You're Not Buying a Shiny New Phone
Whether you buy it now or you buy it later, getting a new phone means paying for it. But keeping your current phone after your two-year agreement is up means you might be making payments on it long after you've covered the full price of it. Many service agreements charge a subsidized rate for a phone upfront—about $200—plus a monthly payment fee that's included in your bill. When the 24 months are up, that fee remains part of your monthly statement
, explains Consumer Reports
. Until recently, you haven't had many other options. But, as of March 2013, T-Mobile allows you to use your current phone on a lower-rate, "no contract" month-to-month plan. Unlimited minutes, text messages and 2GB of high-speed data costs $60 per month. A comparable two-year contract plan elsewhere can cost $100 a month, which means that sticking with your current phone—and staying in a contract—could cost you up to $40 more per month.
If you really want a new phone, CNET found that opting for a no-contract plan and buying the phone at full price
may still be cheaper than getting the same phone at a subsidized rate with a two-year agreement. An iPhone 5 and two years' service costs $2,020 at T-Mobile, but it can cost $2,600 elsewhere, the site reports.