Is it Time to Ditch the Cell Phone Contract and Opt for a No-Contract Plan?

Thinking of going no-contract on your cell provider? We took a look at the options to help you decide whether it's worth it.

Shopping for cell phone plans

Of smartphone owners paying more than $200 per month on their cell phone bill, nearly a third consider the cost to be a financial burden, according to the Pew Research Center. This may be why many people are turning to no-contract service plans, which allow them to get more bang for their buck.

I happen to be one of the many consumers who finally became fed up with paying $100 per month for a phone I hardly used for actual calls. Now that I've been a no-contract smartphone user for about three years, I can honestly say I wouldn't go back. My bill is half of what it was, and I still get to a use a modern smartphone for what I really need -- texting capabilities and Internet access. However, consumer needs vary on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, it's worth closely examining the options on the market.

The Rise of No-Contract Services

These days, there are several no-contract service providers to choose from, and most offer not only the newest phones, but also big savings. Let’s take a look at some of the most affordable plans offered by these companies, as well as who they fit best.

Metro PCS (Most affordable plan) - $30 per month. Unlimited data, with the first gigabyte of data reaching up to 4G speeds (speeds slows down after the first GB). Unlimited talk and text. Taxes and regulatory fees are included.
Best for: Consumers on a tight budget. With Metro PCS, you'll have peace of mind, knowing that you're paying a straight $30 every month with taxes and fees included.

Boost Mobile (Data Boost Plan) - $35 per month. Unlimited talk, text and data on the Sprint 4G LTE network. The first gigabyte of data reaches up to 4G in speed. International service is considered an add-on, starting at $5 per month for Mexico and Canada.
Best for: Consumers who make a lot of international calls. For $10 extra per month, you can get unlimited talk in more than 70 countries. It is also free to receive text messages from abroad.

Virgin Mobile (Unlimited Your Way) - $35 per month. Unlimited data, talk and text (250MB of high speed data), or unlimited data and text with 300 minutes of call time (2.5GB of high speed data).
Best for: Consumers who are worried more about texting and data, rather than minutes for calls. Big talkers -- or those who take numerous calls for work -- may find the 300 minutes too limiting.

T-Mobile (Simply Prepaid) - $40 per month. Unlimited talk, text and data on the T-Mobile network, and up to 1GB of 4G LTE data.
Best for: Consumers who want a "well-rounded" service and phone. Unlimited talk, text and data is ideal for the everyday smartphone user.

Ting Monthly price varies. Ting bills you separately for voice minutes, text messages and data, and usage is shared across all of the devices on your account. You pay for the "usage level" you hit at the end of the month. Devices start at $6.
Best for: Consumers who rarely use their smartphone or families that want to split the cost of a service plan on one account.

Some of the common bonuses that these companies offer include the option to keep your existing phone number, voicemail and three-way calling. Virgin Mobile, for instance, also has a buy-back program that gives you up to $300 for your old phone when you switch to its service. However, contract carriers, such as Verizon and AT&T, provide similar incentives for consumers.

Which Plans Are Slickdealers Using?

Unsurprisingly, most people in our community aren't on 2-year plans anymore. Some have kept their old plans that are now month-to-month while others are using the new carriers on the block.

Which Option Is Right for Me?

When you look at the bare bones of these services (including the prices), it’s obvious to see that a no-contract service is optimal if you’re looking to reduce your monthly expenses. However, it’s worth noting that many of these companies, such as Virgin Mobile, require you to pay the full price of the device prior to receiving service. So if you want the latest phone, it's going to cost you.

Some companies, like T-Mobile, offer financing plans for smartphones in no-contract arrangements. However, you must pay off the device before upgrading to a new one with the provider.

If you’re looking for a family plan, the grass may also be greener on the contract side. T-Mobile ($100/month), Verizon ($140/month) and AT&T ($160/month) all offer multiple lines with 10 GB of data. Sprint gives you five lines with 20 GB of data for $100 per month for one year. This amounts to a lot of savings when compared to getting each family member an individual line through a no-contract service. Of course, it’s worth looking into companies that offer both, such as T-Mobile.

Cell phone service deals change almost as quickly as the devices themselves. The best plan for you will depend on everything from your budget to your needs. For this reason, it’s critical to examine all of your options before upgrading to a new smartphone. If you're anything like this guy, definitely make sure you get unlimited data.

