Cell Phone Plans
Over the life of your phone, the calling plan service will cost much more than the phone itself-especially if the phone is free. Thus, the best way to control your budget is to choose the most cost-effective calling plan from a carrier with good coverage in your area. Aggressive competition for subscribers among carriers (also known as service providers) has driven the monthly and per-minute costs of wireless calling dramatically downward and even made some of the latest phones, packed with cutting-edge features, unprecedented bargains. Subscribers' ability to keep their existing wireless phone number-and even their landline based numbers-when starting or transferring service to a new carrier has created more downward-pressure on comparative service plans through direct competition. As a result, every day more people are switching to exclusively wireless, giving up their landline based service altogether.
The most geographically limited plans where a customer would pay extra for any wireless phone use outside of a relatively small local carrier network service area, typically a metropolitan area and the adjacent suburbs. Many local plans do not include long distance but will connect any long distance calls with a per-minute surcharge in addition to any applicable Talk Time minutes. While these plans carry the lowest basic monthly fees, frequent out-of-area travel use (Roaming) or long distance surcharges can make monthly bills skyrocket above the cost of comparable Regional or National plans. Local plans are most cost-effective when a customer doesn't venture too far from home or place frequent long distance calls.
Regional plans typically offer the most economical Talk Time per-minute rates over a much larger multi-state area or Region, for example the entire Northeastern or Southwestern U.S. Only calls placed or received while outside this area will incur additional Roaming surcharges. While not universal, more carriers are offering included long distance service in Regional plans. Customers who frequently call or travel to regional areas outside their carrier's Local service area will find the best value in Regional calling plans. Be sure to check local and regional carrier coverage maps carefully for calling area eligibility.
National Plans carry somewhat higher per-minute rates, but they permit wireless phone use anywhere in the country with no extra charge for roaming and/or for long distance calls when on an approved network. These plans are best for wireless travelers or customers that are simply willing to pay a bit more for freedom from worry about where, when and to whom they are calling.
Money Saving Tip
Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to.
When you need to use the 411 / information option, simply dial 1-800-FRE-E411, OR 1-800-373-3411 without a charge at all except for the minutes required to make the call.
P.S. Works on home phone also.
See actual plans by visiting websites outlined under Cell Phone Requirements FAQ.
Submitted by Mike Sundberg - 3/01/06
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