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Vlas Karpov
Vlas Karpov

Cell Phone Carriers That Buy Out Contracts

Most major carriers have eliminated the two-year contract for consumers, so early termination fees (ETF) are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Depending on when you got your last phone, however, you could still be subject to an ETF impacted by the length of time left on your service contract, any money owed on your device and any device promo terms left unfulfilled. The system automatically calculates the ETF based on the contract effective date and disconnect date, so the less time you have left on your contract, the lower your fee. Check with your current provider to confirm what fees you may owe before switching.

cell phone carriers that buy out contracts

Carriers occasionally offer special promotions. Each month, for example, Verizon offers a range of switch deals for folks switching from other carriers like AT&T or T-Moble to Verizon. Other popular offers include cell phone discounts or extra money for a trade-in when you switch.

Also, look out for deals that could save you money on third party streaming and subscription services with cell phone plans. For example, Verizon offers plans that include services such as Hulu, Disney +, ESPN+, Apple Music, and Apple Arcade.

Once you have received your final bill containing the ETF charge and/or device payment plan balance from your old carrier, go to within 30 days of activating your T-Mobile plan and upload a copy or image of your final bill to request reimbursement. We only need the page(s) of your bill that reflect your name, address, phone number(s) and Early Termination Fees (ETFs) and/or device payment plan amounts. You can either upload a PDF copy of your e-bill from your previous carrier, or you can scan or take a picture(s) of the page(s) with this information and upload the images online.

It is a card that can be used at any MasterCard merchant that accepts online or telephone payments. It allows you to make immediate, real-time payments and easily view fund balance information. The Card is issued by Sunrise Banks N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Use of this card constitutes acceptance of the terms and conditions stated in the Cardholder Agreement.

You can trade in your old, working phone or device for credit towards a new purchase with T-Mobile's Device Trade-in Program. It is not required that your trade-in device was purchased from T-Mobile. When you activate your T-Mobile account, you can apply that trade-in credit to your bill. To get started, go to Device Trade-In and follow the on-screen instructions.

The most important aspect of choosing a network is finding one that works in your area. This makes it hard for us to give a blanket recommendation of any one carrier. For example, T-Mobile's service in New York may be excellent, but if you're in rural Iowa, Verizon is more reliable.

Boost Mobile, which is owned by Dish, uses a combination of T-Mobile and AT&T while Dish builds out its own 5G network. Dish recently started offering its own service that rivals the big carriers, which it calls Boost Infinite. It's still in beta before a full launch later this year.

The benefit of these smaller carriers -- many of which are known as mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs -- is that you can get access to the larger provider's service at a more affordable rate. If you found that Verizon works best where you live but its service is too pricey, switching to Visible, Spectrum Mobile or Xfinity Mobile could potentially allow you to keep similar coverage but pay a bit less (though you may lose out on some other perks like free streaming services).

With these longer timelines you can get a flagship phone for significantly less, but you need to stay on that carrier (and potentially with a pricier unlimited plan) for two or three years. If you leave before that time has passed, you risk needing to pay out the balance owed on the phone, which some providers require before they "unlock" the device to be used on other networks.

Major carriers often offer several hundred dollars when you switch, which can help subsidize the price of the change. But you'll want to check your account online or go into your carrier's store to find out how much you might still owe on your phone before you leave.

The modernization of phones and networks means your existing phone will probably work just fine on a new carrier. All the major wireless carriers offer a similar assortment of the latest devices, particularly when it comes to the iPhone and the Galaxy lines.

Keep in mind that all of the carriers offer additional savings, which you could be eligible for depending on your employer, military status, student status or even age. If you're on a family plan, a family member could qualify even if you don't.

Now, consider the Cricket Wireless option. You pay $649 for the phone, and then $45/month after that. If you stick with the plan for two years, that comes out to $1,729 total, $430 cheaper than the AT&T contract.*

Some cell phones may contain software that prevents them from being used on different mobile networks even when those networks are technologically compatible. For example, if a consumer purchased a phone from one provider to use on that provider's network, the phone may contain software that prevents it from being operated on another provider's technologically compatible network. This software "locks" the phone to a provider's network.

