Tech

U.S. Cellular Military and Veterans Discount Program

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If you are a veteran or active duty military personnel, you have access to a world of military discounts from companies and providers looking to thank you for your service. US Cellular is one such company.

Military families can get 15 percent off calling plan charges with U.S. Cellular, one of the nation’s top five cellular carriers. Veterans and members of the reserves can also qualify for the discount.

Look at the company and its services carefully to determine whether the discount can save you money and if U.S. Cellular can meet your needs.

U.S. Cellular: Military & Veterans Discounts

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile — most of the nation’s top cell phone carriers generate instant name recognition because of their advertising budgets.

Chicago-based U.S. Cellular advertises, too, but you may not be as familiar with the company, which operates in only 23 states:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin.

Unlike Consumer Cellular and other discount carriers that use other companies’ towers, U.S. Cellular operates on its own network within its 23-state territory.

When you travel outside of U.S. Cellular’s territory, the company has agreements with other carriers to make sure you still have seamless service.

Like other leading carriers, U.S. Cellular operates 4G and 4G LTE networks, and it sells popular Apple and Android-based smartphones and tablets.

If you live in a state U.S. Cellular serves, it can provide service comparable to the other leading carriers. The company, which has about 5 million customers, won a J.D. Power award (shared with Verizon) for network performance in 2018.

About the U.S. Cellular Military Discount

A wireless discount can be harder to quantify than you’d think because it usually does not apply to all aspects of your bill.

A cell phone bill includes charges for:

  • Line access: Also referred to as a calling plan, this is the backbone of your account. It assigns your number to your device and covers phone calls and text messages.
  • Phone: You’ll also pay for the phone itself, and monthly charges can vary depending on whether you bring your own device or have already paid off your phone.
  • Data: Apps, videos, maps — anything that’s not a phone call or a text message on your smartphone needs data. These fees can add up when you’re not on WiFi.
  • Overages: When you exceed your plan’s data, minutes, or text message allotment, your company can charge you extra, depending on how your contract is set up.

U.S. Cellular’s military discount applies only to the calling plan (line access) itself.

For example, if you have a $55 line access fee plus $45 in additional fees, your entire bill will be $100. Fifteen-percent off the entire $100 monthly bill would be a $15 discount, making your bill $85.

But since the discount applies only to your $55 calling plan, your discount would be $8.25, making your total bill $91.75.

This is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it is something to be aware of as you shop around and compare phone companies, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

Keep in mind you may be able to save money each month by buying a used phone instead of buying one directly from U.S. Cellular. Make sure your phone works on U.S. Cellular’s network before making this happen, though.

You can also save money by keeping your data use to a minimum. If you have WiFi at home or work, sign your phone onto that network to save on data charges.

U.S. Cellular also offers a data-only plan for tablets which do not include a phone line.

Customers with a data-only plan can claim the 15-percent military discount on the plan’s monthly data allotment. The discount will not apply to data overages.

How Does U.S. Cellular’s Military Discount Compare?

A lot of retailers, restaurants, and service providers show their appreciation to veterans and active duty military members through military discounts.

U.S. Cellular offers the discount to veterans and active duty military members from all branches of the service. It also extends the discount to members of the National Guard and Reserves.

So how does U.S. Cellular’s program stack up to other leading wireless phone service deals?

Let’s take a look at some basics:

U.S. Cellular Military Discount

Discount: 15 percent
Eligible plans: Single Line and Family calling plans; discount can also be applied to a data-only “Shared Connect” plan which does not include a phone line.
Who’s eligible? Active duty, veterans, reserves, guard

AT&T Military Discount

Discount: 25 percent
Eligible plan: AT&T Unlimited & More
Who’s eligible? Active duty, veterans, reserves, guard, family members (when the military member is the sponsor)
More info: AT&T Military Discount

