When buying a phone, research the carriers, devices, and plans that best fit your lifestyle. Talk to family and friends, and search online to learn about others’ experiences. 


  • Look at coverage maps on the carriers’ sites to see if you’ll have voice and data signals when you need them. You may not be able to identify dead spots without asking someone who uses that carrier.
  • Consider how many people use your plan, how much they call, surf, or use apps, and your budget. You may have the option to use your current phone or to buy a new one. Many large phone carriers suggest that you pay for your new device in monthly installments. You may be required to pay-off your device before cancelling your service.
  • If you opt for a prepaid plan, you buy a device and pay in advance for talk, text, and data usage. You’ll need to pay more whenever you deplete your balance. It may be cheaper than a contract plan, but you may experience slower data speeds.
  • Think about what features you need in a phone: for instance, do you use calling and text messaging only? GPS and travel apps? 
  • Shop around online and in-store to compare prices and incentives. Ask about military, veteran, or other discounts that might be available to you.
  • Read and understand the contract. Make sure there are no blank spaces and everything you’ve been promised in conversations is also is in writing. Once you’ve signed you’re locked in.
  • Did you sign a contract before getting orders to change duty station or deploy? You can cancel your contract without penalty or fees, but only if:
    • your wireless provider doesn’t provide service in the new location
    • your mission doesn’t allow you to use the service or
    • you’re deployed outside of the continental US for more than 90 days.
  • Give your wireless service provider a copy of your military orders and explain why you need to cancel.
Life Events:
First Duty Station


Tools for Personal Financial Managers