With all of the major service providers structuring their plans a little differently, choosing the best cell phone plan can be challenging. In addition, each provider has phones that they exclusively offer, so it is important that you spend some time considering both what you want to be able to do with your phone, as well as all your mobile service needs in order to choose the best cell phone plan and the best cell phone service provider for you.
The major service providers include AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile. All offer both contract and prepaid plans. Under a contract plan, customers typically receive a great deal on the price of their phone, often getting it at little or no out of pocket cost, but they must agree to a two-year service agreement. All phones offered by the carrier are available with these plans. Prepaid plans require no service commitment, but the phones available under those plans are generally more limited.
AT&T is the only provider who allows customers to roll over unused plan minutes for future use, a great way to protect yourself from a huge bill if you exceed your plan minutes one month. It is still the primary provider for Apple’s iPhone, as well as many other popular smartphones. While they offer no all-inclusive plan, with the Mobile Share plan, customers can purchase blocks of data to share among as many as 10 devices.
Verizon Wireless is the sole carrier for the popular Droid smartphones. Verizon recently adopted a single plan billing structure, aiming to offer the best unlimited cell phone plan. It’s Share Everything plan includes unlimited talk and text, as well as the ability to purchase a pool of data, also for as many as 10 devices.
Sprint was the first carrier to adopt the flat-rate all-inclusive plan, the Simply Everything plan. It also offers calling plans with limited anytime minutes and a choice between unlimited texting or data. Although Sprint does not offer shared data pools, it offers the best unlimited cell phone plan of the three largest carriers, with a plan that includes unlimited talk, text and data for up to three smartphones for one flat price. Also, the carrier does not engage in the practice of “throttling,” or slowing down data transfer speeds for high-end users. Both AT&T and Verizon have admitted to using this technique.
T-Mobile is the newest and smallest of the major carriers. In addition to traditional contract service plans, T-Mobile offers it’s Monthly 4G Plan, which could be the best no contract cell phone plan, combining the best elements of a prepaid plan with the best elements of a contract plan. You pay a flat monthly fee, depending on how much data you want. You don’t have to remember to add minutes or data to your phone, but you are also not tied to a contract.
Perhaps the best no contract cell phone plan is offered by Boost Mobile. Instead of contract plans, it offers daily and monthly unlimited plans. Unique to Boost Mobile is their Shrinking Payments plan. Pay your monthly bill on time and your required payment can be reduced by as much as 15 percent over time.
Choosing the best cell phone plan and the best cell phone service provider really comes down to what features you want in your phone and how you want to use it. Taking the time to compare plans and providers up front can save you money and frustration down the road.