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The Best Place To Buy Your New Cell Phone Isn’t Where You Would Think

the best place to buy your next cell phone next to excited woman fist pumpingIf you’re looking for the best place to buy cell phones in 2022, don’t make the mistake of going to the most apparent place to buy your phone.

Unfortunately, heading to the most obvious store probably isn’t the best place to buy cell phones.

Sadly, many people head straight to their current cell phone provider’s local shop to pick out a new phone.

The big three cell phone service providers (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) have plenty of locations to cater to all of your smartphone needs.

Of course, people don’t stop to think that these one-stop phone shops won’t always be the best place to buy a cell phone.

In fact, the only people who get a good deal is usually the cell phone service provider and their shareholders.

Instead of heading to the cell phone provider’s store to buy your next cell phone, here’s the easiest way to get a great deal.

Finding The Best Place To Buy Phones

Finding the best place to buy a new phone is fairly straightforward. While I used to think Sam’s Club was the absolute best place to buy a phone, the death of free phones and 2-year contracts changed my mind.

Overall, Amazon is my favorite place to start shopping for a cell phone. That said, putting in a little bit of time to research other options could offer other options.

Finding the best price on the phone you want won’t take long, but just a little bit of effort could save you $100 or more.

Start Your Shopping At Amazon

You’ll almost always want to start your search at Amazon. This online retailer offers a quick way to shop for and purchase a phone. 

If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you definitely want to check out your phone options on Amazon nowIf you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up here. However, even non-Prime members get amazing deals. 

Take A Look At Online Retailers And Use Rakuten

After I check out Amazon, I look at other online retailers online because online shopping is easiest. You can compare many options from almost anywhere including your current cell phone service provider.

When checking out other online retailers, don’t forget about the big box stores you shop at, too. Personally, I’d check Best Buy, Walmart, Target and Sam’s Club or any other store you can think of that sells cell phones. 

First, I’d check on the stores’ websites for pricing information. You can usually find great deals online. Even so, sometimes it’s best to actually visit the physical stores to see if they’re running any specials that aren’t advertised online.

Occasionally, you can get a gift card with the purchase of a phone or purchase an open box phone in perfect shape at a much lower price.

Check With Your Carrier

You won’t be doing yourself any favors by forgetting to price check with your cell phone carrier. Occasionally, carriers offer deep discounts on certain phones to entice new customers to their service or keep existing customers from leaving.

Most of the time your carrier won’t have the best deal, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

Don’t Forget About Big Sales

Finally, don’t forget to consider big sales that happen at various times throughout the year.

The biggest sales tend to pop up on phones one generation old when a new phone comes out. For instance, you can probably get a good deal on the iPhone 13 right after the iPhone14 comes out.

If you want the latest and greatest phones, wait a few months after the new version debuts and demand dies down to spot deals.

The other great time to buy a cell phone is around the holidays. Around Black Friday through Christmas, retailers will be offering all sorts of deals on cell phones.

Some retailers will discount the price of the phone directly while others offer hundreds of dollars in gift cards with a phone purchase.

However, you’ll want to consider the following if you really want to save money on your next cell phone purchase.

Consider Switching To Another Provider

Before you freak out and say, “I could never leave Verizon!” take a second and breathe.

If you’re currently with one of the big three carriers (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) you’re probably not getting the best deal on your monthly cell phone bill.

The savings on your cell phone service bill by switching to a cheaper carrier that offers the same exact service can add up to the cost of a brand new phone very fast, sometimes in just a few months.

What most people don’t realize is you can still get Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile service (yes the same service) at a cheaper rate through one of the other cell phone brands that buy network usage from the big four carriers.

These other cell phone brands are called MVNOs or Mobile Virtual Network Operators. They don’t own the cell phone towers or the network but instead lease the network for their customers to use.

Every single major cell phone service provider has multiple MVNOs that offer the same service at a cheaper price.

Remember: Find The Best Overall Price

Remember, your goal is to find the best overall price when you’re buying a phone. My favorite place to start shopping is Amazon.

Make sure to account for any gift cards, discounts, sales tax, cash back or other promotions that may affect the price before comparing where to buy your phone. 

If you do buy your cell phone outright and pay for it in full up front, consider purchasing your phone on a credit card. It may offer extended warranty protection, accidental breakage protection in the first 90 days or even free cell phone insurance.

You can read more about these little-known credit card benefits here.

Where is your favorite place to buy your cell phone? Does it have the best prices or do you buy there for some other reason?

Mary Kay Riestenberg

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Hi, I just discovered your site and this article while searching for the best way to buy a new smartphone (mine is badly damaged). I'm so glad you also talked about MVNOs, which I found very enlightening. We will probably switch to Republic. I'm looking for a Samsung Galaxy S10 plus that's unlocked. But I also found some that only work with certain carriers. If we switch to Republic, do you know whether a phone that works with T-Mobile would be compatible? Or do I need to stick with an unlocked phone?

Lance Cothern, CPA

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

You'd be best off checking with the MVNO. Our Republic Wireless Review includes a list of phone models that should work with Republic. You can always ask them if you're unsure :). Just double check before you buy anything.


Friday 10th of July 2020

Hi Lance:

There's one thing you do not mention here. I'm also not sure Verizon still offers this. I have a no contract auto pay service plan with them and only pay $40 + tax & fees for unlimited talk text and 3 GB of data. If I don't use all the data it rolls over to the next month basically giving me 6 GB every month because I rarely use data.

Just thought you'd like to know this.

Lance Cothern, CPA

Friday 10th of July 2020

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for sharing. If you rarely use data, you'd probably be better off paying by the gig with some other services. Even with a deal like this through Verizon, you can buy your cell phone somewhere else and then hook it up to your Verizon account to save even more.


Thursday 22nd of August 2019

target sells cell phones too

Patty Madigan

Thursday 2nd of August 2018

Hello! I'm new to smartphone because I live in a remote rural area-but can get reception via wireless in my home. I plan to use my smartphone in Europe and Mexico--what phones and service company do you recommend? I work on a PC computer--but like the idea of an iPhone 6--small and not fancy. And I'm cheap!

thanks, Patty

Lance Cothern

Friday 3rd of August 2018

Hi Patty,

Thanks for the question. If you're OK just using your phone on WiFi overseas for calls and texts, you could check out Republic Wireless. If you want cell coverage, I've heard T-Mobile has some good international options. I hope that helps!


Rick Knapschaefer

Thursday 28th of June 2018

Hi Lance, my wife and I are moving to Tn. at the end of July, currently have AT&T but will have to change to Verizon how can I get an upgrade for my iPhone 6 and my wife finally getting a new iPhone from a flip phone (we're 60 yrs old) and get a good deal

Lance Cothern

Thursday 28th of June 2018

Hi Rick

I'd look and see what deals verizon is offering if you want to change to Verizon. They don't offer free phones with a contract anymore. If you want to save money, consider getting an iPhone that is a generation or two older. It'll still be a major upgrade but it will cost much less.

I hope that helps!