How to save on your cell phone plan with secret no-contract deals

Secret phone plans? No contracts? Unadvertised payment plans with no interest? These are all available. But you'll never know until you ask.

I recently decided to switch carriers to T-Mobile, so I jumped on their website to start doing the math of the different plans that they offered.

Just when I felt I couldn't possibly calculate the details of one more plan, I came across a section on the website that featured plans without contracts. This section was buried; in fact, I had to be logged on a friend's account who was already a customer to be able to see the plans at all.

I was confused by what I found. The plans without the contracts had a lower monthly cost than the plans with contracts. I figured there would be a premium fee to not be locked in to a two-year contract, but I was seeing just the opposite.

I went into a T-Mobile store and asked about the plans. They didn't show me any plans without a long contract. So I asked about a no-contract plan but the sales person was dismissive, saying “but you're going to have to pay full pay price for the phone.”

I insisted that I wanted to see the plan anyway, and he went to the back of the store to dig up the brochure for me.

The exact same plan without a contract was $110 a month instead of $140 a month, for a savings of $360 a year. I looked for the catch, but the only catch was the no-contract plan didn't offer the usual discount on a new phone.

The phone I wanted to buy retailed at $500, but cost just $200 with a contract. (That's a savings of $300, in case your math muscles aren't working.) I quickly did the math: I could save $360 per year without a contract, but would have to pay $300 more for the phone. That still left me with $60 in my pocket for not having a contract, meaning no insane fees if I wanted to leave the contract or switch carriers. Plus, everything after the first year was pure “profit”.

I soon learned from the sales associate that apparently no one had ever bought a phone outright and taken them up on the no-contract plan. It's not advertised and therefore usually not asked about. They just assume that no one will want to pay more now in order to save later.

The sales associate couldn't believe that I was “baller” enough (his exact words) to pay $500 for a phone — even though I was actually saving money within a year. He even asked me what I did for a living to be able to afford such an extravagance!

It gets better. When he went to ring up the phone, he asked me if I wanted a payment plan. I asked for the details and he told me that they offer no-interest payment plans so that people don't have to shell out the full cost outright. Meaning that if you didn't have the $500 for the phone, you could still save money by going with a no-contract plan!

Again, this isn't advertised. You just have to ask.

It made me wonder what other companies aren't telling me about ways that I can save because they assume that no one wants to pay more up front.

Call your cell phone company, cable company, or insurance company today and ask if they have any other options. They might have something without a contract, a AAA discount, or other ways to save. Many companies have plans they don't publish publicly. Check out these past Get Rich Slowly articles for more ways to save:

Remember: Don't be afraid to ask!

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Wil W
Wil W
9 years ago

This type of stuff has worked for me with Internet providers. Cable and DSL. Currently I still pay more than I want, but often groups won’t want to give me a better deal because I am not “bundling.” (What good is TV service without a TV I ask? Why would I ever want a $$ telephone that cannot leave my house?) However I have found if you start with your own price, and work from there you can do fairly well. So I call with my I want internet service only for under $25 a month. Sometimes I have to… Read more »

Patricia
Patricia
9 years ago
Reply to  Wil W

VirginMobile has unlimited calling, text & web for $55/month. There are cheaper plans if you don’t need unlimited minutes. There is no contract; you pre-pay for the following month service. You have to buy your phone. The smartphones occasionally go on sale at Target and Radio Shack — you just have to get a VirginMobile branded phone.

Mark
Mark
7 years ago
Reply to  Patricia

Patricia,

I hope you see this even though it’s a year later via email updates. I would recommend you do the virgin mobile plan with 300 minutes and unlimited talk/text for $35/month. You can use Groove IP for unlimited free calls over the internet.

Chrissy Pham
Chrissy Pham
7 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Viber is also a great app for free text and calling, but with this app, the person you are calling/texting also has to have Viber, which can be a pain, but great for international communication with family as every single one of my family members in Vietnam have it on their cell phones.

janice miller
janice miller
7 years ago
Reply to  Patricia

but virgin mobile has done away with the sms texts even though they say they have not yahoo does not take them i know i have spend hours on the phone to both

Patricia
Patricia
9 years ago
Reply to  Wil W

Sorry!I posted my reply in the wrong place!

Tim
Tim
6 years ago
Reply to  Wil W

Another great way to save is by making sure you don’t forget to renew your contract with service providers with lower deal (After your commitment expires) — As service providers just increase it over time.
One of the tools out there helpful to me is Remindme2save.com, which reminds me to save on my AT&T, Comcast and XM radio services.
I hope it helps for you also

SB(One Cent At A Time)
SB(One Cent At A Time)
9 years ago

Excuse me, but a cell phone plan which costs me $110 a month is way too costly for me.

