8 Tips For Buying a New Cell Phone

A migraine woke me up and I spent the morning with all the curtains closed. I thought about staying home, but David promised me a new phone in August. (Yeah, August was really busy.) We had a doctor’s appointment that day in the town where there was a corporate U.S. Cellular store.

Yes, U.S. Cellular is my service provider. Why? Because U.S. Cellular covers country. In my neck of the woods, the other providers have too many holes. Southeast Iowa is not densely populated. In fact, the county south of ours does not even have one traffic light! When we looked into cell phones, U.S. Cellular was the only one that completely covered our area.

The last time David shopped for phones, he found out you can get a better deal if you go with a corporate office. He checked with the local offices and they couldn’t offer him anything. He called U.S. Cellular and was able to get 2 free phones because we have been with them since 1994.

We told Ezekiel, the representative who waited on us, that we were their oldest customer. I’m not sure that is true, but many of my friends have moved from one company to another and we chose to stick with the one we had. (Unfortunately, even after all the nice things I have said, I do not get any money from U.S. Cellular. I do not participate in affiliate marketing.)

Back to my story….the days of free phones and penny phones are gone. Now, you buy the phone on time and they give you a monthly discount of $20.00 for buying the phones from them.

We started by looking at iPhones, but I use a Samsung and a Chromebook, which are both Android products. I told Ezekiel I wanted a big phone because I am near-sighted, and I needed one that took great pictures. We looked at the LG phones next, because there was one model with a good camera. I didn’t fall in love with any of them.

Finally, we looked at the Samsung phones. I am not one who has to have the latest product. We looked at older models and found one with a “Stylus,” a small pen-shaped instrument used to input commands. Earlier I shared how I would rather write with a pen than type, see here. That was the one I wanted!

The cost of covers surprised me; most of them were $29.99 to $39.99. I asked if we could use our points to purchase a cover, but the points reward program ended last year. They did have a cover for this phone that was a flip cover for $9.99.

That’s when the debate started.

I told David I could buy the flip cover and just cut the flap off. He said the phone would not be secure because the flap had to snap into the cover. Ezekiel reminded me that I was purchasing a $535.00 phone and I should protect it. He also recommended the glass screen protector. If you drop the phone, the glass breaks, not the screen. The glass has a lifetime warranty, as long as you own the phone, and they send you a new one if it breaks.

I was overwhelmed. I like to be frugal, but I don’t want to be cheap. I knew I would hate the flip cover, but didn’t want to buy the expensive ones. I left the decision up to David because he pays the bills now. He ordered a regular cover and the glass.

I’m sure I could have gotten the phone on Ebay for less, but I could not pay for it over several months. The monthly payment is less than the $20.00 credit.

David was also eligible for a $20.00 credit on his line. He likes his phone and did not want a new one, but we asked them to add that credit to our account also because we were afraid that program might end before he needed a new phone. So his credit will offset the cost of the cover and glass screen protector. It’s a big phone and I plan on using it for several years.

Before leaving, I gave Ezekiel my business card and told him I would be blogging about buying my new phone today. He walked us to the door and opened it for us.

(Hey, Ezekiel, show this post to your boss and tell him I said you deserve a raise! Thanks for your help!)

Phone buying tips:

  1. Choose your provider based on coverage. Do you travel often? Rural area?
  2. Call or go to a corporate store.
  3. Remind them how long you have been with the company.
  4. Change phones when you are eligible for a discount. End of contract?
  5. Find the phone that fits you. Look at older models.
  6. Don’t buy something you will hate or won’t use.
  7. Do protect your investment.
  8. Take advantage of any perks, discounts, and programs offered. They don’t last forever.

How do you save money when you need a new cell phone?New Cell Phone, "8 Tips For Buying a New Cell Phone" frugalfish.org

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