CrackBerry asks: How do you feel about cell phone contracts?

By Michelle Haag on 24 Sep 2011 10:40 am EDT

There are several different ways of getting cell service. You can choose pre-paid options from many carriers, you can sign contracts for 2 or 3 years from most carriers (and even as short as 1 year from some), and some even let you go month-to-month when your contract is done. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and we are curious where you guys stand when it comes to each. You can vote in the poll above, then leave your reasoning for the plan you choose in the comments below.

Michelle Haag Michelle Haag "@_Miche11e_ and C0001B3B5" 1214 (articles) 1695 (forum posts)

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CrackBerry asks: How do you feel about cell phone contracts?


Me no likey cell phone contracts.

What I especially find dumb is the length of contracts. I'd say with the amount people use phones these days (wear and tear), and the amount of hype/change in the space (wantingness to ugprade) that the average user wants a new phone every year. Going 2 years or 3 years (as is the case in Canada) just seems wayyy too long. Expecting to get three years out of a cell phone is just insane.

I guess I'm not a typical user... I buy most of my pones off contract as I change up so much, but I do take advantage of my hardware upgrade when I get it (as I'm pretty stuck on Rogers where i live).

I'd say you're a typical user, since my first Samsung SPH-A660 I've been swapping my cell out once a year at the latest, I know a few people who do the same. SaskTel has an upgrade thingie every two years, but they'll let you finance one in between (if your account has a good track record) so I never really pay $600 out of pocket at one time. So contract works for me.

Doesn't really matter to me since I dont have a landline, its not like im going to go without a phone....

I make the contract work for me. I get a great deal from my carrier and then lock into a 3yr term willingly because I then, guarantee myself that rate for the longest period of time and get the biggest discount on the newest bb. If something better becomes available than what I currently have, my carrier allows me to switch to its newer plan without penalties. Can't really complain there, cuz I'll be saving even more money at that point. I'm also happy with my provider and the longer I stay with them, the better my discounts get (in theory and within reason) after every term.

Where is the option for "I was never in a contract (bought the phone outright) and am month-to-month"?

Seems to be missing. That's where I'm at now. I've been in contracts before, with other carriers, but when I went to Verizon I first got a flip phone, and then bought a Droid off of a friend for $40. I've never had a contract with Verizon.

The upgrade discount is nice, but buying the hardware outright does not hurt as much as people make it out to be. I just save my money till I have enough. Remeber when we were little and used to save money? Now everything seems to be gimme gimme and put it on my credit card if it's not in the budget right now 8-/

I'm with you. I try to save a portion of my paycheck every month and buy everything with cash. I have a credit card only because it apparently improves your credit rating. I keep a 0 balance on the card.

I buy my phones off ebay. I look for someone with at least 300 feedback scores and a rating of 100%. Someone who's sold blackberry (and other phones) many, many times before with positive results.

I don't buy mint phones. I read the description to find a phone that might not be in perfect condition but is still pretty good. If the description only has a couple lines then I won't buy.

You can get a pretty good phone when you don't try for "mint" because the phone you probably won't be mint anyway.

Our contract is up in Nov. but we're staying with tmo because we apparently have the best plan ever and it's no longer available. We've been grandfathered it and none of the plans they've offered since is better. We've been with tmo for about 9 years.

I am on contract, and don't mind it, it would get costly if I changed providers often, but I use the Contract for the discount on the Phone, I still buy probably 2 phones full retail off contract, over the 8 years I was with bell, it saved me money being on contract, I'm now just over 1 year with Rogers, 1 contract phone, 1 full retail phone, total cost of phones $900 if not on contract total cost of phones would be $1300.

No added cost to me being on contract vs paying monthly

It doesn't matter either way, most termination fees are inexpensive. I prefer contract based since you usually get lower prices on devices and better customer service when needed.

I don't mind the contract because I like my service. I'm not going to go without a cell phone and I don't have a house phone, so its not a big deal. I think people who don't like to have contracts fall into a few categories: 1. don't use their phone often 2. can't afford or don't want to pay for good service 3. Are afraid of commitment (in all aspects of life lol). Plus breaking your contract is cheaper than buying a Blackberry or any other decent smartphone at full price if you feel the need to leave your carrier.

I go with the 3-year contracts. I'm a happy Telus customer and don't expect to switch within 3 years anyway, so I may as well lock in and save some money on the phone up front. I could buy outright and not sign a contract, but I don't see a point to that if I'm still going to be paying them just as much each month anyway. Especially like my current one where I got one of their promotional student plans, I'm ok with being committed to it.

