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Best Phone Plans - Best Phone Plans - Best Phone Plans for Individuals, Best Phone Plans for Families

Individual, Family, and Data Plans

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Based on a March 2010 survey, CTIA, the “International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry,” estimates that 285 million Americans, or 91% of the population, uses cell phones. As might be expected, with such a high percentage of the population using cell phones, the number and types of rate plans available can be dizzying. With a clear idea of what kind of plan and feature you need, however, it is not difficult to find the best phone plans. In general, there are three types of plans to consider: individual plans, family plans, and prepaid plans. With each of these plans, additional data and texting features are usually available. It is also important to consider where and when you will be making most of your calls.

Generally speaking, there are four major cell phone providers in the United States: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. In addition, there are several smaller providers such as US Cellular, Boost Mobile, Cricket, and Metro PCS.

Best Phone Plans for Individuals

If you are the only person using the plan, then an individual phone plan will fit your needs. While the rates vary from company to company, most offer plans individual plans with 450 to 500 anytime minutes (along with unlimited nights and weekends) for about $40 plus fees and about 900 minutes for about $60 to $70. Among the big four providers, the biggest difference lies in their price for unlimited plans. With AT&T and Verizon, the plan is $70, with Sprint $100, with T-Mobile, $60. With each of these, you could expect to pay a total of $10 or so in fees.

Best Phone Plans for Families

With family plans, two lines are usually included in the plan with an extra line costing about $10 per month. The four large cell providers have family plans with 700 shared anytime minutes (and unlimited nights and weekends) for about $60 to $70. From there, they move up at different levels, but most offer 1400 or 1500 minutes for $90 to $100 and 2000 to 2100 minutes for $100 to $110. These plans also have $10 to $15 in fees.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans

Prepaid plans are another category of phone plans that might be a good option for some. With these plans, you don’t have a one or two year service contract as you do with the individual and family plans. Not all of the four major carriers offer these plans, but of the ones that do, AT&T offers an unlimited talk and text plan for $60 plus fees, and T-Mobile has a similar plan for $50.

Other Features of Phone Plans

In addition to voice minutes, many cell phone users need data and texting capability as part of their phone plans. As noted above, AT&T and T-Mobile offer unlimited talk and text and their prepaid plans. For the popular iPhone, AT&T offers a $15 and $25 data plan. Other data plans from the major carriers are usually priced in a similar range. AT&T has various texting plans, ranging from $5 for 200 texts per month to $20 for unlimited texts. Verizon and Sprint have similar packages, but T-Mobile offers 400 texts for $5 and unlimited texts for $15. Also, both Sprint and Verizon Wireless have talk, text, and data plans offered at various levels.

For a family plan with unlimited texting, data, and voice minutes, you could expect to pay about $200 per month. For an individual plan with those features, it will be about $100.

Best Phone Plans with Smaller Carriers

Although the four largest carriers are usually the best options for phone plans, if you have a limited use for a cell phone, only make calls in a limited area, or make international calls often, then a different carrier might be a good option. The advantage of these companies is that they can often offer cheaper rate plans. For example, Boost Mobile offers unlimited talk, text, and data/internet plan for $50 per month. However, the disadvantage of these companies is that they often have inferior phones and service. Therefore, while they are good for limited use, the regular cell phone user might get frustrated with the quality of the smaller companies.

It can be difficult to find the best phone plan, but with careful research and consideration, it is likely that you will be able to find a plan that suits both your needs and your budget.

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