Carrier Comparisons: How to Know Which Cell Service Is Best for You

Choosing the right cell phone service for you can be quite the challenge. In some cases, such as if you live in a rural area, you may not have many options. However, in some areas you may have plenty of options and find yourself unsure how to choose. This guide will examine the factors you should look at when deciding on a cell phone provider so you’ll know which to go with.
Cost
While it shouldn’t be the only factor, cost comparison between different companies is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a provider. Most cell phone carriers require up-front payments or installments, although some offer prepaid services, even for smartphones. Be sure to factor in any fees, such as activation fees.

You also may have to pay off your old phone in one lump sum if you switch to a different carrier, so know the steps you need to take and the expenses you might be responsible for. If you get offered new deals by your existing company to stay, you should take the time to reevaluate the cost again.

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Any Special Deals

Cell phone providers often offer good deals to get customers to switch to their service, upgrade their devices and more. A company might be offering a very good deal that you simply can’t pass up. For example, they may be willing to pay any cancellation fees for your current service, offer you a second phone free or some other deal that would be very beneficial to you and any other users in your household. These deals are most prevalent around the holidays, but keep an eye on providers’ websites and social media accounts to be informed of upcoming sales or deals. You can also join mailing lists.

Check Coverage Maps

The best cell phone plan in the world won’t do you much good if you can never get a signal when you need it. This should be your single most important factor to look into when deciding on a plan, because you will want solid, uninterrupted and fast service. Maps do not always reflect with complete accuracy the quality of service in a certain area, so asking people who live in your area what provider they use and how good the quality of service is can be advisable. There are even some services and apps that can show you cell phone coverage down to the block you live on.

Size of Carrier

Smaller carriers like Flash Wireless and similar companies may not offer non-roaming coverage nationwide when you travel, but they are excellent for people with modest data needs. They are also usually able to offer service for a significantly lesser cost. The smaller carriers also tend to have a higher customer service ranking because they don’t suffer from the massive amounts of calls the major companies get. However, if you need to use heavy amounts of data, one of the larger carriers, such as Verizon or Sprint, is likely your best bet.

Plan Specifics

What kinds of plans and devices does the provider offer? Will you be signed into a contract, or is it a no-contract monthly plan? Do they offer unlimited data? If not, what tiers of data limits are offered? What miscellaneous fees do they charge? Consider all of these questions and do your research to help you make the best choice. Don’t forget to factor in other members of your family and what the carrier’s policies are on multiple lines.

Choosing a carrier does not have to be as hard as it sounds. In some cases, you may only have a couple to realistically choose from. However, it is still ideal to know your options and weigh the pros and cons before you sign up.

By Kara Masterson

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