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Remember the days when signing up for cell service meant signing a two-year contract? Blech! Today, you take your unlocked phone to whatever carrier is offering the best deal, switching whenever something better comes along.
Something better just came along: For a limited time, Cheapskate readers can save a whopping 50 percent per month — for six months — on any US Mobile Super LTE unlimited plan.
How? By using promo code cheapskate when you order your SIM card (which is $3.99 shipped). After you receive it and activate service, you’ll automatically receive that discounted rate.
US Mobile in a nutshell
A relative newcomer to the market, US Mobile caters mostly to bring-your-own phone customers (though it does sell phones as well). Until very recently, it was strictly a T-Mobile-powered GSM carrier.
Now, US Mobile offers service from “America’s biggest 4G LTE network,” and while it’s not allowed to name names, I am: Verizon. So today’s deal is for folks who have Verizon-compatible phones and want Verizon’s generally stellar coverage and performance.
Is your phone compatible? US Mobile’s network page lets you check: Scroll down a bit and click “check phone compatibility.” Basically, most iPhones (5s and later) will work, as will any Google Nexus or Pixel model, any Moto G4 or better, any phone that works on a Tracfone network (Net10, Straight Talk, etc.), the Essential phone and so on.
US Mobile’s unlimited plans range from $35-75 per month. With the 50-percent-off option, you’re therefore looking at anywhere from $17.50 to $37.50. (After six months, you will, of course, be charged the regular rates.) There’s also a $4 service fee on top of each plan.
Here’s what’s interesting about the options: They’re based not only on usage, but also on speed.
Thus, the $35 Standard plan nets you 100 voice minutes, 100 text messages and unlimited data — but with a speed cap of 1Mbps. The $45 Fast plan bumps that cap to 5Mbps, while the $65 Ludicrous plan (love it!) has no cap on speed.
I’ve actually never tested a phone on Verizon’s network, but US Mobile is absolutely right to dub that plan “Ludicrous speed.” See the accompanying screenshot: nearly 123Mbps down and 45Mbps up!
Here’s my question: Does a phone really need that kind of speed? Here’s my answer: no. I suspect most users would be perfectly happy on the Fast plan, which is why I recommend the $57/month ($28.50 with code) tier that includes unlimited everything and mobile hotspot.
See, I’m on Cricket, which relies on AT&T’s network but caps download speed at 8Mbps. I can still stream full-screen HD video just fine, and nothing about my overall day-to-day connectivity feels slow.
What’s more, I asked US Mobile to downshift my loaner phone to Fast from Ludicrous. Honestly, I noticed very little difference in overall performance. The only reason I’d probably opt for Ludicrous — aside from the awesome name — is if I used mobile hotspot a lot and needed to share that bandwidth with multiple devices.
Bottom line: If you have a compatible phone, here’s your chance to hop on Verizon’s network for cheap.
Bonus deal: Recently we redecorated our living room, and wanted a stylish-looking speaker to pair with an Echo Dot. Of course, many of the options out there — especially those for cheapskate budgets — are less-than-stylish-looking plastic bricks.
Thankfully, I found one that’s quite lovely, with a mixture of black cloth around the body and rich-looking bamboo on the front and back. And there’s a deal to be had! For a limited time, and while supplies last, Archeer (via Amazon) has the A320 bamboo Bluetooth speaker for $39.89 shipped when you apply promo code 23AJAQHF at checkout. Regular price: $70.
As you can see in the photo (from my actual end table!), the A320 sports two small drivers and a subwoofer. It’s portable, with a battery that’s good for up to 11 hours, but I leave it plugged in full-time and paired with the Dot. (Thankfully, it doesn’t automatically shut off in that configuration — a problem with some portable speakers.) Just take note that there’s no wall plug included, only a USB cable, and it requires at least a 2A power supply.
I’m no audiophile, but to my ears the A320 sounds quite good. When I listen to music, it’s mostly in the background when I work or read, so I’m not super-particular about the highs and lows and whatnot. I especially like that it can pair with up to eight devices, so I can bypass the Dot with my phone if I’m so inclined.
A few reviewers on Amazon mentioned a finicky charging port. I haven’t encountered that problem; YMMV. Archeer does back this with an 18-month warranty, which gives me ample peace of mind.
Bonus deal No. 2: As I’ve noted before, small-business owners need every edge they can get. Here’s a deal that affords more than 40 edges: AppSumo’s Briefcase includes dozens of business products and services for $49 per month. Combined value of those products and services: over $1,000 per month.
I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Briefcase includes tools for everything from analytics and ecommerce to marketing and design. Even if only, say, 10 of them prove useful, the bundle more than pays for itself. What’s more, this is a month-to-month deal, so you can cancel at any point along the way; you don’t have to sign up for a year or anything like that.
Black Friday deals: See every Black Friday 2017 deal we’ve found so far.
Holiday Gift Guide: CNET’s full gift guide, including dozens of products priced under $25, $50 and $100.