There are different kinds of cell phone plans, each of them being the best fit for different kinds of people.
Single Line Plans
Also called individual plans, single line plans are perfect if you are the only person that your plan needs to cover. This is great if you're living alone and don't want to pay extra for lines that you don’t need.
These are plans that are designed to cover multiple lines. Family plans are great because you pay one bill to cover your whole family, and each person has their own dedicated pool of data that they can use each month.
Shared Data Plans
These are a lot like family plans, but instead of each person getting their own dedicated pool of data to use each month, all the data comes from the same pool. When you run out of data on a shared data plan, everyone on the plan is out of data for the month. This is good for families with individuals who may use more data than others.
Shared data plans are a great flexible plan if you don't use a lot of data each month, and still net the benefit of being able to pay to cover your family with only one bill.
These plans let you pay for your data, minutes, and messages before you use them. With prepaid plans, you can buy credit in advance that you can use. If you run out, you'll have to buy more. This is a very flexible plan and you don't need to have a credit check in order to get one.
These are a lot like prepaid plans, but you're paying for data as you use it instead of paying in advance. If you are getting a pay-as-you-go plan, it's likely that you are using a phone that you already own. These kinds of plans are great for those who only want to pay for what they use.
However, pay-as-you-go plans aren't as feature-rich as other kinds of plans and you may encounter some unwanted fees.
Should I Get A Contract?
It's a common misconception that you need a contract to get a cell phone plan, but this isn't true. There are contract plans available, but they aren't your only choices. There are benefits and drawbacks to contract plans and non-contract plans.
If you get a plan with a contract, you might have to stick with it for several years. You'll have to keep paying every month until the end of your contract, or you can terminate it for a fee. The earlier you cancel, the higher your fee could be.
As you can probably tell, contract plans aren't the greatest because of this lack of freedom. UpPhone's plan comparison tool can help you find the best no-contract plans around.
However, there is one upside to contract plans, which is that you can potentially get a new phone subsidized by the carrier. This will make the phone cheaper in the long run, but you might wind up running into more caveats and fees with the contract than you expected.
With non-contract plans, you can actually expect better service. Since you aren't obligated to continue your subscription, carriers are more motivated to keep you satisfied.
Although you won't get your new phone subsidized like with a contract plan, many carriers offer leasing and financing options so that you can pay off your phone in monthly installments over a set number of months.
Bring Your Own Phone Plans
Phones are being built to last much longer than they used to. You can expect to get many years of life out of a phone released in the past two or three years. Why buy a new phone when you can use your old one?
This is why bring your own phone plans are becoming more popular. Just bring in your old phone when you get your plan and your carrier can get your old phone connected in a pinch.