With the myriad of cell phone plans that are available through the various carriers today, it can be a bit of a challenge to muddle through it all, trying to find the best package for your family. Each has their own special set of perks that are offered, in order to entice potential customers to purchase a contract and commit themselves to a particular amount of time with the company. Although you'd be hard-pressed to find a carrier that locks you in for more than two years ? those days are gone ? you're still committing your patronage for a designated amount of time, and ? that being the case ? will have a bit of research to do before settling on a specific package. Where do you begin?
Work the Room
One of the best ways to gather information on any product is to solicit the opinions of others who have used it at one time or another. Since cell phones are such a hot commodity today, and everyone who uses one must purchase some type of cell phone plan in order to use it, then there's a lot of information that's available to you in virtually any place where you'll be exposed to others ? in other words, everywhere.
Friends ? Although many folks have a very limited number of extended family members in their immediate area, most have a wide variety of friends from which to gather information. It's in your best interests, therefore, to find out what works best for them. If their families' needs are similar to yours, you can get a gold mine of information that might help you to select the best family cell phone plan from among the many that are offered in your particular area. Neighbors ? If you're the type that doesn't barricade yourself from the neighbors with tall hedges that serve to discourage communication, then you're probably in the position to check with those who are living around you about which local carriers offer good family plans. Since most people today carry this type of device, then the chances are good that you'll come up with something worthwhile. Co-Workers ? One of the main reasons that adults invest in cell phones today is to keep in touch with family members during the time when they're at work or are traveling on work-related business. Therefore, finding a great family cell phone plan is a real priority for them, and you can cash in on the research that they've already done. Keep in mind that their particular carrier may not be available in your area, but chances are good that they are, since most people don't have an overly long commute to and from work each day. Clubs/Organizations/Extracurricular Activities ? Whether you work out at the gym twice each week, attend an art class or belong to a bridge club, you have the potential to meet a large number of people who use cellular phones and can speak to you about their options packages. Keep in mind that learning about what they use is only half of the research ? getting information about what plans didn't work for them is the other half. Sometimes, carriers make a product look great but, when put to practical use, it's found to be failing. Online Community ? Lots of information can be found online regarding cell phone service plans, and one of the best ways to find information about specific carriers and their plans is to search for cell phone reviews. These are easily found ? by simply typing "cell phone review" into the keyword area of your favorite search engine ? and offer the added benefit of being up-to-date and usually fairly specific regarding the assets and liabilities of the packages' particulars.
- Extended Family ? Since family members often chat with each other at some point during the day via cell phone, check with other family members who are outside your home to see which plan they use and how well it works for them. Depending upon their circumstances, of course, the plan that they have might not be tailored to the needs of your family, but it's a good starting point.
Compiling the Data
It's important to keep in mind that there are lots of different types of plans that are available, so there's a lot more research to do be done than may be immediately apparent. For instance, the term "cell phone plan" is very generic, since there are various types of service; so when it's time to compare cell phone plans, you'll have to consider each type of service that's offered through each carrier. Among the many things that you'll have to examine are prepaid cell phone plans, "no contract" cell phone plans, "pay as you go" mobile phones and internet phone service. Once you've narrowed it down to the specific type of cell phone service that you prefer, then you'll have to take the particular features into consideration. These may include long distance plans, multiple phone options, "free minutes" packages and mobile-to-mobile options, to name a few.
In order to weave your way through all of the information that you've collected, it's best to list the cellular phone carriers that you've examined, listing each option and its specifics. Once this list has been compiled, then it's time to decide what type of cell phone coverage is necessary in order to meet your particular needs. Through the good old-fashioned process of elimination, most of your work will be done before you make the attempt to contact any of the cellular phone companies. When you get to that point, you might also be surprised by a few specials that are being offered at the time, which will end up saving you even more on your monthly cell phone bill.
Taking the Shortest Route
Since finding a solid cell phone plan for your family can require a good deal of time and effort, you may wish to consider taking a bit of a shortcut when it comes to information gathering. Rather than approaching everyone on an individual basis, for instance, you might think of having a get-together ? maybe even a "cell phone party"! ? so that you can bring most of your contacts directly to you, rather than seeking each of them out at different times and places. Doing effective research is time-consuming enough, so take the shortest route to your investigative destination and get a good deal of it over with at once.
About the Author
Samantha Goode is a freelance technology writer who loves to provide tips to consumers shopping for pay as you go mobile phones, cell phone family plans and cell phone packages.