Before you change cell phone providers, there are many details that you must first consider. While there is nothing wrong with doing this, remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side. You need to weigh the pros and cons of sticking with your current provider, as well as what you will get by making a change. Here are several of the most important details to consider:
1. How much will it cost to make a change? Believe it or not, there is probably a fee for canceling your current contract. You agreed to pay this fee upon signing your contract, but probably don’t remember because it was so long ago or it was in the fine print that you didn’t read.
Generally speaking, cell phone carriers prorate the cancellation fee. For example, I recently contacted my provider, Verizon Wireless, to ask about this. I have a two year contract with a $150 cancellation fee. But since I only have 12 months left, it would only cost $75 to dissolve the contract and part ways.
Believe it or not, it’s actually not impossible to get out of these fees if you decide to cancel your contract early. If there are serious issues with the company’s reception, customer service, and phones that you can cite, you may be able to get out of the contract. Make sure you talk to a supervisor as these are the people who have the authority to let you off the hook. In the case of an issue with the provider’s reception in your area, check out Erik’s story of how he got out of his T-Mobile contract and saved $200.
2. To most people, being able to keep their current number is of utmost importance. While this was “touch and go” in the past, you should not have any issues in today’s day and age. No matter which provider you are switching to, they should be able to help transfer your old phone number. To make this change simple, you need the following information: account number of your current provider and the passwords needed to access your account. Again, your new carrier will be able to walk you through this process.
3. Will you need to buy a new phone? Don’t get caught believing that all cell phones are compatible with all service providers. If your phone cannot be used on a new network, you will be required to purchase one upon signing a contract. Again, this is an added fee that you need to be aware of, but most providers offer some kind of free phone if you sign a 2 year contract with them.
For example, the iPhone 4 only works with AT&T. If you move to any other network, you will have to purchase a new device.
4. Don’t forget there’s still more work to do! Once you’ve chosen a new provider, there are still some key things to consider when trying to get the best deal on your cell phone plan. Don’t just go with the status quo and sign up for the most common plan with your new provider. Do your research and make sure you’ve figured out a cost effective plan that suits your needs.
Back to the iPhone…
Let’s be honest: most people who are changing cell phone providers are doing so because they want to get their hands on an iPhone. As noted above, your only option for this phone is AT&T.
For many, the main benefit of switching to AT&T is the chance to buy an iPhone. While this is definitely intriguing, don’t look past the fact that this carrier has had its share of problems over the years. When compared to Verizon, the coverage area is not as large or reliable. This means that your location will have a great effect on just how much service you get. Obviously, this is something to consider before making the switch. The last thing you want is to make a change, just to find that using your phone is next to impossible. At this point, you’re stuck with the new service due to the astronomical cancellation fees.
What about the new data plans for the iPhone? AT&T recently dropped their unlimited data plan for new customers. Current options include $15 for 200MB of data or $25 for 2GB of data. If you surpass your allotment you will be charged $10 for every additional gigabyte of data. This change may have you thinking twice about the iPhone. Those who are still interested should check out our iPhone 4 review.
If any of you have recently changed cell phone providers, let us know how the process unfolded as well as why you made a switch.
(photo credit: samantha celera)