The wireless industry is very different than it was a few years ago. Now that unlimited plans are the norm, it's now easier to compare carrier and plan costs based on your actual usage. But when it comes to choosing a wireless plan, the process can be daunting. There are many different devices and carriers to choose from, and then the various plans themselves. How do you know which plan is right for you?
The answer depends on several factors, but the most important are the following:
Choose The Right Operator
The Big Four carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, offer the largest coverage areas and nationwide plans. If you live in a remote area, you should choose one of these providers. Smaller regional providers may have good deals in places but don't offer broad coverage. You can check each network operator's coverage map online to make sure you're getting a good signal wherever you live and work, but the best way to determine which network is best for you is to ask friends and neighbors what they use and what what they like or contact local suppliers directly.
Assess Your Data Usage
Next, you need to assess how much data you actually need. If you're not sure, see how much data you've used recently. Most wireless service providers send monthly usage reports and allow you to view this information online after logging into your account. If you want to know your current data usage, most smartphones have settings where you can see your total mobile data usage for the month to date.
If you're an average smartphone user who browses social media, checks email, and occasionally streams music or video, but isn't a heavy user, 2 GB of data should suffice. Smartphone users who stream a lot of music or video should check out plans of 6 GB or more. It's always a good idea to use an unlimited data plan, no matter how many phones you use. You can find these for under $50/month from some providers.
Check International roaming or coverage
If you travel abroad a lot, you need a plan that supports international calls and data. But even if you don't travel abroad often, that doesn't mean you can ignore an airline's international coverage. Just because your carrier doesn't support calls from one country to another doesn't mean calls from other countries won't connect or be charged exorbitantly. Make sure your plan supports international calls, or be prepared for the big surprise on your bill.
Be aware of extra costs
Mobile carriers are very creative when it comes to charging extra on top of monthly installment plans, so it's important to read the fine print when deciding on a plan.
Cell phone providers used to offer only one or two options for our monthly cell phone bill: a lower flat rate with capped minutes or a higher flat rate with unlimited minutes. There are even more nuances to our cell phone plans these days. This means you can save money - if you're willing to do some research and spend some time tweaking your plan. With the tips and factors above, you can find the best plan for your specific needs and budget.