I'm sure you have heard that there is nothing like a "free lunch". Well, there is no such thing as an absolutely "free cell phone" either. You may get a free handset but you still have to pay to get it activated and since it was "free" you have to go by the regulations of the place where you got your free cell phone from. Free cell phone offers come with certain strings attached, such as:
- Free After Money-back: Very often you have to first pay for the cell phone and then claim a mail-back rebate which makes your cell phone "free". The process can take a long time, even as much as a couple of months. Some people simply forget about the offer, some lose the rebate coupon, while some just keep postponing till the money-back offer expires. For whatever reason, very few people actually claim their rebate and the seller benefits from our expected lethargy and forgetfulness.
- Longer contracts: Usually with a free cell phone offer you may be required to enter into a contract and commit for a longer period of 2 years instead of 1 year. You are liable to be stuck with your free cell phone even if you do not want it anymore as you have committed to it.
- Quality: Cell phones provided with free offers are the cheapest and the lowest quality wise. You will get a very basic cell phone which does not have any useful features. It will be large, bulky, and heavy to carry around. Definitely not something you will show off. Instead of accepting a bad free cell phone with a lot of minutes, it may be wiser to go in for a better, sleeker, and stylish phone if you do not need all that airtime.
- Higher rates: Free cell phone merchants tell you that you can get phone plans from the major service providers and even at the same rates. What they will certainly NOT be telling you is that the rate plans offered tend to be the most expensive ones.
If you are on the look out for a "free" cell phone, it might just become more costly than buying one. Which is not to say that free cell phone offers are terrible but just that they are not free.
- You should try some of the offer available online. Some companies do offer free cell phones, but they require you to participate in a competition or draw. Sometimes they offer famous cell phones like "iPhone 4" or "Blackberry", but they also have terms and conditions. You can search for offers in your locale for further details and if you are lucky, you will get a free cell phone.
This is a great answer and is very accurate however there are places you can get a high end free phone with new service or an upgrade. Yes there is usually a new activation charge but sometimes not depending on what's advertised and 2 year contracts but it's the contract that make up the companies loss on the free phones. I've added the free phone section of one such site.