Buyers Guide to Family Cell Phone Plan

So you’ve finally decided to get a cell phone for each member of your family, but you’re not exactly sure how to choose the best family cell phone plan. Worry no more, just follow this simple guide to buying a family cell phone plan, and then go shopping using the knowledge you’ll gain through this guide.

A family cell phone plan allows everyone on the plan to have their own cell phone and their own cell phone number. Not only does each family member have their own cell phone and cell phone number, but you only get one bill, and the family will share allotted minutes; keep your eye on those talkative teenagers though. What’s more, many plans include free in-network calling. Free in-network calling allows you to call any of your family members – or other subscribers using the same carrier – and it won’t use your free minutes. Plus, a family cell phone plan will allow you peace of mind when your family members are on the road late at night. Why? Because if a member of your family has car trouble then they’ll be able to phone you and let you know. But what’s even better, nearly all family cell phone plans have a roadside assistance plan that can be added. The roadside assistance plan is optional of course, but you never know when it may come in handy. For example, say your whole family decides to take a vacation away from home, and your car breaks down. Because your entire family is with you, you can’t call them for help, but with your roadside assistance plan your family won’t be stranded for very long.

The first step in choosing a family cell phone plan is finding a service provider. There are many providers out there, but before you decide on one shop around and study each provider’s family cell phone plan. The way to do this is get a brochure or information on the family cell phone plan for the provider, then take the materials home with you and look over each plan with your family to decide which plan is best for your family, and also decide which plan meets your family’s budget.

While looking over each plan with your family, here’s a list of things to consider:

How many family members will be sharing minutes? This is essential since you will need to choose a plan with enough minutes to divide between each family member. For example, say you have four family members that will be included on your family cell phone plan, and you see a plan for 700 minutes. With four family members, and 700 minutes, each family member can be allowed a total of 175 minutes each month (700 divided by 4 equals 175). If you think each member of your family can get by without going over 175 minutes then this plan may be right for you. However, if you have a teenager on the plan, and you think your teenager will be chatting with her friends a lot, then you may need to consider a family cell phone plan with more than 500 minutes.

After everyone agrees on the amount of minutes your family cell phone plan will need, your next step will be looking over the plan for those amount of minutes. You need to read everything thoroughly, because some family cell phone plans have extra charges, and you’ll want to consider those charges, as they too will be a part of your monthly bill. One charge may be a charge for additional lines. For example, the first two lines may be free, but additional lines could run as much as $9.99 per added line. So let’s say with four family members your plan for 1800 minutes (350 for each family member) will cost $89.00, however, the $89.00 is only for the first two lines, and you need two more lines. Two more lines is an additional cost of $19.98 ($9.99 per added line). Your monthly bill now would total $108.98, and that’s if you don’t go over your 1800 minutes for the month. This is where comparing plans comes in handy.

Other charges to look for in each provider’s family cell phone plan includes: recovery fee, early termination fee, activation fees, taxes, airtime charges, roaming charges, additional charges for making calls outside of your allowed territories, international long distance and additional minutes (only charged if you go over your allotted minutes). If none of these fees are mentioned in the information that you collected from each provider, then ask the provider about the fees on your next visit.

A family cell phone plan may include some of the following features. Some features may be included free with your plan, and others may cost extra.

� Caller ID/Caller ID blocking
� Call forwarding
� Three-way calling
� 411 connect
� Voicemail
� Call waiting
� No answer/busy transfer
� Text messaging
� Unlimited mobile to mobile calling
� Internet service
� Roadside assistance
� Rollover minutes
� International dialing

When your family is trying to decide on which family cell phone plan to choose there are a few things to keep in mind, so here’s some shopping tips to help out…

Choose a provider that offers free, unlimited night and weekend minutes, free, unlimited in-network calling, free long distance and free roaming. These extra benefits may prevent you from going over your anytime minutes.

Don’t pay extra for basic voice mail, caller ID, call forwarding or call waiting, because most providers include these features free with your family cell phone plan.

Select a plan with coverage in the territories you plan to call frequently.

Make certain you choose a plan with enough minutes for everyone, because if you have to upgrade to a larger plan you could be bound for another year.

Ask each provider what kind of trial period they will offer you so you can test your phone and service. If the provider offers a trial period, make sure to verify that a termination charge will not occur if you cancel during this trial period, and find out how long the trial lasts.

Once you decide on and choose a provider, read your contract thoroughly for legal disputes and contract modification clauses. If you don’t agree with a clause try to get the provider to omit it, and if they don’t then state your dissatisfaction and find a provider that will work with you. NEVER sign something you don’t agree with, and NEVER sign something without reading it first!

Check with each provider to see if they offer an extended warranty. The warranty should replace your cell phone (free) if your current cell phone is damaged. This warranty may cost extra, but could be worth the investment later down the road.

Finally, after your family selects a provider and plan, ask the provider what you can expect with the first bill. The first monthly bill may be higher, because of activation fees and etc.

I hope this guide aides you in choosing the right family cell phone plan. Happy shopping!

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