Practically every service provider offers free cell phones of one type or another. Some are feature-packed phones that could cost hundreds of dollars to purchase. But nothing's really free. In most cases, it is necessary to sign a contract for service in order to get a free cell phone.
Free Cell Phones?
Cellular service providers entice people into contracts by offering free cell phones. Generally, there is an additional charge to get the really fancy phones with all the latest features.
Some companies not only won't charge you for the cell phone, they'll also send you money. In 2009, letstalk.com offered several free cell phones that after rebates and discounts, would net you $25. They include Samsung's Eternity, Impression and Solstice; Sony's Ericsson W518A and W760A and several others. But to get any of these phones and the money back, you must sign a contract for service with AT&T.
If you opt for signing up for a plan for the sole purpose of getting the phone, there could be some pretty costly consequences. Cellular companies have caught on to this trick and will not hesitate to put a mark on your credit and many times will go to the trouble of obtaining a judgment to recover not only the retail cost of the phone along but also the balance due on the contract; so that phone you got for free could cost thousands if you're sued. As of 2009, free cell phones always required a new contract or an extension of an existing contract.
Disposable Cell Phones
A 2008 article in the New York Daily News discusses what is probably the most inexpensive, no-frills, cell phone on the market called the Hop-On. For only $10, the phone claims compatibility with more than 40 U.S. service providers. This disposable phone offers four hours of talk time and 150 hours of standby time. It has a built-in flashlight and voice mail. There is a $5 rebate for recycling the phone rather than throwing it away. So if you recycle the phone, it only costs $5.
Prepaid Cell Phones
Prepaid cell phones are available in places like Walmart, Kmart; Walgreens, Target and even some grocery stores. Prepaid phones are a bargain since the cost of the phone is relatively low and you pay for a specific number of minutes. They are convenient for the person who only wants a cell phone for emergency use or for the person who makes very few calls. Most companies that provide cellular service have prepaid cell phones available and additional minutes can be purchased from their stores.
Used Cell Phones
Used cell phones are phones that have been rebuilt or refurbished, and the styles can be somewhat outdated. Some places offer newer models, but these phones are not always the most cost-effective. In some cases it would be better to purchase a new phone. Guarantees are not long-lasting, either, since some of them offer only a 30-day guarantee. The prices on these cell phones can range from as little as $29 to more than $400.
Cheap Calling Plans
Calling plans range in cost per minute. Some plans offer rates as low as 2 cents per minute. In 2009, Tracphone offered cellular service starting at less than $10 per month with no contracts. Jitterbug is offering no long-term contracts, no roaming fees and minutes can be added that will not expire for a year. Nextel offer a basic calling plan for $29.99 per month on a two-year contract and offers a choice of free phones with the plan.
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