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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Cell Phone

Mobile phones and calling plans are complicated. Service providers sometimes make intentionally or unintentionally misleading offers or incorrect claims. Be informed, ask questions and avoid the following five common mistakes when buying a cell phone:

  1. "Free" Can Be Expensive
  2. Phone Looks Great, But Doesn't Meet Your Needs
  3. Getting Features You Won't Use
  4. Paying Too Much
  5. Buying a Phone That Won't Work on Your Carrier's Network

1. "Free" Can Be Expensive

Buying a calling plan with a free phone or free initial rates. The phone might not meet your needs or be of low quality. After the first two months, you might be paying the highest rates.

Some vendors offer something additional or secondary for free, such as a handbag or download, that you don't really need or value, but it convinces you to buy the phone anyway. The offer, with or without the freebie, is usually not that good. You end up with a worthless freebie and a less-than-optimal phone.

Very few things are absolutely free. Compare the total cost of using the phone over the life of the contract. Remember to value only the things you really need.

2. Phone Looks Great, But Doesn't Meet Your Needs

Buying the fanciest looking phone, only to find that it lacks the features you want. The look of the handset is important, but it should work properly for you.

Don't get a fancy looking phone that does not have the features that meet your main mobile phone needs.

3. Getting Features You Won't Use

Too many fancy features can make the phone complicated or awkward to use.

For example, a full keyboard or a complex menu system might frustrate you. Don't be pressured by friends or sales-people into purchasing a handset model or calling plan features that you won't use.

Get the features you need, and not much more. Certainly don't pay for more than you need.

4. Paying Too Much

Paying too much for a phone out of which you won't get full value. Tomorrow's phones will have more features and lower prices than those of today's phones.

For example, signing a three-year contract when a two-year one is available at the same price. Or, getting a discontinued model at the same price as a current model.

Know your "must have" needs and your budget. Don't go over your budget and pay for more than you need. Comparison shop for value from reputable retailers and service providers.

5. Buying a Phone That Won't Work on Your Carrier's Network

Many phones are "locked" and won't work on another carrier's network. If you buy a used handset, be sure it will work on your carrier's network.

Maybe you buy a handset and calling plan from one service provider and then want to switch to another provider. The handset might not work with the second carrier.

If the phone is or can be unlocked, it will work on any compatible network. Check before buying.


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