Get the Best Cellphone Plan: 3 Simple Tips

Woman looking stressed, looking at cellphone
Photo by pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com.

Choosing the right cellphone plan for you and your family doesn’t have to be stressful. For one thing, there are a lot of plans that don’t lock you into a contract (like they used to), so even if you’re not happy with your plan or carrier, you can switch pretty easily.

If you do happen to sign up for a plan that locks you into a contract, or you’re on a monthly payment plan to pay off your actual cellphone, you probably don’t want to switch carriers so soon that you’ll need to pay a high early termination fee or pay the remaining balance on your phone in one go. For this reason, you’ll want to be smart when you’re picking a new cellphone plan.

Here are three simple tips and tricks to follow when you’re on the hunt for a new plan.

Tip #1: Pay attention to coverage maps, not numbers

When I say “numbers” I mean the percentage coverage that the carriers use in their marketing materials and commercials. As impressive as it may seem that Verizon has coverage in 98 percent of the U.S., that doesn’t help you if you live in the 2 percent that isn’t covered. For example, if you live in the small town of Brooksmith, Texas, then you’re probably going to be quickly frustrated by Verizon’s reception — AT&T and T-Mobile will have you covered, though.

On the other hand, if you’re in West Virginia’s capital, Charleston, Verizon will do just fine, but T-Mobile’s lack of coverage in this area will make you want to throw your cellphone into the Elk River.

So: Don’t focus on the percentage of coverage each carrier boasts; look at an interactive coverage map instead. Zoom in on where you spend most of your time, and make sure you choose a carrier that offers good coverage there.

Tip #2: Know how much data you need

Most cellphone plans these days come with unlimited talk and text — data allowance is what you need to understand when choosing a plan. There are two main reasons you want to have a general idea of how much data you need:

  1. You don’t want to run out of full-speed data each month.
  2. You don’t want to pay for data you don’t need.

The good thing is that there are plenty of affordable unlimited-data cellphone plans available. Almost all carriers, including the smaller providers, offer unlimited plans, and they start from as low as around $40 a month. So if unlimited data plans are so cheap, you may be wondering why you need to know how much data you’ll use each month. Because even though your mobile data may be unlimited, that doesn’t mean your “full-speed data” is unlimited. Cellphone carriers will actually de-prioritize and slow down your internet speeds during peak times if you’ve used up your monthly limit of full-speed data, giving the 4G speeds to customers who have yet to reach their data cap. And I don’t mean just slowing it down a little — I think there are very few people who will have the patience for how slow 2G speeds feel to us now.

Most unlimited cellphone plans give you around 22GB of data before they de-prioritize you, but there are some plans that give you more than 50GB and others that only give you around 12GB. It’s important to know how much full-speed data you’ll actually be getting on your cellphone plan, or you’ll be waiting all night for that YouTube video to buffer.

Tip #3: Look for special deals and promotions

With so many cellphone carriers in the U.S., the market is highly competitive, much to our benefit. To get the edge over other providers, carriers often have special deals and promotions running that can save you hundreds of dollars.

The big four carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — will often have buy-one-get-one-free phone deals, 50 percent off handset deals, discounted rates for multiple lines — you name it! Be sure to check the fine print on these deals to make sure you’re eligible. You may have to:

  • Sign up for monthly handset payments (or Flex Lease with Sprint)
  • Switch from another carrier and port in your existing cellphone number
  • Trade in an eligible smartphone
  • Bring your own phone

Right now, Sprint has a great deal on its Unlimited Plan when you bring your own phone and switch from another carrier. The plan is free for a year! That’s right, Sprint is giving you 12 months of free service on a plan that usually costs $60 a month.

Keep these three tips in mind when you’re searching for your next cellphone plan, and find a plan that you love!

More from Whistleout.com:

Are you intimidated by the prospect of choosing a new cellphone or cellphone plan? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Find the right financial adviser

Finding a financial adviser you can trust doesn't have to be hard. A great place to start is with SmartAsset's free financial adviser matching tool, which connects you with up to three qualified financial advisers in five minutes. Each adviser is vetted by SmartAsset and is legally required to act in your best interests.

If you're ready to be matched with local advisers who will help you reach your financial goals, get started now.

Read Next
3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web
3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web

If you’re already doing it anyway, why not get rewarded for it? Here are three great opportunities.

12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income
12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income

These simple ways of earning income without a lot of active, ongoing effort can stretch your retirement dollars.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

This Is the Best Used Car You Can Buy
This Is the Best Used Car You Can Buy

This car combines reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales
7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales

Here’s what an experienced estate sale shopper considers a great find.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases. Yes, even pregnancy tests.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.