Analyze plans at comparison sites
How do you know if a plan you're considering offers not just a low price, but a good value?
Comparison sites are a good place to start.
MyRatePlan.com and WhistleOut.com ask you to enter the minutes, data and text messages you use in a typical month and how many phone lines you need. A search for single-line plans with unlimited minutes and texts and at least 3GB of data, the amount the typical consumer uses, reveals dozens of options. You can narrow the results by plan type (contract versus prepaid) and carrier and sort by price.
Once you've chosen a carrier, check to see if you qualify for preferred pricing through your employer, school or professional organization, says Andrew Constantine, a Seattle-based technology consultant who advises high-tech and telecom companies for Hitachi Consulting. You'll often be able to get the activation fee waived and a 10% to 25% discount on monthly service, he says.