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Reasons Not to Rent a Cell Phone


One of the downsides to prepaid phone plans is the lack of phone subsidies. While there are plenty of good sub $100 phones and even several phones in the $150- $200 range that have some cool features, if you really want all the bells and whistles then you should expect to pay upwards of $600 for a phone which is not only very breakable but likely to be outdated in a year or two.

Let’s be honest, how many people have that much money just sitting around?

So, to take advantage of the huge market of people who want flagship phones, but can’t afford flagship phones companies like Rent-A-Center have leapt forward, offering no-credit phones for low weekly, semi-monthly or even monthly payment plans for phones for several different companies including Net10, Simple Mobile and Telcel America. Seems great, right? Not so much.

As with any rental agreement, the issues are all in the fine print. I’ve worked for Rent-A-Center in the past, and I can tell you without hesitation that the price you will pay for any item purchased through them via a payment program will be at least three times the actual sales price. Which, with a phone that already costs upwards of $600, can really add up quickly.

Take the Samsung Galaxy S5, for example. You can purchase an unlocked Galaxy S5 from Best Buy for around $620. The same phone, locked to a carrier and purchased through Rent-A-Center will cost $830 up front or $2300 over the course of a year and a half of payments. That’s more than three times as much.

As if that wasn’t enough of a reason not to rent your phone, there is one more major thing to consider. If you’re renting your Galaxy S5 then you don’t actually own it. That presents all kinds of issues, as most people not only store personal information on their phones, but also have sentimental attachments like pictures, videos and voice clips. Sure, you could store media on a removable SD card, but there is still a good chance of some sensitive information will be stored on the phone.

Maybe it’s just because I saw first-hand how rental places work. I’ve made collection calls (and believe me, they are as uncomfortable for the person calling as the person receiving the call) and had to deal with payment issues and upset customers galore. I’ve spent hours on the phone arguing with customers about couches and refrigerators. And with as much as I use my phone, I can’t imagine going through the same thing with anything┬ámore personal than a futon.

So, if you’re looking to get a nice flagship phone, do yourself a favor and stay away from rental places. Yeah, the phone may be sweet, but the hassle and the price certainly won’t be.