When I think of pre-paid wireless, visions of crowded stores filled with irate customers and annoyingly flirtatious service reps dance in my head. It’s not pretty. So, when I was approached to checkout Aio Wireless, a new kid on the block (launched in May) in the pre-paid cellular game, I was pleasantly surprised. If MetroPCs’ hipster cousin and the Apple Store had a baby, it would look like Aio Wireless.
Aio Wireless stores are airy yet warm in appearance with peace signs and hearts on the wall. Pets are welcome. There’s a place for kids to play. Aio is a subsidiary of AT&T, so that makes me feel better that it has serious and credible backing and is not a fly-by-night start up.
There are three flat rate plans – $40 (non smart phones), $55 and $70. All plans have unlimited talk and text, pre-established high-speed data usage and the taxes and fees are included in the price. There are several phones for purchase on the website, including the Samsung Galaxy Amp, ZTE Overture™ and the iPhone. If you already own an unlocked phone that’s compatible with Aio, you can use the service without having to purchase a phone! You can check on the Aio website to see if your phone, when unlocked, is compatible.
I got a bit of sticker shock when I looked at the prices of purchasing some of the higher-end smart phones on the website. The iPhone 5s 16GB – Gold phone is sold at the market rate of $649. After all, part of the reason why people sign contracts is so that they can get new phones at a lower price. Then I crunched some numbers.
If I purchase a new-to-market smart phone with a contract, the phone may only cost $200, but the monthly bill will probably be higher than Aio. I would probably pay for that discount within the first year. Most contracts have a two-year mandatory minimum (Why did that just read like a jail sentence?). Also, if you want to trade in your old phone for a credit toward purchasing a phone from Aio, that’s an option.
More people are getting into the rental economy scene- city dwellers rent cars through Zipcar, fashionistas rent dresses from Rent the Runway and travelers are warming to AirBnb instead of hotels. I think Aio is a classy wireless addition to the party. People are getting tired of committing – especially when it comes to a cellular contract that could ding your credit score if your financial situation changes for the worse.
Here’s Who I Think Could Benefit from Aio Wireless:
1) Small business owners/freelancers. If you are entrepreneurial, you will probably get tired of people calling your personal cell phone. Once your business grows to a certain point, there’s always one nut who has access to your phone – and abuses the privilege. Getting an AIO wireless plan is good for a second line. Not everyone wants to use Google Voice. Some people just want another phone all together.
2) College students. A two-year contract may be too much commitment for a coed. I know there have been credit reforms to protect young students, but I still think college students are vulnerable when it comes to becoming prey for bad credit.
3) Teens. If teen-aged Suzy or Johnny want to keep texting and Snapchat-ing everyone and their half sister in the free world, at least you know what the bill will be at the end of the month. Teenagers cannot be trusted without a flat-rate plan. The word “budget” is not in their vocabulary. That’s a biological fact, I’m sure of it!
4) Minutes and Data Abusers: For the most part, I am able to remain within my minutes on my cellular plan. But, as a journalist, I may be working on a story that requires a few more phone calls and questions of the people I write about just to get the article right. If I go over my minutes, as I’ve done before, that’s an extra $.50 per minute. That extra $.50 per minute adds up pretty quickly and I definitely don’t like living in fear of going over minutes. There so many other problems in the world – poverty, sickness and Target’s data breach, for example. Let’s not add the fear of going over your minutes to that list.
This post was sponsored by Aio Wireless through The bLink Marketing Network. All opinions shared are my own.