Hand holding a cell phone

10 Tips for Choosing a Cell Phone Carrier and Plan

Picking a mobile carrier and plan can be tricky. With all the carriers and services offered, it’s easy to end up with features and services you’ll pay for but never use. Here are ten tips to consider before you purchase a new phone plan, carrier, or services.

1. Consider cheaper, local options.

Instead of going with the large companies, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint, consider smaller, more affordable options. Some companies, such as Boost Mobile, Budget Mobile, and Cricket, charge less for their services. Smaller carriers are also great for those who don’t travel often, as local service is superior—although when you leave the area, the service is nonexistent.

2. Don’t pay for services you don’t need.

Many people still pay for services they no longer use. If you text more than you talk, consider cutting unlimited talk to a certain amount of minutes per month. For example, get unlimited text with 500 minutes of talk. Many plans offer unlimited everything, but you shouldn’t pay for services such as data if you don’t use it.

3. Ask friends and family for recommendations.

Since mobile phones have become a necessity, you can ask your friends and family for their recommendations. Not only will they know the downfalls of their carriers, but they will also be able to tell you how they feel about the company. There is no better way to find a cell phone carrier.

4. Research the carrier’s customer service.

If you ever encounter a problem with your carrier, you’ll have to speak to customer service. The last thing you want to do when you have a problem is find out that the customer service is horrible. Research a company’s customer service before purchasing a plan.

5. Think about family plans.

If you need a plan with multiple phones, get a family plan. It will be much cheaper than paying for every phone separately. Most family plans allow you to have two or three phones with the same services at a lower price. Some carriers even offer discounts on family plans.

6. Know about the price after promotion.

Before you purchase a plan or go with a carrier because it’s having a promotion, you should ask about the price after the promotion period ends. All companies will use a promotion price to pull in customers, only to increase the price once the promotion is over. Sometimes this amount is double what you were originally paying. Know the price after promotion.

7. Factor in extra fees and taxes.

All cell phone carriers will quote you a price when you call, but these prices lack the fees and taxes you will later see on your bill. Sometimes, taxes can be as much as $10, and fees can add up to be very costly. Some companies even require you to pay a fee to pay your bill!8. 

8. Ask how you’ll be able to pay the bill.

Paying your bill each month should be easy. Some carriers require you to visit an actual retail location, while others allow you to pay online. If paying online is important to you, you should know if it is an option prior to entering a plan.

9. Locate the nearest retail location.

If there is an issue with your phone, cell phone carriers will suggest that you visit a retail location. If going to the store is the best way to get assistance for particular problems, you should be sure that your area has a retail location. Some states lack retail locations, making it difficult to solve hardware problems in cell phones.

10. Think about data usage.

Data usage is difficult to track when it comes to cell phones. If you frequently use social media apps, your data usage could be very high. However, if you only use your email, you can use less than 200 megabytes per month. Assess how much data you use to avoid overages or paying more than necessary.

Last Updated: November 22, 2021