When you’re shopping for a cell phone service provider, you’ll likely see lots of companies marketing cell phone plans with unlimited data. While unlimited data phone plans used to be the norm, carriers did, for a time, start capping data and charging more for users who went over. However, however, as we’ve all become more dependent than ever on our smart phones, companies are once again offering unlimited data cell phone plans. The question is, is unlimited data worth it and are these unlimited data phone plans actually a deal that can make financial sense?
The Truth About Unlimited Data Cell Phone Plans
When you’re considering cell phone plans with unlimited data, the first thing to be aware of is that true unlimited data phone plans are either non-existent or almost impossible to find. Many carriers will allow you “unlimited” data… but your data speeds will be slowed if you live in a congested area and use data above a certain level.
Carriers also impose limits on how you can use your “unlimited” data plan. For example, you may have to pay more or may not be able to use your unlimited data in every circumstance. If you’re looking to use your phone internationally, want to use your phone as a mobile hotspot, or are doing anything else outside of basic uses, you’ll likely still incur extra costs even if your data is “unlimited” according to the provider’s marketing claims.
Mobile virtual network operators who offer prepaid plans, and major carriers who offer pre-paid plans, typically also impose substantial restrictions on so-called “unlimited” data packages. Plus, no matter which company you get your unlimited data from, you’re typically not going to be offered a free phone if you’re opting for an unlimited data package. This means you’ll either need to pay up front for a phone- which could be very costly – or will need to pay a monthly installment payment. This will add costs to the monthly bill for the “unlimited” data plan.
Are the Plans Worth the Cost?
While there are clear drawbacks and unlimited data cell phone plans don’t necessarily allow you to use every feature you might want at a low monthly cost, the plans can still be a good buy depending upon your specific phone use.
With most plans offered by major cell phone carriers, you actually will have unlimited minutes and will be able to send and receive an unlimited number of text messages. And, while you could be slowed down if you use too much data, you really have to use a substantial amount before you end up getting your speed slowed.
Even if your speed is slowed down because you’re in an area with high-demand, this doesn’t mean your speed is throttled or will be slow to the point it’s unusable. Sometimes, you’ll still get LTE speeds even if a manufacturer warns you that your speed is being slowed. And, even if you don’t get LTE speed because you’ve gone over your data allotment for the month, your phone is still usable and you’ll still get to take advantage of its features.
Concerns about exceeding data aren’t the only thing to worry about when deciding if cell phone plans with unlimited data are worth it. You’ll also want to make sure that the network of the cell phone service provider is a reliable one with good coverage where you live. It does you no good to have an unlimited plan if you are never able to access the data, make calls, or text because your reception is poor.
Compare Unlimited Data Phone Plans Carefully
If you use your phone a lot and want to have access to data without worrying about getting a big surprise bill, you’ll need to research unlimited data cell phone plans from different providers to find out the terms and conditions of each plan. Verizon, AT&T, Spring, and T-mobile are all among the companies with unlimited data plans. There are varying terms and conditions, and varying coverage maps, with each of these providers that you should explore. Pre-paid companies like Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless also have their own deals too, which can be considered as an alternative to the big carriers.
As you shop for different plans, find out the monthly cost, when and how data will be slowed if you use too much, whether you must buy a device, and what the cost of the device would be. By comparing all of these different things, and making sure that the cell phone provider has good coverage, you can make an informed choice on whether cell phone plans with unlimited data are the best choice for you.