Phone That Fits Your Budget

Q: Is it better to buy a cell phone and then choose a monthly plan, or get a free phone with a plan?

A: Cell phones aren't really free. A service provider will give you a cell phone provided you sign a contract and commit to monthly payments during your contract, which might be as long as three years. If you want the newest phone and greatest features, be prepared to pay more each month.

When choosing a phone and monthly plan, consider:

  • How much am I prepared to spend each month?
  • Does this fit my budget?
  • What do I need the phone for?

Before signing on the bottom line of a one to three-year contract, do your homework. Look at your budget in detail and see if you can afford the monthly costs. There is no point having a phone you can't afford to use.

Once you have figured out how much you are prepared to spend each month, find a plan that best suits your needs. The plan and phone that's right for you will allow you to stay within the plan limits and have most of the features you are looking for. Shop around to get the best deal.

Read through the contract carefully and understand the number of minutes and/or data included each month, how the time is calculated, free calling periods and text messaging. You also need to know how much you will have to pay if you cancel the plan before the end of the contract. If your employment situation is uncertain, it may be better to pay for the phone up front and choose a pay-as-you-go plan, rather than a contract.

Avoid unnecessary features that can add up. Keep it simple so that your phone fits into your pocket as easily as into your budget