Now that you’ve selected your wireless device, the next step is choosing a plan that will meet your needs.
U.S. wireless providers offer many options to help customers make informed decisions about which plan will work best for them. A great place to begin is by reviewing the Consumer Code for Wireless Service. The Code's signatories, which together cover 97 percent of U.S. wireless customers, agree to 12 consumer-friendly principles, disclosures and practices for wireless service, including voice, messaging and data services. In addition to checking out the Code, here are some factors that can help you get the right benefits from a wireless plan:
1. Postpaid or Prepaid
Postpaid offers the certainty of a specified monthly amount of minutes, data usage and text messages, and flexibility to upgrade or add services – but may come with extra costs for changes, early termination fees or other costs, including for going over monthly limits.
Prepaid offers a specified amount of voice minutes, data usage and text messages, good for a certain period of time. No contract and no chance for overage charges – but may cost more per minute/data/message than postpaid and may limit choices for devices or other services.
There are both contract and non-contract options and a family plan may be a good solution for your household.
2. Usage and Billing
Don’t forget the value of understanding the monthly billing cycle and usage limits, including online assistance or mobile device shortcut tools that are available so you can check your usage at any time. Also, many providers offer free usage alerts before you reach your limits.
There may also be plans available with unlimited voice, texts and/or data.
3. Key Contract Terms
Before signing, it’s worth understanding such contract terms as the length of the contract, what happens if you need to end the contract early and whether there is a trial period.
4. Geographic Coverage and Roaming
Be sure to look up or ask about the service provider’s coverage area, and where roaming charges would be assessed. It is important to consider this in light of your calling or travel needs. Tip: It may save you money to check with your provider before you travel internationally or outside the regular coverage area.
5. Added Wireless Purchases
If you want to be able to add wireless purchases to your monthly bill or would prefer to block such purchases to help your kids stay within the family budget, it is good to discuss at the start of your wireless service.
6. Device Insurance and Extra Protection
Device insurance and cybersecurity protection also are worth considering, whether you are prone to losing things or would like the peace of mind of additional security for your mobile device.
7. Special Service Needs
If you are a senior or have disabilities, check out AccessWireless.org for good information on choosing devices and services that can meet a variety of special needs.