The last 10 years in the United States have seen a significant increase in cell phone usage. I was unable to get a phone until I was 16 (my parent’s rule) and even then, the phone only had calling and minimal texting capabilities. Today, I can ask a random 6 year old what the weather is like and he or she can pull up the temperature, wind speed, and 10 day forecast on their new iPhone. Mobile phones have become a significant part of many people’s lives, as they are a great way to stay connected. But they can also come at a great cost. What is best for you?
Choosing the Right Provider
Choosing the right cell phone provider is important. Some companies offer the best phones, while others offer the cheapest prices. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are shopping for a cell phone company:
- Do they offer a phone you want?
- Do they offer competitive prices for your situation?
- What is their contract like?
Certain phones are more prevalent with certain companies. If you are looking to use a specific phone, you need to find a provider that is compatible with the device. The pricing plans can also affect which company you decide to go with. Some companies offer excellent packages for single individuals, while others specialize in family plans. How many people are going to be on your plan? What extras do you need (texting, data, etc.)? Mobile phone contracts can be very binding at times, so take your time to research the best option before taking the plunge. Are you looking for more freedom? Or a discount for an upgrade every two years?
Buying the Phone
My first phone had a pull out antennae and was one of the first mobile phones with a color display. Still, I didn’t pick the most expensive device available at the time. Nowadays a phone can put you back around $300 if you get a top of the market phone, and that’s assuming you agree to a two year contract. To buy the device without a new contract you may pay over $500. I don’t know about you but if I am going to spend $500 of my money on something, I will take some time to consider the features and benefits first.
My dad has always been old school when it comes to phones. He recently upgraded to something newer, but had a simple phone with minimal controls for a number of years. This fit him best. Do you want a fully equipped phone? Or something simpler? The iPhone is awesome, but you may not need to pay for one if you won’t use it.
Signing up for a multi-year contract will get you a discount on a phone and they will give you a number of special offers to go along with your commitment. But is this right for you? Do you really want to pay more every month just to get a discount up front? Or would you rather buy a phone outright and pay less per billing cycle?
Contracts are great for some, as they can seem like a good money saver, but they keep you locked in at a certain rate for the duration of your contract. This can be good if your rate is cheap or you are grandfathered into a certain price (cheap texting, data, etc. ), but bad if you aren’t satisfied with your service or the company.
What’s Best For You
Which route to take all comes down to individual preferences and situations. But whatever the case may be, it literally pays to take however long you need to figure out most sensible way forward before you make a $100 a month commitment for two straight years. What is best for one person may not be best for another. What is the best plan for you?