Jane
Jane
9 years ago

Yeah, I think you address the elephant in the room, at least for me, which is that $110 is STILL a lot of money to pay for a phone. I’m not saying people have to be as frugal as me, since I have a hand me down old phone (free) and pay $10 a month for a pay as you go. Of course, the only thing that enables me to do this is because I also pay $20 a month for a landline and only use the cellphone for special circumstances outside the home. I don’t text either, so I… Read more »

HH
HH
9 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane, I don’t know how much you use your landline, so it’s kind of hard to say. But I use StraightTalk (a service through walmart – prepaid, no contract, buy the phone full price but they aren’t that expensive for a basic one) and for $30/month I get 1000 mins, 1000 texts and a 30 MB data package, which is more than enough for me. I tested it out before ditching my landline and tried to use my cell exclusively for a couple of months, and always had plenty of minutes, I think the closest I got was I had… Read more »

James M
James M
7 years ago
Reply to  HH

I to bought the $45 plan @ w/m, on verizion net work, BUT an a big but the coverage suck’s in some area’s, ” no cma service avaiable” msg. appers on the phone. So I spoke to a verizion rep. and he told me that his company ( and indicated other companyes ) will not give you full access to ther towers, if they did then no one would buy there plan’s, I still use the plan but have to fly in the dark so to spesk when i’m traveling

teresa
teresa
9 years ago
Reply to  Jane

WHY WHY WHY are you using T-mobile??

Virgin Mobile has a great, no contract plan – decent phone, unlimited text and data, and 300 minutes for only $25/month! If you use the phone less, you could get a pay-as-you-go plan that could potentially save you even more money

Terrin Bell
Terrin Bell
9 years ago
Reply to  teresa

Are you kidding? If you have to have a cell phone, T-Mobile has the least expensive family friendly plans out there either with or without a contract. Why do you think so many T-Mobile customers are upset by the prospect of T-Mobile going to AT&T?

Further, if you like T-Mobile’s inexpensive data plans (which aren’t capped), you might consider locking yourself into a contract. If AT&T takes over T-Mobile those contracts will still be in effect, whereas if you don’t have a contract, the rates will change

Luke
Luke
9 years ago

Absolutely.

I can get a reasonable phone package with a free smart phone and unlimited data in the UK for about £20-25/$30-40 a month.

It would be pretty disappointing if you were willing to pay $110/mth and *couldn’t* negotiate some sort of improved terms/offer 😀

Casey
Casey
9 years ago

It works on the lower end of the spectrum if you still use enough minutes to want a full-fledged phone plan, too. I do the no-contract T-Mobile plan for $30/month (with contract would be $40/month). I bought a no-frills phone for $19 from Walgreens, which paid for itself in 2 months. True, even the $30/month plan is more than some people need, but without a landline and who are expected to be accessible by phone 24/7 for work like me, it’s a great deal.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago

I’m not sure how you can say that without knowing the details of the plan. It could be for a family plan of multiple phones with unlimited everything which would make that a pretty great deal. Also, if someone uses their cell service as an internet hub then they are getting their phone and internet for that one price, and if they use this for business and in large amounts, then it can work in their favor. I think it’s just a little early to be jumping to conclusions about the price without knowing all of the facts.

Dana@ Budget Dietitian
[email protected] Budget Dietitian
9 years ago

My PrePaid Plan thur TMobile is only $30/month and I know that they now offer unlimited minutes/text AND Data for only $50/month. In my mind, there is never a reason to pay more than $50/month for cell phone service.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago

@Dana

The $50 plan is only for the 1st 100MB. So if you are using it with any regularity for business including email, collaboration, or using any of the multitude of apps, it may not pay.

There’s just no way to comment on the cost/benefit comparison or whether or not the value is there when we don’t have all the information of the particular user.

John
John
9 years ago
Reply to  Eric J. Nisall

After 100MB T-Mobile just reduces your data connection to “less than hi speed”.

Depending on where you look on their incredibly confusing site, the “hi speed” either means 4G or is left undefined. Throttling back to 3G would be no problem; anything less than that would be glacially slow.

Other plans (perhaps requiring contract) have a 200MB limit before throttling.

Regardless, if you don’t stream media then 100MB is probably sufficient, especially if you switchover to wifi at home or work.

Terrin Bell
Terrin Bell
9 years ago
Reply to  Eric J. Nisall

Agreed, T-Mobile’s plan is unlimited. However, it lowers the speed from 4G to Edge after a certain amount of data.

Nancy
Nancy
9 years ago

Yeah $110 a month seems like a crazy amoount of money to me. I have a no-contract android phone from virgin mobile. I pay $35 a month for unlimited internet and text. I only get 300 minutes a month but that’s fine since I don’t make many calls.

Deb
Deb
9 years ago

I pay a flat $2 per day. No contract, no expensive phone.AND if I dont use the phone one full day it is free that day. My phone cost 30.00. AT&T pre-paid. Not a fancy phone but I figure a savings of 60.00 bucks a month over a year is a lot more than this guy is getting!!! Get rich a tad bit faster folks. Dont buy what you dont need. i.e. fancy phones and fancy plans.

siusarboy
siusarboy
8 years ago

I am an international student who is tight in cell phone budget. I don’t like to sign 2 year contract either. I don’t have long enough credit history and thus I don’t pass the AT&T and T-Mobile credit check. To get their services, I will need to pay for $500 deposit per phone number. On the other hand, I search for pre-paid plans but it turns that it is more expensive than the contract plan given that I use text message quite often and talk mostly on the weekends.  I found this website nocontractphoneplan.com where I sign up for their… Read more »

Caroline
Caroline
9 years ago

Does at&t offer this? What is everyone paying for their iphone contracts or is it worth it to jailbreak it?

