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how I paid over ₪ 3,000 for a simple cell phone

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

A few days after making Aliyah I jubilantly went over to the nearest Orange store in order to open up an account and have my first Israeli cell phone.  Finally, I instead of listening to other people yell loudly into an inanimate object in public places, I could be the one doing the yelling.

So, off to Givat Shaul and into the closest Orange store.  I signed up for a plan that met my needs (which is marketing for “would be the cheapest given my situation”) and even got a free phone, well kind of.  The phone I got was a brand new, but simple Nokia that I could either (1) pay ₪ 1,080 for up front, or (2) pay in 36 easy payments of ₪ 30 shekels a month.  But here is the catch.  Any month when I would spend over ₪ 200 on my cell phone bill I would be exempt for paying that month’s payment on the phone.  So if I were to spend ₪ 200 per month on my cell phone bill for the next three years, my brand new cell phone would be free.

Over the next few years I did not pay too much attention to my cell phone bill, except I always made sure I spent above ₪ 200 each month, less I have to pay for that month’s cell phone charge and be considered a friar (remember in Israel – better death than being thought a friar).

Fast foreword almost three years.  A lot has changed in my life and reality has forced me to actually become financially responsible.  I began cutting back on my expenses, but still tried not to cut back on my cell phone bill; after all, I would be missing out on ₪ 30 free every month.  Finally, after a few months, I realize that I can be conservative with my phone and cut my phone bill down to around ₪ 70 a month.  It wasn’t even that hard; I just started using a landline when it became available.  In retrospect, I was throwing out money by overusing my cell phone.  The longest calls I had were to the US and the number I used to call the US is a 1-800 number, so when I was calling from a cell phone, I was paying for a call that would have been free from my landline.

In retrospect, I used my cell phone so much extra to save an extra ₪ 30 a month (or ₪ 1,080 total), that I probably ended up spending over ₪ 3,000 in extra calls.

Lesson learned: consider how a “deal” affects your spending habits and don’t give in

Post Script – Recently my sister bought an Israeli cell phone much better than mine, with the same simple features,  for only a few hundred shekels – less than a tenth of the price I paid.

Post Post Script – you can get the same phone she bought from orange for free, if you agree to spend over ₪ X every month for the next 36 months…


  1. It would be wonderful if you could explain in more detail some of the deals the companies offer. They are changing every day, but still.

  2. LeahGG says:

    yeah – the deals… you really need to look at your habits before you get into a contract. Initially, I got a pay-as-you-go because you paid much more per minute but you were paying so much just for the contract. At first I was good about keeping minutes to a minimum. My first cell phone was a Mango (1996)… its best feature was that it could be dropped without breaking. I think it had one ring tone – at any rate, I never found another one. Eventually, I realized that I was using it so much that a plan would work out cheaper, and I couldn’t cut my usage much without really changing my lifestyle drastically (didn’t have my own landline at home, had a boss who watched our work calls like a hawk, didn’t have a car, so I often needed to arrange rides, was dating so I often needed to call guys back), so I got a phone with a plan.

  3. Devorie says:

    I recently checked the plans offered by cellcom, orange, and pelephone for service without a phone. I found that orange was by far the cheapest – they have a lot of plans and their per-minute charge is about 10-20 agurot less than the other companies. They also have cheaper or similar monthly charges. The companies have their rates on the website, so it’s easy to do your research before calling the salesperson (who will hound you forever after). Orange was also the only company that did not require a binding commitment if you have your own phone.

    What if you do need a phone? Check out the second-hand phones on Yad2. You’ll find A LOT of phones on sale, many are new or almost new, and you can’t beat the prices. A lot of people like to acquire the latest technology as it comes out, or start a new job and receive a cell phone as part of the package, and they sell their old phones (that aren’t that old) for a great price.

    If you don’t want or need the advanced technologies, and mostly use your phone for calls and sms, you can buy older versions of nokia NEW for around 250NIS.

  4. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the info! I’d appreciate some help. I making Aliyah from the US in August and would like to keep using a smartphone. If I bring a used or unlocked GMS smartphone are there packages available with Orange-voice/web. I don’t really care about text. I will only use the net once in a while. I found the Orange website but I can’t read Hebrew and Google translate doesn’t do a good job. Thank-u!

    • jonnydegani says:

      Hi Lisa,
      While I do not have any first hand knowledge of how smartphones work in Israel, I can help you read through Orange’s site. Send me an e-mail to and I’ll try to arrange a time to go through a bit of Orange’s site with you in order to help you out. Right now my schedule is a bit hectic, but I can try to find time in the next few weeks.
      Alternatively, you can call Orange and ask to speak to a salesperson in English. While not all salespeople speak English, many do and I am sure they will try to find someone for you. The number for Orange from the US is 011-972-747-054-054.

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