Cell phones have become as ubiquitous as oversized jeans and MP3 players, but these devices usually require a long term contract. ,meaning big bucks if you don’t shop carefully. Before you sign on the dotted line, you should consider some things so you can pick the plan that meets your needs.
How Do You Use Your Phone?
Do you use your phone only in emergencies? Then paying for a monthly contract is foolish. This sounds idiotic, but many people actually never considered a pay as you go plan instead. Do you use your phone as your business line, and need to be constantly available? Then you need a plan with a lot of minutes and the freedom to use it anywhere at any time. Is the phone for a teen? Then get unlimited texting but generally, not a lot of minutes.
Figuring Out the Features You Need
Before you even look at available plans, take some time to assess how the phone will be used. If you are considering a plan for several users, than make sure you can vary the features by line. For example, I rarely text, but my teenager texts about 10,000 messages a month. I use the internet on my phone constantly, but he doesn’t use it at all. In our case, my phone has a data plan and his unlimited texting, so find a carrier that will let you fine grain the services on each line.
Data, texting and minutes are all available in specific increments. Assess your normal use and add 25% to ensure that you don’t exceed your limits. If you have ever received a bill after using too many minutes or texts you know how expensive over usage charges are. If you can find a plan that allows you to roll over unused texts or minutes (read: AT&T), then it could mean saving big bucks every few months to justify even a higher per month charge.
Price Things Out
Every company wants your money, and many of the large carriers will try to lock you in for two years in exchange for providing you with a cheap or free phone. Run the numbers. Saving $200 on a phone sounds great until you realize you are paying $20 more a month for the same plan you could have gotten elsewhere. To avoid overlap and competition, many large carriers stock different phones intentionally. If you want a particular phone, like an iPhone though, you may have to do business with a specific company.
Look at monthly fees, taxes and the price of the phone. Consider overage charges, phone replacement fees and roaming expenses.
Is Pay as You Go an Option?
For kids with their first phone or people who just don’t use the phone often, pay as you go is a great option. You get the security of a cell phone, but you only pay for what you use. Frequently usage is a bit more than if you purchased a complete cell phone plan, but you gain the convenience of staying within a budge and the freedom of not being locked into a contract. The phones are relatively inexpensive and do just fine as basic cellular telephones.
In the end, remember that they want your business so salespeople will always try to get you to commit. Take your time, and find the plan that best suits your needs. Sometimes, even paying for part of the phone to shorten the contractual length by a year makes sense.
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