Sam
Sam
9 years ago
Reply to  Caroline

Hi Caroline:

I am paying $75 a month for my Iphone unlimited data plan with 11% discount from my company. I can’t find any plans that is cheaper for Iphone.

Bill
Bill
9 years ago
Reply to  Sam

I pay $30 for Verizon iPhone unlimited data

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago
Reply to  Bill

I assume Sam’s program includes his phone service and data usage. We’re also w/AT&T and we pay about $75 with discount for one phone. 9.99 for each additional line.

Nancy
Nancy
9 years ago
Reply to  Sam

My employer gets us 22% off Verizon and 25% off AT&T, which makes AT&T appear the better deal. However, AT&T only discounts the voice portion of the plan, while the verizon discounts voice & texting, saving me more (I have a family plan) overall.

Febian
Febian
9 years ago
Reply to  Sam

HP, Gap, HomeDepot provide up to 25% discount on bills. Just google search your service provider and corporate discounts.

I was told by a customer service rep that even if I worked at Home Depot for a day and had a pay check from them – I can avail the discount for the rest of my life. If you are young and don’t mind working a weekend at any of these stores, go for it!

Jaime+B
Jaime+B
9 years ago
Reply to  Caroline

Single person here with 1 line – I went to WalMart’s Straight Talk plan. No contract, $30/mo for 1000 min, 1000 text and some amount of internet/data. I don’t know how much because I don’t get online with my phone much, mostly just facebook sometimes or NPR articles when I’m bored someplace. I haven’t gone over yet but I’m seriously using it for less than an hour or two every month. I had to buy my phone, cost me about $80. I used to be on Virgin Mobile’s no contract plan. $25/mo for 300 min, unlimited text and internet but… Read more »

Gerald
Gerald
9 years ago
Reply to  Jaime+B

My wife and i use the aforementioned virgin plan. On the sprint network and never dropped a call. 300 min works out perfect bcos we’ve never been big phone talkers but text and surf furiously. After tax time we’ve paid 27 and some change every single month. 🙂

Cathy
Cathy
9 years ago
Reply to  Jaime+B

I did the same thing. My son was on my Verizon plan so when he got married, he put his wife on the plan in place of me. I went with Straight Talk. The first month I bought the $45 unlimited talk, text, data. I used a little over 3 hours total talk, text, 0 data. (still have a land line but don’t use that much and have it mainly for faxing). When I renewed this month, I went to the $30 plan, 1000 min talk, text, data. I had no problems with Verizon, had it for about 12 years… Read more »

Jason
Jason
9 years ago
Reply to  Caroline

I have a “prepaid” iPhone 3GS. All I had to do was buy a used 3GS, get the cheapest AT&T GoPhone, activate it, then put the SIM into the iPhone. You have to change the APN to get data, but that takes all of three seconds (google how). No jailbreak is required, so you just use it with iTunes like normal. This works for me because I don’t talk much, don’t text much and have wifi at home at work, so minimal data usage. I can pay as little as $7/month, but I buy a data pack so it ends… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago
Reply to  Jason

I believe the iPhone only works with your scheme if it’s not an AT&T iPhone. If you purchase a used AT&T iPhone, even if it’s unlocked, AT&T will force a data plan on you. But, if you get an iPhone straight from Apple that’s not AT&T, you’re okay. 🙂

Jason
Jason
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I got my phone used from a co-worker and he didn’t care one bit if I bought a data plan or not. Neither did the phone. A thing to be careful of with the prepaid data plans is that if you don’t specifically buy a data pack, the data rate is exorbinant. But it’s very easy to turn off the data connection on the iPhone, so this can be controlled very easily if you only want voice. You can still use wifi, too. So you can get the benefits of a prepaid phone and still play Angry Birds, surf the… Read more »

Terrin Bell
Terrin Bell
9 years ago
Reply to  Caroline

I use my iPhone on T-Mobile with no contract. I am on a $69 a month family plan with no data. AT&T makes you have a data plan with the iPhone. I only want to use wit-fi though, which T-Mobile allows.

However, if T-Mobile offers the new iPhone, I will lock myself into a contract because T-Mobile’s plans are cheaper then AT&T.

People who value money should be very upset by AT&T’s plans to buy T-Mobile even if they are a happy AT&T customer. Less options are bad for everyone. People should write the DOJ and FCC to voice concerns.

STRONGside
STRONGside
9 years ago

That is awesome! My wife and I just bought a new iPhone 4 (her company paid for it) and we opted for the 2 year contract as opposed to paying the $600 for a new iPhone. I really wish I had thought to ask about the no-contract option before we bought it. Might have been able to save some money. Thanks for sharing!

No Debt MBA
No Debt MBA
9 years ago

Wow. I’ll have to ask about this the next time my contract is up! If you’re buying a “dumb” phone or already own the phone you’d like to use this probably makes even more sense.

Tom
Tom
9 years ago

Sounds good, but no contract means next month your plan could cost $120 a month and you wouldn’t have recourse (other than canceling service), because you aren’t in a contract. That happened with me and FIOS TV/Internet.

I think Lifehacker had a post a month or so ago, about how going contract-free (in regards to getting an iphone on T-Mobile) wasn’t really worth it.

