Cell Phone Plan | Choosing a Cell Phone Service Plan

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Choosing Your Cell Phone Service Plan

Because of the many choices we have as consumers, selecting a cell phone company and choosing a cell phone service plan can be a daunting experience.
Cellular phones can provide freedom and a convenience which is becoming increasingly critical.

Cell phone service offerings vary a lot from city to city, so it isimportant to know exactly which carriers provide service in your area. This will let you know all the rate plans for your area.

In the next few seconds, you can view all of the cell phone deals offered in your area by simply entering your "zip" code

When selecting your cell phone service plan, start by asking yourself

How and Where will you use your phone each month?
Consider the following
  • Coverage
  • Geographical area of usage
  • Purpose of cell phone use
  • Frequency of use
  • Technology differences
Find out which cell phone providers serve your home area

Coverage is the most important because it would be undesirable if you got a plan, then found out you'll have to pay roaming, or get no service where you need to use the phone.

Coverage is the geographical area within which a cell phone can be used to make and receive calls.

Check that the cellular service provider that you are going to choose covers the areas that you frequently travel to.

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Geographical area of usage
Where do you need to call ?

Most cell phone providers now segment their plans into local, regional and national calling areas. Essentially, the larger local coverage area you want, the higher rate you will pay per minute.

It is up to you to decide which coverage plan will save you the most money. If you get the local coverage plan and travel to another area of the state, expect to pay roaming and long distance fees every time you use your cellular.

Service plans that are limited to your home usage area are the least expensive, as long as you stay in that area. Make a call from outside that area and you're charged "roaming" fees.

If you plan to make a lot of calls from outside your home usage area, select a regional or nationwide calling plan that enables you to make calls without incurring roaming or long distance charges.

Local Plans Local plans are generally designed for use within your home area and will be attractive to the occasional user who wants a low-cost option. The definition of home area depends on the carrier but is typically the size of a metropolitan region. If you make long-distance calls, note that you will be
billed long-distance charges in addition to airtime, probably at a premium rate.

If you travel outside your home area, you will almost certainly have access to roaming capabilities, but also at a much higher rate than local airtime.

Options such as voicemail and caller ID are often included free with local plans. This setup is also good for a concerned parent wanting to keep in touch with children.

Regional Plans Regional plans generally offer a much larger home area than local plans, often as large as a five-state region. If you travel throughout your region frequently, these plans typically provide a single, consistent rate for roaming and long-distance charges within that area.

The inclusion of long distance simplifies your bill and may be less expensive than your landline service in some cases. Review the coverage maps thoroughly to make sure service is available where you expect it.

Nationwide calling plans are a good value for users who are frequent travelers.

National Plans These premium offerings let you use your phone anywhere in the country and talk to any other location in the country for a single per-minute price. Roaming and long-distance charges effectively go away, replaced by a single, predictable flat rate.
Usage profile
The purpose of having the cellular phone should dictate which service plan you are going to choose.

Deciding how you are going to use the cellular phone. Is it for emergencies, personal, or business?

A customer that needs a phone for business use usually needs a plan with a lot of minutes and flexibility. A customer that needs a phone for personal use is usually looking for something inexpensive.
Why pay a flat rate every single month if the phone is going to sit in your drawer ?
Would you use your phone for just the strictest of emergencies or do you plan to use it all the time?

Someone that needs a phone for emergencies, say 10 minutes or less a month is usually a good candidate for pre-paid wireless service.
Do you travel all over the nation ?
This will help decide if a local plan would be more appropriate for you or if a plan that had a broader roaming range would be better. The reason to ask this question is because if you do not plan to travel or if when you travel you will only use the phone for emergencies, you would be better off with a local plan.
Frequency of use
Most carriers offer packages that allow for different rates based on usage. If you plan to use the phone only occasionally, select and economy plan. If you make frequent calls, it may be moreeconomical to sign up for a plan that provides a certain amount of free minutes of usage.

Heavy users should sign up for a service plan which provides a higher monthly fee, several free hours and the lowest rate of air time.
Minimal Usage - Emergencies
For safety and emergency usage really means under 20 minutes or so a month. If you want to have a phone nearby in case of emergencies or want to give your child a phone in case they are late, then you fit into this category.

Most companies offer plans such as "security plan" which normally keep your phone active without any included minutes.

Per minute costs can be anywhere from 25-40 cents so you can see that these plans are intended for those who won't use the phone too often. These plans normally cost fewer than 20 dollars a month. Alternatively, you can seriously consider a prepaid plan.

Most plans in the 100-500 minute range cost anywhere from $20 to $30 dollars, on average. They are intended for those people who want to use their phone at least a little bit per month but not extensively.
Higher Use Plans
Normally, one can consider high usage to be over 500 minutes. Most people requiring these types of minutes are either using them for business or really have to stay in touch with all of their friends at all times of day.

Some people actually cancel home phone service and use their cell phones instead. This normally happens with the higher packages such as 2000 minutes or so.

Prices for these plans currently range from $35-70 a month.

To instantly view all offers from cell phone companies in your area, click here. You'll be asked for your zip code only.

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