Find and compare the best cell phone plans in Washington at Wirefly. Which cell phone carrier has the best coverage in your area? Click the carrier logos below to launch their coverage maps. Then, use our tool below to compare the price and features of each carrier’s plans. Smaller carriers and MVNOs typically run on the networks of one of the big four carriers you see below.
Things to consider when choosing the best cell phone plan in Washington
The market is flooded with many different options for cell phone plans. Few people are hard pressed to find a service and reasonable monthly price that fits into their budget. They can stay connected and take advantage of a host of features and services.
However, with the buffet of cell phone selections, how many people actually pay for what the truly need? Are more people paying for extras that they will never use? The answer to each of these questions is most likely yes and yes. While one deal may seem like it is the best, especially if a free phone is offered, it could end up draining a person's wallet when compared to a plan that does not include a free gimmick.
Once a person finds a good cell phone plan with the right amount of talk, text and data limits for their needs, it does not hurt to compare it with other plans. Viewing a wide variety of selections is easy to do in one place: Wirefly. This website offers the best cell phone plan pricing to help consumers save time and money shopping for the best price.
Washington cell phone coverage
One of the most important features that you need to consider in a cell phone plan is how well you will be covered. You'll need to have good reception when you are in Washington, so you need to choose a plan that offers the best coverage. While you may find a cheap cell phone plan that you want to go with, it won't do you any good if you can't get proper service in your area. Luckily, most national carriers now offer reliable coverage for cities around the United States, so chances are, you'll be covered wherever you go. Before you choose a plan, look at their coverage maps to make sure you get the right plan for your geographical area.
Understanding the different types of cell phone plans
When searching for a cell phone plan in Washington, you're looking for one that gives you enough minutes, text messages and data to fit your needs. These features are broken down in plans by: minutes covered, text messages available and data limits.
Most people rely on cell phones for the majority, if not all, of their communication needs. You'll need to make sure the plan you choose has enough talk, text and data for you and anyone else you choose to carry on your plan.
Each cell phone plan has its own limitations, so deciding the most important features for you and your family is key to discovering the perfect plan. To help you out, here's a breakdown of the 3 main categories of cell phone plans:
Individual plans offer services for one line on one phone. All of the minutes, data and text available in the plan can only be used by that phone. If you don't want to add anyone else to your plan, then this could be a great choice.
Family plans spread out the data, minutes and text over several lines and phones. The number of lines and phones is up to you and some plans offer discounts for adding additional lines. If you want service for your entire family, these plans are the best deal because they are cheaper than buying individual plans for each person.
With no contract plans, you pay for service without the obligation of a contract. Often called pay-as-you-go, these plans offer the same features and benefits of individual and family plans, but often with additional fees. Most plans now allow you to use the same smart phones available for other plans, but at a higher price. Payments can be made each month and some carriers offer online or phone payments by credit card, bank account or prepaid cards that you can find in most Washington department stores.
The biggest advantage of the monthly plans is the absence of a contract. With family and individual plans you are bound by a contract that is typically no less than 2 years. This contract obligates you to pay for service through the end of the contract, and early termination comes with fees, penalties and extra charges.
Which cell phone plan is the right one for you?
When choosing the right plan for use in Washington, you should think about how many people will be on the plan and what types of services you want to include. Most carriers factor the points below into your plan.
Before committing to a plan you need to know who will be on it, how they will use it and how much. Cell phone plans are comprised of three elements: talk, text and data. Talk refers to how many minutes you spend speaking to someone on your phone. Text is the volume of text messages you send or receive, and data is the megabytes or gigabytes of information that your phone uploads or downloads using the internet.
To reduce costs on a contract plan you can limit your texts and talk to under 400 minutes or messages combined. If you are a heavy talker, you may fare better with an unlimited plan. The same is true if you tend to send a lot of texts.
If you are using a pay-as-you-go plan, you would simply reload your phone to pay for services. When you purchase minutes you can choose to buy them one at a time or pay for a package. For example, you could choose to buy 1000 minutes at once for a flat payment of $400.
With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, data is more important than ever before. In Washington data can cost a lot of money, and nearly all carriers force you to adhere to a limit. Unlimited data plans are hard to find, but they exist. Data is often charged per megabyte and gigabyte and is subject to expensive fees for overages. This is why it is of the utmost importance to select a data plan that covers you typical data needs. In fact, it is a good idea to allow for more than you will need.
Finding the best cell phone plan for your needs
Now that you know which kind of cell phone plan you want, it's now time to make another important decision: what do you need each month in terms of minutes, text messages, and data? This used to be a slightly complex decision to have to make, but that is no longer the case due to changes in the wireless industry. Current cell phone plans have almost all dropped limits on calling minutes and texts messages. Postpaid family plans and individual plans at Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, all include unlimited talk and text. Only a small number of no contract prepaid plans still enforce limits.
The good news is that you can choose to look at only the amount of data that you need on a monthly basis. Two of the major carriers make this decision pretty simple, while two of the other major carriers require a bit more decision making before choosing a plan. Here's what to keep in mind when selecting a cell phone plan in Washington:
Like T-Mobile, Sprint recently unveiled a flat-rate, all-unlimited mobile plan for new and existing subscribers. Customers who prefer not to get an unlimited plan can opt for a 'shared' amount of data that can be used by all lines attached to the account. By default, data speeds on limited plans slow down after all data has been used. Customers can buy a high-speed pass if they wish to have more full-speed data until the end of the month, however.
The Un-Carrier, as T-Mobile has dubbed itself, recently made a move toward unlimited data for all. The company added to its Simple Choice plan lineup with T-Mobile ONE, an unlimited, single plan for individuals or families. T-Mobile Simple Choice plans are still available for customers who prefer them, however. These plans feature data rollover and no overage charges, so there's no extra fees added to the bill based on your usage.
Verizon got rid of overages early in 2016 and started offering rollover data for its shared data plans. Verizon's plans are similar to AT&T's, however an unlimited data option is not available to new customers at all.
AT&T offers unlimited data only to customers who also have DIRECTV or AT&T Internet. Otherwise, customers have shared data plans with every line on their account. In 2016, AT&T introduced a no-overages policy that throttles data to 2G speeds when a data bucket is exhausted. The company also has its 'Stream Saver' service in 2016, which reduces the quality of all streaming video and uses data more slowly as a result.
Smaller prepaid carriers, called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), usually operate on one of the four above networks and resell services to no-commitment customers. These plans cover Washington and change very frequently, but they do often represent a good savings each month.
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