Cell phone providers are crawling out of the woodwork, as more and more people can't stand to be separated from their mobile devices. But how do you know which companies have the best cell phone plans and which ones just have their hands in your wallet? One thing to remember is each plan out there exists for a particular type of cell phone customer, and the best cell phone companies will cater to the particular kind of customer you are.
There are basically four types of customers:
- The International Caller This customer's cell phone provides access to colleagues, friends and family around the world. He needs a lot of data and the ability to tether his laptop to the mobile plan so he can stay connected from anywhere. He needs the latest and greatest hand-held device so he can access media and apps on it. If there's a feature his cell phone provides, he needs access to it. The big four Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint have the worldwide reach and network necessary to keep this customer happy.
- The Interstate Traveler She may not need a passport when she goes out, but no moss grows under her feet. This customer wants all the same benefits her cell phone provides as the international caller, but she doesn't need international access to them. She sticks to her part of the country and may share with her friends and family. She wants a device that can keep up, but not necessarily blow the socks off her techie friends. Smaller providers, such as MetroPCS or Cricket, offer affordable plans and adequate coverage within the regions they cover. There's a lot of crossover here, as the major players scoop up smaller companies, but it's important for her to check the coverage area.
- The Homebody This customer doesn't venture far from home and has little need to call outside his immediate multi-state area. He doesn't need the latest technology, but he wants a reliable device and a reliable network. Smaller local providers sometimes offer solid coverage in the immediate area for a reasonable fee, but it's important to check which services and features are available. Limited networks can mean limited access to data services or unlimited calling plans.
- The Only-in-Emergencies User There are still some people out there who don't feel it necessary to be connected to everything all the time. This caller just wants to be able to make a phone call to a roadside service if she breaks down, or keep in touch while she's traveling occasionally. Network speeds are not a priority and data services are nice, but not crucial. A pre-paid plan works best for her, because she only needs the phone on occasion and it doesn't make sense to make monthly payments for a service she might use every few weeks.
More than likely, the way you use your phone falls somewhere in between these four stereotypes, but you can save a ton of money if you take a moment to fully understand the kind of cell phone user you are. The best cell phone plans are the ones that let you do things your way, without breaking the bank.