Shopping around for a cell phone plan can quickly become an exercise in tedium and confusion.
Weighing the facts to figure out which plan is the best can feel like it requires a degree in rocket science.
Fortunately, there are a few key things anyone can look for to ensure the plan they get is one of the best out there to meet their needs. Some of the things to watch for include:
* Pricing structure. This is where things tend to get a little confusing. Pricing structures tend to be tiered. This means some plans offer a certain amount of free or included minutes, free calling times, peak time charge, off time charges and more. Start out with the basic monthly charges and check what’s included and what isn’t.
Sorting it all out can make one’s head spin. Some plans come with unlimited included minutes on days, nights and weekends. What fits personal needs the best needs to be determine on a one-on-one basis. It is important to fully understand the pricing structure and the financial penalties for going over. Not doing this can result in bills that are much higher than customers might anticipate.
* Long distance arrangements. Not everyone will be concerned about this feature, but some people need long distance included in their cell phone plan. Many companies provide for long distance to be included at no extra charge with the set minutes, but others charge extra. The area the long distance is covered should also be considered.
* International long distance. Most plans offer this to some extent. To get unlimited or at least discounted rates, it might be considered an add on or optional feature. If calls to other countries are a concern, it is worth asking about this. Some plans offer limited international long distance, which might work well for personal needs.
* Local calling area. Making sure the local calling area for a plan fits personal needs is very important. Some plans offer very limited calling areas, others go state to state or region to region.
* Roaming charges. Finding out the damage when traveling outside of local calling areas is always worth knowing. For some people this will be a big concern; other may barely find themselves roaming.
* Contract period. Since cell phone plan features change all the time from company to company, understanding the contract period is also wise. It is possible one contract will be signed and another company will come up with a better plan to fit personal needs six months down the road.
* Phone inclusion. Not all cell phone plan options come with free or discounted phones. Find this out. Not everyone can afford or even wants to pay out extra money for a cell phone when there are free options included with some plans.
Shopping around for a cell phone plan might not be much fun, but it can net some very good savings. Pay close attention to the features needed for personal use and read the fine print to ensure the best deal.