To demystify the process a bit, here are five questions you should be asking that will get you the information you need to make the correct decision for yourself:
Question #1: Will a New Carrier Cover the Costs of Switching?
It’s not uncommon for companies to play up the costs of breaking your contract with them in the hopes of scaring you into sticking around. But consumers often aren’t aware that the reverse is also true – many carriers are willing to cover the costs associated with switching to them from another provider. In the best case scenario, these two will offset and it will actually cost you nothing to take advantage of the cheapest cell phone plans available at any given moment. For example, T-Mobile offers to reimburse any early termination fees (ETF) or device payoff fees customers might incur for switching over to them from a competitor.
Question #2: Should I Be Using a Major Carrier?
Larger carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless are well known to the public. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; these carriers provide quality service to many satisfied customers. However, that doesn’t mean their cell phone plans are the best option for everyone. There are also many lesser-known carriers that provide excellent services, such as US Cellular or Lycamobile USA.
Don’t get caught up in the thinking that only the major players in the industry can meet your needs. It’s important to broaden your search, and ask yourself which provider – out of all of the possible options – will be the best for you.
Question #3: What’s the Network Coverage Like In My Area?
In some ways, this is the most important question you should ask. At the end of the day, you are paying for a cell phone to work. That won’t be possible if the carrier you choose doesn’t have good service in your area. Carriers will often provide a map that illustrates network coverage so you can be sure that you will be able to use your phone where you want.
Question #4: Can I Use My Own Phone?
Most phones can be easily transferred across carriers. However, there are exceptions. The biggest thing you need to worry about is whether your phone is compatible with any GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) network. In addition, you should make sure that your phone is unlocked as well.
Question #5: What’s the Best Plan for Me?
Cell phone plan deals are important, but they shouldn’t take away from the larger picture of finding the best plan for you. No two plans are the same, and no two people need the same plan. For example, Sprint offers a plan with 6GB of data for $105/mo, while AT&T has a 6GB plan for $120/mo. Although the AT&T plan is more expensive, it also allows you to roll data over from month to month. The Sprint plan does not. So ultimately, the value offered to a consumer will depend on how they plan on using their data.