Clark Howard: Smarten up your phone service

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

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

The iPhone 5 has created a lot of excitement among buyers, but I’m excited about it for a different reason.

For me, it’s all about the spin-off effect of all those people who will now want to dump their iPhone 4 or 4S or an even older model. Amazon will give customers gift cards when they trade in a fully functional iPhone. They’re paying $85 in gift cards for the iPhone 3, and up to $400 for a well-preserved iPhone 4S.

The marketplace value of a used iPhone is high enough to cover the fee of breaking a contract with one wireless carrier to go to another and keep your number. This is your chance to exit from AT&T for iPhone service that is too costly and unreliable.

For a really Clark Smart move, take an older unlocked iPhone to a no-contract carrier and lower your monthly costs by about 50 percent. For example, you can buy a SIM card from Straight Talk and use an unlocked iPhone on their network for $45 a month, with the service being provided by T-Mobile or AT&T. Visit for more details.

Meanwhile, Cricket will sell you an iPhone 5 at the unsubsidized price of $499 instead of the subsidized $199 charged by the bigger wireless carriers. The cost of monthly service on Cricket is $55. For that price, you get unlimited calling, unlimited texting, and 2.5 GB of data, all with no contract. So you have a higher cost upfront for the phone, but it’s overcome by cheaper monthly service. Visit for more details.

Straight Talk also has a fancy Galaxy S for $349 with unlimited service for $45 a month. That’s a fraction of what the big guys charge and it’s also no contract. Best of all, it is run behind the scenes on the Verizon network at half the cost of branded Verizon service.

Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website. And get more savings tips from Clark’s previous blog posts.

– Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

3 comments Add your comment

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October 20th, 2012
12:01 am

I have verizon. I go through callingmart and pageplus. no contract plus I get data. cut my bill almost in half with more mins.