Clint
Clint
9 years ago
Reply to  Tom

There’s enough competition in no-contract phones that you shouldn’t have to wory about is. I’ve been using Virgin mobile unlimited web, text and 300 min talk plan for $25 for two or so years. They recently upped the rate to $35 but grandfathered in existing customers–even if they upgrade their phone.

Steve
Steve
9 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Sure, but it also means that if prices go down, you can switch to that lower price without penalty.

Katie
Katie
9 years ago

I just did this too! I’ve been T-Mobile customer for years, and wasn’t under contract anymore. I was debating “upgrading” my phone, but didn’t really want to sign onto another 2 year contract…so I bought a used phone and switched from the no contract plan to pre-pay.They’ve recently redesigned all the plans and the website, there used to be cheaper no contract plans that weren’t prepay, but now they’re all prepaid and even cheaper. If you haven’t looked at your plan and usage lately, it’s worth checking into. I’m now paying $30/month instead of $80. I don’t have unlimited data… Read more »

Justin
Justin
9 years ago

Nice! That’s something that I never knew about, even when I worked at an electronics retailer that sold cell phones (I’m guessing they never bothered to tell us because they figured no customer would ever ask about it, which of course was 100% right in my experience).

I wonder if this applies if you supply your own phone (I’d assume so). If so, it’d be a good move to ask your friends for their old phones when they upgrade… especially since people upgrade so often anymore that their hand-me-downs wouldn’t be excessively outdated.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago

Folks, you don’t have to pay a fortune for a phone plan to do this. When Kris’s 2004-era phone died last year, we went into T-Mobile. I forget the exact details of how the thing went down (it was her phone, not mine), but she paid full price — something like $100 — for a cheap old-fashioned flip phone. (Ha! “Old-fashioned” cell phone…) It doesn’t do much. Because she bought a full-price phone, she was able to sign up for a $34/month no-contract plan. I have no idea what the contract version of this plan would cost her, so I… Read more »

Jane
Jane
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I don’t think any of us were necessarily saying that she shouldn’t spend that. I at least was adding my voice to say that you can spend less – a lot less – if that is what you want. And I think oftentimes that spending on new technology becomes the new normal for people, especially if all their peers have souped up cell phones as well. Then $100 becomes a bare minimum expense for them, even if they can’t afford it. Of course, Laura can probably afford it. Who am I to say she can’t? I don’t know her. But… Read more »

Dink
Dink
9 years ago

I just gave my girlfriend an old iPhone and we went to AT&T to get her a no-contract plan. However, the no-contract plan essentially cost the same as a contract plan and you were responsible for purchasing a card every month to reload the plan. We opted for the one year contract. If you’re really looking to save money, do the following: order a replacement micro SIM card for a 3G iPad ($15 from AT&T). Activate it on your iPad or a friend’s on the $25/2GB per month plan. Take the micro SIM out of the iPad, put it in… Read more »

Sara
Sara
9 years ago
Reply to  Dink

This is actually the reason I got an iPad. I have one of those “old fashioned” cellphones from 2003 or 2004, and wanted some of the newer features (keyboard, ability to use apps). After I priced everything out (iPhone, Android, etc), it was way cheaper just to buy an iPad and keep the old phone for the very few voice calls I make. My phone is prepaid and costs $100 a year, my iPad is $15 a month.

Real_money
Real_money
9 years ago

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Systems are here to be bypassed. Here in Canada it is at times cheaper to get a plan with your IPhone. Keep that plan for two months and then pay the penalty to Cancel. This can at times be cheaper then buying it out right. If I am not mistaken I think it is $150 to terminate a contract at Rogers?

Disclaimer : Do your research. In case things have changed.

Jana
Jana
9 years ago

We have to keep a land line for my husband’s work but we were able to get a super limited one that is not published anywhere for $7 a month. I just keep asking the rep on the phone and he told me about it.

Laura
Laura
9 years ago
Reply to  Jana

Any chance you’d be willing to say who the phone provider is, and (if possible) the “name” of the plan? I’d appreciate it!!!

phoenix
phoenix
9 years ago

Does anybody know if you can get a cell phone plan for less than $30 a month? I don’t care if the cost per minute is high. My usage before I discontinued my plan was about 5-10 minutes a month which means I was paying about $3-6 a minute. In my last attempt at getting a good cell phone deal, I thought I was paying solely on a per minute plan, but the clerk never told me that the minutes expired after 60 days. (And the other plan had a per month fee.)

Stan
Stan
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

This is the perfect sort of situation for a prepaid phone. I have prepaid service (pay as you go) through Boost (uses Sprint’s network) and it’s 10 cents per minute, no monthly fees…just have to add $10 of airtime every 3 months to keep things going. AT&T also has a similar (10 cents/minute) deal as well.

Dana@ Budget Dietitian
[email protected] Budget Dietitian
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

My T-Mobile PrePaid plan is only $30/month and I know that they offer a PrePaid plan for only $15/month. They have been AWESOME to deal with. I am never going back to a contract.

Ellen K.
Ellen K.
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

For the past 2 years, I’ve had a prepaid phone from T-Mobile. It doesn’t have a data plan, but I buy minutes in packages (1000 minutes for $100) and estimate that I spend about $25-30/month, because I do a fair amount of texting. Still, it’s considerably less expensive than a monthly contract, and I can check and refill minutes online or on the phone. Very convenient.

