Once we’re on a mobile plan, it can be tempting to stick with it – life is so hectic that researching possible better options can get sidelined, and we end up with the same package, paying the same charges, for years, regardless of whether there’s a better deal out there, or a plan that would suit us better.
Finding the best mobile plan for you – and ascertaining whether it’s still the one you’re currently subscribed to – is easier than you think. Use the guide below to ensure you’ll get the best value for money, as well as all the features you need, and get ready to make the switch.
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Be Realistic About Your Usage
Before beginning to compare and consider different phone plans, it’s important to think about how you currently use your mobile device. Are you a light user, logging in daily to check emails, browsing your social sites, and occasionally streaming, or do you use your phone frequently throughout the day for streaming shows, shopping, or maybe even playing games online? Do you use your phone for business? Assess your usage habits carefully so that you can decide exactly what features of a plan are worth spending money on – and which you don’t necessarily need.
This is the first thing to check when comparing carriers: the most cost-effective plan in the world will be of little use if you can barely get any signal to use your phone. Have a look at the coverage information provided on the carrier’s website, but also check plenty of online reviews, too, to get some real-world experiences of just how reliable and strong the coverage on offer is.
This will be one of the main points to think about when deciding on the best mobile plan for your needs. Have a look at your current phone plan to get an idea of the amount of data you’re consuming a month – this is a really interesting exercise, as many of us are unaware of just how much data we’re eating through regularly.
If you’re hovering near the top of your allowance, then you may be best choosing a mobile plan with a higher data allowance, and if you’re a particularly heavy user, then unlimited could be the way to go. Have a look at this Ultra Mobile review for more information on a carrier offering the latter option. If, however, every month you have data to spare, then you could get by on a budget plan with a relatively low data cap. Be aware, though, that if you choose a plan with capped monthly data and then you exceed your allowance, you can expect slowed-up speeds – as well as additional charges – until your next month’s bundle of data hits.
There are phone plans now widely available that are geared to specific groups of people: for example, some carriers offer student plans, which feature nine-month contracts rather than the standard twelve, so that there’s no need to pay for the plan during the holiday periods.
Family plans are increasingly popular, too: these allow the user to bundle several different lines onto one plan, and data usage can also be set (or capped) for each individual line. For those with older kids, the ability to have bills sent to each user is often handy, while, for parents with young children, the parental control and monitoring features are an advantage.
Contract or Pay as You Go?
Another key consideration is whether to choose a contract or use your phone on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis. The main advantages of a contract are that you’ll get the handset included as well as a package of minutes, texts, and data, and the fact that any routine repairs required to the handset are usually covered by the carrier at no additional cost. For moderate or heavy phone users, contract plans can be a cost-effective way to stay connected.
PAYG, on the other hand, is exactly as it sounds: this option often works out much cheaper, as the cost of a handset isn’t included, so if you don’t mind continuing to use the model you’ve currently got, you could make a big saving. As long as your handset is unlocked, you’re not tied into any network, either, meaning you can switch without paying any pesky fees.
Read the Small Print
And finally, as with any contract you’re considering signing, it’s very important to check through all the fine print before committing. Examples of things to watch out for include packages that offer free-roaming; some carriers that advertise this don’t make it as clear as they could that while the roaming is free, it’ll mean you only have access to slow wireless speeds, and you’ll need to pay an additional charge to upgrade to a faster connection.
Also, check carefully what ‘unlimited data’ means for the carrier you’re considering – all plans have a data cap, even if they’re marketed as unlimited, so find out what this is, too, before signing up.