Don't Waste Your Money: Monthly smart phone plan for $50 or less - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Don't Waste Your Money: Monthly smart phone plans for $50 or less

(Toledo News Now) -

Remember when your cell phone cost just $40 or $50 a month? That was probably a number of years ago and now most of us pay more - much more. But there are still ways to get back to that $50 monthly bill and still have your smart phone.

If you or anyone in your family owns a smart phone, you know that your monthly bill is easily $80 a month, and can top $125 if you use it often.

A new survey finds that 60 percent of iPhone users now pay well over $100 a month.

Android users, like Mindy Wright, are also feeling the pinch.

"I hate it. It's horrible," she said. "It's like $150 a month."

But there are plenty of ways to keep that bill under $50 a month, if you know where to look.

A growing number of smart phone users are now fighting back, not by dumping their phones, but by dumping their expensive plans.

Prepaid - The Hottest New Trend

A prepaid phone can get you a smart phone at a flip phone price. In some cases, it's uncanny the difference between a prepaid plan and a standard monthly plan.

Of all the prepaid plans, Walmart's Straight Talk is the fastest growing. Run by Tracfone, it's no wonder it's just $45 a month, undercutting all the other major plans.

The Scoop On Straight Talk

Robert Mallory, of Walmart's phone department, explained that "for $45 a month, you get unlimited talk, as many minutes as you want, and unlimited text," without a two-year contract. Even data is listed as unlimited, though you may find data "throttled," or slowed down, after you hit 2 GB, according to Consumer Reports Magazine.

There is one catch to this and all prepaid, contract-free, plans: You have to buy your smart phone at full price, such as $600 to $650 for an iPhone 5 (the iPhone 4S runs about $200 less).

Too much? Mallory says there are many cheaper Android phones available for the plan, including a $150 Samsung Galaxy phone and $70 LG phone, their lowest-cost smart phone.

Other Options Expanding

It seems everyone is now pushing prepaid. Cricket, an early comer, offers prepaid smart phones - also with unlimited data - for $50 a month. That can vary slightly among Cricket locations.

Tracfone continues to offer non-Walmart plans at similar rates that are offered at Walmart.

Net 10 Wireless and Boost Mobile both offer a plan - also with unlimited talk, text and data - for $50 a month.

Virgin Mobile currently offers a deal at just $35 a month for unlimited data, though talk is limited to 300 minutes. So this is a plan for texters and data users, not heavy talkers.

Even more expensive top-tier carriers, like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, are jumping on board. Sprint is in the process of launching one, but full details are not available yet.

Until now, these plans have been fairly expensive, but Verizon just unveiled a new $60 a month plan for light data users.

"It gives you unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 500 MB of data, for the person who uses Facebook a little bit, browses the web a little bit," said Verizon's Jeannette Elson.

It's $70 a month to bump up to a more popular 2 GB of data. That's not super cheap, but is a decent deal from a major carrier.

AT&T also offers unlimited talk and text with 1 GB of data for $65.

T-Mobile has a variety of different plans, offering unlimited data and text for as low as $30, as long as you can manage the mere 100 minutes of talk.

Customers Warming To Prepaid

With prepaid you either buy a card at the store each month, or get billed in advance. So you don't have to walk into Walmart or the Cricket store every month if you prefer not to make the trip.

Brenda Vinson, who watches every penny at the grocery store and elsewhere, says switching to prepaid has substantially cut her family's phone bill.

"This way I pay at the time of the month when I can afford to pay for a phone," she said. "I can keep control of my teenage daughter's phone also."

According to Vinson, the best thing is the fact that she has no contract and can cancel or change plans at any time.

So if you know where to look, you can still get a smart phone plan for $50 a month - or even less - and it doesn't have to look like a 15-year-old flip phone.

That way you don't waste your money.

Compare the plans:

Virgin Mobile $35 300 mins Unlimited Unlimited Limited 4G
T-Mobile $30 100 mins Unlimited Unlimited Low talk
T-Mobile $30 1500 mins Unlimited 30 MB Low data
Walmart Straight Talk $45 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Slows after 2 GB
Cricket $50 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Slows after 1 GB
Net10 Wireless $50 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited  
Boost Mobile $50 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Limited 4G
T-Mobile $50 Unlimited Unlimited 100 MB  
Verizon $60 Unlimited Unlimited 500 MB  
T-Mobile $60 Unlimited Unlimited 2 GB  
AT&T $65 Unlimited Unlimited 1 GB  
Verizon $70 Unlimited Unlimited 2 GB  
T-Mobile $70 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited  

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