Most major cities host multiple phone service providers and navigating the nuances of their plans can be challenging. However, reading all the fine print will keep you from paying for features you don't want. Homeowners moving to new cities and those looking to save money on their phone service should review the following tips on getting the right deal at the right price.
Evaluate your service needs
Phone service needs vary significantly between households. You may simply need one basic service, or require a mix of caller ID and voicemail features. The amount of time you spend on the phone making local and long distance calls will also have a big influence on which rate plans are a good fit for your home. Multiple phone lines may also be a necessity depending on the size of your household.
Calculate monthly costs
The Washington Utilities and Trade Commissioner warns consumers that each service providers may display its rate plans differently. Some companies charge by minute while others offer a mix of a flat rates for local calls and extra charges for long distance. The easiest way to compare costs directly is by developing a monthly expense report with each provider's rates. You'll need to estimate the total amount of time you spend on the phone making local and long distance calls. This estimate can then be used to calculate the monthly costs of each phone provider.
Sweat the small stuff
Consumers often miss important information if they fail to read service plans in detail. For example, a plan with a low rate may also include a monthly service fee that bumps up the cost. Another small detail to look for in a service plan is 9-1-1 callback functionality, says the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Not all phone service providers provide 9-1-1 as a feature of their service but the option might come in handy during an emergency.
Consider a bundle
Don't limit your search strictly to local phone companies. Many cable and Internet providers offer phone services too. Typically phone service is bundled into an all-in-one package including cable television and high-speed Internet. The right bundle will fulfill all of your phone needs plus provide your home with three services at a great discount. Be sure to check the wording to your bundle deal to see if the service package has an expiration date.