Wireless plans are not one-size fits all. The plans vary widely
from carrier to carrier and comparison can be confusing. 95% of
American consumers have 3 or more choices in wireless providers.
71% have 6 or more choices.
- When selecting a plan based on monthly minutes, keep in mind
that in 2002, the average wireless subscriber used 427 minutes
per month (FCC statistic).
- Cost vs. Convenience: How much can you truly afford to pay
per month? If cost is a large consideration, you can get away
with a plan for $19.99 or $29.99 per month and continue to use
landlines and cheap calling cards from payphones for the majority
of your calls. Just don’t get caught up in the convenience
and run up a larger bill with additional minutes and roaming.
The average monthly bill is $48-$61.
- How will you use your phone? Emergencies only, keeping the
family in touch or to be reachable at all times no matter where
you are. This will determine whether you need the lowest rate/lowest
minutes plan, a family plan or a plan with national calling.
- Will most of the calls be made in your local area, or made
while you are traveling regionally or nationally outside your
- Will a majority of your calls be to another mobile phone? You
might consider a mobile-to-mobile plan. Otherwise, the airtime
will be charged to both parties.
- How many minutes will you actually use? According to the FCC,
in 2002, the average wireless subscriber used 427 minutes per
month. Plans offer a variety of minutes: 50, 300, 600, 1,000 or
5,000+ minutes. Will you really use your phone 16 to 80 hours
per month? On the other hand, buy enough minutes so that you don’t
have to pay the very high rate for extra minutes.
- Talk with friends and family about their plans. If they live
close to you, they will be your best research for coverage and
- If you have the discipline to use your phone only for emergencies,
prepaid service is your best option for saving money. Keep in
mind that the high rates, fees and roaming charges can quickly
use up your minutes.
- Take advantage of your trial period to make sure you have the
correct plan with coverage in the places where you call. The trial
period varies by carrier, typically 14 to 30 days.
- If you live in a major metropolitan area and travel to other
major metro areas, look for a plan with unlimited long distance
and no roaming in the carrier's national service area. Consult
a coverage map to make sure the places you travel are on the network
If they are not, you will pay high roaming and long distance rates.