Mobile phone plans buying guide

Confused by the ins and outs of mobile call plans? Our guide can help you.
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05.Getting a good deal

After making the basic decisions about the kind of service and handset you want, it’s now down to the business end — getting a good deal.

What kind of user are you?

Before looking into the hundreds of deals and packages out there, you need to decide what kind of user you are. How many calls are you likely to make, at what time of day are you likely to make them, to what type of phone (landline or other mobile) and where to (local, long-distance or international)?
For example, do you want a mobile for:

  • Emergencies: You’ll be making short (and hopefully few) calls, potentially at any time of day.
  • Social purposes: Calls are likely to be off-peak, and you’ll have greater control over the number of outgoing calls you make.
  • Business use: Your calls will be mainly during peak times and will involve outgoing and incoming calls.
    If you don’t intend to use the phone much but the reality turns out to be different, it could cost a lot of money, so it’s worth thinking carefully about your likely usage pattern before you sign up. You also don’t want to pay for a plan that has more calls than you need.

Discount options

Other things to consider when looking into the details of plans are who you call, when you call and how you call (voice or SMS). Many services offer discounts for same-network calls and cheap rates for nominated numbers, cheap long-distance calls in off-peak times and packages with free or cheap SMS. Contact service providers or see their websites for details.

Accessing other services

Most mobile services now come with voicemail. But there’s an increasing number of other services either available now or on their way, such as:

  • Call waiting.
  • Directory services.
  • Short message service (SMS).
  • Caller ID.
  • Paging.
  • Internet access.
  • Email notification.
  • Receiving faxes.
  • If any of these services sound attractive to you, find out what’s on offer from the service providers and how much you’re going to be paying.

Changing plans? Keep your old number

If you’ve decided to change to another network, you’ll probably want to keep the same phone number. Transfer your number to your new provider before cancelling your connection with your old provider.

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