If you're like most people, then your cell phone is probably very important to you. You may depend on your cell phone for work and your personal social life. Many people, in fact, have decided to go completely wireless, using a cell phone in place of landline phone service.
It’s very important that you find a dependable wireless service, especially if you depend on your cell phone for the bulk of your communications. We want to help you find great deals in wireless service so you can get good coverage and save money.
Start by using our wireless plan comparison service to look up wireless service providers in your area. Tell us your zip code, what kind of plan you need, and how much you are currently paying for wireless service, and we’ll show you the best deals in your area.
What kind of wireless plan do you need?
At MyRatePlan, you can look at three different categories of wireless service:
Single line plans are plans just for you. If you don't need to buy wireless service for anyone else, like a spouse or a child, then you want a single line plan. They are much cheaper than family plans because they cover minutes, texts, and data for only one device.
Family plans allow you to combine service for several devices into one bill. While more expensive overall, the monthly fee is much smaller than if you were to buy several single line plans. Family plans usually share minutes, text messages, and data, so make sure you buy a data plan that can cover everyone. Generally, family plans allow for much more data than a single line plan.
No contract plans are prepaid plans. You don't need to sign a contract because you pay a fee in advance for every month of use. Sometimes service providers have prepaid plans for family use as well.
With contracted plans (usually, most plans have a contract unless you explicitly do not commit to a contract), you commit to pay your cell phone provider for a certain amount of time, usually 1 year or 2 years. You still pay from month to month, but you are contractually obligated to pay for the cost of the full term, even if you are unsatisfied with your service. Usually, the wireless service provider will charge you an early termination fee, which aggregates the remaining monthly charges and adds a penalty fee on top.
With a no contract plan, you pay a monthly fee, and if at the end of the month you are unhappy, you can cancel your service.
In addition to considering the number of people using a plan, you should also consider what you want to use the plan for. Consider the costs of:
Minutes (for calls)
Data transfer and storage
You can buy plans with minute allotments (500, 1,000 minutes, etc) or with unlimited minutes. Unlimited plans are usually more expensive, but if you buy a plan with limited minutes and you then exceed that allotment of minutes, the extra minutes can be very expensive -- as much as $0.10/minute.
If you have a smartphone, you will also need a data plan. These plans are usually priced by the gigabyte. 1GB costs $25/month with AT&T. Data plans allow you to use the Internet and download apps and media.
You can get plans that include a limited amount of text messaging (200 messages, 500 messages, etc) and plans for unlimited text messaging. Many unlimited calling plans include unlimited text messaging.
Most wireless service providers can provide service to any phone. If you’ve got an old phone from a previous plan, you can use that with a new wireless provider (you just need to swap out SIM cards).
However, if you don't already have a phone, most wireless providers will offer you a discounted or free phone when you buy a plan. For example, you can get the iPhone 4s for $0.99 (as opposed to the market value of $450.99) with a 2 year contract from AT&T.
Wireless Service Providers
Regardless of which type of plan you need, you will have several service providers to choose from in each category. (Please note: prices may change; use the ones listed below to give you a better idea of what you can expect from each major wireless service provider).
AT&T has the equivalent of single line, family, and no-contract wireless plans. Both single line and family plans, known as the Mobile Share Value Plans, offer shared data for devices, as well as unlimited talk and text. Basic phones start at $20/month plus device access charge. No-contract plans cost $0.10/minute or you can choose an unlimited plan starting with $25.00/month.
Verizon Wireless offers the equivalent of single line, family, and no contract plans, though they aren’t advertised that way. With Verizon Wireless, you can choose a shared data plan or a prepaid plan. A shared data plan can be used as a single line plan or as a family plan. You select the number of minutes you want and the number of phones you will cover. Coverage for each basic phone costs $30, and a plan for 700 minutes starts at $5/month. An unlimited plan for one or more basic phones starts at $45/month. An unlimited no-contract plan starts at $35/month.
Sprint sells single line, family, and no contract plans. A single line plan costs $50.00/month plus data, with the cost lowering for each additional phone added. A family plan starts at $55.00/month/line. A no contract prepaid plan starts at $35/month for 500 minutes.
Boost Mobile sells no contract prepaid plans starting at $40/month. In addition, Boost Mobile uses shrinking payments. This means that for every 6 months that you pay your bill on time, Boost Mobile lowers your bill by $5. They will lower your bill to as little as $35/month.
T-Mobile has single line, family, and no contract plans. An unlimited single line plan starts at $40.00/month. An unlimited family plan starts at $80.00/month. Unlimited minutes for extra lines costs $30/month per line. No contract plans start at $10 for 30 minutes.
Virgin Mobile has single line no contract prepaid plans starting at $35/month for 300 minutes and $55/month for unlimited minutes. They do not offer any deals for family plans.
MetroPCS offers no contract plans for individuals and families.
NET10 offers no contract plans starting at $20/month for 200 minutes. They also offer an unlimited talk and text plan, starting at $35/ month. An unlimited family plan starts at $75/ month.
Straight Talk has no contract plans starting at $30/month. Unlimited national plans cost $45/month, and unlimited international costs $60/month.
Tracfone sells no contract plans for single and family use starting at $9.99/month for 30 minutes. Their individual and family plans start at $9.99/month for 50 minutes, and $5.99/month for each additional line.