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Get a free 5GB phone plan from RingPlus

From the Cheapskate: Okay, that's "free" after a couple startup costs, but still a seriously amazing deal for anyone with a compatible phone.

CNET's Cheapskate scours the Web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.

This again? Yep, this again.

It seems like every month or two, mobile carrier RingPlus raises the ante in the high-stakes game of free-service poker. Back in March, for example, you could get totally unlimited service for $0 monthly -- though the data side of it was capped at 500MB of LTE, with unlimited 2G after that.


That deal is still available, but as I hinted back then, an even better one has arrived. For a limited time (this "flash promo" may expire at any moment), the RingPlus Blissful plan will give you 5,000 voice minutes, 5,000 SMS texts and 5,000MB (aka 5GB) of LTE data for $0 monthly.

That's insane. How can this company possibly make money? For starters, it plays ads or music when you make outbound calls (but only until someone picks up). And there are potential overage charges, though with this particular plan, I find it unlikely you'd ever exceed your monthly allotments.

So, let's break down the actual costs. There's an upfront $30 top-up fee that's held in your account against the aforementioned overage charges. And then there's the Member+ requirement: $49.99 $120 for a lifetime subscription. Update: RingPlus recently raised the lifetime-subscription price, and not by a small amount. Needless to say, this changes the equation considerably. I was unaware of this change and I'm sorry for the error. The benefits include priority support (always a good thing), discounts on various products and services and so on. (Don't want to pony up that $50 $120? The Cool Breeze plan, also available for a limited time, gives you 2,500 minutes, 2,500 SMS and 2.5GB of LTE data -- no Member+ subscription required.)

The only area where you might find yourself dipping into that top-up credit is multimedia messaging (MMS). RingPlus charges 5 cents per, though as I've noted before, it's easy to work around if you use iMessage, Whatsapp or another data-driven messaging system.

RingPlus is a Sprint-based carrier, meaning you need to BYO compatible unlocked phone or choose from a handful of options in the RingPlus store. Interestingly, you can also bring an iPhone 6 from AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon, or a Nexus 5/6. But don't forget to check your compatibility first.

Assuming you have a compatible phone and find Sprint coverage to be decent in your area, I'd go so far as to say this is the best carrier deal, well, ever. You pay $80 $150 to get started, then $0 after that -- barring any overages, of course.

Oh, and don't worry if you miss out on Blissful or Cool Breeze. If history is any indication, more great plan options are just around the corner. Why don't more people know about RingPlus?


Bonus deal: Yo, Amazon Prime subscribers! Did you know that among your many perks, you can get a free 4-month magazine subscription? Options include Esquire, Food Network, Money and Oprah.

Just make sure to read the instructions regarding when to cancel so you don't end up getting billed for a one-year subscription. As with most such deals, this one is for new subscribers only.

Bonus deal 2: Shopping for a big TV? Walmart is running a pretty insane deal: the Sceptre X505BV-FMDR 50-inch HDTV and Roku Streaming Stick for $328.99 shipped (plus tax). You'd pay nearly $90 more to buy these two items together elsewhere.