Every now and then, there’s a good deal that millions of people ignore — continuing to pay more than they have to. Right now, that’s the case with cellphone service. There are two main kinds:
- Postpaid — You have a contract and you pay each month for last month’s usage.
- Prepaid — You pay in advance, often a flat rate and sometimes per-minute.
Right now, prepaid cellular is a much better deal than postpaid. There’s no particular reason why this should be, it’s just the way it is. If you started out with a postpaid cellphone and just stuck with your plan as time went by, you’re probably paying too much. If you like your current carrier, you can almost certainly stay with that carrier — just switch to its prepaid version (for example, from Verizon Wireless to Verizon Prepaid Wireless). Here are some of the best deals:
- T-mobile’s $30 per month plan: unlimited web and text, 100 minutes of voice (great if, like most of us, you’re using less voice these days). Go for their $50 per month plan if you use more voice.
- Verizon’s $50 per month plan
As for devices, the best deal on the planet is the Nexus 4 from Google. You can find phones that do more, and phones that cost less–but I haven’t seen a phone that does more and costs less. The Nexus 4 works with AT&T and T-mobile networks (and resellers of those networks such as Red Pocket and Straight Talk service). So: The best phone works with the best service for penny-pinchers. Read this guy’s take on why the Nexus 4 is so good that it made him switch away from Verizon (the best network, but not compatible with the Nexus 4).
And if you want to really save money, pay-per use plans are great for many users. For these plans you pay by the minute or KB of data. It’s a little tricky, but here are some ways to go really low using such plans. Mainly, you use free wi-fi for most of your web and email, using the data plan only when you’re out of reach of wi-fi. Here’s a post on that.
Here’s a sleeper idea that may work well for some: a new service that gives you unlimited talk, text and web for about $20 per month, mostly using wi-fi. I’m on the waiting list to try it, so I can’t recommend it from personal experience, but the concept looks promising. The service is called Republic Wireless.
*Note: If you are not interested in saving money but just want the best experience, get an iPhone on Verizon and don’t worry about the cost. All of the strategies in this article involve a little more trouble and a little less convenience than the iPhone+Verizon combination. As for me, I have a Nexus 4 and prepaid service that runs $8 per month. I use all the voice, text and Internet I want each month. But that’s another story.