The 6 Most Important Things to Look For in a Cellphone Plan

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This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com.

With so many cellphone carriers offering so many plans, it might seem daunting to figure out which one to choose. But shopping for a cellphone plan doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to know a little about how they work.

Here are six key things you should be looking for in a cellphone plan.

Pricing

It’s difficult to say what a good price is on a cellphone plan, but with prices ranging from nearly free to nearly $100 per month, there are definitely plenty of choices available to you. If you don’t use a ton of data — for things like watching movies and video conference calls — you can find a plan for around $20 per month pretty easily.

If, however, you feel like you need a plan with unlimited data, you’ll see prices increase pretty significantly. Still, $40 to $60 per month can get you a very good unlimited data plan with several MVNOs compared with plans costing $70 to $90 per month that you might find with the big carriers. (MVNOs are smaller carriers that use the infrastructure of the better known major providers.)

Data allotment

As you’ve seen above, the more data you need on your plan, the more you should expect to pay. Pricing, however, shouldn’t be the only thing you think about when you think about data.

Consider your data-use habits. If you aren’t sure about how much mobile data you use, look at your phone bills from the past few months. Your carrier tracks your data usage for you and includes that usage in your bill. This will act as a guide when you choose a new plan.

Cellphone deals for new customers

If you need a new phone, one of the best ways to save on one is by switching carriers. Oftentimes, carriers reserve the absolute best deals on new phones for new customers. If you’re happy with your current carrier and don’t want to switch, you may still be eligible for deals, but they will likely be more modest than those offered to new customers.

Carrier cellphone deals typically include discounts, trade-in deals and buy-one-get-one-free or discounted deals.

Perks

With fierce competition in the cellphone market, more and more carriers are offering perks to help lure you to their service. It’s an excellent idea to look into these perks, as they might help you save money on things you already use and buy.

Free memberships to subscription services are some of the most common perks you’ll find from carriers. You might find yourself not only with a great cellphone plan, but also with free access to services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Spotify or Hulu.

Roaming options for travel

For the most part, domestic roaming charges are a thing of the past. However, international roaming charges still exist. If you are a world traveler, you might want to look into a plan that includes international roaming, either free or at a discounted rate.

International roaming perks tend to be offered by the major carriers but rarely by smaller MVNOs.

Mobile hotspot

For many of us, portable devices like laptops and tablets are important tools for work and entertainment. With a cellphone hotspot, we can connect those devices to the internet just about anywhere. A mobile hotspot is a feature that is commonly offered in mid-tier to high-tier cellphone plans. The general rule of thumb is the more hotspot data included in your plan, the more you can expect to pay. If you don’t need this feature, don’t pay for it.

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for in a cellphone plan, you can start doing some comparison shopping. Here are just a few of the popular cellphone plans available.

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