When searching for the cheapest cell phone plan you also want to make sure you are considering the best cell phone plans for you and your needs. Before you buy anything, consider a few things to help you determine the cheapest cell phone plan for your specific situation.
While wireless companies seem to take a “one size fits all” approach to plans and options for service, not everybody has the same needs when it comes to their mobile phone usage. There are a few different routes you can take, from a cheap plan up to an unlimited cell phone plan on a current, top of the line smartphone. You can even find prepaid cell phone plans for smartphones as this market has expanded along with the number of people searching for the cheapest prepaid cell phone plan that will actually fit their needs and lifestyle.
Consider Location When Comparing Cell Phone Plans
Where you live and work is going to have the greatest impact on which carrier and which is the best cell phone plan for you. The best and cheapest cell phone plans in the US may vary from the best and cheapest cell plans elsewhere.
Consider the following: GSM cell phones used by AT&T and T-Mobile can be used while roaming in between countries and even continents thanks to GSM’s widespread use throughout Europe and most of the rest of the world outside the US and Canada. You may, however, need to get a new SIM card for international cell phone use because other countries GSM network runs on a different frequency.
On the other hand, CDMA phones by Verizon and Sprint feature better coverage and data bandwidth within the United States. A rugged and hilly geography in you area can erase the benefits of greater coverage from a certain provider, leading to dead spots and reception holes.
If you travel a lot for work or fun consider an international plan or at least the cost of international cell service when you start to compare cell phone plans.
Get What You Need, Lose What You Don’t
If you have unlimited data, you don’t actually need unlimited texting because you can use web-based services like Twitter, Instant Messenger and other clients to send text to other people’s phones through the web.
If your requirements are simply to send and receive calls and access voice mail without a fancy smartphone, go with something like StraightTalk, or a similar service. StraightTalk is available exclusively through participating Walmart stores or online, so there’s a great chance you’ll be able to get it in your area. For $45 a month you’ll get unlimited calls, data, texts and more. You have to buy a headset from them of course, but they feature many cheap cell phones with models from LG and Motorola that will get the job done.
If you don’t want a bare bones cell plan and instead need a full-fledged, web capable smartphone for accessing information on the Internet, consider an iPhone. With their innovative touch screen and functional apps there is a reason Apple has experienced so much success.
With most smart phone plans, expect to spend somewhere around $100 a month. Phones are typically around $200, but they offer a fairly versatile telecommunications platform for the money. Almost every Android phone can be tethered to a laptop to use as a wireless access point for the Internet so you can get online even without access to a public WiFi network. You can even use it at home, meaning you don’t have to pay for Internet service at your house. So while this may not initially seem like one of the cheapest mobile phone plans, when you can use it for both phone and internet service it starts to sound like a better deal. If you choose a more expensive phone you may also want to consider mobile phone insurance.
By the same token, if you really don’t need all these modern features and you just need a reliable phone with the basics, consider some of the best and cheapest cell phones.
Cheapest Prepaid Cell Phone Plans
If you are looking for the cheapest cell phone no contract plans, finding the cheapest prepaid cell phone plan is the way to go. They are also commonly called pay as you go plans. Prepaid or pay as you go plans, come in a variety of packages.
Some still work like a monthly cell plan, only without the contract, while others charge a flat rate per minute. Rates can vary for talking and texting. You can also find unlimited prepaid cell phone plans, some of which allow you to use a smartphone.
Some companies like T-Mobile offer prepaid cell phone services in addition to their monthly contract cell plans, while other companies, like Tracphone, specialize in pay as you go cell phone plans. The differences between these different wireless services can be subtle, so take the time to carefully compare prepaid plans.
The Bottom Line: Do Your Homework Before You Buy
Sifting through the fine print and minutiae of different cell phone service plans to do a cell phone plan comparison probably doesn’t sound like much fun, but a few hours spent researching your options and comparing carriers, phones and specific plans can end up paying off in the long run. The money you save on this exercise can than be spent on something fun instead of your cell phone service. Plus this can save you headache and frustration down the road. Choosing the best carrier up front will make a big difference and improve your satisfaction with your cell phone plan.
Weighing local coverage against price for all the competing best cheapest cell phone plans out there can cause a bit of a headache. When looking at potential plans, don’t waste time going into the local phone store until you’ve done a bit of Google searching first. Nail down your general requirements so you can eliminate those that aren’t going to work for you.
Next, go in to the local AT&T, Verizon or Sprint store and talk face to face to a representative. Ask specific questions about additional fees, area coverage, how many towers they have and what you can expect for download speeds for those pricey unlimited data and minutes plans.
Trying to decipher a cell phone agreement is like reading through a mortgage document. There are about a million ways for them to add extra fees, and it’s impossible to catch every exception. If that sounds like more hassle than it’s worth right now for Internet on your phone, just stick to one of the prepaid cell phone plans or flat rate phone available from any “Big Box” store that’s at least predictable.
So, What Are The Best Cell Phone Plans?
With all this said about how to find the best cell phone plan for your needs, you may wonder what others think is the best cell phone plan.
According to consumer reviews Verizon is the leader when it comes to cell phone plans. While they don’t offer the cheapest cell phone plans — in fact their plans are on the pricey side — they rate really well in call clarity and network coverage. However their customer service isn’t great.
Many consider Sprint to be next in line in offering the best cell phone plans. Their prices are better than Verizon, although their call clarity isn’t as good. They offer a good phone selection and more affordable plans. They also have a good 4G network according to reviewers.
U.S. Cellular is a regional carrier so they aren’t available everywhere, but where they are available they are a favorite even outranking Verizon a lot of the time. They rank well in value, voice service and they get better customer service ratings than most carriers.
Finding the cheapest and best cell phone plan that works for you will take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run._____________________________________