Looking for the Best No Contract Cell Phone? Read On!
As late as 2005, much of the country was still subject to semi-monopolies as the Regional Bell Operating Companies began to break up (right, picture taken from Wikipedia). Major players in the cell phone industry arose from those companies. They literally dictated the terms of cell phone usage, forcing 2 year contracts on their customers with impunity. What's worse, if you had to cancel your service during that time, they imposed hefty early termination fees! All that has changed. What are your options now? What is the best no contract cell phone?
Exorbitant Cell Phone Fees
Two year contracts became the norm when phone companies realized that they could sell mobile phones at a discount. They enticed purchasers to sign contracts with exorbitant monthly fees and outrageous early termination fees. What's more, they took every opportunity to renew those two year contracts, keeping the customer tied to them for as long as possible. They developed family plans to lock related users into the lucrative contracts, and added roll over minutes to keep customers from changing providers. Life was good – for the phone companies.
Prepaid Cell Phones – a Shady Deal?
For years the only alternative to those two year contracts were prepaid cell phones. You'd pay into your account in advance to use your phone. The provider would take money from your account for each minute you spent making or receiving calls. The cost per minute was frequently high. You'd have to maintain a high account balance so it didn't run dry in the middle of a phone call.
The prepaid phones lacked many features commonly offered on the more sophisticated, two year contract phones. They also had a shady quality about them, as television and the movies commonly put “burner phones” them in the hands of criminals and terrorists.
What is the Best No Contract Cell Phone Service?
The first “no contract” cell phones didn't have any contract requirement, but they carried a lot of baggage from prepaid cell phones. All too often they were mid to low range phones with a high end phone cost. Costs to call or send texts was similarly high.
Companies continued to experiment in the no contract cell phone market, and gradually some began to distinguish themselves. One company began to emerge as a clear leader in the no contract market – Ting, which provides service on both the Sprint CDMA network and on the T-mobile GSM network. They offer a host of different phones, from low end phones to reasonably priced high end Android and Apple smartphones. You can even bring your own phone into their network. Give them a call – they may pay a part of the early termination fee with your present provider to help you lose your high monthly phone bill!
Billing Based on Usage
The screenshot below shows what the monthly bill would be for a couple using two smartphones, burning up to 1000 minutes per month conversing and up to 1000 text messages, and includes a modest data usage of up to 500MB.
The couple would only pay $47 per month for their phones – but it their usage went down, so would their bill. At the same time, if there was an emergency, Ting's no contract service could also cover excessive usage without an excessive price per minute. In fact, as your monthly usage goes up, your cost per minute, text, or MB goes down! There is no two year contract, and no early termination fee. Perhaps we've answered the question “What is the best no contract cell phone?”
To estimate your own monthly bill, simply pick your usage in each of the four rows in the picture above (Devices, Minutes, Messages, and Megabytes). Add up the total of the four, and you'll have a good idea of your monthly Ting bill.
Managing Your Account
You can log into your account from any computer to see your real time usage at any time during the month, so you'll know what your bill will be. They even have an app to let you manage your account while you're away from home. I've limited my Nexus 5 to talk minutes and text messages only, and use wi-fi connections for any data requirements I may have. I simply turned off the data usage in the Ting dashboard – that way I won't have any monstrous data bills from automatic updates for the phone's apps on my Ting account.
What's more, you can limit or disable any of the devices on your account – whether the talk minutes, the number of texts, or the data usage (as I've done). Take a look at the image below for an example.
You may be wondering why I've included a section on this site to discuss mobile phones and mobile phone plans. I know many folks who are bent nearly double trying to make ends meet. They have to contend with mobile phone bills that may be hundreds of dollars per month! They only do so because they don't know an alternative exists. Take a minute to check out Ting – I think you'll be glad you did. What's more, they have an excellent customer service department – something you could get used to!
Questions or Comments?
Do you have a question or comment about no contract cell phones? Are you still wondering what is the best no contract cell phone? Drop a note in the comment box below and put it out there for all to see! You may hear from someone who has already been there and done that.