How to pick the perfect cellphone plan for you

Text transcript: Money smarts in a flash

The truth about cellphones

The real cost of a cellphone
A cellphone bill can take up a big chunk of your budget. Are you sure your plan is right for your needs? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the right choice.

You use your cellphone to:
  • Read emails and text (75%)
  • Do research (60%)
  • Use social media (57%)
  • Manage your accounts (44%)
  • Figure out where you are (43%)
  • Stay informed (41%)
Before you shop
  1. How much you can spend each month
  2. Your needs: Days, evenings, weekends? How many minutes? Local or long distance calls? Voicemail, call display, call waiting? Unlimited text messages? A smartphone or something more basic?
  3. Do you want a plan with or without a contract? 
    • Contract = Monthly service agreement for a set period (usually 1 to 3 years)
    • No contract = Pay for phone time as you go
Ask the right questions
Do you know about cancelling contracts and exchange policies?

Ask questions - these things are important to know!
  • What's the penalty if you cancel your contract?
  • What happens if your phone stops working? What if you lose it?
  • What happens if you want to change plans before your contract ends?
What you need to know
Average cost of a plan
  • Basic service for $35.70 a month: No internet, not many minutes, no features
  • Average plan for $45.26 a month: A few features, minutes for average use, no internet
  • High-end plans for $80 a month: Lots of calls, lots of features, and 1 GB of data
In 2013, Canadians paid an average of $60 a month for their cellphone. That's $700 a year!

You can end your contract penalty-free after 2 years.

If you go to the United States, using a MB of data (sending a photo for example) could cost $2 or $3. Elsewhere in the world, it could cost up to $15.

If you don't pay your cellphone bill on time, it could affect your credit rating.

The annual interest rate on an unpaid balance can be up to 40%

Calculating how much data you need
There are sites that can help you find a plan that suits your needs.
  • 100 MB = 2 hrs online, 40 emails, 8 app downloads and no TV
  • 1 GB = 20 hrs online, 500 emails, 40 app downloads and 5 hrs of TV
  • 3GB = 60 hrs online, 700 emails, 180 app downloads and 12 hrs of TV
Travel tips: watch your data usage!
Roaming fees are always higher than local fees
  • Deactivate your data when you're abroad
  • Activate airplane mode on your device
  • Wi-Fi is your best friend
  • Get an international plan from your provider
  • Buy a disposable phone or a calling card once you get where you're going
  • Use a foreign SIM card
Take advantage to take a break from your phone for a while!

The data used in this infographic is from studies conducted in Canada and the United States.

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