Coming out of the cave...I need to buy a cell phone.


I’ve managed to avoid cell phones so far (we don’t even have caller ID or call waiting on our regular phone), but I’m due to have our first child in February (mid-snow season), and I guess it’s time to give in. Based on where I live, my options seem to be AT&T, Verizon, US Cellular, and maybe Sprint.

I want to get the cheapest plan that doesn’t suck, doesn’t charge me roaming charges when I step 500 feet west of my house (I seem to be on the edge of a major calling area, if I understand the maps at all), and has decent reception. How do I begin to shop? I can’t understand most of the terminology. I am truly a cell phone n00b. :frowning:

Also, MrValley wants to get pre-paid cards (I’m leaning toward plans), but how do we know what’s going to be financially logical for us?

I am so overwhelmed! Can anyone provide guidance?

Thanks much.

Well I must say Cell Phone threads are very popular here the last two days.

My advice is:

1: First to talk to friends who have cell phones that live in your area and ask them about their service (availability), callling plans, their usage, etc. Find out what they like and do not like about them. Most people have at least one complaint be it small or big.

  1. Estimate how many mins you will need. If you and your hubby are each going to have phones remember that you will be sharing the mins. Also, many cell phones give long distance as part of the plan (only uses mins). So if you frequently call people long distance via a land line you may want to factor in the calls on your cell instead.

IMO, don’t look at web sites for the best rates. But the web site should help you determine service areas and give you a basic idea of what their plans include. It seems that you will get better offers through the specials they run in newspapers. They should be coming out soon, just in time for Xmas.

DO NOT rush into any deals (see when they expire). You will be signing up for a one (and possibly two) year contract. Canceling is costly so make sure you are comfortable with your decision.

Good Luck.

In addition to NYR407’s advice, I’d say look at CNET to see how individual cell phone models are rated. Users post reviews, read those.

Do any of your friends have cell phones? What is their reception like at your house?

It seems like most of the majors are fairly competitively priced, so try to find the company in your area that has the best coverage. Unfortunately those maps are pretty vague. Try to do a cost analysis of what a national plan will cost you versus roaming charges if it happens that you will be out of your calling area a lot.

I always get hosed on the roaming charges and end up paying about double what my monthly should be in the months that I travel.

If you get a phone without looking at Virgin mobile you are making a mistake, I ALWAYS have my phone with me but it does not get used much and my “bill” (you do not get a bill) runs about $11.00 a month.
Virgin mobile is PCS only and it uses Sprint antennas so if your area is covered by Sprint PCS you are good to go.
My phone has everything!: nationwide service, caller I D, e mail and a plan that is so simple a child can understand it.
When I hear people discussing cellular plans and talking about $30.00 or $40.00 a month it makes me choke because after all