The Pros and Cons of Cellphone Contracts
When it comes to mobile service providers, there are lots of options to choose from today. Finding the right one for you isn’t always easy with so many providers and lots of competition with companies always trying to offer the best deals and service to attract more customers. However, if you are looking for a new phone, one of the most important decisions that you will need to make is whether or not you should sign a cellphone contract.
What is a Standard Cell Phone Contract?
A cell phone contract is a plan for your cell phone that includes a handset, minutes, texts, and data. Most of the time it will last for around two years, although longer and shorter contracts might be available depending on the provider. You will be obliged to make the monthly payments for the duration of the contract and your service will be cut off if you do not pay. While some people might prefer not to be tied in, for others, it can make it easier to budget. Along with this, a smartphone contract allows you to spread the cost of getting a new phone rather than having to save up and buy it outright.
Choosing a Mobile Phone Contract
Before you decide whether or not to get a contract and which one to go with, there are a few things to consider. Your personal finances should always play a major role in whether or not a cell phone contract is the right option for you right now. If you are sure that you are going to be able to continue making the monthly payments for the next two years, for example, if you are in a secure job with no plans to leave, then a contract might be right for you. On the other hand, you might want to reconsider whether it’s the best idea if you are in temporary work or working in an uncertain industry.
Buy Phone Outright or Pay Monthly?
Paying monthly can give you more options when it comes to getting a new phone, especially if you want a flagship handset that would set you back a lot if buying outright. However, the main downside is that it will tie you into a lengthy contract that you are obliged to make monthly payments for. You will also be tied to the carrier that you choose for the duration of the contract, without any option to switch and get a better deal if one comes up. On the other hand, if you decide to buy your handset outright, you will have more flexibility. You can get a SIM-only plan to use with your phone that does not include a contract and change to a different plan or carrier whenever it suits you without penalties.
What Does No Contract Mean for a Phone?
Simply put, no contract means that you are buying the phone outright. Most of the time, you will buy it directly from the manufacturer or from a company that sells refurbished phones. No contract or SIM free phones tend to be unlocked, which gives you more choice when it comes to choosing the carrier that you want to go with. When you buy a phone without a contract, you just purchase the handset, separately to any phone plans.
How Do Cell Phone Contracts Work?
Before you decide if a cell phone contract is the right choice for you, it’s a good idea to understand how they work. Most contracts come with a phone and a phone plan included. For example, you might get the iPhone 13 with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 10GB of data for a set monthly price. Depending on your monthly price and the handset you want, you may also need to pay an upfront cost at the beginning of your contract to secure the deal. You will then be obliged to make monthly payments for the duration of the contract, which is usually two years. Once the two years is up, you will own the handset. You can choose to upgrade it to a new one, which starts a fresh contract, or continue using it with a different SIM only plan. If you choose to upgrade, you can do what you like with your old handset, including selling it to offset the cost of your new contract.
How to Get a Cellphone Contract
To get a cellphone contract, you will need to fill in an application with the carrier of your choice. The easiest way to do this is online. Visit the carrier website where you will be able to browse through the handsets and plans that they offer and choose a combination that suits you. You will then need to apply with some personal information such as your name, address, and contact number. Note that to get a smartphone contract you will need to be at least eighteen years old. The carrier will perform a credit check to make sure that the monthly payments will be affordable to you. If you do not pass the credit check, you will be informed. If you have a poor credit rating, a smartphone contract might not be the best option for you. A SIM-only contract, which does not include a handset and is therefore a lower risk for the carrier, might be a better alternative. Although this does not come with a handset, you can use it to make the monthly payments on time and build trust with the carrier. After a while, you may be accepted for a smartphone contract with a handset included.
How Do I Get Out of a Cell Phone Contract?
Unfortunately, if you have signed up to a cell phone contract, there is no way to get out of it until the contract term is up. You will need to continue making the monthly payments until the end of your contract, otherwise your service will be switched off and it could have a negative impact on your credit rating. The carrier may also instruct a debt collector to retrieve the remainder of what you owe. However, if you really want to end a smartphone contract, there are some things that you might be able to do. Firstly, you should always contact the carrier for your options. If you are struggling to make payments, don’t just stop paying – get in touch with the carrier and let them know your situation, as they may be able to help. Payment plans and other flexible options might be available if you are in financial trouble. Alternatively, if you do not have a lot of months left on your contract, your carrier might agree to let you end it for a fee. This will usually involve paying the remainder of the months – for example, if you have three months left at $50 per month, you can pay $150 to end your contract early. Your carrier might give you a discount for making a final payment.
How to Choose a Smartphone Plan
Once you know which smartphone you want and have decided that a contract is the best option for you, it’s important to consider several factors when choosing your plan. Along with making sure that the price is affordable to you, it’s important to think about the allowances. If you use a lot of data, for example, then 1GB per month is probably not going to be sufficient. Even if this is the cheapest plan available, you could end up paying much more by going over your data and paying per MB until it resets. You might be able to go into your current phone’s settings to see how much data you use on average per month. Use this as a guide to choose the right data amount for your new smartphone plan and avoid getting charged for going over.
It's also important to check the network coverage for your area before signing up. The last thing that you want is to sign up for a long contract only to find that you cannot get any signal at home on your phone.
What is the US Cellular Contract Length?
Most often, cell phone contracts will last for two years. However, there are some exceptions. Longer contracts are becoming more commonplace these days as smartphones are getting more expensive and people would rather keep their monthly costs to a minimum. If you want a short contract, then chances are that you are not going to get a smartphone with it. A SIM contract or SIM plan may last for as little as thirty days and is a good way to get a phone plan for an existing smartphone and save money, compared to upgrading everything.
If you want to get a new phone, you can either buy outright or sign up for a smartphone contract. While buying outright is more flexible and has less commitment, it also involves a large upfront cost. On the other hand, contracts allow you to spread the cost of your new phone, but you will need to make payments for two years.