Cash 1 Blog
Saving Money on Cell Phones and Smartphone Plans
There is no denying that having a smartphone has become an indispensable utility to have in our daily lives. Yes, it’s convenient for looking up movie times and finding a good sushi restaurant, but it can also help you find the nearest emergency veterinarian after hours if your pet has had an unfortunate accident. It’s important for getting crucial information like amber alerts, or breaking news like wildfires and other disaster alerts that could potentially affect your routine, your whole day, or even your life.
Call phones can help you keep in contact with your children, but smartphones can help you keep track of them. Has Junior been out too late, and is he not answering his phone? You can activate a GPS tracker function (standard in all cell phones these days) and locate where his phone is in order to verify whether he’s safe or not.
And these are just a few examples of why smartphones can be beneficial. If you still have a “landline” (phone hooked up to a wall), you are going to find it completely unnecessary with all the features that come with smartphones. The author of this article has not had a landline since 1998; they have simply become obsolete, and you can save that money (usually about 20 bucks a month) for your cell plan.
Speaking of which, let’s take a look at some of the more affordable cell plans available in your area. Don’t be afraid to look them up online yourself for the purposes of comparison shopping, and make sure you are aware of all terms and services before you sign any contract.
Reminder: It is important to remember where data plans are concerned that streaming videos, followed by streaming music, use up the most data. Looking up websites or searching for directions uses the least, so it’s crucial to take a look at how much you do that uses data. Cutting out streaming videos will save you a lot on your plan.
The first plan we’re going to take a look at is Cricket Wireless. This is the plan that this article’s author has been using for four years now without a single complaint. The beauty of Cricket is that they don’t have their own network or infrastructure of cell towers, they just rent air time from the bigger companies, which allows them to provide more coverage since they can rent air time from different companies and are not limited to just one. The author’s current plan is unlimited data, minutes, text and pics for $40/month, and there is a $5/month discount for using their automatic pay service. There are no long term contracts to get locked into, and the plan can be canceled at any time. The drawback – and this might be considered a deal breaker for some – is that the phone has to be purchased up front for full retail price (though Cricket does sometimes have sales on phones). However, if you add up all the payments you have to make on a contract phone, you realize that with the big companies, you end up paying almost twice the actual value for the phone itself. Purchasing the phone up front can mean pretty hefty savings in the long run.
This is a cell plan that doesn’t provide you a phone, but rather service on the nation’s largest networks. For $10/month, you can get 500 MB of talk and text, as well as 100 MB of data. Where most cell phone plans can cost up to $120/month or more, this costs $120 a YEAR!
This plan provider is another that does not sell you a phone (gotta bring your own). This plan costs about $200/year and comes with 2GB of data per month plus unlimited talk and text. This breaks down to about $16.58 per month.
They have a $20/month plan which utilizes Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks. Unlimited talk, text and a Gigabyte per month of data when you bring your own phone. While Republic does cost more than the previous two mentioned, it has the reputation for the absolute best customer service in the industry.
If you want more flexibility, check out Twigby or US Mobile, which offers customizable plans at affordable rates. This mean you can raise or lower your data amounts, text features and talk minutes to build a plan that is right for you.
Feeling the need to give back? The People’s Operator is an affordable cell plan company that gives ten percent of your bill to charity (see website to find out which charities are involved). This is a great way to get an affordable cell plan as well as help out those in need.
At this point, you’re probably wondering where you can get a cheap (but quality) cell phone to go with your new affordable cell plan. Below is a list of bargain phones that will have all the necessary smart features you’re looking for.
Motorola Moto E4
Right now this back-to-basics smartphone sells for about $130 in the U.S. and comes with all the necessary features you might find in a smartphone. It operates on Android’s Nougat Operating system, has a fingerprint reader for security, a selfie flash (if that’s important to you), and is splash resistant (NOT water resistant; it means you can spill a little liquid on it without it shorting out but don’t try to take underwater pictures with it). Battery is removable (a good feature to have for more than just replacement issues) and it has a nice large viewing touchscreen. Shop around for smartphone prices and you’ll find $130 is a pretty good deal.
