In today's society, it is almost impossible for someone to be without a mobile phone. Children, teenagers, adults, and even the elderly are jumping head-on into a world where mobile devices rule. No longer do people sit together without also texting two or three other people, phone calls are a normal form of communication, and mobile applications make staying in contact even easier with mobile games and social media applications.
However, this can be extremely pricey, especially for those on a tight budget. The newest model of a popular smartphone may have a base price of $700 and then a carrier monthly fee could be upwards of $100 depending on the carrier and what type of service a person requires. Not everyone has this kind of money, in fact many do not.
There are many good deals on the market in conjunction with smartphones that carriers offer. These deals/programs are designed specifically for families or those who may not have a lot of money. Some carriers offer what one could call a service 'bundle.' Bundles may include conditions such as a 2 year contract or longer with the same carrier, required unlimited text messaging, required unlimited data, or required unlimited talk. Depending on the bundle a person may also choose levels. For example, a bundle may include the newest smartphone model discounted to $300 with a monthly carrier bill of $55. To get this bundle a person has to sign a contract guaranteeing 3 years of service with this carrier, unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 4 GB of data. In addition the person will be allowed one phone upgrade in those three years. Bundles like this are extremely common, especially because it allows a single person to get the phone they want and the service they need at a discounted rate.
In competition with bundles are family plans, which are designed for more than one person or families that all need the same mobile phone coverage. By having more than one person on the plan, the person paying the bill is heavily discounted. For example, a family plan may include a 2-year contract with unlimited calls, 4,000 texts per phone per month, and 7 GB of data to share between each phone. In addition, each person on the plan has an option of an upgrade each time the contract is renewed. This can mean significant savings for families, while still making sure everyone has the phone and services they need or want.
For individuals who don't require a smartphone, there are great pay-as-you-go options. With pay-as-you-go, a person can get a very basic model phone for between $15-$50 and they use pre-paid phone cards for service. This way they are not required to pay a monthly fee and no monthly contracts are required, either. In fact, while pay-as-you-go phones were once considered a last resort for people who needed a phone but couldn't afford a contract plan, these days more and more people are flocking to pay-as-you-go services. Not only do these plans offer significant savings over what the larger carriers offer, but the lack of a contract means you can drop your service any time you want.
One of the primary ways that mobile phone users save money is by foregoing a contract and paying as they go. These 'minute plans' are some of the most flexible available. Rather than be locked into a contract that they must pay, those who choose a pay-as-you-go plan only incur the cost of the times they use the phone.. You can purchase a certain amount of usage time. Various convenience, drug, and department stores sell these minute cards. Denominations come in '240,' '60,' and '30,' minute time blocks. Prices for the cards vary, so it is always a good idea to calculate the actual rate per minute. It is also possible to purchase minute cards online. In this case, the seller usually forwards an electronic calling card via email. The buyer then enters the corresponding personal identification number (PIN), sent in the email, to activate the service. Once the minutes run out, the person needs to purchase more, which can be done at any time.
Minute plans are best for those who know that they will use the mobile phone for only a certain amount of time each month. They are also good options for consumers who cannot afford to pay the larger up-front price of a full contract. Parents often decide that minute plans are the best for their children. This way they know that the child can only spend so much time talking on the phone.
An option that is similar to paying by the minute is the month-to-month plan. With this type of limited contract, the user pays the privilege to use the cell phone at the beginning of each month. Many people choose to buy a month-to-month plan because of the flexibility. When money is tight, then you do not have a phone bill. Just take a month, or so, off and renew the service when finances improve. This flexibility is good for those on a budget. However, unlike the pay-as-you-go option, they only pay once for the entire month.
There are various types of monthly service plans. In most cases, it is best to get unlimited minutes for a set rate. Then, you can use the phone without having to worry about minute availability. It is similar to having a full contract without the long-term responsibility. You can decide to change the service or plan whenever you so desire.
The full contract is the traditional type of mobile phone plan. You choose a carrier and then have to pay for a certain period all at once. People can pay for one, two or three years in advance. Though the costs are more than the prices of the other plan types mentioned here, there are benefits to being under a full contract. For example, if anything goes wrong with the phone, then the seller will usually provide another at no or little cost. It is not unusual for retailers to give away free phones when a new version becomes available. Since you are their customer for an extended period, the company usually takes good care of you.
It is best to sign up for a full contract during holiday periods. Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the best times to do so. Usually, the service providers offer significant discounts on these holidays. A family plan is another contract possibility. Phone carriers often allow buyers to extend their service to family members at no additional cost.
A good deal for those who travel a lot, or relocate on a regular basis, is an unlocked phone. You purchase the phone and then decide which carrier to use. Most consumers purchase locked phones issued by a particular service provider. His or her phone remains locked for use only by that one company. Sure, the person can change their plan, but in general, they would have to buy a new phone to change services.
In contrast, an unlocked phone offers complete freedom of choice. You decide which service provider is best for you. If the rates advertised by one phone company seem attractive, then by all means go for it. You can change services on a whim because no carrier owns your allegiance.
Another benefit of an unlocked phone is that you can use it when traveling. International travelers need only to purchase a local SIM chip. They place this chip into the back of the phone and then have a local number in the foreign city. Another good deal for travelers abroad is a Global System for Mobile (GSM) phone. These devices allow users to make and receive calls no matter where they are in the world. In most cases, the user pays by the minute. It is also possible, especially on an unlocked phone (see above), to purchase a foreign SIM chip and then make calls at the local rate.
You should always check to make sure that the GSM phone works on the frequency used by the visiting country. Unbeknownst to many travelers, some places do not use the same phone frequency as the United States. The best deal is a multi-band phone compatible with different frequencies.
Last, people who hate contracts often decide to use their Ipod Touches or other wireless capable machines for communication. These devices are not necessarily phones but with a little know-how, you can use them as such. All one has to do is download the usually free internet application from the appropriate online store. Then, you can pay for a service just as you would with a regular phone. Most of the major online phone providers have such an application. Users just set up an account and pay for their minutes.
Armed with this knowledge, you can now go out and get the best mobile phone deal. It all depends on your current needs.