So you’ve been on your parent’s phone plan but you’re in college now or you’ve struck out on your own and the time has finally come for you to get your own phone plan. There are so many options available today when it comes to phone plans. How do you figure out what makes sense for your life? What do you need and what can you skip? Our breakdown will show you what choices are out there and how to decide on your first phone plan as a young adult. Welcome to the real world.
Average Plan Costs
Most average phone plans cost anywhere from $45 to $150 per month. The most common phone providers are Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile but there are other companies such as Visible, Redpocket, Mint Mobile, and FreeUp. Typically the priciest options are for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. It’s important to consider how much you can afford to spend on your phone and your phone plan before selecting a plan. It’s easy to get carried away with features and options but make sure you know your maximum budget spend before you check out all of the extra options.
Another consideration for phone plan costs is whether you will buy the phone outright or do a monthly plan. Many phone networks have the option to buy a phone with a percentage upfront and then pay the phone off for 12-24 months in monthly increments added to your phone plan bill. This can seem like a great idea in the moment if it makes it possible for you to get the latest device but make sure that the added monthly payment is something you can afford.
Absolute Cheapest Option
If your budget is smaller than most, the average plan costs might seem insurmountable to you. The absolute cheapest option available on the market today is a prepaid cell phone plan. There are several brands that offer prepaid plans so you can make sure your bill stays the same. Luckily, prepaid plans tend to come with reliable data speeds. The downside to a prepaid cell phone plan is that they typically come with fewer features, fewer perks, and possibly limits on talk, text, and data. You can find both pay-as-you-go and prepaid plan options for prepaid phone plans.
Mobile hotspots are convenient because they let you use your data for other devices when you’re out and about. Your tablet, laptop, or other wifi-enabled device can connect to your mobile hotspot and access the Internet. Some plans allow hotspot use and some do not. Some have particular limitations and others let you use the hotspot with whatever existing data plan you possess.
You might want to consider a mobile hotspot plan with extra data if you are someone who frequently does schoolwork or online work outside of your home. If you need to save expenses, this is an easy one to cut. Most people do not need a mobile hotspot. It’s more convenient but not a necessity.
International Plans or Traveling Plans
This is a difficult space and definitely will add more money to your phone plan. If you are frequently calling outside of the U.S. then you may want a phone plan that includes international calling or includes a pay-as-you-go fee for the country you will be calling. These are often add-ons to your regular plan.
If you do not plan to travel much or won’t need an international plan, you can always use apps and WIFI calling to get in touch with loved ones abroad. If you plan to travel, you can always pick up a prepaid cell phone with minutes when abroad. You’ll want to weigh the costs of each option to figure out the best choice for you. The most convenient choice is to upgrade your phone plan for international calling.
In a world with numerous streaming apps and entertainment platforms, you may want to consider which phone carrier can help you cut costs by partnering with the apps and platforms you use most. For example, Verizon has an unlimited plan that gives you Apple Music and Disney+ while AT&T Unlimted includes HBO. Each carrier has its own connections to outside providers. Take a look at the services you currently have and pay for to see what carriers might be able to take over those services for you.
Remember, this is your phone plan. You’ll be the one paying and you’ll be the one using it. Don’t feel pressure to get anything you know you won’t use, and likewise, don’t feel pressured to not get something that you know you would use. Happy adulting!
By Katherine Robinson, a writer for Prepaid Bill