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Questions & Answers

What is MyRatePlan? Why should I use this site?

MyRatePlan is an unbiased resource to help consumers research the purchase of a cell phone and plan. By focusing on providing information to help each of our users find the right choice for their unique needs, MyRatePlan saves both time and money.

Additionally, while MyRatePlan is not a retailer, we do partner with a number of online retailers we have chosen for both their excellent customer service and low prices. One of the benefits of using MyRatePlan for your research is that we can show you a comprehensive list of cell phones and the lowest price for each phone from among our partners.

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How is buying from MyRatePlan (or another website) different than buying directly from the carrier?

It isn't - except in one important area. Regardless of where you buy your phone and plan (online, retail store, mall kiosk, etc.), you will either be buying directly directly from the carrier or from an independent retailer acting as an authorized agent on behalf of the carrier. Since the carriers provide the service, they set the terms and conditions of the rate plans. A carrier's rate plans will not vary by where you buy. As a result, by comparing carrier plans at MyRatePlan, you will see the breadth of the carrier's current offers and be able to choose the best plan for needs without leaving your desk. Once you buy, you will be a customer of the carrier you choose, interacting directly with that carrier for billing, customer service, plan/phone changes, etc.

Bottom line - there is no advantage in buying directly from the carrier. In fact, buying directly from the carrier is usually a bad idea. For more on that, see the next question and answer.

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The phone prices on MyRatePlan are much lower than on the carrier sites. How is this possible?

Knowing this secret can save you up to $200 before you sign that contract! Unlike rate plans, phone prices do vary by where you buy. Buying directly from the carrier is usually a bad idea, as they often charge the highest prices for the phones. On the other hand, independent retailers set their own cell phone prices individually, and the differences can be dramatic. Additionally, you will usually find that online retailers, lacking the overhead of physical stores, have the best prices of all. By working with several online retailers, MyRatePlan can give you the 'best of the best' online price. Click here for today's comparisons on some popular phones.

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Are the mail-in rebates legitimate? How come some have a long period for redemption?

There are many different kinds of rebate offers. Some are manufacturer (e.g., Motorola), some are carrier (e.g., AT&T) and some are associated with the retailer. All of the rebate offers are legitimate. That said, they all seem to have different rules. Many of them require the bar code from the box your phone comes in - so don't throw out the box, your sales receipts, or any other documentation until you are sure you won't need it. MyRatePlan recommends that you follow the rebates rules exactly to avoid delays in getting your money - you may want to print them out before placing your order.

As for the redemption period - a few of the rebates require you to wait up to 5 or 6 months before submitting your request. We're not big fans of this, but it happens because of the way the carriers pay commissions. If a customer cancels an account before 6 months, the retailer loses the full amount of its commission. Since much of the commission goes into discounting the price of the phone, the retailer protects itself by paying the rebate once it is assured that the commission will not be recalled. Otherwise, the retailer would be out the commission and out the cost of the phone.

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My contract with my carrier is up, and I want to renew it with phone offers I see on this site. Can I do that?

We can assist with this in many cases. Visit our cell phone upgrades page for full details.

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Family Plans: I want to sign up for a family plan with different phones. Can I do that?

Yes! Click here to build your own family plan with different phones.

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Family Plans: I need more than two phones (e.g., 3, 4 or 5) for a family plan. How do I do that?

The carriers generally allow up to 5 lines to share a family plan, with lines 3,4 and 5 usually around $10 each per month. While the landing page for family plan offers will only show two phones, you can add additional lines as you go through the purchase process.

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Family Plans: I'm signing up for two lines today, but will then add my son or daughter in a few months. Any advice?

If you plan on adding another line before too much time has passed, you will do best (in terms of phone pricing) by signing up for all the lines at the outset. If you add another line down the road, the carrier will consider you an existing customer, and the best phone pricing will usually not be available to you.

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I have an old phone that I would like to sell. How can I do that?

Your old phone may have some value. Click here for the current price that is being offered for your model. If you choose to sell it, you'll receive a postage-paid box to send in your phone.

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Are the phones offered here new? What is the warranty?

All the phones shown on MyRatePlan for postpaid (contract service) are new. If a phone arrives defective, or is defective in the first 30 days, you should return it to the retailer for an exchange. For problems after 30 days through the end of the warranty period (usually one year), contact your carrier for manufacturer's warranty assistance.

Most of the prepaid phones shown are new, although occasionally a refurbished phone is offered by one of the carriers (e.g, Tracfone) to keep the price down. These offers will explicitly state that the phone is refurbished.

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Where is my rebate?

Since MyRatePlan is not a retailer (see Question #1), we don't have any information on your order. However, we can help you get the answer you need. You should be able to locate your original order ID on your invoice or e-mail confirmation of your order. However, if you don't know it, fill out the "Ask a Question" form on this page. Please include the full name of the person who ordered service, the phone name(s) you bought, the carrier and your zip code, as well as the approximate date of purchase.

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What's a good option just for emergency use?

Although there are many people who want a phone just for emergencies, an unused phone isn't a particularly profitable scenario for the carriers, so the options are somewhat limited. We've summarized some of the better ones on our You may want to look at the buying a cell phone for emergency use page.

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I don't want to sign a two-year contract. What are my options?

A contract is a reality if you want to get the best phone pricing. This is mainly because phones are usually deeply discounted to new subscribers -- and the carrier won't offer that discount to someone who could easily walk away. Unfortunately, the one-year contract is pretty much a relic of the past --- it is two years or nothing today. If you don't want to sign a contract, there are likely a number of prepaid plans in your area. Prepaid pricing has decreased making it a viable alternative; but be aware that both the phones and the rates are still more expensive than postpaid (contract) service.

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What carrier has the best coverage?

This is undoubtedly the toughest question we get -- as the answer is as different as each person's unique calling patterns. For example, if you have a home office where you'll need good service, the only way you can really know is to try it out. The good new is that most providers now subscribe to the wireless industry's consumer code. The most important provision in that code is that new customers will get at least 14 days to try out the carrier's service, with no contract termination penalty if service is canceled, although you will have to return the phone in good condition and pay for any airtime used.

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How do I find the best plan for my needs?

The goal is to figure out how many anytime minutes you'll need each month, and then locate the cheapest plan that has slightly more than that. You definitely want to get a plan with more minutes than you need, because buying extra minutes is far more expensive. In fact, if you have the average $39.99 plan, exceeding your minutes by just 10% will increase your bill by about 50%. Use our rate plan finder to locate the carriers serving your area, and their current rate plans.

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I want a phone with a specific feature (Bluetooth, flip, camera, MP3, etc.) How do I find one?

Try our interactive phone finder. It lets you virtually build your perfect cell phone, enabling you to find the phone with the features that best matches your wants, at the best possible price.

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I'm under contract, but my phone broke, I lost it, or I just want to upgrade. Can I do that on your site?

You can, but be aware that phones sold this way are not discounted. Visit our cell phone upgrades page (and see upgrade situation 3) for full details.

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I am a current customer of a carrier and have a question about my bill (or some other issue). How do I contact them?

Customer contact information for the national and regional wireless carriers: