The number one question I got asked when I was a representative for a large gsm cell phone provider was “what rate plan is right for me?”
If you read nothing else in this article read this next line:
It is FAR FAR better to have too many minutes than not enough.
FACT!: If you bought the Cingular Nation 450 minute plan for $39.99 and went over by 1000 minutes it would cost you $450 in additional minute charges. On the other hand if you had gotten the most expensive Nation plan Cingular has the 6000 for $199.99 you would have saved yourself $250.
Now obviously I’m not advocating getting a plan that has more minutes then you could ever possibly use, I’m just showing you how much more sense it makes to pay a little extra for more minutes than you use.
So back to the original question: “what rate plan is right for me?” Basically there are many ways to answer this question. If you’re a new or prospective customer what I suggest is to get a plan that is way above what your going to need for the first month or two and then work it down based on your usage, because trust me it is a lot better to pay a little more in monthly service than it is a lot more in overage charges.
As you saw from the FACT! it’s far better to pay a little extra when you start out to avoid getting a huge bill, after a few months follow the steps below for customers with history.
If you are a customer with a history the best way to pick a rate plan that’s right for you is to go by your past usage. (Unless of course your needs are going to change.) Take a look over your past bills and see how many minutes you’ve used, then select the highest amount and go from there. One of the key mistakes customers make is to use an average amount of minutes to decide how many to get in the future.
FACT!: The average of 1000, 500, 2000 is 1166. A plan giving you around that amount, say 1200, would be good for two of those months but in the third month you’d go over by 800. At a rate of 45 cents a minute that’s $360! Spending even an extra $30 a month for say 2000 minutes would only cost you $90 total and it would be spread out over three months instead of getting it all at once.
After you figure out how many minutes you are going to need you’ll need to figure out how you are going to use the phone. Do you make a lot of long distance calls? Will you be traveling at all? Do you use text messaging a lot? And so on. Take a look on the company’s web site and see all the features they have available, some companies also have bundle packs that give you minutes, long distance, and text messaging. These can save you money and are worth looking at if available.
The biggest confusion people had when I was a rep was the difference between Long Distance and Roaming. I can’t tell you the number of calls I got because people were told they had “Nationwide Long Distance” and thought that meant they could travel anywhere in the country and make calls. So to clarify here are the definitions for each of these terms, in plain English.
Long Distance: Making any call from your home calling area (The area where you can use your phone without getting charged roaming) to another place outside your local area (usually your town or city)
Example: You live in New York and, while still in New York, you make a call to Los Angeles.
Roaming: Making OR Accepting any call while you are physically outside of your home calling area.
Example: You live in New York and you get on a plane and fly to Los Angeles and make or accept a call while in Los Angeles.
Another misconception people have is that if they are roaming they can still call phone numbers in their home area without getting charges. (Example you live in New York, fly to Los Angeles and call back to New York) This is incorrect, as you can see from the definition I specified “any” call. The ONLY numbers you can call for free while roaming are 611 (Customer Service) and 911 (Emergency Services)
So if you are going to be traveling be sure to get a plan that gives you roaming across the country, it may cost you a little more in monthly service but Roaming Charges are around of 70 cents a minute. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer your question.