1. Computing

Poll: Do You Prefer a Cell Phone Plan With or Without a Contract?

By October 8, 2009

Question mark for contract or no contract poll
Image Chad Baker, Getty Images
These days, you don't have to be shackled to a cell phone contract if you don't want to.

The four major cell phone carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless) typically want to lock you down for two years in exchange for a subsidized handset price.

But carriers like Boost Mobile, Cricket, Virgin Mobile, PlatinumTel, Jitterbug, StraightTalk and MetroPCS compete by going the other way. They offer prepaid wireless and pay-as-you-go service without contracts.

There are pros and cons to having a contract. With one, you get a cheaper phone and typically have access to today's most innovative handsets. But you're also faced with termination fees around $150 if you try to leave early.

Without a contract, you can often save money on your service plan in exchange for a higher-priced handset and often more basic models. Which do you prefer? Vote in our poll below!

Comments
October 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm
(1) Cell Phone Forum Moderator says:

I’m not so sure that “like” is a good word for it. Basically, I recognize that the subsidy rebates I get in exchange for signing that contract have enabled me to afford cell phones that, otherwise, would have been out of my reach. I don’t like situations where there is no obvious benefit for the customer, but in general, a commitment in exchange for a greatly reduced cell phone price, that’s a trade I’m OK with making.

Rob V
Moderator and Helper at the Cell Phones Forum.

October 9, 2009 at 11:55 am
(2) Doctor TracFone says:

Nice that you included Straight Talk but you left out the largest prepaid service in the U.S., TracFone (and Net10).

PlatinumTel must be a regional service near your hometown; it’s not nationally known.

Regarding service, you might want to refer to the recent J.D. Power 2009 Wireless Prepaid Customer Satisfaction Study which ranked TracFone and Net10 at the top. Straight Talk uses the same customer service tream, by the way.

Here’s the link to the J.D. Power info:

October 9, 2009 at 11:57 am
(3) Doctor TracFone says:
October 12, 2009 at 10:08 am
(4) Steve says:

I hate the thought of having to ‘agree’ to a 1-2 year contract, it is like what if a different deal (cheaper,more features,etc)comes along 6 months, a year or so comes out?You don’t have a chance to get out of the losing contract you signed, without them jamming it up your a_ _ !I understand why they do it..to stop people from getting ‘supposedly’ more up to date equipment and switching over to another carrier..but I happen to like my providers service so going by my loyalty I think they would allow me to take a ‘non-prepaid’ deal.

October 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm
(5) Consumer Cellular says:

For those looking for inexpensive cell service, with no contracts, I have the answer for you! I work with Consumer Cellular, a national cellular service provider, that offers monthly billing but with the flexibility of no contracts. You can see the available plans and phones at http://www.consumercellular.com. In addition, they have a 30-day or 30-minute money-back guarantee, whichever comes first. So, if you need to cancel your service for any reason, you can do so with no penalty. Consumer Cellular will even pay for shipping.

October 12, 2009 at 1:03 pm
(6) Kathy says:

I don’T think any kind of Phone company should tie our hands down into a trap of any kind. I’ve been with the same Cell phone company for about 6yrs. and sur-passed
my 2yr. contract 4yrs. ago. Although I am very Happy with my Plan & the services itself. I have been post-poning for a very long time now about Upgrading & replacing my much over due Cell Phone for something abit more up to date.
HOWEVER>> I continue to put up with my present Cell phone in NOT replacing it because I would be suckered into another 2yr. plan.
I figure it this way:>> If my Cell Phone provider can not see by now that I have NOT left them by not> it’s doubtful that I would unless I died.
BUT since my provider will NOT grant a long time customer an Even-Break and be fair to it’s long time customer’s and allow us to purchase an Updated Phone for even at a lower price>> THEN “EVENTUALLY” & “SOON”>> since I’ll be forced into another 2 yr. plan with someone I’ve already proven my faithfulness:>> I’ve decided since I’ll have to get STUCK with another New 2yrs.plan>> I might as well “SWITCH” since I don’T feel my present cell phone provider is being FAIR. SO they will lose a long time customer> and NO hardship on my end. I’ll just get to start with someone new. & get that NEW low cost phone.

October 13, 2009 at 11:41 pm
(7) cellphones says:
October 15, 2009 at 6:00 pm
(8) Alex says:

I have Straight Talk, and as it says above I don’t have a contract. I just pay $45 a month for everything I could need in a cell phone, texting, internet, great service. All unlimited. I believe in no contracts and Straight Talk is the way to go.

October 18, 2009 at 12:30 am
(9) dm says:

Do you have to buy a refill card with Straight Talk every month or can they just bill you monthly? Does anyone know how it works? Thanks

October 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm
(10) Techno Cell says:

I have both and manage them accordingly. Cost is not an issue for me but I look for value. I have Boost Mobile and I get unlimited talk , text, internet and walkie talkie for $50 and thats it nor more hidden fees or penalties for paying my bill, it convenient and affordable, which for my kids is perfect, given they are text monsters. I have a Palm Pre and prefer it over my laptop. I get more things done faster and efficiently than other PDA.
Prepaid vs Post Paid, it all depends on the value and what you get for what you pay.
Other companies promise and say one thing but when its time to pay that is when they get you. So far I have been very happy with Sprint and Boost.
I had T-Mobile and i could not handle there service, dropped calls constantly, I got a prepaid with Metro and there coverage is worse, plus when I went in to pay i was charged a fee to make my payment, WHY?

October 24, 2009 at 8:27 am
(11) EPK says:

I just can’t get over how messed-up US-based cell-phone companies are. I lived in the UK for quite a few years. The last phone I bought was almost 4-yrs ago. The only reason I’m looking for a new phone is the internal charger is shot. Other than that, I had a PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) plan via O2 that was absolutely amazing. No expiration of money, charges for outgoings (no charges for incoming of any sort), unlocked (most phones are), and common charges, i.e., 5-cents for calls (45-min call from a boat in the baltic to N.J. was about $17.00, including roaming). Best of all, no contracts. Yeah, I know, free-enterprise & capitalism & stuff, but, consumers are getting reemed new ones by the US-based cell phone companies.
I’ve been very reluctant to get a US-based plan since I’ve moved back (few months now) since I’ve become accustomed to what the rest of the world (okay, at least UK & EU) provide, i.e., NORMAL plans & phones. As soon as a cell-provider comes-out with those normal plans, I want to be the first in queue.
Oh well, such a “nice” welcome back.

October 25, 2009 at 3:52 am
(12) Frustrated Celluser says:

I’ve been subscribing to contract cell svc because of phone equipment discounts & greater service area than prepaid svcs. With the contract svc you end up pay’g for alot of features you don’t use. If you try an ala cart svc option, it ends up cost’g more than the one w/all the features. As for prepaid svcs I watched my cousin use one of the svcs & he constantly had to go outside & change locations to get a signal & that’s frustrating, because you may need to reach someone regarding an emergency & can’t reach them.

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