2010 Christmas season deals on cell phone plans

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2010 Christmas season deals on cell phone plans
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This is the time of year that so many people decide to get a new cell phone or change their cell phone provider. On TV, there are a ton of ads for cell phone companies and their latest “it” phones. Likewise, newspapers have full page ads for the latest Android phone or what have you.

The salespeople on the floor at electronics stores are trained by managers to up-sell anyone who comes in and wants a bargain, non-contract plan. The goal is to get you to sign a 2-year contract. Wireless carriers pay big commissions to electronics stores for every new 2-year contract. But they only pay very puny commissions if somebody signs up for a non-contract plan.

So know that the motivation of the salesperson is completely different than yours. Use your best judgment to get the best deals. One of the big differences from last Christmas is that now you can actually get a fancy Android phone from a pre-paid carrier.

By going with a pre-paid no-contract carrier, you get a much lower monthly cost and you get access to unlimited plans, while the Big 4 carriers that push contracts are all going to data caps that result in massive overages on people’s bills.

Sure, you’ll pay a little more for the phone with the no-contract carriers, but you’ll lose the handcuff of the 2-year contract. Remember, the big cost of a cell phone is not the phone itself, but the expensive payment each month over 24 months if you’re in a contract.  

Here’s a quick rundown of the greatest deals this Christmas season, as I see them.

  • MetroPCS.com now offers nationwide coverage for $50/month for an Android phone including unlimited everything. Their Android phones tend to cost between $169 and $249.
  • VirginMobileUSA.com is great for the data-oriented younger consumers. They sell an Android phone and calling plan with unlimited data that starts at $35/month and goes up as you add additional call time. Their Android phones tend to cost between $169 and $249.
  • StraightTalk.com has two tracks: You can either get a free basic phone at Wal-Mart locations in return for your first month of non-contract service at $45/month. Or if you want a fancy phone, there are now two Nokia phones that you can buy for $199 each. Each runs on the Symbian operating system. Either way, you’re still paying $45/month for unlimited everything service.
  • CommonCentsMobile.com might be the best deal for light volume users. You can either pay $150 for a few thousand minutes (and texts) or pay as you go at a flat rate of 7 cents/minute.

Today’s broadcast included segments from the 20th anniversary of Clark’s Christmas Kids. Because of the generosity of Clark’s listeners, the Christmas Kids Campaign collects about half of all the gifts the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) gives to children in foster care. Donate online here.

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. More about Clark
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