Spectrum Mobile is a new wireless MVNO service available exclusively to Charter Spectrum internet customers. Spectrum Mobile’s plan and pricing structure is almost identical to Xfinity Mobile’s, and is a direct competitor of the company. Both carriers offer access to a nationwide network of WiFi hotspots (Spectrum has 500,000 vs. Xfinity’s 18 million), and Verizon Wireless’ top-rated 4G LTE coverage. Read on to find out if Spectrum Mobile is the right carrier for you.
What’s the Catch with Spectrum Mobile?
To join Spectrum Mobile, you are required to jump through a few hoops:
- First, you must be a Spectrum Internet customer or sign up to be one.
- Second, you must add a new line of service ($10 activation fee per line), undergo a credit check, purchase a Spectrum Mobile phone or bring your own, pick a plan, and use Auto Pay.
- Note that if you ever decide to cancel your Spectrum internet subscription, you’ll be charged an additional $20/month per line and your Spectrum WiFi speeds will be limited to 5Mbps.
You can only join Spectrum Mobile if you’re an existing Spectrum internet customer
Most other MVNOs do not require you to run credit checks or be a current customer of a secondary service when signing up, but Spectrum Mobile does. In addition, Spectrum Mobile charges a $10 activation fee for each line, something competitor Xfinity Mobile doesn’t do (no extra fees). For those reasons, Spectrum Mobile is not the best bang for your buck when you want to bring your own (BYO) phone or switch carriers.
Spectrum Individual Plans
Like Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile has two prepaid plans available: By the Gig and Unlimited.
Included with all Spectrum cell phone plans:
- Unlimited talk and text in U.S./Canada/Mexico
- Verizon 4G LTE network coverage
- Access to 500,000 Spectrum WiFi hotspots
- Mobile hotspot use
- Global roaming to 200+ countries (rates apply)
- Ability to switch plans at any time
All Spectrum Mobile plans give you access to the carrier’s 500,000 hotspots across the country
By the Gig Plan
Spectrum’s By the Gig plan offers 4G LTE data for $14/GB. That’s actually $2/GB more than Xfinity Mobile’s plan, so the pricing doesn’t really compete. Spectrum Mobile doesn’t cap the amount of high-speed data you can use each month, but if you ever reach 3GB of data ($42/month), it’s more financially sensible to switch to Spectrum’s $45 Unlimited plan.
If you’re a Spectrum internet subscriber, the By the Gig plan is a great option if you only want to pay for data you use. With Spectrum’s WiFi hotspots and free Spectrum app to help monitor your data use, you can be rest-assured you won’t use more data than you intend to. As a bonus, if you’re ever unhappy with By the Gig, you can switch to Spectrum’s Unlimited plan, and vice-versa, at any time during your billing cycle.
$45 Unlimited Plan
The Spectrum Mobile $45 Unlimited plan is identical to Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited option. It’s a very competitively priced unlimited plan, especially when you consider the access it gives you to Verizon’s awesome network coverage. Plus, you have the additional benefit of Spectrum’s WiFi hotspots. Note that Spectrum’s unlimited plan features a relatively low monthly 20GB data deprioritization threshold, after which your speeds may be reduced for the rest of the month. Still, if you want unlimited data without paying up the nose for it, Spectrum’s $45 unlimited plan is the way to go.
Let’s Talk Tip: You can switch Spectrum plans at any time during your bill cycle
It’s important to note that there are more affordable unlimited cell phone plan options out there without activation fees. Some examples include:
- Xfinity Mobile’s $50 Unlimited plan
- Metro by T-Mobile’s $50 Unlimited option
- US Mobile’s $47 Unlimited plan
- Sprint’s $25 Unlimited Kickstart plan (waived fee)
All of these unlimited plans above cost less than $50/month, which is more affordable than the $55 upfront (including the $10 activation fee) Spectrum Mobile’s costs.
If you cancel Spectrum internet service on a Spectrum plan, a $20/month charge will be added to your bill.
Spectrum Family Plans
Any of Spectrum’s plans can be turned into family plans. You can add up to five lines, and mix and match By the Gigs and Unlimited plans under one account. However, you’re limited to two lines in the first 30 days of your requisite Spectrum internet service. After that requirement is met, you can add more lines pending the results of a credit check. This could be a major issue if you’re looking to switch carriers with more than two family members at once and just started Spectrum internet service.
In terms of cost, starting a family plan with By the Gigs plans is the most reasonable option for 2-3 lines. Under one account, each line gets 1GB of shared high-speed data per month ($14/month/line). If those lines collectively surpass 1GB/line in your billing cycle, another shared 1GB block of data is automatically added for another $14/month (not per line). Spectrum rounds up for this calculation, so 4.35GB is considered over the 4GB limit on a 4-line By the Gigs family plan and would result in Spectrum Mobile adding a fifth gigabyte of shared data to the plan.
Using Unlimited plans in a Spectrum Mobile family plan is much more advantageous for heavy data users, as you won’t ever have to pay extra for more data. For comparison, a 4-line family plan with 4GB of data would cost $224/month + $40 in activation fees, whereas a 4-line unlimited plan would only run $180/month + $40 in activation fees. However, by comparison, competitor Xfinity Mobile’s plans are still much more affordable all-around without the activation fees.
Turning this into Table with family plans Spectrum Mobile vs Xfinity Mobile
|4-Line Xfinity Mobile
|Shared Data||Monthly Cost||Line Activation Fee|
|By the Gigs 1GB||$48||None|
|By the Gigs 2GB||$96||None|
|By the Gigs 3GB||$144||None|
|By the Gigs 4GB||$192||None|
|4-Line Spectrum Mobile
|Shared Data Per Line||Monthly cost||Line Activation Fee
|By the Gigs 1GB||$56||$40|
|By the Gigs 2GB||$112||$40|
|By the Gigs 3GB||$168||$40|
|By the Gigs 4GB||$224||$40|
Buy a Spectrum Phone
Spectrum Mobile sells a smaller number of phones, including many newer flagship devices from Samsung, iPhone, and LG. If you’re not prepared to buy for a device outright, you have the option of financing via Spectrum Mobile’s 24-month installment plan. This can be helpful for pricy new handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S10e and iPhone XR.
You can also trade in devices when you sign up for service or buy a new device. Spectrum Mobile’s Trade-In Program uses a third-party company called Assurant which accepts most devices from Apple, Google, HTC, LG, and Samsung. Assurant will offer you an estimate on the value of your phone based on its condition. Once you accept Assurant’s offer, you simply mail in your old phone with a prepaid shipping label.
Bring Your Own Phone
Initially, Spectrum Mobile only let customers bring iPhones to their network. However, they now accept Android devices as well, which gives them a leg up on Xfinity Mobile.
Possibly compatible devices:
- Apple iPhone SE or later
- Samsung Galaxy 8 or later
- Samsung Galaxy Note9 or later
In order to BYO device, you must sign up for Spectrum Mobile service and activate a new line. If you’re a current Spectrum Mobile customer, you’re still required to add new lines to do so. If your phone is compatible (check it here), you’ll get a free SIM card to activate your phone’s new line and begin service.