When it comes to buying a mobile phone you have three major choices, to buy a phone that’s little more than that, a smartphone, or a phone for each travel destination. If all you need is a phone and little else, the third option will probably do the trick. If that’s the case, you might like the Net 10 option listed further down in this article.
If you’re the type who doesn’t like to be tracked, do a search for a John’s phone. It’s a cell phone and nothing else, no texting, email, camera nor any other frills.
If you want a smartphone, that can get expensive – fast: My best recommendation is to look for an unlocked phone or one that can be easily unlocked for a small fee if you go through a carrier.
Don’t buy a phone that’s locked to the carrier for the duration of the contract: If you want to travel and the carrier won’t unlock the phone, you’ll be stuck having to buy a new phone, which will cost you even more money.
An example of this is Apple: Apple goes out of their way (in my opinion) to force customers to stay with the carrier. The best way around this is to buy an unlocked phone from the Apple store. This will give you a fully unlocked phone and you can choose which carrier you use it with. The only caveat is to make sure you buy a pay as you go plan. This will give you the flexibility you seek.
If you don’t need an iPhone, you have many more options. In my case, I chose to buy a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and one of the main reasons is that this phone was commissioned by Google. It also comes factory unlocked, straight from the manufacturer, so there are no unlocking fees to pay. Even better, I was able to negotiate a two-year plan.
As for where to buy a phone, a major carrier is one of the worst places you can go, due to some pretty hefty fees.
Some consumers choose the used route but you have to be careful, since the phone could be stolen property. Overall, I’ve found that Amazon offers the best overall prices, so I recommend checking them out.
Then there’s the issue of cell phone service in the United States. If you’ve ever traveled for any period of time, you’ve probably had cell phone issues, not to mention expensive plans with limited coverage, forcing you to buy one or more phones.
One solution I found was the Net 10. It wasn’t ideal, but it was the best overall option. It was a simple cell phone that one could buy for only $39.95 and it came with 300 minutes of air time. Each minute of a phone call accounted for 10 minutes of time. I was able to buy mine (and minutes when I needed them) at Wal-Mart.
Buying time was straightforward, without frills or extra charges. The Net 10 phone also had great reception and covered all the areas where I wanted to go. I used this phone for the bulk of my travels.