Sprint Military Discount

Discount: 50 percent off family lines
Eligible plan: Sprint Unlimited Military Plan (comparable to Sprint Unlimited Basic Plan)
Who’s eligible? Active duty, guard, reserve, veterans, family members (when the military member is the sponsor)
More info: Sprint Military Discount

T-Mobile Military Discount

Discount: 20 percent on first line; 50 percent on each additional line
Eligible plan: T-Mobile Military One Plan (comparable to T-Mobile ONE Plan)
Who’s eligible? Active duty, guard, reserve, veterans, family members (when the military member is the sponsor)
More info: T-Mobile Military Discount

Verizon Military Discount

Discount: $15 off one line; $35 off two lines; or $40 off account access fee for three or more lines. Also, 25 percent discount on some phone accessories online.
Who’s eligible? Active duty, guard, reserve, veterans, family members (when the military member is the sponsor)
More info: Verizon Military Discount

As you compare plans be sure to consider how you use your phone plan to make sure you can take advantage of the discount.

For example, if you have only one phone line, a 50 percent discount on a second line will not benefit you, and you may save more with a flat-rate discount from another carrier.

How Do U.S. Cellular’s Services Stack Up?

Savvy shoppers already know discounts of any kind can influence you to buy products you don’t really need or use a company you wouldn’t ordinarily prefer.

Before taking advantage of U.S. Cellular’s military discount, make sure the company will meet your individual and your family’s wireless phone needs.

U.S. Cellular’s Network Performance

As indicated above, U.S. Cellular has won J.D. Power Awards for its network performance in the North Central coverage area. The company maintains its own towers and has an adequate selection of phones and tablets.

Naturally, if you do not live in one of the 23 states where U.S. Cellular provides service, you should look elsewhere for savings.

If you do live in a U.S. Cellular state, the services you’ll receive should be in the neighborhood of another leading carrier, both for price and network quality.

Individual expectations of a network vary, so it’s hard to know whether you’d be happy with the company without personal experience. Reviewers have found U.S. Cellular stands out in its customer service, both online and in person.

A Word About Extensive Traveling

If you travel outside of U.S. Cellular’s service area, you’ll still have phone service, and you won’t be required to pay to use other companies’ towers because U.S. Cellular has deals with companies across the country.

However, if you travel extensively, requiring U.S. Cellular to utilize third-party services on a regular basis on your behalf, the company could terminate your service.

Customer service reps would let you know well in advance of your plan’s termination, of course, but it’s something to keep in mind before signing on.

Ironically, this could become a problem for an active duty military member who gets stationed outside U.S. Cellular’s area of coverage.

Opt-In to Paperless Billing to Save More

U.S. Cellular will knock $10 off your line access charge when you opt into paperless billing. This equals an 18 percent discount off the normal $55 line access charge for a single line.

This discount applies to all customers and not just military members.

You’ll still get a bill via email and get text alerts about your balances. It’s a pretty easy way to save $120 a year.

How Can You Claim Your U.S. Cellular Military Discount?

Military discounts express gratitude for the sacrifice military members, veterans, reserves, and guard members make.

They also can help save money month to month.

If you think U.S. Cellular can provide your wireless needs and you’d like to claim the discount, here’s how:

  • An existing U.S. Cellular customer who has not claimed the military discount can start the process by dialing 611 from your wireless phone.
  • Non-customers can get started by calling 1-888-944-9400 from any phone. You can also walk into a U.S. Cellular location.

Showing Proof of Your Service

Like most companies offering military discounts, U.S. Cellular will ask for proof of your service which you can provide in several ways:

Active military members can show proof by:

  • Having a military-issued email
  • Showing proof of military pay (LES)
  • Presenting a SCRA Status Report

Veterans can provide:

  • A DD Form 214
  • A Veterans ID Card
  • A Military Retiree Account Statement
  • A VetRewards Card from Veterans Advantage

Be sure to check out other military discounts while you’re shopping for services and products.

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