Whether you just landed in US or have been here for sometime, being connected to friends and family is important. Cell phone is one way to go.  Before you sign a contract or pick a pre-paid phone, look below for the various options available so that you can make an informed decision.

You can go with one of the two options:

  • Contract: You get into a typical 2 year contract at a locked in price and a free
  • No contract: You just choose the plan and pay for the device and start using the phone.

cell phone service

Cell phone contract connection:

One advantage of contract phones vs. non-contract phones is the allure of free device (or in some cases heavily discounted price).  For example, when I was with AT&T on a 2 year contract, at the end of 2 years, I got to keep my iPhone 4S (I initially paid $199 for the device), now having moved to T-Mobile – I have to pay for my iPhone 5S on monthly instalments as I am on a no-contract simple choice plan.  Which is better?  Depends on what is that you are looking for.  I wanted unlimited everything and don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for the device. My friend hates the idea of paying for device so she renewed another 2 year contract with AT&T.


T-Mobile: I use their simple choice plan with unlimited everything. It is a bit expensive but worth it compared to the peace of mind, knowing that my bill is not going to be jacked up no matter what my usage, is awesome.  They just introduced ‘unlimited music streaming’ that doesn’t count toward your regular data plan, if you happen to be on limited data plan.  One of the best features is ability to use text and data from over 120 countries.  I have not even bothered to ask if they have contracts but included them in this section as they started off as ‘contract based’ service provider.

AT&T: I have used AT&T for 2 years and honestly their coverage is great.  What sucks though is their outrageous costs. You sneeze you get charged, you cough you get charged but their customer service is one of the best.   AT&T has learned their lesson, in my opinion, as they just introduced no-contract and unlimited plans recently.  If you are ok with few extra bucks for good coverage and great customer service then AT&T has it all.

Verizon: Verizon claims to be the best in coverage.  You can get an unlimited call and text plan for $45 to $55. Verizon got to top of charts in customer service and coverage in the 2014 poll. If you are more about coverage and always on the go – then Verizon maybe right for you.

Sprint: Sprint’s Framily™ plan helps you save as you add more and more people to your existing line which you start off at $55 for unlimited call, texts and 1 GB data and you can get it to as low as $25 if you add enough friends and family.  Everyone gets a separate bill so your personal phone usage details stays personal.

No Contract Cell Phones:

If you want a hassle free mobile phone connection without writing off your estate to the phone company then you have great many options available.  Including, but not limited to:

Straight Talk: You can get a basic phone or a smartphone to use Straight Talk.  At the time of this writing, they have iPhone which you can get a full price and start using the Straight Talk.  Price ranges from $30 to $60.  $60 plan includes unlimited international calling, which is an awesome deal to begin with.

Boost Mobile: At prices ranging from $40 to $60, Boost has been picking up. You have the option of adding international calling minutes to your plan. At the the time of this writing, they were offering 20% off on iPhone and $100 credit for switching.

Metro PCS: With their 4G phones for all plan – you get a shot at getting a free 4G Android phone for free. Plans range from $40 to $60 – all of the plans include unlimited calling and texting, nationwide. They have add on text plan for Mexico.

Cricket Wireless:  Plans range from $25 (Basic) to $60, including taxes and fees.  One added feature is the ‘free text’ to over 35 countries.  They also carry a great variety of devices to choose from.

T-Mobile Simple Choice: I had to include this under no-contract section too just in case you forget that even though it is one of the big players – it still offers no-contract mobile services. The plans are comparable to other no-contract plans.

So many choices – what to choose? Depends on what you are looking for.  If it is a free device you want – you may get into a contract, if flexibility is what you are looking for, you may go with no-contract plans.

Verdict: In my personal view, T-Mobile wins the race, with Smart Talk closing in.

Happy connecting to your friends and family.


Disclaimer: All of the details as of June 2014.  Informational purposes only.  Not an advice.