RRR
RRR
9 years ago
Reply to  Ellen K.

My parents use just a few minutes per month and they’ve been using tracfone for years. For $99 you get 1 years’ worth of service and 400 minutes (which doubles to 800 minutes if you buy a phone with double minutes – which most are). When you buy the minutes online (rather than buying a minutes card at the store), you get an option to extend the time to 2 years for only $50 more (I’m pretty usre I’m remembering that correctly). So, for $149 you get 2 years of service and 800 minutes, which roll over if you renew… Read more »

John
John
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

Tracfone.

Handsets are as little as $20 (Walmart, Target, or tracfone.com), and about 10-25 cents per minute. If you don’t want to buy a new airtime card every 60 days, you can get a one-year card. Online discounts abound.

This was perfect for my Mom, who only used about 20 minutes a month and didn’t want web/email access.

Sara
Sara
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

I have a prepaid Go Phone from AT&T. I think it’s $.10 a minute plus $1 per days on days you use it. If you fill it up with $100 then it won’t expire for a year. I’ve never used more than $40 a year, so I just have a huge balance. I make less than 1 call per month.

Bill P
Bill P
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

I use Virgin Mobile, it’s $20 to top up every 90 days, $15 if you set up for auto top up. The downside, high per minute cost. .25 per minute for your 1st 10 mins of the day, .10 per minute there after. For me it works well because I do not need to use it a lot, just to call an occasional cab or order take out as I leave work so I don’t have to wait too long when I get there to pick it up. If you’re really cheap you can get the cheapie phone (Mine was… Read more »

sora
sora
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

Google Consumer Cellular – no frills service – cheap plans. I have my husband & myself on it for $30/month. No web though, though they have web plans that are a bit more expensive. The service area is USA only (not even Canada), but you can always get a SIM card in a foriegn country if needed.

jakyra
jakyra
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

Have you looked into Boost Mobile (http://www.boostmobile.com/)? We just moved my mother in law over to Boost instead of having an extra line on our plan (which was causing issues). She uses at most 30 minutes a month. We just have to pay for what she uses. As reported above, you have to dig for they true paygo plan (http://www.boostmobile.com/plans/pay-as-you-go/). Another reason we went with Boost is they have “Re-boost” where you can set up an auto-payment based on minutes. If her balance ever gos below $5, they automatically charge me for $10 more of minutes. No hassle, no worries,… Read more »

Carol
Carol
8 years ago
Reply to  jakyra

Jakyra says, “No hassle, no worries, and super cheap.”

Just hope you never have to use their customer service. I just canceled my account after spending 30 minutes being transferred back and forth from customer service to accounting 4 times! They have no clue what they are doing.

Bill in NC
Bill in NC
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

T-Mobile ToGo.

Prepaid pay-per-minute plan.

Once you add the first $100 in refills (buy a $100 card discounted a few bucks online) any refill (even the $10 one) extends service for another year.

And you can use any T-Mobile phone (free from a friend, cheap off ebay) – just pop in the SIM card.

Kacaia
Kacaia
9 years ago

Actually, T-mobile did advertise them for a while about a year and a half ago. Then I think they got so popular they just stopped mentioning it but they are still available. I did the same math figuring out the cost of the phone full price vs the cost of the extra per month for the contract plan. The hang up shouldn’t be on how much she is paying for the plan but rather the difference between no contract and contract for the same services. I’ve not seen more than a few cents increase in my overall bill since I… Read more »

phoenix
phoenix
9 years ago

Another great tip is to ask your provider if they have a discount based on your employer. My husband got 20% knocked off his cell plan simply because as a teacher, he is employed by the county and they had a significent discount for that. He simply had to give the company his work e-mail address to confirm.

Kat
Kat
9 years ago

I have a Straight Talk phone and I pay $49.00 a month for unlimited talk, text, and internet. My phone was free because I ordered from their website site on Black Friday. I have had no problems. I cringe everytime I think about those expensive phone bills I use to pay.

Brenda
Brenda
9 years ago
Reply to  Kat

I use Straight Talk too. I have found that if I think ahead and buy the cards at Walmart, then I save $2-5 per month because then I don’t pay the extra fees they tack on when paying via credit card online or over the phone.

Mo
Mo
9 years ago

When I split with my ex, I had to go looking for a new cell phone. I basically only use it for need to know now calls. I really don’t like walking around talking on the phone. I went with the Virgin Mobile Pay-Go plan. I got the cheapest, figuring that I could upgrade if I needed more, while I wouldn’t be as likely to periodically do the math to see if I could go cheaper. The phone was $29 at Target (on the website they have a $9 one). I put $20 on it every 90 days to keep… Read more »

James
James
9 years ago
Reply to  Mo

I’m not sure what country you’re in, but I am with Virgin Mobile in Canada. I was putting $25 on my pay-as-you-go phone but the credit only lasted 2 months. I never used $25 worth but I kept paying that much to have my credit roll over. Finally I did a bit of digging and found that if I topped up with $100 at a time, the credit was good for a full year. So, instead of $12.50 per month for my phone, by paying a bit more in advance, I got my monthly phone cost down to $8.33 per… Read more »

friend
friend
9 years ago
Reply to  James

Exactly what I do.

barnetto
barnetto
9 years ago
Reply to  Mo

My boyfriend might be on the same plan? I’m not sure. He said his plan was discontinued but that he was grandfathered in, but when his phone dies the plan will go with it since they don’t use sims.

