Time for a phone upgrade? Before you head off to your carrier's nearest retail store and drop $1000 on the latest big thing, take a few minutes to read this guide.
You don't have to spend a fortune or commit to monthly payments to get a high-end smartphone with all the great features you love.
COMPARE NOW: Compare Cell Phone Prices
Plus we're going to show you how to save a nice chunk on your cell phone plan each month!
Table of Contents
Buy Refurbished to Get the Best Cell Phone Deals
Competition between phone makers has accelerated into a heated race to release the best smartphone every single year. Consumers have responded by accepting the practice of shelling out a small fortune every 12 - 24 months just to keep up.
What if you're trying to stick to a budget, though? What if you'd rather do something else with that $30 a month you're putting toward phone payments? No problem. The used cell phone market is on fire - and that means great deals for you on top smartphones that support all your needs - calling, texting, music streaming, HD video streaming and more.
Benefits of buying a used or refurbished phone:
- Save money: You'll pay 50% or less of retail for a popular device that may be a generation or two old.
- Get huge bang for your buck: New phone models are usually very similar to the previous version. There are only so many new features to be added each year, which means you're not missing out on anything crucial when you buy an older model.
- Repairs are easy: There's a phone repair shop on practically every corner these days. It's affordable and simple to get your phone fixed if necessary.
- You own your phone - and your freedom: Buying your phone outright means freedom to switch carriers if you find a cheaper cell phone plan. No more waiting until your remaining balance is paid off.
Buying secondhand is practical, environmentally friendly, and saves you a ton of money. Plus, you'll find all the most popular smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S series and late-model Apple iPhones.
The Best iPhone Deals
The Best Samsung Galaxy Deals
Key Considerations When Buying a Refurbished Phone
There are a few things you should know before you dive headfirst into the used cell phone marketplace.
Firstly, devices come in a wide selection of conditions and price points. Used phones are typically sold as-is - usually directly from the original owner - while refurbished have been through an inspection/restoration process by a third party.
Other factors to consider:
- Warranties: Used phone warranties vary from seller to seller. Some, like Gazelle, offer 30 days on their guarantee. You can find longer warranties. Decluttr, for instance, offers a one-year limited warranty with all device purchases.
- Return policy: Rest assured that you will be able to return your phone for a limited time if something isn't as promised. Return periods vary, so check the terms and conditions before you buy.
- Device compatibility: Reputable sellers make sure your phone is unlocked from the carrier and is free to be used on a new account (i.e. not stolen!). You get the best functionality by going with a device that's made for your wireless network. In other words, buy a used Verizon phone for the Verizon Wireless network.
- Certified phones: A certified pre-owned smartphone is put through a rigorous inspection and testing process so you can be sure it's in top working condition.
- Timing: The best cell phone deals are the cheapest right when a new generation is released. For example, you could get the best iPhone 8 deals as soon as the iPhone X came out.
- Payment options: The best option financially speaking is to pay in full at the time of purchase. There are a few seller sites that offer installment plans, just watch the interest carefully so you don't blow your budget. Credit scores matter - the lower your score, the higher your interest.
At MoneySavingPro we want your shopping experience to be as easy as possible. Check out our picks for the best phone sellers, then quickly find the lowest price on your favorite smartphone with our price comparison engine.
How to Save Even More Money
On a really tight budget? There are some additional ways to bring those wireless costs under control.
Sell Your Old Phone for Cash
Sell your phone online to maximize the amount you get for it. You may be tempted to trade in your eligible device, the problem is that you'll only get store credit and it is virtually always less than you get selling it yourself.
See what the numbers look like with your carrier:
- Compare Verizon trade-in values
- Compare AT&T trade-in values
- Compare T-Mobile trade-in values
- Compare Sprint trade-in values
And don't worry, selling your phone is simple. Buyback sites make it easy - you just ship your phone off, they provide the photos, and you get paid!
Switch to a Low-Cost Carrier
Are you missing out on the lowest cell phone plan prices?
MVNOs - or Mobile Virtual Network Providers - are smaller wireless carriers that offer coverage on the big four networks - AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint. If you've heard of carriers like Boost Mobile or Straight Talk then you're already familiar with these alternative carriers.
MVNOs rent bandwidth on the major mobile networks. They have much lower overhead than the major carriers (most operate online as prepaid carriers) so they can afford to sell you wireless service with the same speed and reliability you're used to at a lower cost.
Benefits of MVNOs:
- Up to 50% cheaper
- Same great phone service on the 4G LTE networks you love
- Custom plans - choose the amount of data you want
- High customer service ratings
- No long term contracts or overage fees
- Bring your own phone and keep your number
Even though MVNOs are cheaper carriers, they still offer all of the same mobile essentials you expect from your wireless provider: unlimited data plans, unlimited calls, and text messages, mobile hotspot data, tablet plans, calling to Canada and Mexico, single lines, family plans and much more.
COMPARE NOW: Cheap Cell Phone Plans
Saving money on your smartphone and cell phone plan is easy:
- Compare prices to find the best refurbished phone deals.
- Switch to a cheaper cell phone plan.
- Sell your phone online for cash.
Join the legion of consumers opting for a more affordable smartphone option and cheaper plan pricing, and put more cash back in your own pocket.
Not sure how large of a high-speed data allotment you actually need? Learn how to check your data usage to avoid paying for more than you use!
COMPARE NOW: Compare Cell Phone Prices