Image courtesy of ©iStock.com/mihailomilovanovic

Slickdeals content may contain references to products from one or more of our affiliate partners. If you make a purchase on their site through a link on Slickdeals, we receive a small commission. This in no way affects our opinions on products or services mentioned in our content.



Add a Comment
About the Author
Krystle Vermes Contributor

Krystle Vermes is a professional writer, blogger and podcaster with a background in both online and print journalism. Her passions include everything tech, sports, and the paranormal. When she isn’t freelance reporting, she’s breaking news on her blog, GetSpooked.net, and podcasting. Maureen is a graduate of Suffolk University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism.


14 Comments

1
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Feb 2011
L4: Apprentice
305 Posts
188 Reputation
Our community has rated this post as helpful. If you agree, why not rep AustinPowersISU?
#2
Why no Cricket? $35 a month for unlimited talk and text and 2.5 GB of high speed data (capped at 8 mbit/s) on the AT&T network!

You can get 5 lines for $100.
Reply Helpful Comment? 4 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Oct 2012
New User
1 Posts
10 Reputation
#3
Because Cricket is not a Sprint MVNO
Reply Helpful Comment? 1 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Oct 2003
L2: Beginner
46 Posts
20 Reputation
Our community has rated this post as helpful. If you agree, why not rep guy2kool?
#4
Aww... no mention of PagePlus? Gotta give them some cred. $80/yr for 2000 minutes for the year = $7/month for 166 minutes/month. Not bad for old fogies like my dad (75 yrs old) to use.
Reply Helpful Comment? 4 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Oct 2009
L6: Expert
1,685 Posts
334 Reputation
#5
I'm using the $30 T-Mobile Walmart plan with my iPhone 6 Plus. I think it's the best deal on the market.

$30 a month for Unlimited Data and Text with 100 minutes of calling. The LTE data only lasts to 5GB, but I never reach that anyways. It's a steal at this price.
Reply Helpful Comment? 1 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Nov 2014
L6: Expert
1,207 Posts
134 Reputation
#6
I had Virgin Mobile for years and initially it was good but the service went down and the data got slow, worked everywhere for the most part no problem though and the price was good. I do go to Canada and overseas though so I just switched over to T-Mobile prepaid and it is very good so far in the 2 weeks I have had it. I have the plan that lets you call and use data etc in Canada and Mexico and I was in Canada last week and had no problems, used voice, texts, navigation and data with zero issues. The GSM phones like the ones T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon use are the best because you can just throw a sim card in them and they are ready to go, no calling or going online to get your phone up and running.

The best advice I can give you also is do not go cheap on your phone, make sure it has at least 16GB of internal storage and preferably more than 1GB of RAM. Either get a good new one or buy a good older model that is cheap. Remember that 8GB that is advertsed is really 4GB because 4GB is automatically gone from all the stuff on the phone right out the box. I highly recommend the upper end LG phones, the G series phones.
Reply Helpful Comment? 1 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Nov 2013
L2: Beginner
83 Posts
134 Reputation
#7
If I end up working from home (dream come true), I might look into the $30 Tmobile Walmart plan that andrew_ng mentioned. Using Google voice with my wifi for most calls would be great at $30. But I moved to Straight Talk in 2013. Unlimited talk, text, and data (2.5GB LTE cap) on AT&T's network for $48.xx ,including fees. I spread the word to my friends and most of them made the switch from their $100+ bills. It has only gotten better since then. Recently they upgraded everyone to 3GB, then to a 5GB of LTE data cap and now is $46.xx with autopay. I know of comparable deals with Unlimited Everything but few with that high of a LTE data cap.
Reply Helpful Comment? 1 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Dec 2011
L2: Beginner
73 Posts
57 Reputation
#8
You should also mention Republic Wireless. I have been using their service for over a year and am very pleased. Their prices are better than all the other services mentioned in this article.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Jul 2014
L2: Beginner
86 Posts
10 Reputation
#9
Between FreedomPop's free service and T-Mobile's excellent prepaid service (actually got over 100mbps download once) I've haven't paid anywhere near what I paid for what I got on contract with verizon under a shared plan too. And that was before LTE was even deployed, so that was all my 3g only droid original. That phone didn't even survive that much longer than the contract. It wasn't worth it. Now I hear verizon is even getting rid of contracts as they have afford the phone subsidies. With $700 phones I can't blame them!
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Sep 2013
L8: Macher
3,497 Posts
1,459 Reputation
#10
I pay $10 every 3 Month for 200 minutes talk/text/data Pay as you Go with H2OWireless a part of AT&T and have been using this method the past 2 years. This works great if you want to keep a spare emergency smart phone handy as a backup phone off plan with no monthly cost or taxes. you can buy their microSims on ebay or amazon for $1 and there are plenty of AT&T off contract smart phones being sold for $50 and up.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined May 2006
L10: Grand Master
6,898 Posts
#11
NO mention of tracfone. I am on TF's BYOP program in which I can use my iphone 6s on tracfone (Verizon). All tracfone cards triple and you get 3 separate "buckets" for your minutes, texts and data. I bought a 1 year card in May for $75. I will add a separate 2gb (they also have 4gb) in a month or so for $30. All the minutes, texts and data roll over until you have no more airtime. Great deal as I have spent less than $100 for 6 months of service for an iphone 6s. People really need to look into this.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Aug 2009
L5: Journeyman
675 Posts
111 Reputation
#12
I have been using T-Mobile's pay as you go plan, now called legacy. I top up annually before it expires, $100. I always have more than enough in the account, and I pay for each minute and text. Works for me!
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined May 2004
L4: Apprentice
504 Posts
204 Reputation
Pro
#13
We haven't been in a contract for many years. Many years ago we were on the T-mobile Gold plan -- back when our phones were only used for telling time and the occasional phone call -- where we only had to top up $10 per year to stay active, that was in our pre-Android/mobile data days.