Samsung Galaxy J3
While the Galaxy “S” line is the popular market toy and has been for five years now, the J3 has quietly built up a loyal customer base due to the fact that it is essentially an “S” but without most of the software. If you think this is a good thing, you’re right. While there may be a use for accounting software on a phone for some folks, most of us don’t use the bloated feature set commonly found in the “S” series. The J3 is a phone so good that C-Net Magazine called it better than last year’s Galaxy S7. And where the “S” series cost upwards of $500 dollars, you can get a J3 starting at $110. The price goes up with the more features you decide to put on it, but the base model comes with an Android operating system, a good quality camera, and all the usual GPS features found on smartphones these days.
ZTE Max XL
How important is it to you that your phone has a nametag on it that looks like a piece of fruit with a bite taken out of it? Most people get the iPhone because it’s popular and it’s what all the cool kids are talking and browsing on. The ZTE is more a small pad than a large phone. Giant screen (for a phone), runs on Android Nougat version 7 and comes with a 13 megapixel built in camera. The screen resolution is excellent and the best feature is its $130 price tag.
Motorola Moto G5 Plus
You want a mainstream top tier brand phone for an affordable price? This is the best option for those with such demanding taste. Cost almost twice as much as the phones mentioned so far ($220), but it does come with rugged, impact resistant design, the latest Android operating system and splash resistant capabilities. Motorola has a reputation for sturdy products, so you can count on this phone lasting you a good two years or more without having to get locked into a contract.
Blue R1 HD
This large screen phone does have its drawbacks, but it starts at $60 bucks and goes up from there, depending on what features you order with it. Amazon sells this phone with varying tiers of fee structures depending on whether you’re willing to put up with Amazon ads popping up on your screen and using up the battery, which does take a long time to charge. But again, that $60 price tag could make for a good starter phone for your child.
ASUS Zen Phone 3
ASUS has been building a reputation is a reliable manufacturer of computers, laptops and accessories. Its entry into the cell phone platform is no exception. The Zen3 comes with top rating from just about every reviewer, many of whom are calling it the next line of Galaxy phone in the next decade. If none of that matters to you, then we’ll put it simply: very high quality phone rivaling the features of any current smartphone for $249. Comparable phones start at twice that price, and even then only during sales events. The biggest attraction is the battery, which lasted 16 hours on continuous video loop tests (high end cameras barely clock in at 11 hours on the same test). Yes, it’s the most expensive phone featured here, but it is also easily the highest quality and most durable. You will get your money’s worth, should you decide to purchase this phone.
Microsoft Lumia 650
What more do you need to know? It’s a Microsoft phone that runs on Windows 10. This is a good thing if you are someone who constantly syncs their phone with their PC (unless you have a fruit based home computer). It is a good phone with a common operating system and good specs, and comes with a smaller screen for those who hate the feeling of holding a pad in their hand or pocket. It cannot be denied that the phone is a bargain for its $200 price tag.
Huawei Honor 5X
We’re having trouble pronouncing it too, but it is a well-built phone with fingerprint reader and high end camera for $200. Aluminum casing makes it more resistant to shattering when dropped (that’s MORE resistant…not “drop proof”), and comes with a sturdy battery, which is irreplaceable but does last a good long time.
Sony Xperia XA
You probably know this, but Sony is pretty much synonymous with ‘quality’. They build great products designed to last a long time. Their high end phones have earned multiple awards and praises from all kinds of critics. Not to mention the XA has garnered its share of praise where none is generally given for mid range phones. It has a 13 megapixel camera, runs on the latest Android OS and is whisper thin (which translates to very light, but also quit delicate). Still, it’s a bargain at $200.
We at CASH 1 hope we have been helpful in finding ways to save you money on a smartphone and phone plan. If you’re having trouble paying your phone bill this month, come see us and we’ll see if a short term personal installment loan or title loan is right for you.
Joseph Priebe takes pride in assisting audiences with his articles to help them make sound financial decisions.
With over ten years of experience writing financial content his goal at CASH 1 has always been creating engaging and easy-to-digest information for anyone searching for immediate or long-term monetary solutions.
When Joseph is not writing about personal finance, you can find him photographing the Southwest United States with his 4x5 Graflex Crown Graphic camera. He is based in Phoenix, Arizona.