3 year contracts are way too long. I usually end up getting one phone on contract at a subsidized price (and negotiating a plan with Telus), and then sell it to offset buying one at full retail sometime later on. Longest I've kept a phone is about 2 years, the shortest about 6 months.

The other thing that bugs me is if I don't take a subsidized device, shouldn't I get a break on my service plan?

Prices are too much and I like the way wind is. All you can eat data, I barely travel, so it'll work with me. No contracts period. I don't want to lock myself down anymore!

$42.50/month, or $45/month, as long as I'm not locked in and willing to be able to leave without an ETF, I'll be happy.
Telus: $79-$109/month (varies, amount is always in between that)
Wind: $42.50-$45/month, will be static. Big savings right? I should think so. I just hate being gouged.

I'm on a two year with verizon, which is fine because I like verizon and it saves me some money on a phone, but a year later when I'm ready to upgrade....not so good

I like the contract because I have unlimited data grandfathered into it. Also being on a family plan saves money. As the head of the family plan, I can upgrade annually if I so choose. I still get the benefits of the new "freebies" that AT&T offers while holding on to the benefits of the unlimited data. My wife will be moving from her Samsung Impression to a BlackBerry 9810 in November. It will be a wash for adding her data plan coupled with the reduction in cost of our family plan because we now have less minutes and free cell to cell calling regardless of the carrier.

Would be interesting how many of the on-contract users are in North America. I think in Europe contracts are a thing of the past, or at least commitments longer than 3 or 6 months. Same goes for subsidized phones.

I don't mind being in a contract, but the fact that we still have 3 year contracts in Canada is ridiculous. No smartphone can last for 3 years without being obsolete. I know these things are basically computers now (so they cost a little more to make then the phones of yesteryear) but they don't actually cost $600 to produce, so we don't need to be locked in for 3 years. Enough with all this retail mark up. If you, say, charged $300 for the phone and got us on a 18 month or 2 year contract and we paid $99 up front for the device (thus $200 for the phone over the life of the contract), that would seem like a much more reasonable way of doing it. Of course, we would waste a whole lot of phones this way, but most people go through phones this often anyway.


Exactly! Us canadians get screwed...

Don't believe us? Check out the dividends these companies hand out to their shareholders...all at least 4% because they don't have competition! None of them EVER do poorly while another does well. Its because its like they are the same company.

At least make 2-year contracts less than 199$ for any decent smartphone...

With new phones appearing on the market, contracts are a ripoff. You need to pay for new phones, because they usually don't last a year, which doesn't help.

to expand on my answer somewhat, not entirely a fan. i get and largely support the business end of it but consideration should be given to certain factors to include loyalty. marketing victims (aka early adopters) being a key segment of new release purchases ought to be given some consideration as well. it hardly seems equitable that one pays something closer to full price for a device and an early upgrade fees. many first off, many of these devices will be significantly discounted within six months or so. too, even as they purchase the newest device available, they'll happily jump all over the next generation device when it becomes available a year later!

another thing, having paid more as an early adopter, one would think a lessening of other rules (carrier unlocking of devices) would also apply! i purchased my blackberry torch from att last year. somewhere near coincident with the purchase, i was led to believe i could unlock the device after six months. not true. when i contacted att 3 or 4 months back, i was given some vague, non specific answer when requesting the unlock code.

i respect the telecoms, service providers provide equipment/services with the intent of making money. i do think, however, more flexible/adaptive logic just might bolster their bottom line.

I won't be changing providers so I don't mind the contract to save money on the phone. I also have other lines that upgrade the opposite year that my line does. They aren't obsessed like me and don't mind taking my second hand phones when I upgrade from their lines. I haven't had a land line since early 2004 so as others have said, its not like I won't ever need service. I have an "unlimited" data plan as well so I wouldn't even think of switching.

At $500 termination fee ($400 voice and $100 data) people are signing up to a higher cost than the discounted amount of the phone. The way the phone discount is now you would pay more for your phone outright if you ever wanted to buy your contract out. I like to buy my own phones outright and take a lower monthly package. Unfortunately most of the companies in Canada don't give you this type of discount so you have to shop around for the best plan price that you can get. The other problem I have is that I change phones every year. I would be paying extra to buy out my contract every year.

I despise Canada's predicament on 3 year cell contracts!

Check out this consumer robbery!

For a high-end smartphone on ANY provider:

3 year contract - 199$
2 year contract - 499$
1-year contract - 549$
Full price - 599$

How is the difference between the three-year price and the two-year price 300$ and the difference between the 2-year and 1-year 50$. WTF?! The two-year price isn't even accessible to most people.