Then we went to the Virgin Mobile $25 plan -- which is a lot more than the $10 per year we had been paying, but we do find the data and text very useful -- and moved into the Android/mobile data/text era, until they decided to raise the price (if you ever wanted to upgrade to a non-ancient phone).

Then we switched to the T-mobile $30 - 5.GB plan, which is what we have been on for the past several years, and it has worked out pretty well so far. We've both been through several phone upgrades, and upgrading (or switching between) phones on T-mobile is super-simple (if the phone is compatible with T-mobile): Just move the SIM card to a new phone.

My sister is still on the old $25 Virgin Mobile plan, with an ancient Android phone, but she is finally joining us over on the $30 T-mobile side with a new Android phone.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Aug 2005
Grand Master
984 Posts
130 Reputation
#14
I'm still on the Sprint SERO plan, $50/month for 500 minutes and unlimited (Mobiile 2 Mobile, text, and data), with 2 year contract on a subsidized phone. I have a child on Ringplus Sugar plan for $16 / month with unlimited phone and text and 2GB data.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Oct 2003
L7: Teacher
2,886 Posts
308 Reputation
#15
Quote from clickme236
:
I'm still on the Sprint SERO plan, $50/month for 500 minutes and unlimited (Mobiile 2 Mobile, text, and data), with 2 year contract on a subsidized phone. I have a child on Ringplus Sugar plan for $16 / month with unlimited phone and text and 2GB data.
how much data do you use per month?

my usage is down to under 2gb, even 1.5gb. My contract for my SERO plan is done and I'm kind of over the whole needing a new phone every two year thing, or at least the most expensive ones.

I used to be able to get a new phone for free (my galaxy s5 was a penny two years ago) now SPrint wants $200 for an S7. Not worth it to me when for the same price I can get an iphone 7 which will keep value much better. Except Apple took out the headphone port which I use every day. And now, galaxy s8will also have no headphone port. I don't want to get into another 2 year contract just for a phone.

I have Mad Plum on Ring Plus. $0 for 500 minutes, 500 txt, (this iwould be limiting), and 1.5gb of LTE data (plan is 1gb but I had an addon that carried over from my old plan)

I'm thinking of giving up my SERO account and porting the number to my google voice account and then swap my galaxy s5 onto my RP account.

I will have no cell phone bill whatsoever. But who knows how long that will last
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Last edited by oneness December 14, 2016 at 01:29 PM.
Page 1 of 1
1
Join the Conversation
Add a Comment
 
Copyright 1999 - 2018. Slickdeals, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Copyright / Infringement Policy  •  Privacy Policy  •  Terms of Service  •  Acceptable Use Policy (Rules)  •  Interest-Based Ads
Link Copied to Clipboard