NEW YORK (MainStreet) — With some 9 million iPhone 5s and 5c devices sold in the days following its September debut, if you're in the market for a new phone or are thinking of upgrading your current device, chances are you'll have to sign a new contract.
As with any major purchase, price comparison is bound to save you money. Just because having a cell phone is a necessity these days, doesn't mean you have to get stuck overpaying for a wireless plan. The key is to find a plan that fits your needs.
If this will be your only phone, you may want to find a plan with unlimited minutes. On the flip side, if you're looking at plans with limited minutes, make sure you have the option to buy a bucket of minutes for a set price if there comes a month where you need more minutes.
"This is much cheaper than being charged for each minute that exceeds your limit, which will happen if you don't take any action beforehand," says Jeanette Pavini, savings expert with Coupons.com.
Depending on how much you text, it may make sense to add an unlimited texting option to the plan. Wireless providers have huge margins from texting. Breaking down the cost per text may make you send fewer texts, with more content, rather than dozens of short messages.
When it comes to smartphones, keep in mind that some providers only offer a limited amount of data and will charge you if you use more than what's allotted. "If you're going to add a data plan for a tablet, that's another fee. Sometimes providers can give you a deal on adding a tablet to an existing wireless plan," Pavini adds.
If you're completely overwhelmed with all of the different wireless plans, use the website BillShrink.com. After answering questions about your usage needs and location, the site finds the cheapest wireless plans. From there, you at least have a sense of what plans and carriers to focus on.
It's also worth checking with your human resources department at your employer to see if there are corporate discounts. "Companies may have deals with certain providers. Even if they're giving you a business phone, you may still score a discount for personal wireless plans," Pavini says.
After you've selected a wireless plan, remember to periodically check in with your wireless provider and reassess your plan. You may find yourself paying for unused minutes or data and in that case it makes sense to adjust your plan even further to fit your needs.
- Written by Scott Gamm for MainStreet. Gamm is author ofMORE MONEY, PLEASE.