When choosing a cell phone plan, a person first needs to determine what kind of plan he needs. If he is single, a plan that just covers one person would be ideal. If two, three, or more family members need phones, a family plan is a logical choice.
The person also needs to determine what kinds of services he needs. Does he do a lot of long-distance calling? Free nationwide long distance is a good option, then. For families with kids away at college, a roadside assistance plan may be something to think about.
Text messaging and Internet access are two options that can become pricey in a hurry. Some companies charge for Internet access depending on how much is downloaded. Some charge for the time spent on the Internet. Text messages may be charged per message, or for a flat fee each month. However, the person choosing the cell phone plan needs to think about whether these features are really necessary.
Family cell phone plans have skyrocketed in popularity as cell phones have become ubiquitous. These usually involve all family members drawing from a common pool of minutes, for a set fee, possibly with an extra fee per month for each line besides the primary. For instance, a company may offer a plan with 450 minutes per month for US$40. Each additional line might be US$10 per month. However, these plans also frequently offer free mobile-to-mobile calling, which means family members can call each other without using up their minutes.
Another point to consider when choosing a cell phone plan is when people do most of their calling. If those on the plan generally use the phones only for short calls during the day, with most longer calls at night, the person should think about getting a plan that increases the number of minutes for nights or weekends. These minutes are separate from the "anytime" minutes in the plan.
A person should also consider what kinds of phones he needs, and which companies offer such phones. Some companies may offer free phones with features like a camera phone, and if these are free phones, the person might want to take advantage of the offer. Most people use their phones mostly for calls, or maybe for playing games. A person shouldn't be pressured into buying an expensive phone that has bells and whistles he will never use. If he needs the features, he should get them, but the average person has no need for the more expensive options.
Comparison shopping is also key. The person should look at several companies and compare the costs and features of similar plans. Some Web sites allow a person to compare cell phone plans, with all the features compiled into chart form. This can be very helpful.