eBay Selling Cheap Wireless Plans with Phones: Is It a Good Deal?

Savvy shoppers often like to use websites like eBay and Swappa to pick up older smartphones on the cheap. It's a practice that has become more popular in recent years, what with all the $1,000-plus phones that have been hitting the market lately.

Credit: Shutterstock

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The only snag is that buying a used phone doesn't help you save on your monthly wireless bill — and that's where the bulk of your spending will probably go over the life of the device. To that end, eBay is now teaming up with an MVNO carrier known as Red Pocket Mobile to offer discount rates for service on all of the Big Four wireless networks. 9to5Mac reported on the new partnership.

When you buy a used phone on eBay, you'll now have the opportunity to pair that device with service through Red Pocket. And because Red Pocket offers compatibility with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, no matter what phone you buy, it'll work through Red Pocket — provided the handset is unlocked, of course.

MORE: Best Cheap Cell Phone Service - Monthly Plans for Under $40

From the looks of things, Red Pocket will offer the same plans that customers can already buy through the carrier's website. Those include a $15-per-month option with 1GB of LTE data, 1,000 texts and 1,000 minutes, as well as a popular $35 plan that provides 3GB of data with unlimited messages and calls. The latter plan goes down top $30 a month when using auto pay, and for a limited time, Red Pocket is offering a promotion whereupon these users get 5GB rather than 3GB (though the allotment will return back to 3GB once the promotion ends).

The 3GB plan is a solid deal, considering Straight Talk Wireless — which also offers service through all four major networks — charges $35 for just 2GB per month. T-Mobile subsidiary MetroPCS, one of our favorite prepaid carriers, will also give you 2GB for $30, though that price includes taxes and fees.

If you have a little more to spend, currently AT&T has one of the better prepaid values, offering 8GB for $40 a month plus rollover data once you activate auto pay. Without autopay, that plan is priced at $50. Starting in October, MetroPCS is going to offer a 10GB plan, also for $40, as it rebrands itself as Metro by T-Mobile.

Red Pocket faces some competition on the dirt-cheap cell phone plan front. Mint Mobile, for example, charges $15 a month for 2GB of LTE data, though you have to pay for a year of service up front to lock in that rate. Unreal Mobile's plan with 1GB of LTE data costs $10 a month.

However, those hunting for the cheapest service possible will want to take a look at Red Pocket's $5-a-month Basic Plan, sold exclusively through eBay. This consists of 500GB of data along with 100 minutes and 100 texts. On all of Red Pocket's plans, data is throttled to 2G once the specified LTE data amount is used up. Otherwise, there don't appear to be any specific discounts or benefits for Red Pocket subscribers who purchase devices through eBay, but we've reached out to eBay for clarification.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.