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Compare the Best Cell Phone Plans and Carriers


Finding the right cell phone service plan is an ominous task that requires patience while looking through the many available carrier websites. Anyone trying to achieve this is bound to be hit with many numbers in terms of monthly rates, connections fees, gigabytes (GB), and minutes, all out to push the user to spend on a given plan. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that all seekers out there ask themselves the following set of questions before hopping onto a new carrier.

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Is There Freedom to Make a Switch?

Carrier binding contracts in the United States are rapidly becoming an issue of the past, but customers still need to ensure that they are free and clear to take up a new carrier without facing the possibility of penalty fees. This situation can be avoided if they already have an exit strategy in place. If they have already purchased a new phone with a different carrier, customers need do a crosscheck to ensure they have paid for the phone in full, lest they are required to pay up owed fees. However, before paying up, the customer needs to find out whether the carrier they intend to switch to offers to pay out the remainder of their debt. A good number of carriers out there use this offer to lure in customers.

Should a New Phone be Purchased or Can Old Ones Still be Used?

Unless the customers intend to shift to a new network with their old phones, they are required to purchase one, meaning that they have to pay for everything upfront or in monthly installments. Customers should factor in these payments as they calculate the amount they would like to pay their new carrier every month. Some carriers may make the customers buy a new phone from them such as Republic Wireless. If they plan to register with their phones, the customers should make sure that they are unlocked to work with other networks (CDMA like Verizon and Sprint versus GSM like T-Mobile and AT&T). When in doubt, the users can contact the relevant customer service for more information.

What Type of Plan is Required?

A shared plan, or a family plan, usually splits a monthly budget on phone bills among two to four phone lines, ending up being cheaper per month than it would be for a single phone line. The disadvantage of this is an individual user gets a smaller amount of data and cannot predict the amount the other individuals in the plan will use. Leading carriers, like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, offer some of the most straightforward-shared plans. Resellers, like Republic Wireless, and prepaid carriers, like Cricket, require the users to do most of the necessary calculations for themselves.

Are Rock Bottom Prices Needed?

If a user needs to find the lowest rate possible, he or she is advised to shop around during seasonal sales like back to school season, Dads and Grads, as well as national holidays. Some carriers usually offer better deals to customers who bring their numbers over from previous carriers or trade in their old phones. Customers also occasionally find deals that pair particular phone models against particular rate plans.

There may be other less tangible benefits that come with paying a little more than rock bottom like customers getting better coverage in a place where they go for vacation or other benefits like having a fuller phone selection. Carriers also try to pull customers through programs that let them carry forward a given month’s unused data over to the following month. There are also offers that allow customers to stream videos and music from certain sites without billing the data used.

How Flexible Carriers Have to Be?

Carriers have moved away from the usual two-year contract pricing, but customers can still get it if they want. Customers can also buy their phones directly in a lump sum or pay through monthly installments. This is beneficial because it eliminated the dreaded early transmission fees (ETFs) of the past. However, a customer still must pay off the hardware before switching.

For those who have the capacity to switch carriers quickly, it is important that they put together the whole retail amount and purchase the phone in full. If the new carrier fails to work out and the user decides to abandon it, he or she should bear in mind users are usually granted a two-week grace period for major problems; for example, if network coverage or the phone hardware do not serve them well.

How Good Carrier Coverage is in an Area

This is the most important aspect that every customer needs to consider. Purchasing the best phone in the market and having it in an area without carrier coverage would be pointless. Therefore, customers should conduct thorough research on how good coverage is in their area before signing up for any service.

Network strength usually varies greatly and can change depending on the time of the day, weather, or even location within or outside a building. The changes are also experienced when carriers upgrade their networks or change the positioning of their cell towers frequently. It is, therefore, difficult to identify a single carrier guaranteed to work perfectly. Only companies that work to routinely test networks, like Rootmetrics, can handle this.

Knowing the Available Carriers

Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are the national carriers popularly identified as the Big Four. They have the largest customer base and maintain the network infrastructure that resellers and second-tier carriers use. There are also regional carriers, like US Cellular, which is not available everywhere but a good option for those who stay within its coverage areas.

The Big Four carriers own other prepaid carriers. For example, AT&T owns Cricket, and Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint. The other remaining category of networks is resellers, which carries almost every other available carriers. They lease network capability from at least one of the Big Four carriers, and examples include, Google Fi and Straight Talk.