Most families want a cell phone plan that covers the basics like talking and texting and includes flexibility for members who may use more or less data. Unlimited and shared plans do a good job at this because many offer unlimited data or data that rolls over and can be split between family members without causing extra fees from overages. Plans that made our Best Family Cell Phone Plans of 2023 rating have free calls between family members on the plan, offer a minimum of two lines, have a single bill, provide shared data or a specific allotment of data per line.

Many seniors have set budgets and are in retirement or close to it. Wireless companies like T-Mobile, Mint Mobile, and Consumer Cellular, offer discounts, plans, or cell phones designed with seniors in mind. Other plans, like Tello Economy, are prepaid, simplistic, and low-cost.

When it comes to cell phone plans, there are three types: prepaid, pay-as-you-go and postpaid. The most common type, which are postpaid plans, allow you to set up service with a provider and then pay a bill each month. Providers that offer these plans include Verizon and T-Mobile. Verizon places in our Best Unlimited Cell Phone Plans of 2023, and T-Mobile places in our Best Family Cell Phone Plans of 2023.

Determining the best cell phone plan for you can be difficult. There are several providers to choose from and one provider may have multiple plans. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you purchase a plan:

The average cost of cell phone plans in the Best Cell Phone Plans of 2023 rating is $47 per month. The average cost of a prepaid plan making our list is $27 a month, and the average cost of the Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans is $20 per month. Prices for all plans we reviewed range from $10 per month to $80 per month for a single line.

Most plans in our rating have various options, including additional high-speed data, mobile hotspot data, and streaming services. Although unlimited data is included in all the plans, most cell phone service providers offer additional high-speed data, charging by the gigabyte. For example, Google Fi provides additional data for $10 per GB. This is a convenient way to pay only for the data you use; however, it can increase your bottom line each month.

Some extras can help you stay secure while online or using your cell phone. T-Mobile offers Scam Shield, which helps block scam calls, for example. Google Fi includes a virtual private network (VPN) for devices with an Android 8.1 or higher operating system. A VPN helps hide your personal information from prying eyes on the internet.

We compared the available cell phone plans provided by our top cell phone plan companies across several criteria, including monthly cost, data and hotspot limits, network types, and add-ons. Research shows that these are the most important criteria for people shopping for a cell phone plan. We then narrowed the list down to the 10 best cell phone plans using aggregate data points with a focus on professional and consumer reviews.

Cell phone family plans should have advantages for the whole family over other individual plans. For this subrating, we include plans that offer free in-family calling, share a single monthly bill, share data or per line allotment, and require a minimum of two lines.

Cell phone plans for seniors should be easy to sign up for and offer incentives or discounts. For this subrating, we looked for plans that did not require any contracts, offered discounts for people above the age of 55 or AARP members. If no discounts were available, we looked for plans with a price threshold of $40 or less.

Buying a new cell phone and deciding on a cell phone service plan can be confusing and frustrating. Cell phones are essential but deciding which one is right for you can be difficult. The same goes for choosing a cell phone carrier and plan. There can be big differences in prices, plans, and coverage among cell phone carriers. Doing some research on the different options available, and figuring out what you need and want in a cell phone and cell phone service may take some time and effort, but can save you from lots of frustration in the long run (and save you significant amounts of money, as well).

Another option is to pay for the phone over time in installments. Typically, providers offer 24-month installments plans that divide the cost of the phone over 24 monthly payments. You will want to read the terms of the agreement with the carrier carefully so that there are no surprises if you make a late payment or want to accelerate your payments so that you can own the phone outright sooner. Finally, carriers offer leases. Leases are different from installment plans, because leases include interest (which adds to the cost of the phone). Some people who like to replace their phones more often than every two years opt for leases. Again, read the fine print closely. 041b061a72


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