How to get a no-contract iPhone 5C for $299.99 and $30 monthly

By combining two offers, you can get a brand new 5C -- in your choice of colors -- for the lowest price ever. Oh, and unlimited texting and data, too.

At $359.99, the no-contract iPhone 5C is already a super-sweet deal. But by nudging your effective price down to $299.99, it's a steal.
At $359.99, the no-contract iPhone 5C is already a super-sweet deal. But by nudging your effective price down to $299.99, it's a steal. Virgin Mobile

Here's the sitch: You want an iPhone, but don't want to get locked into a two-year contract to the tune of $70+ per month. Without that carrier subsidy, however, you're looking at a minimum of around $550 just for the phone.

If you're willing to take a few extra steps and wait a little while for some cash back, you can score what is arguably the best current-gen iPhone deal, well, ever. Specifically, you can get a no-contract Virgin Mobile iPhone 5C (16GB) for $299.99 and nearly unlimited service for $30 per month. Here are the steps; be sure to read through them before getting started, then note the couple caveats I've shared below.

1. "Sign up" for Virgin Mobile using this link. It's a referral link, but it earns you a $25 account credit. Make sure to use the same e-mail address you'll use when actually placing your order, which happens a few steps later.

2. Sign up for a TopCashback account. This cashback service is currently offering a $35 rebate on all iPhones purchased from Virgin Mobile. So after you've got your account set up, head to TopCashback's Virgin Mobile page, then click the orange Get Cashback Now button. This will transport you to Virgin's site, where you'll order your 5c.

(New to cashback services? I wrote a post last week that can serve as a kind of cashback primer.)

3. Mouse over the Shop menu, then click iPhone from the drop-down list. The iPhone 5C should be the first model listed. Choose one of the five available colors (using the little selector to the left of the iPhone photo), then click Add to Cart. You'll pay $359.99 up front, shipping included. (In case you're curious, the 32GB model is on sale for $439.99, or $379.99 after the two credit/cashback offers.)

4. The purchase should get logged automatically by TopCashback, and you should be able to claim that $35 rebate (via check or PayPal) in 90 days.

5. After you receive your iPhone and activate it with Virgin Mobile, head back to refer.virginmobileusa.com, sign in, then provide your mobile number. It should take about four weeks to get your $25 account credit. But don't forget to complete this step, otherwise you won't get that credit!

By the way, Virgin's service plans start at $35 per month (which includes unlimited texting and data and 300 voice minutes), but you can drop that to $30 just by signing up for autopay (which I suspect most folks do anyway). That's an insanely good deal, one of the best out there.

So, the caveats. First, this is obviously not quite the same as getting the iPhone 5C for $299.99 out the door. Rather, that's your effective price after leveraging these two offers. And it will take upwards of three months for that effective price to become, well, effective.

Second, it's possible that somewhere in the fine print, there's a provision that prohibits getting cashback on top of a referral (or vice-versa). I haven't spotted anything, but one of these might cancel out the other. Thankfully, even at the full price of $359.99, the 5C is a smoking deal. I almost wrote it up without mentioning either offer.

I've heard my share of complaints about Virgin Mobile, but my experience with the company (and its Sprint-powered network) has been very positive. In fact, I recently had cause to contact tech support regarding an SMS glitch resulting from a ported number, and although it required two separate calls and conversations with four different CSRs, every single rep was polite, friendly, and apologetic. I even received a call back exactly as promised after they'd fixed the problem.

Your mileage may vary, of course, and as with any phone purchase, you'll want to check the coverage map to make sure you'll get a solid signal where you live and work. If things don't work out, you've got 14 days to nab a full refund.

Thoughts?

Bonus deal: Game time! For a limited time, Amazon is offering Max Payne 3 + Season Pass (PC) for $5.99. That'll net you download codes for redemption on Steam. This gloriously over-the-top shooter continues the bullet-time franchise, but be warned that it's as violent and bloody as computer games get. Not recommended for young kids or even young teens.

Deals found on The Cheapskate are subject to availability, expiration, and other terms determined by sellers.

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