What is the Cheapest iPhone Plan Available?

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.

I shop on eBay and I am always searching for any way to save money on eBay purchases. To me eBay has always been a numbers game. eBay introduced a program a while back called “Ebay Bucks” and my epic mission to game the system began.

It works like this, you bid and win an auction. After paying for the item, eBay credits your eBay account with 2% back in “eBay Bucks.” These eBay bucks are given to you in quarterly certificates. Oh how delightful, especially for those who have made buying on ebay a business.

I myself frequently buy and resell items I buy on ebay for profit. How do I sell them? Well that’s for another article, but for now you should know that I was buying up to $7,000 a month in “inventory” off ebay.

So lets do the numbers, $7000 * 2% = $140 a month.


Bigcrumbs.com used to be another program to get back 36% of the sellers fees as a buyer. Lets call this a conservative 2% cashback for ebay.  That’s another $140 right? Well it used to be. However Ebay canned the program in mid 2011 and started exploring their own options.

I mean think about it. Bigcrumbs and all of the other programs were just acting as a funnel for already current ebay buyers to get back another 2% while they took a piece. Ebay was right to make this move, although I would have loved to see Bigcrumbs stay active for ebay. Bigcrumbs is still active for many good stores like HP, Kmart.com, Jcpenney.com, Nordstroms, and Sears for example. If you are buying something online – This is FREE MONEY.

So why am I mentioning this? Well when the program with Bigcrumbs ended ebay said they were exploring their own options right? Well they have had several promotions, but this month – its pretty Epic.

7% BACK through Ebay bucks.

First off you need to subscribe to ebay bucks.  Basically you log in your ebay account and click subscribe. Boom, Free money. One note I learned though, you cannot snipe auctions (bid within last few minutes) – For all the details check out the FAQ.

http://ebaybucks.ebay.com/ (signup)

http://pages.ebay.com/rewards/faq.html (FAQ)

I did say 7% right? Well get this. If during checkout of an item you purchase you select “Pay Later through Paypal” you get an additional 5% until the end of October. That is 7%. Wait a second, You said 10%! All these numbers are confusing!

Well here is the additional 3%+. First off, the obvious one. Credit Card. 2% cashback. There are several ways to get 2% which I will cover in a later article, but for now lets assume you have a 2% cashback card. That’s 9%. Note you can simply pay off the Pay Later virtually immediately (have to wait for the balance to show up). Be sure to remember though.

Now for final percentage. Gas Perks. Many people overlook this perk. I myself shop at Kroger (as many do), but there are many Programs. Kroger, Giant Eagle, Biggs, and plenty of local deals. Go to the grocery store and buy gift-cards.

One little secret here. Most credit cards that give back 2% for gas and grocery and only 1% for other purchases will classify these cards as groceries and give you the 2%. Kroger is NOT the best program in the nation – it is actually pretty terrible, but I get .20 per gallon for $50 of giftcards. If you fill up 12 gallons at a time that is $1.20 off for $50 purchased (2.4%) back.

9% + 2.4% = 11.4% or more if you have a bigger tank. If you are a shopper at giant eagle, it would be double the perks – and would be 13.8% cashback.

There are some details you need to know.

First, you can only use $5000 worth of ebay giftcards per account per 6 month period.


Gas Programs vary a lot, Kroger’s is actually VERY restrictive. They only let me get up to $1.00 off per fill up. ”

You need to have at least .01 that is put on the paypal pay it later. You cannot use giftcards completely. Therefore if your bill is $107.15 you need to use $100 of giftcards and put $7.15 on the pay it later.


I made a personal purchase that I will also share with you.


I bought a rebel t2i, body only for $464.99. Used Priced on Amazon – $516.99($509 +7.99 shipping.)

$464.99 – $31.64 (7% of the price minus shipping) – $9.29 (2% cashback on credit card) – $13.50 (450/$50 gift cards = .90 per gallon off x 15 gallons)

$464.99 –$54.43 = $410.56 — $106.43 off vs. best amazon price.

I know what you are thinking, that’s a big ticket item so it looks very dramatic. You are right, but you know what would look even more dramatic? $5000 gift cards in a single transaction.. say a used car, real estate, or other high priced item.




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