What to look for in choosing a calling plan?

Calling Plan
It is obvious when you buy a phone you look for a telecom provider offering the best calling plans. Most often when purchasing the cell phone from the cell phone operator he wants you to sign a two or three year contract by offering you discounts on the handsets. And you would on the pretext of getting a discount sign the contract for a particular plan. But it is the customer liability that if he/she chooses to terminate his/her subscription before the end of contract he/she may be charged a penalty such as CA$200 cancellation fee.  This makes it confusing for the customer to know what calling plans is best for him/her.

There are certain points to consider before having a calling plan. These questions or points first should be tackled by the individual honestly to himself/herself prior to buying a plan.

  • Do you use the phone most frequently/What is your Usage or need for a phone/What time do you use the phone often.

You need to ask this question as how many times a day or week or month you use the phone or at what time day time/night time/evening time. If you know that most of your usage is after 8 pm, then you should go for a “nights” calling plan, in which you may talk for unlimited time if the call is placed between let’s say 7 pm and midnight.

The thing is to understand during which times of the day you will enjoy such discounts as they may vary from carrier to carrier.

  • Do you need additional services

Additional services such as call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, special ringtones should be kept in mind whether you need them or not since some carriers bundle them in their basic offering though not everybody will benefit from the service at the same level. Also such add- ons increase your bill in the long run.

In Canada, your cell phone bill will come with a few add-ons that are important to understand. Here are three other fees that you may see in your bill:

  • System Access Fee: This fee is somehow a way by the carriers to inflate your bill, and it could go as much as CAD$ 9 per month. If you come from Europe you may be familiar with “call connection fees: of about CA$0.10 every time you press the “send” key.
  • Emergency 911 Service: It is a few pennies that could save your life.
  • Taxes: In Canada services such as the phone have two types of taxes which add up to 14% of your total bill.
  • Which package will suit me and my budget?

Many carriers offer post paid, prepaid and monthly services. It depends on your phone usage what best deal you wish for.  In contrast to Europe, prepaid service is not very common in Canada, however most carriers will have at least one form of prepaid service. You may be required to recharge your phone with different frequencies (once every 15,30,60 days).
Monthly packages start from approximately CAD$ 20 (excluding taxes) and up. For CAD$ you should be able to get at least 200 minutes of talk time. Per-month billing is usually convenient if you want to enjoy the relatively lower per-minute rates.

  • What is Pre Paid plan?

In Canada you may either get a prepaid or a “pay as you go” billing system in which case you literally need to refill your account by purchasing extra minutes and the second option is getting a monthly bill for the cellular service. You are not forced to get a long-term contract with your wireless provider to enjoy the reduced rates that usually come with it, however if you need to buy a phone, then be prepared to pay a substantially higher price for your phone if you chose not to sign a two or three year contract.

If you choose to get a pre-paid system, note that per minute rates in the pre-paid world are substantially higher than if you got a package of let’s say 200 minutes per month, however having a pre-paid phone may be a better deal if your phone usage is low. If you do not have a credit card and/or prior credit history in Canada, you may have no choice but to get a pre-paid system.

The wireless companies in Canada have several prepaid packages based on which card you buy and there are no switching costs between prepaid packages. That said, a CA$30 pre-paid card may have a different per-minute rate than a CA$10 one.

  • From where shall you buy prepaid cards?

Prepaid “refilling” cards can be bought at major electronic stores, cell phone outlet stores (Bell World, Fido/Rogers, etc.) convenience stores, and even at Canada Post (Canadian Postal Services Company).

  • What is Per minute rates-per second billing?

In Canada many wireless carriers (but not all) provide you with a per-second billing system at no extra cost. The advantage of such system is that if you make calls that are less than a minute (or a minute and a fraction) you get billed for the actual seconds that you talk instead of the full minute.

  • What about if you go for a Contract or opt for No-contract plan?

Choosing to have a contract

  • You may get a new phone with it at a reduced price.
  • There may be some a bit big penalties (between CAD$ 100 and as much as CAD$500) if you decide to terminate the contract prior to its expiry date. Normal penalties vary from the actual cost of the cell phone handset you have or an amount equivalent to the monthly rate of your package multiplied by the number of months remaining in your package.
  • Normal contract duration are for two to three years.
  • If your stay in Canada is shorter, you may end up paying more money than you anticipated.

Choose not to have a contract

  • You will still enjoy better rates than via pre-paid.
  • If you need a phone, the carrier will sell it to you at the market price for the phone without any discounts.

All things said and done you need to compare the plans too between different carriers and then make the right decision according to your need and budget.

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