Although many people are fiercely loyal to their wireless carrier, there are those who have their reasons to want to switch. If you fall into the latter category, you will want to think about all of the details that go into finding the right wireless carrier for you. There are a lot of details to consider, which means you should ensure that switching is actually the right move. With that said, before you switch wireless carriers, you should consider these factors first.
Are You Free to Switch Carriers?
While wireless carrier contracts are quickly becoming a thing of the past in the United States, there are some consumers who may still be tied to them. If you are grandfathered into an old plan that has long since been obsolete and have been upgrading to new phones for very little to no money down, you probably still have a contract with your carrier. Ensuring that your two year period has past, you are free to switch to a different carrier if you fall under that category. If you are still in the middle of a two year contract, you will have a hefty early termination fee to pay if you leave before it expires.
Another scenario in which you might have difficulty switching to a new carrier is if you are still financing your current smartphone. These days, it’s commonplace for the major wireless carriers to require a monthly fee tied in with its service fee for paying off a phone. Most allow you to pay a certain amount for as long as 48 months. Once this fee is completely paid, you own your phone. However, if you choose to switch to a new carrier before completely paying off your device, you will either have to pay the rest or check whether the carrier you’re considering switching to will pay it for you.
Can You Use Your Current Phone on Another Carrier?
Another thing to consider when switching carriers is whether or not you can use your current phone on the new carrier’s network. Firstly, your phone has to be compatible, as in GSM vs CDMA technology. Carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM technology, which is what is used in most of the world, while Sprint and Verizon rely on CDMA. In certain cases, you will also have to have your phone unlocked if you plan on using it on a different carrier. Some phones, like T-Mobile’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, are factory unlocked, as are many Verizon phones. In the case of Sprint, you would not be able to use its phones on any network but its own because of the specific network bands within. If that doesn’t work you could always sell your used cell phone and use the cash to get a new one.
If you can have your phone unlocked by your current carrier and it is compatible with the network of the carrier you plan to switch to – for example, if you were switching from AT&T to T-Mobile – you can save money by relying on this method. However, other carriers may make you purchase a new phone, such as Republic Wireless.
Consider the Type of Plan You Want
Whether you are looking for an individual plan or a family plan is a factor to consider when planning on switching wireless carriers. Some options are cheaper than others, especially when you add multiple people to your plan. Most often, data is essentially available in a family plan as a shared bucket among everyone. For instance, if you have four people in your plan and 10GB of data, each person gets 2.5GB per month. If you want an individual plan, a prepaid carrier that allows you to build your plan might be the way to go.
Are Low Prices Important?
It’s important to consider prices when switching carriers. If having low prices is important to you, then you might want to go with prepaid carriers like Straight Talk or MetroPCS and bring your own unlocked GSM phone with you. That way, you don’t have to pay for a new device and you can enjoy lower monthly rates.
One of the most important factors to consider when you plan to switch wireless carriers is coverage in your area. Depending on where you live, service will be excellent with some carriers but spotty at best with others. With that said, you might be limited on choices, so it’s best to do your homework and check coverage maps of your area. Visit various stores of wireless carriers and check them out as well.
These are the most important things to consider when switching to a new wireless carrier. You will have a better time of switching when you factor in each detail.