So, you are in the market for a new cell phone plan. Congratulations! This is an exciting time, and it likely means you are unsatisfied with your current plan due to the price or the service provided. You’ve come to the right place and are asking the right questions. When is the best time to buy a new cell phone plan? Right now! Well, perhaps.
If you have all your information ready, have paid off your phone, aren’t in the middle of a contract, and want a good deal then now is the time to switch! If not, you might be best served waiting a few months until you have all your affairs in order. We will cover all our bases so you know exactly when is the right time to buy a new cell phone plan in this article.
Preparing to Change Cell Phone Plans
This section will cover the basics to ensure you don’t make any mistakes when buying a new cell phone plan. We will talk about how to change carriers and keep your number, how to make sure you don’t have any ongoing contracts with your current provider, and what to do if you switch to an eSIM phone plan!
How to Change Cell Phone Plans and Keep Your Number
You do not need a new phone number when changing carriers. In fact, it is quite easy to change cell phone plans and keep your number, you just need to plan it out in advance. This is later in the process, but a crucial step. When you find your new carrier and purchase the plan, have your current account information and your phone’s ESN/IMEI number handy. Make sure to check the appropriate boxes to inform them you wish to keep your number, and from there your new company should handle the rest. They will contact your current company and begin changing your plan and keeping your phone number. With eSIM phone plans, this happens almost instantly!
If your phone has a SIM card, you might need to swap it out for a new one, courtesy of the new company. There will most likely be a few hours (up to a day) when your phone is offline. This is the time it takes for your two carriers to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. After that, you’re all done! Congratulations! You’ve got a new service provider, and your phone is up and running. Let’s look at whether you are ready to buy a new cell phone plan.
Are You Tied Down to Your Current Carrier?
There are two main ties to current carriers. These are cell phone contracts and locked phones. Lots of carriers offer contracts for lower month-to-month pricing on their plans. If you are in the middle of a contract with your current company, there will likely be a termination fee if you leave it early. Barring extraneous circumstances, we recommend sticking with your contract until it is concluded and switching carriers from there.
The other big tie is with your cell phone. Bringing your device to a new carrier is a great way to save money, but if your phone is “locked” to your current carrier, they won’t let you bring it to any other network. Your phone unlocks when you have fully paid it and owned it for a few months. This is generally in place to ensure you don’t take advantage of a new customer deal, get a phone for cheap, and leave immediately for a new carrier. You can check your phone’s status by going into settings and looking for something like “add cellular network” in your mobile tab.
If you are not under a phone plan contract and your phone is unlocked, you can rest easy. You are not tied down to your current carrier! If you are tied down with one or both, we recommend waiting until your contract is done and your phone is unlocked to buy a new cell phone plan.
How to Switch Carriers with an eSIM Phone Plan
Switching carriers with an eSIM phone plan is easy! As long as your phone has eSIM compatibility, if you choose an eSIM phone plan, you can jump into your new phone plan with a quick QR scan. There are a lot of cell phone providers that support eSIM, and it’s a great option if you want to quickly change your carrier, swapping to an eSIM phone plan is a great way to make that happen. You can look at the carrier’s page for specific instructions, but the majority of them have similar overall processes.
As a note, there should not be any differences in the quality of your service whether you have a physical SIM phone plan or an eSIM phone plan. They complete the same tasks, and the differences are based on how it fits in your device. Embedded SIMs are reprogrammable hardware in your phone, while physical SIMs are tied to a specific carrier, meaning you can eject the old SIM and replace it with the new one and your phone will be ready to go.
What’s the Right Cell Phone Plan for You?
So, if you are ready to buy a new plan, the last step is figuring out the right cell phone plan for you! No cell phone plan is the best overall, but there is a plan that fits you. Finding that plan prevents you from overpaying for features and data that you don’t need or underpaying and having to meter out data slowly over the month.
The Parts of a Cell Phone Plan
Deciding which phone plan best suits you is rather challenging. There are tons of plans, and they are all slightly different from one another, and there are major wireless networks and MVNOs, and, well, it is easy to get stuck and unable to decide which plan is right for you. If you know what plan you want, feel free to skip this section, where we will discuss the major factors that make up plans. It’s up to you to figure out how important each of these factors is, and once you know that, you can choose a plan based on those factors!
This is pretty self-explanatory. The monthly cost of the plan is influenced by its features and the company from which you are purchasing the plan. With this in mind, how much money do you want to pay for your phone plan? The cheap plans are great, but you must keep in mind the decreased features and data that come with cheap plans.
The question to ask is this: How highly do you value the cost of the plan? If you value an affordable plan above all, you may want to get a limited data plan that makes you allocate your data and stay in WiFi zones in order to stay under your allocation. If you value one of the other categories more than you can go with a more expensive plan.
Data is tied with cost for the most important part of a cell phone plan. It is also tied directly into the cost of the plan. There are more factors, but as a rule of thumb the unlimited plans are much more expensive than limited-data plans, and limited-data plans offer data allocations between around 0 GB and 50 GB per month. There are tons of plans between those two allocations, each at their own price point.
