This month, we challenged you to cut back on an expense many people overpay for: Mobile phone service. Before you make the switch, though, there are factors to consider beyond cost.
Photo by Tofros
We've thrown all kinds money challenges at you this year, and all year long, you've been acing them. This month, we want to help you save on a specific expense. Your mobile phone bill.
Even though discount phone carriers and plans can offer the same basic service for free, in some cases, there are limitations, and those limitations might not be worth it to you. For example, many of the discounted carriers use the same networks as larger networks.
And while some people have no problem with those networks, others may have issues with coverage. You'll be saving money, sure, but if you get bad reception in your house or when you travel, it might not be worth it.
In other words, value is not just about price. So when you research new phone plans this month, factor in the following:
Coverage: Most carriers offer some kind of coverage map that shows you what you can expect out of the service. Look at online reviews of the service, too (particularly reviews in your city). Other customers can tell you if they have any issues.
Data usage: Most plans, even from the major carriers, offer minutes and text messaging at a relatively low cost. Usually, you pay a small amount every month for unlimited service. Data is what inflates our bill, so before you switch to a cheaper plan, make sure you're comparing apples to apples. Does the plan offer enough data based on your average usage? And how much more will you have to pay if you go over that amount?
Phone compatibility: Some carriers may not be compatible with your current phone, so this is something you want to research, too. If you have to buy a new phone in order to switch, that will offset your savings.
Foreign usage: Finally, what are the fees for using your phone in a foreign country (and do they even offer this option)? Different carriers have different ways of charging you.
These are the main areas you want to consider, but make sure to research your options completely before you switch. Basically, you just want to make sure you are indeed paying less for the same level or service (or at least make sure you're OK with any limitations). Sites such as WhistleOut and Finder are a great place to start your research.