Is that right or are you talking about a different plan they now offer?

joy
joy
9 years ago

A few months ago I got a Virgin mobile phone and no-contract plan. I paid about $150 for the phone and do a no contract plan of $25/mo for 300 anytime minutes and unlimited text and data! I have never used all my talk minutes. You can purchase a more expensive no contract plan with more talk minutes if you need. The phone I have is exactly the same phone my husband has from Sprint. He pays $70-80 month for his plan. A little more minutes. With my phone, it paid for itself in about 3 months.

kgiax
kgiax
9 years ago
Reply to  joy

This. I can’t tell you how many people I see who, when I ask them, barely use their minutes at all, yet go for really expensive contract plans. They always sound really envious when I explain to them that I have a fully featured android smartphone with unlimited data and web and am getting away with paying just $25 a month. A few people will notice the value, but oddly others will will claim “yeah but you had to pay full price for your phone”. It’s a $120 dollar phone, and they’re paying ~$100 a month for service! The bottom… Read more »

Kacaia
Kacaia
9 years ago
Reply to  kgiax

My only hesitation with Virgin is that they aren’t really big in areas I travel to. And they don’t have sim card phones, which I prefer since I do travel overseas and prefer to pick up a local sim and have my phone function just about anywhere.

When I switched to a smart phone my only requirement was that I not have to pay any more than I was already paying for my ‘dumb phone’ per month. I found that with the apparently now extinct Even More Plus plan from T-Mobile and I’m pretty happy with it so far.

Leah
Leah
9 years ago
Reply to  Kacaia

Did you have to unlock your phone to get it to work overseas? When I studied abroad, I had a GSM band phone (I think that’s it — this was 7 years ago) or whatever you should have been able to use in Europe. I bought a foreign SIM card, but it wouldn’t work in my phone. I ended up having to buy a new cheapie phone, but I was able to use that all over and then gave it to a friend when I left.

James
James
9 years ago
Reply to  joy

Yup, exactly what I’m doing. A full functioned Android phone with unlimited data for $25/month (although now the plan is $35/month). Plus, you can tether the phone in a pinch for laptop wi-fi access. Sure, I “only” get 300 minutes (and no nights/weekends, friends/family, etc). But I don’t talk that much on it, so I save a huge amount of $$$ and am very happy with it. Total cost for a year: $130 for LG Optimus V $25/month for the plan $2 in taxes/fees per month $130 + $27*12 = $454 for 12 months of a fully functioning phone with… Read more »

cc
cc
9 years ago

i’ve got a no-contract tmobile plan with my husband’s old phone. works great, $60/month, i can chat all day long. no data, i’ve got a dumbphone- it saves money, minutes, batteries, and is much cooler to the touch than the smartphones.

ExpatEngineer
ExpatEngineer
9 years ago
Reply to  cc

Exactly! We have a no contract plan with T-Mobile – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2 phone lines – for $80/month. My husband & I paid $50 upfront for a “dumb” phone and he uses an old one that a friend discarded when she upgraded. We’ve had this set up for over a year and it’s saved us a lot of money (at least $20/month). I recently tried to get my stepmom to switch to the plan and realized that, like JD says, you now have to go into the store to do it. But it’s still worth it! Plus, we… Read more »

Dan
Dan
9 years ago
Reply to  ExpatEngineer

Interesting. The cheapest one I can find on the no-contract site is $50/mo.

Daniel
Daniel
9 years ago

The OP might have a family plan which would explain the high cost. I’m surprised no one has really brought up Virgin pre-paid Beyond Talk. It runs on Sprint’s native network (but no roaming access). For $35 (300 min), $45 (1200) or $60 (unlimited) you also get unlimited data/texting. They now have 3 different Androids and a Blackberry (all are $150-300 no contract). It’s an affordable way to have a smartphone — I would be on Virgin myself, if it weren’t for the having a good family plan myself. I am not affiliated in any way with Virgin Mobile, I… Read more »

Jackie R
Jackie R
9 years ago

Just FYI – if you are a AAA member, they have a partnership with T-Mobile, at least in the “NorthEast” area. They say the discount “varies” percentage-wise, and I am not sure if you need to have a contract, but it’s worth a call. It actually helped me save about $10-15/month on my plan. I do have a contract, but I pay approx $160/month for 4 lines, 1 unlimited data plan, and 1 limited data plan, unlimited T-Mo to T-Mo, and unlimited texting. I think the shared minutes are 1200/mo, but we never go over and I use my phone… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
9 years ago

T-mobile came out and did a promotion for the no-contract plans about a year ago. i think they are no longer promoting the plans since they will complicate the proposed merger with At&t.

