Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I've been digging, and I am amazed at what I have found.

We are all such creatures of habit.  We seem to just go along with the way things are, until something makes us look at things differently.

Let me explain.

A friend asked me to research, I mean, dig, into a new cell phone plan for her.  She is moving and her cell phone contract is up, so she is pretty much up for grabs. Plus, she is in the market for a new phone. So, I pulled up the big boys--Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile--and started comparing plans and getting prices. Then I started digging deeper to see what the geek community was saying about cell phone plans.

I was shocked.

I have always accepted the two year cell phone contract as "business as usual."  You sign up for a plan that gives you minutes, texts, emails, and the internet. Some companies still offer unlimited everything, including data. Others offer a limited amount of data but allow you to use your phone as a personal hotspot providing wifi to other devices.

If you have a cell phone contract, and you cancel your contract, there is a hefty fee. And the major companies are starting to charge a "upcharge" every time you get a new phone.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that you can have a plan with unlimited minutes, texts, emails, and web browsing on a good nationwide network and no contract for $55 a month! And, you get to keep your phone number!!

Don't need unlimited minutes? How about $45 for 1200 minutes, and just $35 for 300 minutes, and you still get unlimited texts and data.

It's offered by Virgin Mobile. Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network.

There are other great, no contract deals out there with unlimited data and smartphones, including iPhones. New "no contract" companies are springing up everywhere, just waiting to offer you a better price and more services than the big guys.

What's the catch?

You pay for your phone up front, and you have to buy one of their phones. Or you can finance your phone, and add the payment to your monthly charge. But once you have paid off your phone, it's yours.

How is this different from the major carriers who charge a minimal amount for the phone upfront with a two year contract? The cost of your phone is built into your contract price. You're paying a monthly payment for your phone, you just don't know it.

For example, an iPhone 4s at Virgin Mobile is $280. For their unlimited everything plan you pay $60 a month, including taxes. That's $720 a year, plus $280 is $1,000 for the first year. You've already paid for the phone so the second year is $720. That's a total of $1,720 for two years for everything unlimited.

Now do the math with your cell phone plan. I'll bet you don't even come close.

Now, maybe you can't break up with your cell phone company just yet.  I understand.  But keep this little nugget handy.

You never know how you'll feel when it's time to commit to another two years of paying those hefty monthly bills.

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