Subsidizing the price of the phone my A$$! All it does is rope you into a 3-year contract. If only canada had the same stance on competition as the US...its price fixing. If the contract really was to subsidize the phone price, the discount would be proportional to the contract length.

You can't even find a better deal at another carrier. You will NEVER see a 2-year contract deal.

At least telus has made it a little cheaper to upgrade your phone during a contract. The only thing is you get chained to another 3-year its still ridiculous.

Kevin, if you're reading this(and other canadians) we have to lobby the government on this triopoly to get fair subsidizing of phones and shorter mobile contract lengths... I've written a letter to the minister and a few MPs so far.

I have no problem with contracts. I like my carrier and get a discounted phone every once in a while. I have purchased phones off contract, but I'm not bothered by it at all.

I'm not on a contract personally but my family plan is a 2 year with Verizon with unlimited data grandfathered in. We've been on Verizon for almost 10 years now.

I'm not particularily against contracts. They keep hardware cheap for me and the service cheaper as well.

However, I'm with Kevin. I know Verizon does, but I really wish AT&T had a 1yr option. I wouldn't mind paying a higher phone premium to have only a single year. I'm currently month-month, but will lock into a 2yr once the 9900 finally drops.

I hate contracts since it locks us in to a phone and/or a provider for years. And it also penalizes those who bring their own phone. Technically someone that pays on a monthly basis and bring it own phone should be able to get a discount on it monthly fee since the carrier doesn't have to subsidize a phone.

I really don't like the fact that I am in a contract, because you are tied to it for 2 years. New phones come out almost every 6 months and if I didn't have the contract, I could upgrade my phone a lot sooner..

I hate contracts lol back in the day I had to pay an awful amount as a deposit and then had like an 80 dollar monthly amount that always changed ... The bad old days r gone and I pay 35 dollars a month for my blackberry curve thru virgin mobile 300 minutes and unlimited everything else

I would feel better about it if I thought there was any real competition in the marketplace. There really isn't much difference in price or service among any of the carriers as near as I can tell. Just minor stuff that they can tout in their advertising plans.

So I'm with Vzw, as they offer the best service in the area that I live in. I've got 5 phones on a family plan and we have another 10 phone numbers of people that we call the most so they don't count against our minutes. My cell phone bill approaches $250 a month. So I guess it's all good. I don't see myself jumping ship anytime soon.

Prior to the new entrants in Canada, I viewed long term 3 year contracts as a necessary evil of owning a cellphone. It was the only way to save some money over the term of contract, since the monthly cost of cellphone service is the same with or without a contract. I didn't really consider constantly swapping providers as an advantage worth the extra cost.

Now that companies like Mobilicity are in the Canadian market, I am really for plans that don't factor in "contract discount". I am just waiting for a BB7 device to be available on Mobilicity and I will be more than happy to enjoy unlimited minutes and data on a cheaper plan (that will save me far more than the $200-300 contract discount from encumbant carriers).

Boost mobile from sprint in the u.s is a great prepaid phone company unlimited Blackberry everything with shrinkage for 60 a month make payments on time each month and you can shrink your bill by 5$ every six months so you end up having BLACKBERRY unlimited everything plan for 45$ a month, not bad not bad at all!!!

I'm not a big fan of contracts but keep in mind that cell carriers heavily subsidize the price of a new phone when you enter into a contract. If anyone cares to spend big bucks everytime a new phone comes out, then a contract should not be considered. However, many people don't wish to fork out $500-600 for a new smartphone so accepting a term contract makes economic sense.
(At this moment, I'm anti-contract because I'd LOVE to have a new Torch 9810 but I don't qualify for an upgrade until Dec. 2012.)

I don't mind renewing my contract term to receive discounted devices
In my case, it works as I plan on having a phone 3yrs plus and cannot get the same plan with the competitors as retentions continues to match or beat what's out there to keep me as a customer.

A lot of times you can work the system in a legal way.

I bought a tour on ebay, and 6 months later upgraded my Verizon contract and got a Storm 2 for free when my Tour became unusable because of the trackball. When I wanted to go back to my Tour, I had Verizon replace the faulty device which was still under warrentee. After 3 returns in a row, they gave me a Bold 9650 for free. Here I am a month before I'm eligible for a new phone and my Bold died. I went in to Verizon for an insurance claim and they gave me a 9930 for $100 and I'm still eligible in less than a month.

I have never done anything illegal, but it's the way the system works. If you do this intentionally, its insurance fraud, but when it works out for you, you can keep getting cheap phones about once a year.

