A decade ago, choosing the right wireless phone plan used to be a simple matter. All you had to do was pick a load of call minutes as a package and then sign up for a two-year contract. Then, T-mobile decided to change the rules of the game, scrapping the annual service contract requirement, with other carriers following suit.
Many creative ideas have been applied in telephone service provision since then, such as shared data plans, installment plans, leases, and bring-your-own-device plans. What this has done is, made the selection process more confusing than ever. Still, some amount of research can make the process a bit easier.
These generally save customers significant money when compared beside the traditional subsidized plans. When you take device subsidies, they also bring monthly charges, which can really build up the cost over a two-year contract.
AT&T, for instance, lets you buy a 16 GB iPhone 6S, but that comes with the requirement of picking an AT&T Next plan (24, 18, or 12), and paying full-price up front. This is $21.67 per month (for 30 months), as well as $30 a month if you are picking the 2 GB data plan. Then there is also a $25 per month device access charge, which brings the whole thing to around $76.67 a month.
This is where you start saving around $360 over a two-year period with Next. After making 24 installment payments, there is the option of trading in the phone for a new model, or paying the remaining six payments and owning the phone on the spot.
Another way forward, if you are not willing to wait, is paying the minimum number of installments early with the Pay to Upgrade option, which enables you to upgrade around two months into Next.
No-Contract With An Installment Plan
This is a way to pay off the full retail price of the phone in monthly installments. There are also financing options from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, which let the customer buy a phone with monthly installments or leases. T-Mobile has gone a step further and simply scrapped contracts and subsidies altogether, and moved to a strictly financed phone model, without an “access charge” on your monthly bill.