Selecting a Cell Phone Plan That Meets Your Needs

Choosing a cell phone plan that works for you requires careful consideration for both budget and features. Learn some money saving tips in this free video clip.

Video Transcript

Selecting a cell phone plan depends upon the type of cell phone you have, or plan on getting, the amount you talk/text and the features you want. Price also plays a significant role when deciding on a cell phone plan. To keep your bill in check, whatever plan you select, beware of the Budget Breakers--Overages, Roaming and Fees. If your cell phone use is fairly limited, a basic plan should work for you. You won’t have a lot of anytime minutes, typically between 200 and 400 per month with unlimited weekend and night calling. A basic plan supports standard features like voice mail, caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding. A basic plan also supports text messaging (SMS), but typically applies a per text charge from $0.20 to $0.25 each. Without text charges, a basic plan can cost around $30 to $40 per month for one phone line. Budget Breaker: You can easily exceed the plan’s allotted anytime minutes or the number of texts. Avoid paying a bundle in overage charges for your basic plan. Sign up for overage alerts and remedy your plan before you exceed its limits. A mid-level mobile plan usually includes features like multimedia downloads and Internet access. These features are over and above those of a basic plan provides. However, without an unlimited data plan be careful about the amount of time you spend using these features. If you want to send pics from your phone, confirm your plan will cover sending multimedia text messages and attachments. Otherwise expect an additional charge. Costs for mid-level plans vary widely among providers since service is typically tiered and bundled as voice and data. Budget Breaker: Don’t buy more than what you need. Opt for Detailed Billing for a few cycles to accurately track how much data i used and how it is used. It will help you make sure you aren’t paying too much for a plan and not fully utilizing its provisions. If you’re a data junkie and can’t spend more than a few minutes without your phone, you’ll likely want an unlimited plan. With it you’ll be able to use the web, email, stream media, edit documents and much more, all without worrying about exceeding your data limits. For 200 MB to unlimited data, prices can range from $40 – more than $80 per month. If you’re not ready to sign away two years of your life to a cell phone provider you may want to try a prepaid mobile phone plan. These are available from many major carriers. [see left] What’s cool is these plans have no activation or termination fees. You get only what you pay for, and are charged accordingly—no surprises. Plus, you’re not tied to a carrier after the purchased minutes are used. Data cards can be bought without contracts too. Prepaid mobile broadband cards (mobile hotspot or air card) allow users the freedom of Internet access without contracts for a limited time like two weeks. Combined this is a great option for getting all the functionality of an expensive plan for a fraction of the cost. Cell phone bills are notorious for exceeding their advertised price. With any plan, watch out for additional charges like Government Fees and Taxes, Federal Recovery Fees, Activation Fees, Early Termination Fees, and Roaming Charges. These fees can up your bill by ten bucks easily. Sign up for Overage Protection; it allows the carrier to monitor wireless costs and send a message when you are about to exceed the purchased limit. You have the chance to buy additional minutes without paying the steep costs of out-of-plan minutes. The most common overage charges occur when you exceed the number of texts allotted per month. Text-intensive subscribers should sign up for an unlimited text plan. If you’re not great at staying within your allotted plan—or selecting a plan for a teen-- consider a prepaid plan that keeps your phone usage within a predictable range. There are many online comparison applications that you can use to locate the most cost-effective plan for your usage style. You input data regarding your phone, present carrier, types of data usage (e-mail or Web), locations of use, and terms of your contract, and they find the best options for you. Some websites:

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