What to Do When Your Cell Phone Contract Is Up

by AJ Pettersen · 5 comments

Man using cell phone

My cell phone has recently started to act up. There are a number of things malfunctioning, which is making me think about getting a new one. I’m nearing the end of my two-year contract (under my parent’s plan), so I’ll soon be eligible for an upgrade and a renewed contract. Finding a cell phone that will last me for the duration of the plan is my first priority. My current provider has poor service in my home, so getting a better provider is also a consideration.

When my contract is complete, should I re-sign and get a new phone with my current provider, or should I switch plans and providers completely?

The Phone

Cell phones have become more and more expensive with my provider, even with the signing of new two-year contracts. This is because they offer a lower monthly price in favor of higher upfront costs. My wife’s last phone was nearly $300 with an upgrade, whereas other companies offer similar phones for around $150-$200.

My current phone has had numerous problems, so I need to decide what type of phone I want to get. My provider doesn’t currently offer the ones with the fruit on the back, so I need to do some research. I’m looking for a reliable phone that will stand the test of time. Some bells and whistles are nice, but I don’t need all of them; a simple smartphone would work for me.

When searching for the right phone, ask around to figure out what’s best. Check online reports, or ask your friends what’s worked for them.

The Plan

Finding the right plan is also very important. Over a two-year contract, the plan will cost you far more than the phone. If you have your own plan with data and texting capabilities, you can expect to pay around $70 a month. This totals $1680 over two years. Small changes in the monthly price can save you lots in the long run.

My parents still have me on their plan, making it hard to find a reason to change plans. With the two-year contract running up soon, however, I’m anticipating the possibility of growing up and moving on to my own plan. When my wife’s contract runs up, she could do the same. Because my wife and I move around so much, picking the right provider can be difficult for us. For example, our current provider has very poor service in our home, whereas other providers have great service.

Getting the right amount of data, texting, and talking allotments is vital. I text quite often and also use my phone for social media and emailing. If I choose to switch, shopping around for the right plan will be a very important process.

How to Decide

My decision will come down to a combination of finding the best phone and the best plan. If I choose to switch providers, finding the most cost-effective plan will be imperative. With a little research, I know that I’ll be able to both save money and find the right plan/phone.

How do you make your decisions regarding cell phones and plans?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

LTC (RET) Tony January 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm

This subject is an excellent topic for financial savings. These days schools require kids to have smart phones for scanning capability. Considering you may have a family of four with two kids in school that is four phones. My bill from T-Mobile on a very competitive plan is over $180.00 a month, not including what I am still paying for the cost of the phones. I learned the hard way about buying phones from third parties and saving money. If my plan was up I would buy from a retail store and have the phone activated by the carrier. I have a HTC One and it has been trouble free. I also have a relative who went to a retail store (one of the largest not to advertise for them) and opened a plan that was month to month. I will monitor how their coverage has been and go that route next time before I go broke.

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gwen January 31, 2013 at 8:56 am

i notice you do not mention page plus half the price twice the services

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Red Clay February 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

My wife & I have had motorola phones for the last 6 yrs, & we’ve never had a ph problem within 2 yrs of purchase.

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@pfinMario February 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

An easy way to get discounts when nearing the end of your contract? Asking for them and threatening to switch if you don’t get them. Simple as picking up the phone…

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Phil February 22, 2013 at 4:57 am

I bought the $350 Nexus 4 and use it with unlimited $45 StraightTalk. It was the fastest phone you could buy until yesterday, and at a price that is cheaper than off contract price for just about any other phone ie $650 for iPhone 5.

PagePlus has the best deal going though. Thousands of texts, 1200 minutes, and 250 MB of data for $30. Need to find an old Verizon phone to run Page Plus though.

Prepaid is the way to go. When google comes out with their new Motorola phone (they own Motorola now) in May, I am going to be in control. I sell my Nexus 4 on eBay, buy their new phone, and then throw my SIM chip in it. That’s it. When I read the blog post about a phone “acting up” before their overpriced contract is up…that would make me nervous.

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