Consumer Cellular Cell Phones & Plans - Consumer Cellular in Orange Lake, Florida

Published Jan 19, 22
5 min read

Buying A New Cell Phone And Choosing A Cell Phone Plan in Orange Lake, Florida



The phone needs to work on your carrier’s network. It can be very helpful to buy a phone that is unlocked and that can work on multiple networks. That will make it easier to switch carriers and take your phone with you when you do. When choosing a phone, you’ll also need to consider the phone’s operating system.

We don’t have any advice about which to choose. This seems to be mainly a matter of comfort and personal preference. Not too long ago, carriers would sell a phone at a big discount as part of their plans, locking you into a two-year contract that covered both the phone and the cell service.

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Now, when you choose a phone, you have several options that do not necessarily tie you in to a long-term commitment to any particular carrier. There are three general options now for paying for a phone. You can pay the entire price of the phone up front. This can be very costly depending on the phone.

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It will result in lower monthly bills (because you won’t be paying installments on the phone), and it may make it easier for you to switch carriers and take your phone with you. It also can be a good choice (maybe the only one) if you have credit problems. Another option is to pay for the phone over time in installments.

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You will want to read the terms of the agreement with the carrier carefully so that there are no surprises if you make a late payment or want to accelerate your payments so that you can own the phone outright sooner. Finally, carriers offer leases. Leases are different from installment plans, because leases include interest (which adds to the cost of the phone).

Again, read the fine print closely. If you need a cell phone simply for basic communications needs, you may find that a very basic (and inexpensive) phone paired with a prepaid calling plan will work fine for you. Carriers such as Consumer Cellular, Republic Wireless, Cricket (a subsidiary of AT&T), and Ting may be good options.

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As we write this tip sheet, the government just approved the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, which are two of the four biggest cell phone carriers. If Sprint and T-Mobile complete the merger, there will be three major carriers—AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile (which is what the combined Sprint and T-Mobile will be called).

Their coverage and plans differ from each other, so you’ll want to do some research to see which one provides the best coverage in your area, and which one offers the data plans that best meet your needs. But these are not the only options. There are other, smaller carriers that may provide coverage in your area, and offer plans that cost a lot less than the plans offered by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

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Here’s a link to a 2019 Consumer Reports guide to low-cost cell-phone plans. Consumer Reports updates this information yearly. You can also get good information about plans from Whistle Out or MVNO News. >> Additional Resource: Some cellular carriers offer a limited trial period during which you can try out your phone and calling plan.

If you do get a trial period, use the time wisely. Use your phone in as many different locations as you can, such as where you live or are staying, at school, on your usual commuter routes, and at any places you frequent, so you’ll know if your service works where you need it.

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In addition, if you are buying or leasing a phone from the carrier who is providing the cell plan, the monthly installments or rental for the phone will be part of the bill. Before you sign up for a plan, ask for an estimate of your actual bill, with taxes and fees included, so you’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll really be paying each month.

Though the process differs between carriers, some cell phone companies will let you create a “group” or “family” plan that can help each participant save on their monthly bill. For instance, Cricket offers group plans with convenient payment options. Although only one bill is generated for each group, individuals in the group can make their own payments without accessing the primary member’s account.

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It’ll credit the account associated with the number, so there is no need to give out the primary account holder’s login to everyone in the group. Other companies may have their own convenient group plans and/or payment options. Discuss this with the carrier and be sure to consider whether any group plans the carrier offers will provide sufficient data for your entire group.

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