Some 100 million Americans are now on pre-paid phone plans, having migrated over from contract providers.

The contract providers have really been bluffing people. They offer subsidized smart phones, usually around $99 or $199, but they make money back on the 2-year contract with much higher monthly rates.

Yet because of Androids, you can get a basic non-contract smart phone starting at $79, or a fancy one for $199 to $299. When you pay full price for the phone, your monthly service then usually works out to be one half to one third what AT&T or Verizon charges you.

Still not cheap enough for you?

Republic Wireless has $19 and $29 monthly plans for unlimited calling, texting, email, and web. You can either pay $99 for a subsidized phone and then you get the $29 rate, or you can pay $249 for the $19 rate.

At the same time, more and more carriers are offering fancy Androids. Virgin Mobile is now offering an advanced Android that runs on LTE with 2.5 GB of high speed data and unlimited text. You pay $299 and the service is anywhere from $35 and $55, based on how many calling minutes you want.

So the opportunities by buying your phone and using a non-contract service are giant.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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