What to Look for in a Phone Plan

Aspects of the Best Smartphone Plan

Having the right cell phone plan is important, especially as these days, mostly everyone relies more on their smartphone than landlines. While there are a number of wireless carriers throughout the United States, finding the right carrier with the right plan for you can be tricky. There are certain aspects to look for when it comes to choosing the best phone plan. Here are some of the details you should consider, regardless of the carrier you choose or are already signed to.

What to Look for in a Phone Plan

At this point, in 2016, all four of the major wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — offer no contract plans for cell phone service. T-Mobile started the trend back in 2013, when it first began instituting its UnCarrier initiative in which it offered plans that lack contracts but included unlimited call minutes, unlimited text messaging and a variety of data plans with tiers to suit the user.

T-Mobile has since gone several steps further with its UnCarrier focus, as it has recently announced T-Mobile One, which includes up to four lines of unlimited calling, text messaging and data. The first line is $35 per month. Adding a second line means both lines are $50 per month. A third line added on equates to $20 per month, but if you add a fourth line, that one is completely free.

Another great perk you can get from T-Mobile is that there are never any overage charges.

AT&T did away with contracts almost immediately after T-Mobile began its UnCarrier initiative. Its cheapest option is $30 per month and provides unlimited call minutes and text messaging. However, you have to pay for a data plan at a minimum of $5 per every 250MB. In general, the best bang for your buck option from AT&T is its $45 per month plan, which offers all the same options except that it includes 3GB of high speed data.

Verizon Wireless has several plans that don’t come with a contract. Plans are named after sizes, from S, M, L and so forth. The cheapest is $35 per month, while the priciest, its XXL plan, is $110 per month and includes 24GB of data. Sprint, on the other hand, offers an initial plan of as little as $20 per month with unlimited minutes and text messaging but only 1GB of data.

With all of the major wireless carriers, there are a variety of financing options for the purchase of a new smartphone. While these are no longer “contract plans,” they are referred to as “equipment installment plans” that include four chief costs. The price of the data and the cost of the smartphone are spread out over monthly installments, with an activation fee occasionally been in place as well. Of course, there is also the phone line itself that carries a price, with additional lines often being available for other users, namely the account holder’s family members or friends. Prices for phones vary depending on the specific phone and its storage. For instance, a new 32GB iPhone 7 through T-Mobile is $0 down and $27.09 per month for 24 months.

Another aspect to consider when choosing a cell phone plan is the technology used by the carrier. GSM is the norm around the majority of the world, but carriers like Sprint and Verizon still use CDMA technology. This means that if you travel frequently, you would be better off with GSM and will need a factory unlocked smartphone or one that you can get unlocked by your carrier over time. GSM phones are better because when you have one that is unlocked, you can simply pop in a different — prepaid — SIM card from another region to use it while you are traveling abroad.

The best way to determine the right smartphone plan for you is to weigh out the pros and cons of a few. Knowing all the details allows you to make the best choice for your needs.