Cell-Phone Family Plans
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Family cell-phone plans are a good choice if you would like to have one bill for several cell phones. This can be useful whether you want to be on the same plan with a spouse, your older children, or both. Every family will have its own specific needs that will determine which cell-phone carrier and plan will work the best for its situation. Because it can be frustrating and expensive to change cell-phone carriers, it’s important to choose a carrier that will fit your needs for at least the length of the cell-phone contract.

Determine minutes needed

You need to consider how many minutes you need in a family cell-phone plan. Many cell-phone carriers offer free minutes during certain times of the day or to certain phone numbers. If you will primarily be making calls within these guidelines, then you may not need as many total minutes in your cell-phone plan. Secondly, you need to consider which geographic area you will be primarily making phone calls to. Some family cell-phone plans offer unlimited long distance while others limit you to phone calls made to your local area. Another important factor in determining how many cell-phone minutes you need is the number of people who will be sharing the family cell-phone plan and whether your cell phone will be used as your primary phone.

Cell-Phone coverage

Cell-phone coverage is important because this determines where you have the ability to make phone calls from. Different cell-phone carriers have varying degrees of coverage in each local area, so it’s important to choose a family cell-phone plan with a carrier that has good coverage in your local area. Coverage maps are typically provided on each cell-phone carrier’s website and should be a good indicator for how reliable your phone will be in the places you need to use it. Local topography may interfere with cell-phone coverage in certain areas that are listed as covered by the cell-phone provider, so it is important to be aware that you are not always guaranteed coverage.

Number of phones on a plan

With a family cell-phone plan, you are often allowed two cell phones on the plan and incur charges for any additional phones. If you have older children, even if they do not currently have a cell phone, you may want to choose a plan that allows for additional phones in case you decide that your children need a phone at a later date. Most carriers will allow you up to five phones on a family plan, but this is generally subject to your credit score.

Text messaging and web capability

Phones have the capability of doing much more than simply making phone calls. Text messaging and Internet access are likely important to at least one member of your family, so it’s important to choose a plan that includes them to avoid extra charges. While some family cell-phone plans include unlimited data, others charge by the megabyte, so you’ll want to estimate what your total use will be.

Handset availability

Not all cell-phone handsets are offered by each cell-phone carrier. While each does offer a wide selection of phones, if anyone in your family has a strong preference for a certain handset then you will want to take that into consideration before choosing a carrier. Some popular cell-phone handsets are even limited to certain cell-phone plans offered by that carrier so you will need to decide as a family whether that plan works for you and how important it is to have that particular handset.

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