5 Smart Ways to Save on Smartphones


Phones and phone service plans are an almost inescapable part of modern society. Every few years, we must choose a new cell phone and a new service plan to invest in. It's a modern necessity that can take up a huge chunk of our monthly expenses.

Don't worry, there are several strategies that can help save you money on this necessity. (See also: The Smart Way to Pay for Cell Phone Service)

1. Repair the Phone You've Got

Do you have a glitchy or damaged phone? Tired of dealing with it? Don't sign up for a new phone just yet. Nearly every town has one or two smartphone repair shops that might be able to fix your phone.

The diagnostic tests to determine if the problem can be fixed are typically free. The actual repairs can run anywhere from $50 to $150 depending on the device, the problem, and the store. That's still expensive, but it might be worth it if it prevents the need to purchase another $300 to $700 phone.

2. Sell Back Old Devices

If you determine it's time for a new cell phone, don't just throw the device in the trash. Many businesses have cell phone trade-in programs.

What exactly are trade-in programs? You sell the devices that are not currently being financed by a carrier or business to the store for cash. That's cash you can use to purchase your next phone. How much money you will receive is based on the following factors:

  • The phone type;
  • The phone's ability to power on;
  • If the phone has cracks on the screen.

The following stores have trade-in programs: Gazelle, Amazon, uSell, Best Buy, Walmart, EcoATM, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile.

You might also want to check out Trade-Up programs from various cell phone carriers and stores. Trade-Up programs allow you to trade in your old phone and put the money directly toward your next phone purchase.

3. Don't Purchase Phones Directly From Cellphone Carriers

Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, and even Costco (pretty much any store other than the traditional phone carriers) can offer cheaper smartphone options. You should shop around to see if you can find new, used, or refurbished phones for a cheaper price.

If you find a phone, you should check that the phone will be compatible with the cellular provider you use. (Some smartphones are locked to only work with certain providers.)

4. Purchase an Unlocked Smartphone

Why purchase an unlocked phone? Unlocked phones have the following benefits:

  • They're available at a variety of stores;
  • They aren't tied to one particular phone provider;
  • They can be slightly cheaper;
  • They allow the use of your phone on international trips;
  • You're able to leave a provider and take your phone with you.

If you decide to purchase an unlocked new, refurbished, or used smartphone, you need to keep in mind that you will most likely need to either purchase or receive a SIM card from a store or the cellular provider you opt to use.

Cell phone companies have different plans for unlocked phones. These plans typically have monthly payments like more traditional phone plans. Or, you can opt to just purchase pre-paid SIM cards from stores like Amazon and Best Buy.

5. Choose the Best Plan for You

Don't just sign onto the first provider you stumble across. You should check out a wide variety of plans before signing up. Consider your usage habits. Don't automatically sign up for the cheapest plan not knowing how much data you use each month. You'll be in for budget-breaking overage charges. But don't just sign up for the unlimited plan, either, just to have a safety net from possible overage charges. The only thing worse than paying for using too much data, is paying for data you'll never use.

Plan comparison sites can help you get a general sense of how much various phone providers cost. Two sites that can help you determine which provider offers the best plans are MyRatePlan.com and WhistleOut.com.

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