Smart SpendingSmart Spending

5 items not to buy from a wireless provider

The cellphone companies jack up the prices of cases, chargers, headphones and other accessories. Here's where to find better deals.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 15, 2012 7:13PM

This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.

When you buy a cellphone through your wireless provider's website, you have the option of buying all your accessories before you click the "checkout" button. Ordering everything at once is the easiest way to stock up, but you'll spend a lot more.


In fact, if you add up the savings I list below, you'll find you can easily reduce your spending by 20% or more by finding a less expensive source for those items.

Not all wireless companies sell the same accessories, but here are five apples-to-apples comparisons, along with places websites that offer better deals. (Shop around and you might find even better prices.)

Bluetooth headsets

The major wireless providers carry a limited selection of Bluetooth headsets from the biggest players: Jabra, BlueAnt, Motorola, and Jawbone. Sprint and Verizon Wireless had a few more choices, but that isn't saying much, because most tech sites carried at least three times as many.

For example, a Jawbone Era (not sold by T-Mobile):

  • Verizon Wireless -- $129.99.
  • AT&T -- $129.99.
  • Sprint -- $129.99.
  • -- $106.99.
  • -- $54.79.

Post continues below.

Smartphone cases

Your wireless provider has you (and your phone) covered when it comes to cases. But they still cost more than at other sites. For example, you could save more than $17 if you buy an Apple iPhone 4 Bumper case (not sold by T-Mobile):

  • Verizon Wireless -- $29.97.
  • Sprint -- $29.
  • AT&T -- $24.
  • -- $12.99.
  • -- $10.49.

Car chargers

Wireless providers sell car chargers made by the handset manufacturer, and like many things in life, you're paying for the brand name. In my opinion and experience, as long as the charger's input connection matches your phone's outlet, you're good to go. For example, I found a huge discount on a car charger for the phone I use, the Universal Micro USB car charger:

  • T-Mobile -- $29.99.
  • Verizon Wireless -- $29.99.
  • Sprint -- $34.99.
  • AT&T -- $29.99.
  • Accessory Geeks -- $14.99.
  • -- $4.06.

Most smartphones come with a pair of basic headphones. You can upgrade to a better pair through your wireless provider -- or you could save some money and buy them just about anywhere else. For example, I found a $15 discount by shopping around for my Skullcandy earbuds (not sold at Sprint):

  • AT&T -- $39.99.
  • Verizon Wireless -- $39.99.
  • T-Mobile -- $39.99.
  • Car Toys -- $34.99.
  • -- $24.99.
Memory cards

Everyone from drugstores to discount sites sells memory cards, so you have plenty of choices beyond the small handful offered by your wireless provider. And those choices can save you a good chunk of change. A 4GB SanDisk memory card, for example (not sold at T-Mobile):

  • Verizon Wireless -- $24.99.
  • AT&T -- $24.99.
  • Sprint -- $29.99.
  • -- $12.99. 
  • -- $9.98.

Buying your cellphone accessories from a competing site is one way to save money on your wireless service, but it isn't the only way. Check out "5 ways to save on your cellphone bill."


More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Sep 18, 2013 5:04PM

Thanks for the great Information. I thought of also sharing about my CHOE Qi Wireless Car Charger Dock for Nexus 4, Lumia 920 and Other Wireless Charging Phones designed with Qi inductive charging technology, which enables me to charge my phone quickly and easily once I placed it into the holder while driving. It helps me charge my smart Phone easily in a car and makes me free to make my often phone calls while charging in my car. It has WPC Qi standard wireless charging specification and all the Qi compatible receiver all from CHOE.

I got this from amazon for $82.99

May 18, 2012 11:18AM
Same with batteries. I bought a new OEM battery for my phone for $9.95 ($24. at Verizon). and it came with a new wall charger and car charger.
May 18, 2012 11:16AM
i love  if you are looking for great deals on that stuff.  i've been ordering from them for years.  i never had an issue.
Feb 16, 2012 11:12AM
I recently purchased two leather I Phone cases for my wife and I on EBAY. I paid less than $ 5.00 for both including shipping. While at the AT&T store I noticed they sold the exact same style for $ 29.95 + tax for one !
Feb 15, 2012 10:59PM

Man, this rule is across the board for any electronic accessories - TRY EBAY.COM FIRST. Car chargers - $3.00 w/shipping.


Skins can be found at Dollar Tree for $1. Try it on phone before you purchase.

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.