Finding a mobile plan that best suits your needs and at the best price is not always easy, given the number of providers on the market. Before signing up for a new cell phone plan, it’s important to study the different types of plans available for your particular needs.
We put together a guide with everything you need to know about what to look for in a cell phone plan so you can easily choose the best one for you.
1. Choose the type of cell phone plan
You can opt for a SIM-only phone plan, which you can use with your existing phone, or go for a plan that includes a device as well. If your phone is well past its prime, it might be a good idea to look for a plan that comes with a phone. Many providers currently offer unlocked models, so you don’t have to get a new phone every time you switch providers. Also, providers often have promotions when you switch your service to them where you can either get a discount on a new phone (sometimes to the point it is free) when you commit to a 2-year agreement, or will offer you an increased value for your existing phone as a trade-in.
2. Consider data speed
We live in a world where data is the most important aspect of a cell phone plan for many people. All major carriers, including T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T offer full speed 4G or 5G data. If you use huge amounts of data on your phone every month, you should look into a plan that has a high data deprioritization threshold, preferably over 50GB. Even “unlimited data” plans often have caps on how much data you can use at the full speed. Check what that limit is before getting throttled, as your experience with your service will be drastically different once you are throttled.
3. Does it have a mobile hotspot?
Mobile hotspots make it possible to use the data that comes with your phone plan as a wireless internet service. This means that you’ll be able to connect to the internet on your laptop even if you’re in an area where there’s no wireless internet services.
This is an essential feature for people who are always on the go, and the good news is that most major operators offer a mobile hotspot allowance with their unlimited plans. Keep in mind that some carriers charge extra if you want to use your phone as a hotspot, so make sure you read the fine print carefully.
4. Cost of the plan
The best way to decide on the cost of the plan you’re interested is to set a maximum price that you’re willing to pay monthly and stick to it. It’s important to be realistic, though, as you can’t set a budget of $40-$50 and get all the perks that come with unlimited plans from most providers.
5. Compare plans for extra perks
Most providers offer various entertainment packs with their phone plans. For example, you may get access for 6 months or year for HBO, Netflix or Hulu on certain unlimited plans. Verizon offers Apple Music and Disney+ for its unlimited plans whereas all the unlimited plans from Sprint come with Hulu included.
Other things that you should look for include travel benefits, which come in handy if you’re a frequent traveler and international calling that you can use to call loved ones who live outside the U.S.