I want that phone for FREE dammit!
September 14, 2005 3:07 PM   Subscribe

How can I avoid having to make a deposit when getting a new cell phone?

I am a Canadian in the US and it seems my credit history hasen't travelled with me.
I want to get a cellphone through Amazon (Cingular Razr) but Amazon won't handle
me because Cingular wants a deposit.

Somebody has told me that this could be due to my SSN being too new (mines only 2 months old).

So what can I do to either work around this or quickly build up some good credit in
the US to avoid the deposit?

I am in NYC if it matters.
posted by toftflin to Shopping (15 answers total)
Can you get a phone in canada?
posted by delmoi at 3:20 PM on September 14, 2005

Isn't the GoPhone from Cingular the solution to this? I think you buy the phone with minutes and refill with minutes as you need them. There's no contract and no credit check required. Or so they say. Does anyone have direct experience with this?
posted by garbo at 3:35 PM on September 14, 2005

tottflin, sadly you'll have to pay a deposit. Your best option is to go with T-Mobile's Smartaccess, where for I think $60 they give you a $39.99 plan, with a fair discount, not a great discount, on the phone.
posted by riffola at 3:40 PM on September 14, 2005

Oh hey try the stores in Chinatown, they might be able to get you a deal.
posted by riffola at 3:40 PM on September 14, 2005

Response by poster: Just to clarify: I live in NYC, so I want a US phone.

Also, I want to get the phone through Amazon to get the phone for free...
posted by toftflin at 4:01 PM on September 14, 2005

Most services have in-store free phone deals with new activation; you don't have to go through Amazon.
posted by SpecialK at 4:04 PM on September 14, 2005

totflin, pay the deposit. Next year, you'll not only get the deposit back, you'll also have a nice start on a good credit report. Sprint offered the cheapest deposits for people with no credit, and Verizon the priciest, according to a friend, so if you want the cheapest deposit you can get away with, try finding a Sprint model you can live with.
posted by evariste at 4:23 PM on September 14, 2005

To add to SpecialK, if Amazon wants a deposit, so will the bricks-and-mortar store, because it's Cingular asking for it and not the merchant.
posted by evariste at 4:36 PM on September 14, 2005

Some drug stores, like Rite-Aid, have prepaid phones you can buy. The upside? No contract. The downside? The prepaid minutes are usually more expensive than just going through a plan.

Cingular also has prepaid accounts that also don't require a deposit or credit check. You may be able to switch over later, once a history with the company has been built up.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:15 PM on September 14, 2005

My experience with Cingular was wretched; certainly not worth a free phone, even a razr. A 2 year contracyt can seem like an eternity.
posted by theora55 at 5:46 PM on September 14, 2005

My ex got a cellphone through SprintPCS. She had to pay a deposit, but the first couple of bills were deducted from the deposit, so she didn't pay anything for the first couple of months until the deposit ran out. Sounds like it might have been some kind of error in the billing system, but worth checking out.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:26 PM on September 14, 2005

have you tried t-mobile? they have the razr too. their web site doesn't offer anything right now but you might try searching amazon or going to a brick and mortar store.
posted by mrg at 7:47 PM on September 14, 2005

Unless your credit is terrible, avoid prepaid phones. I've yet to see a prepaid service that was even close to competitively priced.

Which is just stupid, and an example of cellular providers taking advantage of those with bad credit. Consider: In prepaid cellular, here's no loss leader in the form of "free" phones, there's little or no support for the phone, and the company gets money for calls before they are made. It should be at least close to competitive.

I'm lucky I live in a huge Cricket service area. 40-odd bucks a month for completely unlimited local and long distance from within my service area is pretty awesome. Unfortunately for NY state they currently only offer service in Buffalo and Syracuse.
posted by loquacious at 5:28 AM on September 15, 2005

This is a derail, but I bought a RAZR on T-Mobile and I hated the phone. If you've never had a Motorola phone before, you might want to try it out first, see how crappy the software is. Everyone I talked to on the razr said they couldn't hear me, and none of the software worked in a way that I wanted it to -- alarm clocks, address book, text input, everything sucks. I ended up selling it and going back to my Sony Ericsson T610. Soon I'll get a SE K750 or a W800 instead.
posted by xueexueg at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2005

Unless your credit is terrible, avoid prepaid phones. I've yet to see a prepaid service that was even close to competitively priced.

Depends on how much you use your phone. T-Mobile's 1000 minutes for a year package is $100. A year of their cheapest non-prepaid service is $240.

Of course, this assumes you don't use more than 1000 minutes a year. Which should be a reasonable assumption for most people, I'd think. That's 83 minutes a month on average, or nearly seventeen panicked five-minute calls from work or the babysitter each month.
posted by kindall at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2005

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