Choosing a mobile phone plan can be difficult due to conflicting and even misleading advertising offered by the companies that are vying for your attention.
If you are not careful you may end up paying much more than you expected and much more than is actually necessary. Here are some tips that will help you to choose the right mobile phone plan, the one that matches your budget and your communication requirements.
1. Take your time. Don’t rush into a plan without knowledge
The billing structures of many phone plans are complicated and it is not easy to see, at first glance, how much you will actually pay if you sign up for one of these plans. In addition to this, you have to weigh the pros and cons of the plans offered by competing companies.
All of this takes careful attention and a bit of research. So, don’t jump for the first plan that you see, delay your decision until you are sure that you have found that mobile plan that is right for you.
2. Match the plan to your calling habits
The key to getting the most economical plan is to understand your own calling needs and to find a plan that gives rates that are favourable to your phone calling habits. Even an infrequent mobile phone user can end up with an unnecessarily high bill if he or she chooses a phone plan that does not match their needs.
To understand your needs consider the following factors:
a. Do you make calls in peak or off peak hours? If you are making business calls, the bulk of your communications may be in peak hours, while if you will be using your mobile phone for social calls you may be able to call in off peak hours. Choose a plan that gives you the best rates in the period when you make the bulk of your mobile calls.
b. Do you make local, national or international calls? If you need to call out of your local area frequently, then look for a plan that offers good rates for national and overseas calls.
c. Do you plan to use voice mail, send SMS messages, receive email or browse the web from your mobile phone? These services are convenient, but some of them, can be expensive. If you do need them, pay careful attention to the charges for these services and choose a plan that gives you good value for special services.
3. Find the plan that fits your budget
How much do you want to spend each month for your mobile phone? How much can you afford to spend? Don’t rush into a mobile phone plan blindly and hope that you will be able to manage the bill later on. In order to understand how much you are actually going to pay you need to first consider what is the monthly cost?
Then check to see how much you will be charged for calls. Are calls billed per second or for 30 second intervals? Is there a connection fee or “flag fall” charge that is added on to each call?
Make a rough calculation of your calls based on your recent calling activity and add it to the monthly charge and you will get an idea of what to expect.
4. Compare the plans of the main providers
Once you have an idea of your calling needs and your budget, take a look at the plans offered by the main providers in your area. Visit the websites of the providers, read their brochures or talk to their sales representatives.
Find out as much as you can about their call rates, billing system, length of contracts, discounts for off-peak and holiday calling and other features of the mobile phone plans on offer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are not clear about the details of the plans.
5. Find out what your friends and other consumers think about the various providers
A plan may look good on paper or may sound nice on TV, but the quality of the service that is offered by the mobile phone provider is every bit as important as the price. If you do not have connectivity when you need it, then even a cheap call rate will not help you out. If a company gives poor customer support or is unethical in handling billing disputes then their seemingly good plan may not be worth it.
Ask your friends, relatives and colleagues which service they use and find out if they are satisfied. Also, it is good to know which service your friends and colleagues use, because it is often cheaper to call people who are on the same network. If you find out that many of your friends are on one particular network and they are happy with it, then it will make sense to sign up with that same service.
6. Be careful when signing up for “capped” plans
The idea of a cap or ceiling on expenditure sounds like a great idea, especially if you have to look out for your monthly budget. However, many of the capped plans have exclusions or sneaky charges and that might not protect you from receiving massive bills.
The other problem with capped plans is actually not the fault of the phone companies but is the fault of the typical users. When they get a capped plan they think that they will be protected from high costs and they start to radically change their usage patterns. They begin to use the phone much more than they did in the past because they think that they will not be charged for it. In the end they wind up with huge bills. If you are not sure, it is better to avoid these capped plans.
7. Remember, fancy handsets are not free, nor do they cost $1
Many telephone companies offer a free or $1 phone when you sign a contract with them. The newest and most fashionable phones, loaded with gadgets, are not cheap and they are definitely not free. If a company is offering you a deal that includes a free or cheap phone, you will probably be paying for it as part of your contract.