Lindsay
Lindsay
9 years ago

I was going to say hasn’t anyone here heard of virgin mobile?!! Until I got to mo’s comment. I used to have Tmobile but it was 45 a month for 00 minutes and a texting plan, which was more than I wanted to keep paying. I thought about switching to a land line with unlimited long distance calling, which was about 35 a month, but I decided that my husband and I really need to be able to contact eachother throughout the day because we share a car and have variable schedules (small business owner and student). Anyway, I have… Read more »

Rachel Jean
Rachel Jean
9 years ago

I’ve actually used this plan for over a year now, so to the skeptics, they’re not continually raising the prices of the plan. They could, but then again, if they did, there’s nothing keeping me from taking my business elsewhere. They keep this plan lower than the contracts–that’s part of the incentive for having it. It looks like Laura’s plan is similar to mine. The plan is unlimited talk, text and data for two phones. Sure, I’d love to drop the data and save tons of money, but we use our data packages quite extensively (I have the worst sense… Read more »

Laura+Roeder
Laura+Roeder
9 years ago
Reply to  Rachel Jean

Hey Rachel! You nailed it. My plan is for two lines, but I know there are cheaper plans out there. I’m not looking for more most frugal plan in the world, but the one that meets my needs the best which I’m happy to pay for. 🙂

Lindsay
Lindsay
9 years ago

*no-contract plan* sorry.

Laura+in+Cancun
Laura+in+Cancun
9 years ago

Love it! I recently found out here in Mexico that the main company (Telcel) has a service where you can pay just $50 for 30 days of internet on your phone with pay-as-you-go. The best part is that if you charge $50 of credit to your pay-as-you-go, you get an extra $40 of credit. So here’s what I did when I recently got a job that required a smart phone: -Bought a $600 phone (baller) -Put $50 credit on my phone on the first of the month… they gifted me $40, so I now have $90 credit. -Buy 30 days… Read more »

Laura+in+Cancun
Laura+in+Cancun
9 years ago

Oh, and almost any smartphone can download WhatsApp… free texting with anyone else who has it 🙂

http://www.whatsapp.com/

Chris P
Chris P
9 years ago

If you are referring to T-Mobile’s “Even More Plus” plans, then you are out of luck. This non-contract set of plans is no longer offered. The new roughly equivalent plans are the Value plans. They have installment plan options for phones, but they require a contract. You don’t have to ask for them, you can see them on the web site, for example.

Casey
Casey
9 years ago
Reply to  Chris P

As of last month, they were not publicly advertised, but people could still sign up in-store. After hearing about my good experience with the plan for the past year, one of my friends signed up just a couple of weeks ago.

Scott
Scott
9 years ago

I know people love talking about their fantastic cell phone deals, but when I read this post I thought about deals in general that give you an advantage if you pay money upfront. In my case, the deal is with a pretty popular fitness club on the west coast: three years for one thousand dollars, and twenty-four dollars per year for every year after that in perpetuity. I started this plan six years ago and they are very good about letting me know when I have to make my yearly payment. I will keep this plan until they go under… Read more »

ooh+something+shiny
ooh+something+shiny
9 years ago

I was surprised a couple of weeks ago by my cell company pretty much turning away business.

My daughter broke her itouch and considered getting an iphone since she is not crazy about her rather basic phone.

This would have represented an additional $30 in business when she added a data plan, plus $200 or so for an iphone.

She’s not upgrade eligible for another year, and they wouldn’t work with us at all. Foolish business.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

I’ve been trying to get a cheaper cell phone plan, but I can’t seem to do better than the old My Favs plan that T-Mobile used to offer. We pay $70/mo for the base plan and $10 more for 300 text messages each. The My Favs plan gives us 400 anytime minutes and unlimited calls to 5 people each.

I could drop down to the pre-paid 1500-minute/text T-Mobile plan, but my wife would have to use the anytime plan. Unless her usage patterns change, she doesn’t save any money.

John
John
9 years ago

A year ago, dropped my VOiP service with Vonage, saving $35/month and dropped cell service with Verizon that cost $45 for 450 minutes plus free in-network, night and weekend minutes. I signed up with Page Plus Cellular, a second-tier provider that uses Verizon’s network. I got 1200 anytime minutes (nothing’s free) for $30, more texting than I could ever use, no contract and was able to use my Verizon phone. Other options are $45 for unlimited minutes, and several pre-pay options. I also got a Google voice number, which is free. I can make outgoing calls on my computer without… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
9 years ago

I don’t know that T-Mobile seeks to hide this. When I switched over to them last year, an in-store sales associate (that is, at a T-mobile store, not a phone store that carries T-mobile in addition to other cell providers) talked me through all the options, including these no-contract plans.

Jimmy
Jimmy
9 years ago

THE PLAN YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT IS NOT AVAILABLE ANYMORE. Sorry for the all caps, but we’re through the article and all the comments and I haven’t seen this mentioned yet. What you’re talking about is what they call Even More Plus, and it’s grandfathered as of about two weeks ago. They replaced it recently with the Value plans that are almost in every case even cheaper than Even More Plus, but require a 24 month contact. There is no longer a postpaid non contract option at T-Mobile. The repayment plan you’re talking about is now only available to current Value… Read more »

Kacaia
Kacaia
9 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

If you buy a phone off of eBay, or pick up an unlocked Nexus paying full retail price at a Best Buy or something, I don’t see how you would lose the Even More Plus. That’s my plan at any rate when it’s time for a new phone.

And for the record, I really am hoping the merger with AT&T falls through.

