Q. I've been seeing commercials for Cricket Wireless that say you can save 50 percent versus the big phone companies. Is that really true? I've looked in to no-contract phone services in the past and wasn't too impressed. Should I take another look?
-Craig from Los Angeles, CA, listens to my national radio show on KABC 790 AM
A. In the past, those prepaid and no-contract carriers offered crummy call quality and mediocre phones. The potential savings weren’t worth it.
However, today’s prepaid carriers are just as good as the major carriers in call quality. That’s often because they’re renting space on a major carrier’s network. And many no-contract services are stocking the latest and greatest phones, too.
However, major carriers have fired back by upgrading their own prepaid plans, and T-Mobile is leading the charge for ditching contracts completely. While that adds to the confusion for phone buyers, it also means there are plenty of chances for savings if you look hard enough.
For the purposes of this tip, I'm going to assume you're buying a high-end smartphone for one person. I picked the iPhone 5s and the Galaxy S4 since those are both popular. Click here to see your other choices for high-end smartphones.
Be aware that some no-contract or prepaid plans only offer older phones. In those cases, I chose the latest phone the provider had available. However, you can usually use a compatible phone you already own to save even more money.