According to a survey conducted by Whistle Out, 44% of Americans say their phone plan's coverage is insufficient, while 37% say their plan's data is too slow. Moreover, 26% weren't happy with how much mobile hotspot data their plan provided. Clearly, not everyone is satisfied with their current phone plan and may be looking to switch to something better.
Your plan can make or break your experience as a cell phone user. If you hit the road and your coverage is spotty, you could find yourself without service on the side of the road. And if your data rate isn't fast enough or you experience slow-downs at seemingly random times, you're liable to be frustrated on a daily basis.
Your phone plan should be capable of handling all your needs, including network coverage, data allowances, speed and budget. The good news is you can find a plan that provides everything you need in terms of reliable coverage, reasonable cost, blazing-fast speed and plenty of hotspot data to go around.
What do you really need in a phone plan?
The first step in getting the best phone plan for you and your family is understanding what you need your plan to address. Some factors that can help you determine your needs include:
- How much data you use
- How fast you need your connection to be
- How many phone calls you make, as well as the length of your calls
- Whether you use your phone to make international calls
- Whether there's network coverage in your area
- What levels of safety and security you need
- And whether your phone will be used for work or just your personal use
All of these will factor into the kind of plan you need, as well as the price you'll pay. Not all phone plans are created equal — that's why there can be a big variation in price. For example, if you stream or game a lot on your phone, then you'll want a plan that includes 5G to handle the high processing power. If you're a frequent traveler, you'll need a plan that includes international data options.
Or if you're working on a strict budget, you may be able to tailor your phone plan to be cheaper, while still being functional. Most importantly, you don't have to sacrifice coverage area, fast download rates or hotspot data in exchange for affordability.
What types of phone plans are available?
There are several types of phone plans for you to choose from, depending on which providers you are considering. (See, for example, Verizon's current phone plans.) Choosing the one that's right for you will come down to your needs, preferences, and device compatibility. Some common phone plan types include:
- Unlimited plans: Stream movies, play games, and surf the internet away without worrying about bumping up against data limits or paying extra fees. Unlimited plans offer unlimited data at a set monthly fee. Add-ons can include mobile hotspots — streaming services, and other perks depending on the plan's benefits.
- Family plans: Family plans are usually designed for groups of people, typically 3+ lines at any time, who don't mind being on the same bill. They may offer specific deals or rewards for families, such as customizable or transferable lines, parental controls, or access to family-friendly features. Even phone plan providers who don't specifically offer family plans will often offer discounts for multiple lines on the same plan, for example, Verizon's unlimited plan offers discounts for multiple lines, plus family-friendly perks at a discount depending on which plan and add-ons you choose.
- Prepaid: A prepaid phone plan is where you pay not for a length of service, but for an amount of service ahead of time. For example, you could buy a prepaid phone plan with 15GB of data per month, and when the data has been used up, the service expires for the allotted period.
- Contract: A contract plan is the opposite of prepaid, where you pay for an amount of time. For example, you could sign a contract for six months, and you'll have guaranteed service for that six months.
- Pay-as-you-go: Just like it sounds, a pay-as-you-go plan is where you pay for the amount of use over a certain set period. This can be great for temporary phones, such as phones with service from another country that you may not need when you return home.
- Landlines: Landline plans are often inexpensive, and home phones offer a great backup for cell phone users. Depending on the reception in your home, a landline can offer better clarity of sound and reliability that comes in handy if you work out of your home, have security systems, or need a backup medical line.
Which phone provider you choose will also determine what kinds of plans are available, as not every provider carries the full scope of plans. This is why you should shop around for a phone provider that is not only highly-rated, but highly versatile to fit your needs not just now, but into the future.
What kind of special discounts can I get on phone plans?
You may be eligible for a discount on your phone plan, so check with your provider to learn more about what's available. There are discounts available for a wide variety of people, including:
Often, phone plan discounts are offered as a show of appreciation, which is typically the case for discounts for veterans. In the wake of COVID-19, first responder and nurse discounts became more and more common, as these workers were the most at risk, as well as the most valuable to those in hospitals.
In other cases, these discounts can be a show of support— for example, setting up discounts for college students is often a way companies can support the pursuit of higher education. You'll want to check to see if these discounts are one-time or applied to your monthly bill before you start budgeting.
Additionally, look into other ways to save, such as a discount for setting up autopay or for bundling home internet with your phone plan. You could be in for more of a bargain than you originally anticipated.
What are the options for bundling services?
Bundling your services is a great way to get more from your phone plan. Depending on your plan, you can bundle several services, including internet and mobile, streaming, and smartwatch or tablet data plans.
If you're interested in having a landline, you may be surprised to find out that bundling home internet with a phone plan can save you money on a landline home phone. There are plenty of reasons why you might want a home phone. Maybe you work from home and want a dedicated line for your office. Or maybe you want a backup line in case of emergencies. Whatever the case, you'll spend very little to include a landline with cellular coverage and internet.
Bundled deals can also include streaming services, where you add-on perks to your plan for a discounted price. This is just another way that bundling can help you save money on your monthly entertainment and internet expenses. You can check with your provider to see what kind of bundling deals they offer. If they don't offer any bundling services, then it may be time to switch your family's service.
Can you add a phone line to get a better deal?
Similar to special discounts and bundling, your provider may offer you a deal when you add a line to your plan. This will increase your overall bill, but often, the price per line goes down. While it may function similarly to a family plan, your provider may call it something else or bundle it slightly differently. Nevertheless, this is ideal for getting your children their own phones or if you need a separate phone for work. Some families choose to put extended family members on their plan for this reason.
Additionally, adding a second line to a pre-existing plan means that you don't have to go through the hassle of finding a new provider. You'll also have administrative access to the line through your plan-holder account, which is another great option for parents. But you don't need to be a part of a family to add a second line to your plan. Roommates, intermediate family members like grandparents, and others that you share your life with can all share one plan with multiple lines, allowing you to reap the price benefits. And luckily, adding someone to your plan online is quick and easy.
Can I get a better phone plan deal if I trade in my phone?
As we've mentioned, trading in your old phone can help you save some money. Some providers offer cash for old devices that you can use to pay down the price of a new phone, or use as a credit on your bill. Not all providers offer trade-in programs, and there can be specific device trade-in qualifications. Some devices may be too old, or too damaged, to be eligible for trade-in, as companies usually refurbish trade-in phones, or use their parts. You can always ask if your device is eligible for trade-in at a store, or look at eligibility requirements that may be posted online.
If your specific service provider doesn't have a trade-in program, you may still be able to get some money for your old device. Recycling programs and trade-ins for cash at other stores can be lucrative, but they won't affect your phone bill unless you specifically use the money you get on phone payments.
Can I bring my own device to my new plan?
Alternatively, if you don't want to trade in your device but would still like to use it as your primary device, some providers offer the ability to use your old device with a new plan. Bring-your-own device offers are often contingent on the age and condition of the device ( same with trade-in offers) as it will need to accept a new SIM card to be functional. You can take your phone to a provider's store to see if you can use it with a new service. Or, to make the process even faster and easier, reach out online. Not only is it as easy as ever to track everything from your online account, but Verizon will even mail you a new SIM card.
Just like any important purchase, you should shop around to find the best phone plan for you. There are pros and cons to different plans, different providers and even different phones — and you'll want to be sure to go with a provider that serves great network quality and coverage, as opposed to a subpar competitor that leaves you stranded without service in the desert.
Fortunately, Verizon's wide variety of plans and discounts can help you get started crafting and deciding on the right setup for you. From prepaid to unlimited plans and discounts for all types of people, you're sure to find the best phone for your budget and your lifestyle.