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Tips for Shopping for the Wireless Service 
and Switching Carriers

Click Here to know about Transferring Your Cell Phone and Home Phone (Landline) Numbers.

 Wireless phones and plans are changing constantly and service contracts can be difficult to read. There is no standardized format to help consumers comparison-shop, which makes looking for the right cellular plan very confusing. Here are the the wireless industry's best-kept secrets and how you can use them to your advantage when shopping for wireless services. Consumers should always remember to select a carrier and a plan first before choosing a phone.

Look Around for the Best New Plan:
Before you switch, do your
homework. One smart strategy is to know from your old bills, which tell you about your calling habits. How many minutes do you use a month? Do you need long distance included in your plan? What should your "local calling area" be — national or regional, with which you'll be charged roaming every time you leave your area?

Once you know the answers to these questions, call each of the wireless providers in your area and ask them what they can offer that fits your needs. Don't get lured into other juicy offers, the carriers will have a lot more plans than you see on their brochures, which often list only the company's current promotions.

Know exactly where is home/Local region and national Calling Area:
Ask to check out the coverage maps, but note federal regulators no longer require carriers to provide maps. So your best bet is to seek recommendations from friends, neighbors or business associates who drive the same roads and walk the same sidewalks you do before you sign up with any cell phone carrier.

 Bargaining with the carriers:
When you find a great deal with a new carrier, tell your current provider about it before you switch. Unless you're absolutely certain that you want to switch carriers, chances are you might end up with a matching or an even better offer from your current provider.
After all, the cell-phone companies spend anywhere from $350 to $425 to gain each new customer. If they can keep you on board for less than that, they'll be willing to spend the money. So how much should you expect? On average, cell-phone companies shell out $65 for each customer retained, but you could get a lot more if the company deems you a valuable customer. If you have a couple of phone lines, you're using a ton of minutes, you're using other data services, you're a more valuable customer than someone who's using the phone only in case the car breaks down.

Two-Year Contract? Think Twice Before You Sign:
So your carrier surprised you with a very lucrative offer. But wait. Will you have to sign a one-year or a two-year contract to get it?
It is advised that you stay away from two-year contracts since telecom and wireless technology is getting better day by day and you might get better phones and plans with in months after you signup for the contract.

Wireless number portability will force the cell-phone companies to come up with more creative offers in the battle for customers (the more reason not to sign a two-year contract yet). 

Stay on top of new offers so you're prepared for your next switch. It was predicted that in the near future, the different carriers will start targeting users with different needs. "In the past, it has almost been one size fits all, but in the future, you'll see some carriers position themselves as pricing leaders, offering the lowest prices, others differentiating themselves on excellent quality and customer service, and still others offering the latest camera phones, screen savers and other data services for the techno geeks. "The carriers are going to start to position themselves to cater to those different markets.

Paying for incoming calls:
Typically, incoming calls are charged against your minutes, but some plans are offering free incoming calls.

Check not to exceed your minutes:
It’s important to understand the cost of exceeding your minutes since doing so not only increases your calling costs but also the overall taxes you’re charged. But shoppers should also avoid getting drawn in by a large number of free minutes--if the minutes aren't available when you use the phone, you end up paying more.

Roaming charges and Long Distance Charges:
Carriers usually charge additional per minute fees for calls made from another carrier's network. Some have eliminated these fees in nationwide plans. If you are likely to place calls outside your "home" area, be sure you understand the additional charges and whether you should consider a regional or national plan.
Some plans include long distance service, others charge additional per minute fees for long distance.

Unused minutes and Roll-Over Minutes:
Generally, remaining minutes at the end of a billing period are lost. Recently, some carriers have begun offering plans that allow customers to roll over minutes into the next month.

Per-Minute/Second Rounding:
Most carriers round usage up to the next full minute, even if only a small portion of the minute is used. Some carriers offer plans that round to the nearest second. If you typically use up your minutes, this feature may be helpful.

Free Incoming minutes:
Some carriers offers free incoming or first incoming minute is free. Remember to ask the carrier about the free incoming plans.

Using same phone with another carrier:

Different carriers' networks are not necessarily compatible with each other, so switching service usually means purchasing a new phone. In recent days there are some phones available with SimCard facility and those phones can be used with other compatible carriers.

Additional Charges:
Additional services such as directory assistance, Caller ID, voice mail, text messaging, etc., may be included in the monthly charge or may incur additional charges, depending on the plan. A plan may advertise these services as available, but not clearly indicate the additional charges.

Charges to start and terminate the service:
Some plans charge activation fees to begin service and often hefty termination fees to end service before the end of a contract period.

Analog and Digital mode Phones:
Phones that can work in both digital and analog modes give you more opportunities to get through, which can be especially important when dialing 911 in an emergency. Analog is the common wireless language, which is widely available nationwide.

Estimate of the taxes, fees and surcharges with typical usage of the phone:
Remember that these can add up increasing the bottom line of your bill by several dollars per month. These charges vary depending on where you live and the size of your bill before taxes, but we've seen these charges add as much as 20% to cell phone bills.

Test period/ Customer satisfaction:
 Many carriers offer a 15-day/30-day trial period before stiff early termination penalties kick in when you signup for long-term contract. The carrier will charge on the used minutes if decided to cancel the service. Without a trial run you may find that your chosen carrier has "dead zones" in those spots that you would use your phone most often. Note that there’s often a nominal non-refundable start-up fee.
After your purchase, review your bills carefully, especially the first one to ensure you are charged as advertised.

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