What to Know Before Switching Cell Phone Providers in 2022

Most people stay relatively loyal to their cell phone providers. It's not that everybody feels satisfied with their bills and service. Primarily, consumers may struggle to figure out which providers can offer an improvement. Other phone users might feel locked into their current provider because they still owe money for their phones or have time left on a contract.
Take a look at the various options for phone service and how switching plans could offer benefits.

Who Offers Cell Phone Service in 2022?

There are three big cell phone services, including AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. These well-known companies all offer nationwide coverage and an expanding 5G network.
At the same time, coverage can vary by location. For instance, most providers will cover big cities extensively but may not work as well in rural areas. Still, these companies keep improving. Anybody who left one of them a few years ago because of spotty coverage might find that the company has remediated the problem today.
Some smaller and more specialized providers also operate in the United States. Typically, these companies act as subsidiaries for the major brands, offering prepaid plans or other unique services. Examples include AT&T's Cricket, T-Mobile's Metro, and Verizon's Visible. These subsidiaries will rely upon their parent company's networks.
Other companies also use the major brand's networks. For instance, Google Fi and Mint Mobile rely on T-Mobile. In contrast, Spectrum and Comcast use Verizon. Thus, it's possible to get mobile services from companies outside of the big three, but they will likely use one of those top networks.

Will Contracts or Installment Plans Prohibit Switching Cell Providers?

A few years ago, most phone providers offered service contracts, including a mobile connection and a free or reduced-price phone. Most companies and consumers have moved away from this business model, but many still use installment plans to pay for their phones.
Very often, these payment plans last for 24 to 36 months. Customers who owe money on their phones may have difficulty switching plans without first paying off the balance. For example, Verizon says that they will typically ask for payment in full before they release the phone number and unlock the phone. After paying off the balance due, the original provider should unlock the phone. These days, most phones can work with various service providers.

Potential Benefits of Switching Cell Providers

Most people tend to stick with their providers because they don't know which ones offer the best networks and feel locked into a payment plan or contract. Still, switching providers can offer some benefits. For instance, most cell providers will offer lower rates or discounts on premium phones to attract new customers. Some plans might also include free perks, like streaming content, cloud storage, or access to gaming apps.

How to Buy Better Cell Phone Protection

Almost every phone service provider will try to upsell customers a phone protection plan. Very often, these plans impose another monthly fee, impose restrictions, and come from third-party warranty providers. These warranty companies typically pay commissions to attract the service provider's business.
Nothing forces customers to accept one of these plans, and everybody's free to seek out their own warranty company if they want to. For example, Upsie offers a Smartphone Subscription Warranty that costs just $9.99 per month. As a result, customers who choose Upsie’s warranty plans can end up saving on the cost of coverage compared to warranties from the cell phone provider.
Upsie's extended warranty for smartphones offers lower rates for premium service. Examples include a 24-7 claims line with a choice of mail-in and local service, including Apple's Genius Bar. Upsie's protection includes repairs for damage from accidents, wear, or defects.
Upsie skips the expensive intermediaries and works directly with its customers. As a result, Upsie can pass on savings in the form of better coverage, convenient services, and lower rates. This protection offers phone owners more confidence to explore their best options for smartphones and cell phone service.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.