Vin
Vin
9 years ago

I was actually a part of the no-contract plan you’re describing. While I was using T-Mobile, it was fantastic. They have great coverage in New York and it was just what I needed. That all changed when I moved over to Verizon so I could get the iPhone. Within a week of canceling the plan, I started receiving daily calls from T-Mobile, telling me that I had an early cancellation fee of $150+ dollars. Why would there be an early cancellation fee for a no-contract plan? I asked multiple times to be sent a copy of my past years statements… Read more »

Dave
Dave
9 years ago

I’m on the same no-contract deal with T-Mobile, except I bought my phone (Samsung Vibrant) new off eBay for cheaper than it was in the store. When I want to upgrade, I’ll just sell the phone back on eBay and buy my next one there. Savings all around.

Laura+in+Cancun
Laura+in+Cancun
9 years ago
Reply to  Dave

I did the same! My Nokia N8 cost about $800 at the store, but I got a new unlocked one off Ebay for $600.

Tuco
Tuco
9 years ago

Virgin Mobile plans can be good as well as other no contract plans. Figure out how many minutes/data you need a month to see if you can save. I was able to get 1500min with 500 texts for $30 a month and 300min with unlimited text and internet for $25 a month. I got more features and saved money compared to AT&T.

Geek
Geek
9 years ago

I think, for 2 of us, we pay about 110/mo for data plans on our smartphones and mine was completely free ($600 w/o contract, but work paid for it with a contract).

Still, to see when you can retire you have to multiply your monthly expenses by something like 300…(See here) is it worth $30k over our lifetimes for these phones?

krantcents
krantcents
9 years ago

Some good points! here is another little know =n fact that some companies qualify for an employee discount. This can amount to be 18% in my case.

Carrie
Carrie
9 years ago

When I only wanted to call and text, I bought a nice cell phone on ebay and used T-mobile pre-pay. I got 1100 minutes for $100 (I think) and it lasted my about 10 months and I had to use the minutes within a year – the cheapest monthly plan at the time was $40 per month.

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago

textfree is another iPhone app for free texting.

Dylan
Dylan
9 years ago

Sorry if this was already pointed out in a prior comment, but the no-interest payment plans are often available in leu of a $XX instant rebate (that’s also no conspicuously advertised so you have to ask for it). Missing out on the rebate amount is you cost to finance the phone over several months.

Jaime+B
Jaime+B
9 years ago

My company has an agreement with Att – but when I checked it out, it only applied to higher dollar plans than the one I used to be on. I would have had to spend more money to get the savings, really frustrating since I was paying $50/month for my plan.

Jaime+B
Jaime+B
9 years ago
Reply to  Jaime+B

*discount agreement

lol

Mary in FL
Mary in FL
9 years ago

My husband and I do not use our cell phones very much at all. I bought a basic T-mobile phone at WalMart for about $30 and signed up for pre-paid, no-contract service, which cost me $100 the first year and $60 the second year. My husband did the same thing, so that’s about $200 per year for cell service, which fits nicely in our family budget.

G
G
9 years ago

I’ve been telling people for years how absurd and foolish it is to get a contract plan with T-Mobile, where you pay *more* money for the privilege of lock-in.

Jason
Jason
9 years ago

The SIM from a GoPhone works just fine in an iPhone (you just need to change the APN, which is easy). I have voice, data and text for about $25/month. I could go as cheap as $7/month with voice only if I wanted to. I got the iPhone used for $300. It’s already paid for itself without the $70/month fee. I could also go to $50/month if I wanted unlimited. Prepaid works for me for the reasons others have already mentioned: don’t talk much, don’t text much, don’t use much wireless data as I have wifi at home and at… Read more »

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago

I’m with T-mobile and have been for 11 years. I have looked at many plans and T-mobile is the least expensive for us since we have a family plan. Their “free” phones cost about $20 each (fees) and we pay $90/mth and have 4 phones. Nights , weekends and mobile-to -mobile are free. Two of us have 300 message texting for $2.99 each. We also get a discount as my husband works for a company that has a contract with them. I average about $100/mth total for our family plan.

I haven’t found anything cheaper. We use our phones alot.

kll
kll
9 years ago

And instead of paying $500 for the phone from the carrier, you can likely buy the same phone on eBay for $400 from Verizon, $110 on eBay.)

kll
kll
9 years ago

Okay, something weird just happened to the middle of my last comment. (#84) JD – feel free to delete!
What I was trying to say was you can probably buy the same phone cheaper on eBay. My husband wanted a smartphone for his phone and internet while he’s at a job out of state for the summer, and this is what we did for a Verizon prepaid plan. Instead of paying Verizon >$400 for the phone, we bought it on eBay for $110, and it works great.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

I make 99% of my calls FREE through Google Voice using Google Chat 😛

(When on the road, I have a prepay. $15 will last me a whole month.)

Alice in DC
Alice in DC
9 years ago

I was a T-Mobile customer for 5 years, with 2 phones on my account. We were paying $200/mo. Last month, I switched to Boost when my contract ran out. I called T-Mobile to see if they could give me an unlimted plan for $50/mo. and I was told, “No, because we’re a big company and we can’t do that (WTH?).” Then they were just plain rude. I got 2 new phones (newer than the ones I would have gotten from T-Mobile, without having to extend the contract for 2 more years). The free upgrade phones were horrible, and the newer… Read more »

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