Cheapest IphoneSo you want to get an iPhone, but you want the cheapest iPhone plan available? Well let me offer an option.

Get an iPhone on T-Mobile.

First off let me say. Stay away from cricket wireless. Its slow, its crappy, its for the lazy. The customer support is amazing with cricket wireless, until you need to get something actually done.

T-Mobile is the answer if you want to save cash.

We were talking iPhones weren’t we?  Yes of course we were.

First off you need to get an unlocked GSM iPhone (GSM iPhone = old AT&T iPhone). How? eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon.

Pros of eBay, Buyer Protection, and cash back.

Pricing is Roughly:
iPhone 3g – $120
iPhone 3gs – $160
iPhone 4 – $325

I would say 3gs is a decent deal right now. Be sure to get on in EXCELLENT condition iPhone. You want it last and older phones tend to have problems.

Take your iPhone to T-mobile store and throw down for the unlimited $49.99 plan. Unlimited Text, Talk, and Data. This is the cheapest iPhone Plan available.  You will toss in your GSM card in there and follow the instructions that most t-mobile stores have PRINTED OUT and available to customers. iPhones at T-mobile stores are not rare.

But wait, there is more! You have gas perks at your grocery store? Odds are your store carries T-mobile gift cards for $50. You see where I’m going with this, if your store is like mine, that equals a savings of $1.20 – $2.40 a month depending on the tank size (the range above assumes 12 gallon fill up) and the store you use. I’m a bit too lazy to do that, so if I’m going to do it – I would probably do about 4 months at time (Savings of about $4.80 – $9.60 per $200 spend ( 2.4% – 4.8% back). Ta-da! Now you have an iPhone with unlimited data, talk, and text.

Pros of this decision:

  • It’s $49.99 a month vs. approximately $80 – that’s a savings of $30 a month or $360 a year.
  • Unlimited Everything.
  • Save some money by not buying AppleCare ($99 once)
  • Save some money by not buying insurance  ($7 to $12 a month, $84 to $144 a year)
  • If the phone is smashed or lost – it might be cheaper to replace via craigslist or eBay. Also if it breaks – Jump on a PLAN for a new IPhone – maybe an IPhone 5 for $199 down the line.
  • Side note to above: Even broken iPhones have *some* salvage value.
  • If you decide you do want the iPhone 4s – it might be $99 by the time you figure it out.
  • If a carrier comes out with an amazing deal (doubtful) you can pounce!
  • Accessories tend to be cheaper for older models

Cons of this decision

  • Dude, you are using an older IPhone – My GAWD!
  • Internet is not as fast (note that the IPhone 4s is NOT 4g though)
  • Device is more likely to have problems especially if not like new condition
  • Not many if any real discounts work on prepaid T-mobile (Such as Military, Corporate, Etc.)


Savings Per Year including 2.4% cash back on gas perks.


Lets say you go IPhone 3gs – so the cost of the unit is roughly the same

Year One Cost

Monthly Plan $30.01 Cheaper $360.12
Gas Perks $1.40 – $2.80 a month $16.80 – $33.60
Insurance $7 – 12 a month $84.00 –$144.00
Apple Care $99 once $99.00
Total   $559.92 – $636.72

Year Two Cost

Monthly Plan $30.01 Cheaper $360.12
Gas Perks $1.40 – $2.80 a month $16.80 – $33.60
Insurance $7 – 12 a month $84.00 –$144.00
Apple Care N/A 0
Total   $460.92 – $537.72

Conclusion: $1020.84  – $1174.44 Saved.

Lets be conservative and call it roughly $1,000 saved in two years.

Now I realize that the newer phone will probably have about $50 – $100 more of salvage value, but many of you are paying more than $80 a month and more than $7 for insurance – so lets call it roughly $1,000 (after-tax money) in 2 years.


  • I’ve met some people who use cell phones as business deduction. If you are going to, good for you. Go for it. Just know this is going to be one of the most audited things you have ever seen in the near future.
  • I understand T-mobile is not the same as a major carrier. This is about sacrifice. If it isn’t worth $1000 over 2 years, don’t do it.
  • The Gas-perks seem so small to most, but wait till your grocery store does a double-perk for gift card promo (if they offer) – Lets say you get $33.60 a year off, that’s $67.20 off in 2 years, that’s 1 of your 24 months free. Plus if you have a bigger tank – might be more like $80 and if you are at a good grocery store – it might be more like $140 – $160 (Giant Eagle is amazing)
  • Life is full of decisions and for many – This decision is easy, Better Phone, Better Service. But for others who feel the constant drag of bills and contracts – maybe taking the road less taken might be a good idea
  • I know this article is written for one phone user, more to come with family’s and couples.

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Filed under: Phone and UtiltiesSaving Money

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