Cell Phone Plans Comparison Chart
With increased competition and consolidation, cell phone carriers now adopt a base rate that makes it easier to compare wireless rates for voice and data using cell phone plans comparison charts. Most carriers offer a trial period – usually two weeks – but there are quite a number of options that you have to puzzle through. Ordinarily, you’d be comparing plans between the major nationwide carriers, including T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint.
Most carriers normally offer individual, family, messaging, Smartphone data plans, but the things you really need to pore over are those that the companies will not disclose in large print in their ads. The breakdown for each of those plans is what you’ll typically find in a cell phone plans comparison chart. Each carrier’s plans and pricings are unique, and are designed to maximum revenue for the company. But there are things of critical importance that a customer should carefully scrutinize before choosing a cell phone plan.
Coverage ranks high on the list of things to consider when selecting a cell phone plan. Most importantly, you want to know which areas a particular carrier has weak or no coverage. Every carrier has some weak coverage spots that you ought to know, and, although the self-reported coverage maps accessible from the companies’ websites can be helpful, they are not foolproof. The best way to find out is to use the trial period to test coverage.
Price is another huge factor as a significant percentage of customers are driven by price alone. At $69.9 per month, T-Mobile has one of the most reasonably priced plans for voice and text among the nationwide carriers. Verizon Wireless and AT&T are among the most highly priced but compensate with better coverage and highest reliability levels, compared to other national carriers. That said, there is generally little variance in voice calling rates. On average, approximately $40 per month will get you a 450-minute allotment on most top-rated carriers.
Beware of specific variations in plans for the different carriers. For instance, Sprint is the only company among the nationwide carriers whose night talk time starts at 7pm. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile, among others, start their night talk time at 9pm. Likewise, AT&T is the only carrier among the big national carriers that allows rollover of unused minutes to the following month. Some carriers offer walkie-talkie (PTT) services on supported phones for customers on the same voice plan. T-Mobile is the only one among the big carriers that doesn’t offer the walkie-talkie feature.
Data and messaging usually provide the real difference in pricing for the different carriers. Admittedly, each carrier’s data service is of a different grade. With 4G all the rage nowadays, the big players are strategically using it in their aggressive marketing campaigns to gain an edge over competitors. Verizon Wireless and AT&T have both claimed 4G coverage supremacy in the recent past. However, both companies’ self-reported claims are unsubstantiated.
Finally, the type of phone is another important factor when scrutinizing the cell phone plans comparison chart. In fact, voice plan pricing, coverage, and the data plan may actually be moot for some cell phone buyers whose decision solely depends on the type of phone. You’re most likely to find the largest variety of handsets with T-Mobile and AT&T carriers because they use the GSM standard that allows SIM card portability with compatible phones.