If 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 now. If 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?
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.