Lowering your data usage is a great way to save money on your cell phone bill each month. If you can create a routine that saves on your mobile data consumption each month, you can purchase a limited data plan and save big. The problem with limited-data plans is, of course, that you will run out if you’re not careful. Most carriers, if you run out of data, will throttle your speeds down to 3G speeds, which is rather slow.
The question to ask is this: Do you need unlimited data, or are you comfortable with a cap on the data you use each month?
Some of the higher-tier plans come with some add-ons and extra features, like free subscription services or mobile hotspot data. These add-ons are nice, but make sure they are things that you will use. If you, for instance, receive a Disney+ subscription but never use it, that add-on starts to cost you as it is baked into the overall cost of the plan.
The question to ask is this: Will you use the add-ons given as a part of the plan? If so, great! You can count that against the price, especially if they are something that you already had.
The last part of our little list is whether or not they have an active deal. Deals come in many shapes and sizes, and they are a great little addition to your new plan. When it comes to a new phone plan, every few dollars saved is nice. That being said, it is usually only a few dollars. It is important to keep a sharp eye out for any attached strings that tie you into more than you need. The deals are usually no more than a month of free service. That is awesome, but if you plan to be with them for a few years it won’t be worth the savings if it’s a plan that’s not perfect for you.
The question to ask is this: Don’t put too much stock in a new-customer deal if it’s not a plan you like on its own.
What’s Your Cell Phone Plan Budget?
We’re focusing on cell phone plans in this article, but remember that the cell phone plan is but one of the two main inputs in your cell phone bill. The other is your cell phone! When thinking about the best time to buy a new cell phone plan, make sure to take into account how much you want to budget out for your cell phone plan and any payments you have on your cell phone, if you don’t already own it outright.
Our Favorite Cell Phone Plans in 2023
Now that you know what to look for, let’s look at some of our favorite plans of 2023! There are a lot of plans out there, and we wanted to single out a few for you at different price points to provide different allocations of data and add-ons. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite cell phone plans of 2023.
- $10 a month
- Unlimited talk and text
- 1 GB high-speed data
- No contract
- Runs on T-Mobile’s network
Tello Economy is a great plan for people looking to save big time on their cell phone bills. We have it as one of the best low-cost cell phone plans because it comes in at only $10 a month, runs on a great network, and comes with a little bit of data. With only 1 GB, this plan is for people who are able to spend most or all of their days within Wi-Fi zones and don’t plan on using too much data when they are out and about. Downloading songs and podcasts, and waiting to boot up social media are all crucial changes when you are on a plan with just a bit of mobile data. If you go over your data allotment for the month you get throttled down to 2G speeds. These speeds are very slow, but you always have the option to purchase more high-speed data for the month, albeit at an increased price.
Visible Wireless Unlimited Plan
- $30 or $45 a month
- Unlimited talk and text
- 25 MB high-speed data
- No contract
- Runs on AT&T network
Visible has two plans, each with unlimited talk, text, and data. Understanding the ins and outs of Visible Wireless phone plans is a great place to start because they offer pretty robust plans for the price. The two visible wireless phone plans are as follows:
- $30 per month for Unlimited
- $45 per month for Unlimited plus
Choosing Visible Wireless is a bit pricier, but getting unlimited data for a price as low as $30 a month is a fantastic deal. People often use more data than they think because so many smartphone processes chew through data. A lot of stuff is already going on in the background, and then loading webpages, social media, and streaming audio and video use so much data that it is altogether too easy to chew through any amount of data allotment and be left with 3G or 2G speeds for the last few days of the month. If you don’t remember what it’s like — that’s slow.
The best premium wireless cell phone plans for multi-line plans
- $60/45/30/25 a month
- Unlimited talk and text
- 50 GB premium data, unlimited high-speed data
- No contract
Our pick for a major wireless company’s data plan is T-Mobile Essentials. Right off the bat, the multi-line savings are fantastic. Halving the cost with a three-line plan is a great deal, and the plan also has many advantages. It has no contract, which is always good, and it comes with unlimited high-speed data and 50 GB of premium data as well.
Whenever the bandwidth in an area is strained, major networks will slow down MVNO users to free up more bandwidth for their customers. This means that you are almost guaranteed to have max speed high-speed data at all times. The other unlimited plans at T-Mobile have more bells and whistles attached, like additional premium data, high-speed hotspot allocation, and other incentives like a free Netflix account. If the price hike is worthwhile for you, you can switch to one of those!
With all that in mind, we hope that you know the best time to buy a new cell phone plan! Remember, step one is always to check and make sure this is a good time to switch. That means your phone is unlocked and you aren’t in a contract with your current cell phone provider. After that, it’s all about figuring out the best plan for you. There are tons of different plans, and zoning in on your priorities helps narrow it down. We hope that our top three plans have helped in that department!