Clark Howard: Two of the cheapest phone plans out there

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardLooking to save money on your monthly cellphone bill? Don’t pay big bucks to a contract wireless carrier. I want to let you know about a few of your other low-cost, no-contract options.

A deal I first told you about back in April from Metro PCS has been extended. It’s a $25 per month offer for unlimited calling and unlimited texting. That works out to be $300 annually — including all taxes and regulatory fees —making it among the lowest price points of this type in the country.

There are only a handful of phones you can use on the plan: the Kyocera Presto, Huawei Pinnacle, Samsung Contour, LG Select, Huawei M735 Blue, LG Beacon or Samsung Freeform III. All phones are priced $49-$69 (plus a $10 activation fee.)

This offer works best in Metro’s home markets — which includes most of metro Atlanta. Though when you travel, they buy coverage for you from other cellphone carriers. But it’s really based on your home market. Visit MetroPCS.com to see what kind of coverage you can get.

The $25 offer is active through Aug. 31, but you can remain on the plan as long as you like if you abide by its terms.

Meanwhile, there’s a more experimental deal from a company called Republic Wireless.

For $19 per month, Republic Wireless customers get unlimited calling, texting, email and web on a Motorola DEFY XT — all with no contract. Of course, the no-contract part means you pay the full retail price of $249 for the phone (plus a $29 activation fee.)

This is an invitation-only service, so visit Republic Wireless.com to sign up as a beta tester. With junk fees, the Republic offer works out to be about $21 a month, making it the absolute cheapest plan for this kind of service.

-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs

Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.

15 comments Add your comment

nelson

August 16th, 2012
6:24 am

I have the cheapest plan. It works out to $6.33 a month and the phone cost $20.00. It is trakphone. I do not talk all day on it. I use it for only important calls. I get a prepaid card for $20.00 every three months.

Anothermommy

August 16th, 2012
7:40 am

You truly get what you pay for, Metro PCS has some of the worst service, PERIOD, they will give a phone to ANYONE, if you see a nieghbor OUTSIDE, in the rain, you can BET it’s a MPCS customer, thier signal drops constantly, even if you go above the 4th floor of a building!!…Thanks, Clark, while your advice is always on point… I will stick with VERIZON my cell phone has NEVER dropped a call in SIX years!

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Alecia

August 16th, 2012
8:02 am

I am the neighbor outside in the rain, dropping calls on my Verizon phone.

julia

August 16th, 2012
8:50 am

None could possibly be as bad as ATT, absolutely the WORST service in town. I’d have dumped them long ago but I keep losing phones and the only way I can replace them is by locking myself into another miserable contract with ATT.

Greg

August 16th, 2012
9:04 am

I have the Republic Wireless service and it works OK. They use the Sprint network so the data is slower than that of ATT, Verizon or TMobile. I have found that the phone works fine in Atlanta but oftentimes when you are traveling you cannot make calls at all. The phones cannot send or receive MMS messages but they can send SMS messages. This lack of being able to send MMS messages has upset a lot of people in the beta test and the company does not seem very willing to fix the problem. Another issue with the service is the ability of the phone to seamlessly hand off a call from wifi to cellular and vice versa (it cannot…yet). What Clark is not making very clear is that you will not be able to get one of these phones anytime soon. They opened the service up back in November of 2011 and they let in a select number of customers and gave them a LG Optimus V phone. Now they are opening up the service to the next group of people in the beta test (they call these waves and they are on beta wave B). There are people that tried to get into the November 2011 startup wave that still have not been able to get a phone. If you are still interested in the service I’d take a good long look at the Republic Wireless forums so you can properly set your expectations for this service.

mary

August 16th, 2012
9:51 am

I have a GoPhone; $100 a year to keep it activated. If your someone who just needs a phone for emergencies and doesn’t yammer and text all day, it’s the best deal.

lovelyliz

August 16th, 2012
10:05 am

I have a T-Mobile pre-paid phone that runs me $30 for 4-6 weeks. I work set hours and my family/friends knows to call me at home or at work unless it’s an emergency.

Tucker resident

August 16th, 2012
10:22 am

There are lots and lots of alternatives to a cell phone contract out there now. I use Page Plus Cellular, which uses the Verizon network so few if any dropped calls. There are lots of Page Plus plans to choose from (mine is 1,200 minutes, 3,000 texts, and 100 MB of data for just under $30, which is plenty for me). You can buy your phone from them but I got mine at Wal-Mart. Have been thrilled with the plan, the service, and the freedom from a contract.

bryan

August 16th, 2012
1:50 pm

Net10 is a pretty good plan. 10 cents per minute or 2.5 cents per text.

Decaturmom

August 16th, 2012
2:06 pm

MetroPCS is great! I have used my phone from Georgia to Miss with no dropped calls. I work on the 11th floor of a building in Buckhead and it doesn’t drop calls, not even in the elevator! Great plan!

whatfor

August 17th, 2012
1:43 am

Well Clark, for starters MetroPCS sucks – coverage is horrible – especially when you get outside of the metro area and well off the interstates. And when you have to multiply that times 4 users in the household – along with considering what kind of phone you get, the service you get, etc – Metro is NOT that much cheaper.
And if Republic is using the Sprint network – that won’t work either. I have friends in this area of GA that I am from who will NEVER use Sprint again because of the very back connections and the multiple dropped calls that they have had.

DownT

August 21st, 2012
10:02 am

go with verizon–costs more, but better quality. customer service–average, but less dropped calls. I dropped aTT last year–terrible service, dropped calls, etc.

Clark in Tex

August 21st, 2012
11:01 pm

So, Clark , what’s the value add if you just list cheap services that can’t execute their service. You’ve just done a dis-service to your audience. What is helpful is the phone plans and their effectiveness in executing their claims. That is value add. Otherwise, Clark, you’re not helping consumers but providing bad information.I think the term you use is, “smart”. Well, let’s be smart about this analysis.

larry english

August 22nd, 2012
10:03 pm

http://www.platinumtel.com
uses sprint
cheap phones
$7 a month
7
customer service is good, too
wle