My husband and I have asked ourselves numerous times if we should get a contract or no-contract cell phone. We have a concern about signing a contract that obligates us to pay someone for two years. We feel that no job is secure and therefore signing such a contract would be presuming upon the future.
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. – Proverbs 27:1 (NIV)
For this reason, every time the question comes up, we choose to keep our no-contract cell phone plans. But that is not the only reason. We have found that, for our situation, the no-contract phones are the most economical. Let me show you how.
The Cost of No-Contract Cell Phone Plans
We have four adults in our household that use cell phones. That is important, because you might think that a contracted “family plan” would be the most economical way to go. However, we all require different options. My husband needs unlimited talk minutes. I do not require unlimited talk minutes, but because I use my phone for business, I do use close to 1000 minutes/month. My son, on the other hand, rarely talks on his phone; he needs unlimited texting. And my daughter rarely uses a third of the minutes/texts that she pays for.
Now, if we take our requirements and try to get a contracted service, how would that look? In our area, Verizon and Sprint are the major players. (We live in a rural area between two mountain ranges so good coverage is hard to come by.)
The Cost of Contract Cell Phone Plans
Verizon has a new system called Share Everything. Each phone is given unlimited talk and text, and then you pay a monthly charge for a shared amount of data. Using this option, we would incur a monthly charge of $30/phone, plus $50 to share 1 GB of data. I know that 1 GB of data doesn’t sound like much but we do not have Smartphones and only my daughter and I use our phones for email, so I think we can get away with that. With this plan, we would pay $170/month and would be required to sign a two-year contract.
And what about Sprint? It’s still in the Dark Ages of “anytime” minutes vs. “night and weekend” calling. I’m sorry; I can’t be bothered with checking the clock to make sure I’m calling at the most affordable time.
“But,” you say, “You don’t have Smartphones. Those no-contract companies have crummy phones. I really need my Smartphone and the service to match.”
“On the contrary,” I reply. Virgin Mobile had one of PC Magazine’s Editor Choice phones on sale Thanksgiving weekend for $149. The HTC EVO V 4G runs on the 3G/4G WiMAX network with the Android 4.0 platform. It offers 3D imaging, a 4.3” touchscreen, and can be used as a mobile hotspot. Virgin Mobile (run on the Sprint network) also offers the iPhone 4 and 4S, Samsung Galaxies, and others. And no matter which phone you choose, Virgin Mobile only charges $55/month for unlimited everything. Comparable contract plans would be $100 with Verizon and $109.99 with Sprint—if your calls stay in-network.
So should you get a contract or no-contract cell phone? Do you value cutting your expenses or getting ultra-premium service? The choice is up to you, but for my family, we are happy with what we have. And as far as upgrading goes, I have my eye on that HTC EVO V.
What are your thoughts on contract vs. no-contract cell phone options? Leave a comment and let us know!