Choosing a Mobile Phone Plan

Cellphones. Who would've thought that they would have become such an integral part of our lives. Potentially a few people, I'll agree, but perhaps not to the extreme level we have today. It's simply not possible for most of us to ge through a normal day without our smartphone next to our sides, and even those who still stick with the classic talk-and-text push button phones will find themselves checking it more regularly than the past. The point is, we're going through more texts, calling minutes, and particularly data than ever before, and a lot of prepaid deals just aren't enough for what we do. Luckily for us, all cellphone providers and plans lay out their systems in an easy to read, easily comparable format...

Yeah right.

That's where the purpose of this guide steps in. We're cutting through the jargon and translating the gist of everyones offerings into some kind of readable, but more importantly, understandable format.


Calling

First of all, minutes. Also known as call or talk time, it's important to look closely at what kind of minutes are included in your plan. For example, if a plan states that it involves 200 minutes, check the fine print to see where those minutes are for. Some plans minutes are limited to certain networks. Others are certain regions, while the best plans that offer the most value for money are national minutes to any network, cellphone or landline. Some even offer international minutes. Be sure to check what exactly the minutes are usable for before signing a contract - nothing like a nasty surprise when you realise that you can't call your mates up north.


Carryover, or rollover minutes, are also something that is being offered up by certain providers. These kind of minutes offer the same deal when it comes to calling different numbers in different places, but with the added benefit that, should there be any leftover minutes, they stack up for next month. It depends on the provider, but often these can stack for up to a year.


Texts

Fairly straightforward here. The cautions here are the same as with calling time - make sure you know who you can text, regardless of location or network. Plans can include either a numbered amount of texts, normally upwards of 2500, or unlimited plans. With the unlimited plans a fair use policy applies, meaning you can't abuse the network. This is normally done by sending an enormous amount of texts in a short space of time, and it's normally a lot more than you'd use in a normal conversation. Rest assured, they'll let you know if you're using more than they'd like.


Data

Here's the big one. This here is the reason most people are needing a plan. Data is an essential, yet often extremely expensive part of a daily cellphone users life. Keep in mind that data is used not just for emails and internet use, but also things like weather updates, GPS location, Tweeting, iMessage, and other similar tasks. While each individual activity may only use a small amount, that can stack over time and add huge amounts to your bill.


Make sure you choose a plan that has a good amount of data - the more the merrier - and make sure it's national data. As with texts and calls, some providers offer data that is only usable in certain areas of the country. If you go out of the allowed area and use data, you'll be charged the standard rate, which can be as high as 50 cents per mb. That can lead to some awfully expensive status updates, trust me.


Plan bonuses and terms

There's always that proverbial carrot hanging in front of us at some point to make us want to choose one company over the other. This is usually done in the form of bonuses, which can take a variety of forms. The most common is free money to put towards a phone, or sometimes anything, of your choice. Other bonuses include account credit, discounts off your plan, or gifts, such as gaming consoles. This ranges depending on the montly cost and term of your plan. 


Which brings us to the next section. Choosing the correct term for your plan is extremely important when it comes to getting a plan. The last thing you want to do is be locked in to a plan you can't afford or don't want for two years. If you make sure the plan you choose is affordable, and you think it's good value for money, then a 24 month term is often a good choice. You can make the most of the bonus that the service provider offers, and if you're happy with what you've got, then 2 years isn't that bad. People often stay on the same prepaid plan for years without questioning it, there's no reason it should be any different when it comes to a contract.


Finishing thoughts

Always check the cancellation and downgrading terms of a contract. Make sure you have enough data to suit your requirements and find out what the standard charge is once you've used your monthly allowance. Same goes for calling and texts - be sure to know what you're going to be charged if you use more than you're allowance. And, as with any contract, be sure to read the fine print.