Are Unlimited Phone Plans Truly Unlimited?

Close up of students holding their phones and tablets while using gadgets for study
Close up of students holding their phones and tablets while using gadgets for study

Cell phones have become a part of society to the point that it’s hard for some people to imagine living without them. The amount of integration that these personal pieces of technology have seen in the daily lives of people around the globe is astounding. Over the last twenty years, the rise in prominence of cell phones has connected people all over the world in all kinds of new and exciting ways.

What’s incredible about cell phones is the variety of different things you can do with them. Everything from playing your favorite mobile games to paying for bills, video calling loved ones, and online shopping can happen from a cell phone. Because of that, most people consider their cell phones an investment that’s worth making. While many people do love their phones and the level of joy and convenience they bring to their life, they don’t like the bills.

The downside of a cell phone is how expensive the entire process can be. Not only are the phones themselves expensive, with major flagship phone manufacturers creating base models that retail at a thousand dollars, but the plans aren’t cheap either. One of the most unpleasant parts of owning a cell phone is the moment in time when you find yourself in search of a new phone plan.

This can happen for many reasons, such as moving to areas where your current provider doesn’t have good service or moving off of a family plan onto your own. For whatever the reason may be, finding a new phone plan can be a pain and can often seem like an intimidating process.

Not only is there a lot of paperwork and the potential for a large phone bill in the end, but it can seem daunting to just look at all the options. One thing that carriers always push in their marketing is the availability of unlimited phone plans. This always sounds like a great thing because not being limited on your data could be the difference between being very happy with your plan or constantly frustrated.

The only downside is that unlimited high-speed plans can often come at a higher premium. If you are shopping on a budget, this might be a problem. If you think an unlimited phone plan is worth the investment, then a higher premium may not be an issue. The real question is how unlimited are unlimited plans?

Taking the time to ask these questions when shopping for a new phone plan can help you avoid accidentally getting roped into a contract you don’t want. Here are some things you should know if you want an unlimited plan.

First Off - What is Unlimited?

The first thing you need to settle in your shopping journey is what unlimited is. When a carrier claims for a service to be unlimited, they could be talking about a couple of different things. First, they may be talking about unlimited talk or text time. This is important to define because if you want unlimited high-speed data, then this will not be what you are looking for.

Secondly, if a carrier offers an unlimited data plan, you need to look at the fine print and discern how much of the data is highspeed. For instance, AT&T unlimited plans come in a couple of different tiers. All of them are unlimited, but some have a cap on the number of gigs you get at a certain speed. Once you hit that cap, you still technically have unlimited access to data, but your connection becomes significantly slower.

The chances are that when an unlimited plan has a variation of high-speed access, it will be reflected in the price. For example, an unlimited plan that offers a capped amount of high-speed data will most likely have a lower price tag than a plan that offers truly unlimited high-speed data.

How To Choose the Best Choice

When it comes to choosing between plans, there is no ‘wrong’ choice. However, there is a ‘best’ choice. To find what kind of data package would best suit your needs, you will have to spend some time defining what you need out of a high-speed data package. If you rarely have access to strong wifi, do a lot of remote work from a hotspot, and enjoy streaming entertainment from your data plan, then unlimited high-speed might be best.

On the other hand, if you look back over your data usage and realize that you are rarely not using good wifi and you don’t have a lot of reason to use data throughout the day, why pay a higher premium?

This post is provided by a third party who may receive compensation from the products or services they mention.


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