Currently have att on a month to month but really want the 9900 and att is taking forever plus at only $99 is a steal. What should I do cuz I have an old bill from t-mobile which went to collecctions but don't know if ill have to make a deposit if I go back smh

If I could buy the phone I wanted and pay month by month at a reduced price and move to another carrier if the serviced sucked (with the phone I own), I'd do it.

The problem I am having searching for a new contract in Canada is that voicemail and call display are considered "extra features", and Rogers charges $12 dollars a month, which seems like way too much. These features are included in most prepaid plans, but that means giving up the phone subsidy.

I am about to go through the exercise of costing out the various options on a spreadsheet, but my hypothesis is that the lifetime savings on voicemail/call display by going through a prepaid carrier is almost equal to the value of the phone subsidy by going on contract. It seems like the options will cost the same. Is this collusion, or is there an attractive option that I am missing?

+1 !!!!!!!!!!! Sooooo true...and there is NO WAY to get caller ID with a high-end smartphone for less than 8$ extra per month.

If you want the latest phones, you have to go with either Rogers, Bell or Telus. And they screw you hard.

As for the alternative carriers: Koodo, Wind, Mobilicity, Solo, Fido, Chatr...NONE of them have the new BB7 phones *except for Koodo which has the curve 9360. Like WTF?

There's actually another option that is not in the voting options that a lot of us go into...non contract month to month. Not all month to month users are from a contract, nor are we pre-paid users.

Examples of this would be Tmo emp+ users as well as metro / virgin plans.

I always buy my phones sim free or pre paid devices (and then get them unlocked). I hat entering contracts and in Ireland most networks will give you 5-10euro off a plan if you're on sim only plans. My own current plan gives 250mins, 200sms, 15GB's of data, BIS, 3000mins home network calls all for 30euro per month

On a 2 yr contract with Verizon. First time being on one, and do not like it. I think it is wrong to be on a contract for any service. They try to keep you there, but I will pay it off next month, because I plan on switching carriers soon.

Is there actually a carrier out there that does NOT let you go month to month after your contract expires? From a business standpoint it seems foolish to cut your revenue stream like that.

Honestly I never had a problem with contracts but recently Sprint has been doing so many changes, upping there upgrade fee to $36 and upping there etf too $350 which is ridiculous so I think imma stick to buying my phone out right and when they trip and its time to leave then I'm rolling out with no etf..

For a while I was out of contract & month to month, I'm talking years, it was actually the draw of a Blackberry that got me back into a contract. I used my upgrade to nab a better price on it. I used to only do 1 year contracts because I'd used to go where ever had the best phones, now that I'm grandfathered in to AT&T's unlimited data plan I'll be sticking with tbem for a long time.

I stopped signing cell phone contracts in 2009, and I love the fact I can upgrade to any phone I want without any restriction whatsoever.
I just buy them privately sometimes I may luck out on a brand new BlackBerry phone from some guy or girl who bought a different phone and just wants to offload it asap to anyone.
If the phone is locked to a certain carrier, no problem I just go online and unlock the phone myself.
Again, why pay high $$ to have someone else unlock ur phone??
Some people really need to do their homework and think about when they sign contacts for 2-3 years that's way too long and you have to wait 2 yrs to get a new phone??
Hell no.
I can get a different phone every 6 months or sooner depending on my $ flow.
Try to contact your carrier and negotiate a deal to walk away from your contract but unfortunately I highly doubt they will let you do that without paying a crazy termination fee.
I feel so sorry for people in cell phone contracts.
Good luck :)

In the uk our standard contracts are 18-24month which i wouldnt have a problem with if there was the option to upgrade your phone mid contract. Been tied to a contract is just the norm but the pace in which new & improved phones with new features hit the market means that the phone you committed 24 month to is behind the times in 6 month.

Here's what I do:

-Buy the phone under a 3 year contract
-Unlock the phone, so I can sell it and buy a new one as I please
-Pop the SIM into any phone that I want.

Easy as pie!

I'm stuck with this piece of shit blackberry. Never buy a blackberry i'm buying an iphone for my next phone. Never had so many problems with a phone.

I am with Verizon due to the best network coverage in the U.S.A and family they don't offer a cheaper plan if you are not under contract. So I am going to pay the same monthly amount either way might as well get the discount for a phone. Only time it wouldn't make sense is if I was getting ready to change carriers.

I'm in contract. Here in Canada it is all the same BS. The big guys own many of the discount guys so the same pockets are getting lined. 3 years is a long time but without mobilicity or wind available where i'm at i will not switch so i take the savings up front