We use them all day, every day, so it is natural for us to want our constant companion to be the best that it can be. However, with numerous options and a countless number of brands and price points to contemplate, it can be incredibly easy to fall into one of the many standard traps.
Here are the three costliest mistakes to avoid when choosing a smartphone plan.
1. Not comparing contract options
Before you make any big purchase — no matter what it is — you would want to ensure that you have examined your options in detail. This is especially true when it comes to smartphone plans as mobile phone companies can often throw in some unexpected curveballs.
You should be evaluating your cell phone plan regularly. If you don’t, you may never notice that your carrier has changed its prices, or that you have shifted your usage. When comparing your options, ask yourself these three questions:
Is my current plan grandfathered or discounted?
If your carrier is changing its plan structure and pricing, there is a good chance they will permit old customers to keep their current plan. Make sure to ask about this.
How much of my data is being used?
An obvious question, there is no point paying extra money for data that you aren’t going to use up month after month. That being said, make sure you don’t change to a very low data plan, as going over your data allowance can be quite expensive.
What are my carrier’s current promotions?
Continually look at your carrier’s “promotions” page, as some new promotions will be open to existing customers.
If you find a particular deal that is only for new customers, give customer service a call and see if you can be offered promotional price just for being a fantastic customer over the years. On the other hand, you can tell them that you are considering switching service providers — and maybe you will get a better deal.
2. Assuming it’s cheaper to buy a phone outright and throw in a low cost prepaid plan
While in most countries you are generally able to purchase a handset first and then add a cheap prepaid plan later, this often means a very low-cost, low inclusion plan that isn’t always the cheapest way to go. Think of it this way: what is the point of purchasing the latest iPhone X when you are only able to pair it with a plan consisting of a few MBs of data per month!
When you go over your data usage, the monthly amount you owe rapidly adds up.
One of the ways to combat this is to ensure that when you are comparing your options, make sure you are paying attention to the handset repayment portion of your contract bill. If the plan you are looking at has inclusions or extras that you are going to use, it could well be better value than a prepaid offering. Most phones are, at the very least, semi-subsidized over the lifetime of a contract.
Another consideration is how often you travel abroad and if you will require international data. A international roaming package is highly recommended for these trips. Seeing as many providers separate out their handset and smartphone plans, researching this can seem like a complicated and overwhelming task, yet it will be worth it in the long run.
3. Not accurately planning the switch-over time
Additionally, if you are looking to switch cell phone carriers, make sure to look at when your billing cycle ends with your current provider. This is essential because most of the major cell phone companies don’t prorate your final bill, even if you’re not breaking a contract and are currently paying month-to-month.
For example, if your billing cycle with your current carrier resets on the 4th of the month and you activate service with a new provider on the 8th, the company you are leaving is not going to refund you for the following unused days. Instead, your old cell phone provider will most likely charge you through the end of your billing cycle, and you’ll have to pay prorated charges with your new company as well.
So, if you are looking to switch to a new cell phone company, make sure to sign up with them and port your number four days before the end of your billing cycle with the carrier you are leaving. While it usually only takes only a few minutes to transfer your number, you want to give yourself a few days’ cushion just in case.
While it can take a little more planning to switch cell phone carriers, and not just cell phone plans, it is often well worth the effort as deals on smartphone services continue to get cheaper, while the coverage is also getting better.