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How to Select the Best Phone Service

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Selecting the Best Phone Service

Selecting your first cell phone plan or looking to upgrade your current one? When choosing a mobile carrier, you have several factors to consider, beyond just price. You can choose one of the three main providers in the U.S., or you can look into smaller companies. The best phone service for you will depend on your needs, price range, and the type of phone you want.

Below are the top attributes to consider, along with brief overviews of some of the best options for cell phone carriers.

Type of Service

Before you start looking at individual companies, consider the type of service you want. Do you use a lot of cellular data? Do you need more calling minutes or text messages per month? If you’re not sure how much data you use, you can check in your phone’s Settings. For iOS, it’s under Cellular or Mobile data, and for Android, you go to Wireless & Networks and then Mobile data or Data usage.

Coverage

An important factor for cell phone carriers is coverage. Look at their 4G/5G network, ensuring that they at least have 4G in most places. Check closely to see if a carrier charges roaming fees as well. This guide from WhistleOut shows how coverage stacks up in each state for the three major cell phone carriers, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Number of Phone Lines

If you’re switching more than one person to a new carrier, then you’ll need more than one phone line. Most companies have deals on multiple lines, but not all deals are the same. Bigger carriers are more likely to have bundles and extras, which they offer as a monthly subscription. Smaller companies with prepaid plans don’t tend to have bundles or perks.

Payment Plan

You have two basic options when it comes to payment: a monthly subscription with a fee, or prepaid plans that you can top off whenever you want. With a subscription, you don’t have to remember to add to your plan each month. With prepaid, though, you have more control over your cell phone usage. You can up your data for one month if you decide you need more, or lower it if you want to save money.

Bundled with a Phone

Many of the large carriers will sell you a smartphone along with a monthly plan. If you want to purchase your phone and your plan from the same company, you’ll have to check first to see if the carrier has the phone you want. If you don’t want a phone that comes with a plan, you can easily purchase a smartphone from any retailer, and then pay for a prepaid service.

Customer Service

When something goes wrong with your plan, do you want to have someone to call? To get an idea of how well a company handles customer service, read online reviews. Also, consider if customer service is important to you whether you buy your phone service from a sales representative in-store, or online. Keep in mind that larger companies will have more attentive customer service than smaller companies.

Big Carriers

The biggest cell phone companies in the U.S. are AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For some factors they perform well, but for others they fall short.

AT&T

Considered by many to be in third place among the major carriers, AT&T has the smallest network coverage and the most expensive data plans for the value. Their best unlimited plan is $85 per month, a little steep compared to the other carriers. AT&T is in the process of expanding their 5G network.

Verizon

Of the three largest carriers, Verizon has the most expansive network coverage. If you value performance and fast 5G speeds, you’ll be happy with Verizon. The company has both monthly plans and prepaid plans, but they don’t offer as many deals or perks as T-Mobile.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile and Verizon are neck and neck for the nation’s best carrier, after T-Mobile merged with Sprint. T-Mobile has the cheapest unlimited data plan of the three, at $70 a month. What customers love most about T-Mobile, though, are the benefits offered to subscribers, usually in the form of T-Mobile Tuesday giveaways. For a large company, T-Mobile also has decent customer service.

Smaller Carriers

In the cell phone business, bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes, you can find the best deals suited to your lifestyle with smaller carriers.

Mint Mobile

Mint’s $30 monthly unlimited plan is the cheapest in the business. You only get that low rate for the first three months of subscription. To maintain it, you have to sign up for 12 months upfront. Mint provides fast performance, running on T-Mobile’s network and offering 5G where available.

Google Fi

If you have a Google Pixel device, then the Google Fi phone service can be your best deal. Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular provide Google Fi’s coverage, so you’ll always have the best coverage available in your area. Google Fi users can also take their data abroad, in over 200 countries.

Visible Wireless

If you want cheap, unlimited data but don’t need 5G coverage, then Visible Wireless offers the best deal. The $40 plan is the only service plan they offer, and it runs on Verizon’s LTE network. The best feature of Visible’s plan is that there’s no cap on the data, so you can enjoy Verizon speeds for half the cost.

Choosing a new phone service shouldn’t be a thoughtless decision. Take the time to evaluate each carrier that interests you to determine which one best suits your needs. After all, these plans can often be commitments so the proper planning can ensure you get a rate that fits your budget and your needs.

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