Little-known cellphone deals
The companies don't widely publicize these no-contract ways to save money.
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 on the different plans 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 to the account of a friend 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 had 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 salesperson 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 plans anyway, and he went to the back of the store to dig up the brochure for me. Post continues after video.
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 that 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, all the savings after the first year were pure "profit."
I soon learned from the sales associate that no one to his knowledge 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 cellphone 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:
- Save on cellphones with employee and student discounts
- Prepaid phones can save you money
- Don't wait for a discount -- ask for one
- How I cut my cable bill by 33% without losing any service
Remember: Don't be afraid to ask.
More on Get Rich Slowly and MSN Money:
I have a Tracphone which costs me $19.82 at Wal-Mart /every three months.(Less 1% credit card rebate. The Phone cost $9.99 & I get free double minutes for the life of the phone, which means 120 minutes every three months. That won't work for most people but for me it's a bottomless pit & what I don't use rolls over.
My wife has a Virgin Mobile phone which automatically bills her credit card $15 every three months but gives her far less minutes. That is still no problem since she also doesn't use them all & also rolls the unused over.
That means both phones cost us a total of $139.90/yr (adjusted for leap years) after the 1% credit card rebate & if we are together we have two systems to choose from.
They should advertise their plans if they care about their customer base. The playing of more games in the name of profit.
T Mobile Pre paid Gold Plan...they never tell you about this plan at the store.
One Hundred bucks gives you Gold status and it's good for a year. What it get you 10 cents a minute for calls and the deal is contract free. I never use my phone that much I just carry it in the car when I travel. But never need to put time on it like other pre paid plans in 90 days . Since the Gold plan gives you service for year for $100.00. All I do is drop twenty dollars on the plan at the end of the year and all the time rolls over so I end up with my bal + twenty $$
It a great plan for a Senior who has no large airtime use. Maybe gray but am not old and dumb with my hard earned $$ Hope this helps someone at the T. Moblie store. That need a phone just in case they are broken down on the road or to make that call if your late for a get together. PS. I picked up a GSM phone to use at Overstock.com for $35.00 and it's a nice Samsung GSM that works on TM.
I found out that you can buy an "unlocked" phone which will work with most carriers. This allows you to pick a phone in your price range with the features you want and if you're unhappy with our plan or carrier you it is easy to switch as long as you're prepaid. Just MAKE SURE you check the specs on the phone to see which carriers it will work with before you buy. Having an unlocked phone means you can travel outside the U.S. and still use it, just buy a prepaid sim card from the country you're visiting.
If you've been with a provider for a long time like I was, you can ask them for a code to unlock your phone so you don't have to buy another one. They're not happy about it but they'll tell you or there are places on the internet that will sell you the info for $10-$15 although I didn't try this.
For graduation I bought my daughter a brand new smartphone on Amazon (could have found it cheaper elsewhere afterwards) for less than $140. Her monthly AT&T plan is $25 for 250 minutes and unlimited texting. If she uses the internet at home or someplace public like Starbucks it's free or you can add a data plan for extra.
I hope my experience helps others out there who are on a budget or just want to save some money on their cell phone.
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