of data at a time, I never feel like I’m being ripped off at the end of the billing cycle.

Did you notice the $3 bill for February? Since I kept my data usage below the 100 MB that’s included at no charge, all I had to pay was taxes and fees that month!

Negotiate a lower internet bill to save more money 

At first, I was a bit concerned that Comcast would increase my internet bill to offset the mobile savings and not let me negotiate a lower rate, but I recently learned that I had nothing to worry about.

When the promotional rate for my internet service expired, I was able to get a better deal in about 15 minutes.

All I did was call Xfinity and ask to be transferred to the retention department — which they call Customer Solutions — and presented them with a better offer from a competitor.

Comcast put me on a brief hold and then offered me another 12 months at the previous promotional rate.

Clark’s bottom line

Is cell phone service from Comcast or Charter a good idea? “If you’re looking to save money and you want to stay with one of the cable operators, this could be a good ticket for your wallet,” Clark says.

Compare your options in Clark’s guide to the best cell phone plans and deals!

Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog,
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