Switching Mobile Carriers: 10 Factors to Consider Before Making a Change

1 -Switching Mobile Carriers: 10 Factors to Consider Before Making a Change
2 - How's the Current Handset Holding Up?
3 - Check for Device Availability
4 - Is AT&T's Deal Enough?
5 - T-Mobile Has Similar Plans
6 - What About Regional Carriers?
7 - Do the Two-Year Deals Make Sense?
8 - Check LTE Coverage
9 - Friends Are Your Friends
10 - Customer Service Reputations Matter
11 - Get More From the Current Carrier
1 of 11

Switching Mobile Carriers: 10 Factors to Consider Before Making a Change

by Don Reisinger

2 of 11

How's the Current Handset Holding Up?

It's easy to get to the point of wanting to switch carriers, but if the decision is based on device quality, first consider how your current handset is holding up. If the smartphone is working well and has no issues, it might be a good idea to wait a while longer and see how T-Mobile and the other carriers might respond to AT&T's recent moves. Moving quickly isn't always the best idea.

3 of 11

Check for Device Availability

If you are determined to switch to another carrier, be sure to check to see what other types of devices others are offering. Most carriers these days are selling iPhones, but what about that special Android handset, such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4? Device availability is a determining factor when selecting a mobile carrier.

4 of 11

Is AT&T's Deal Enough?

As mentioned, AT&T is offering up to $450 to customers who switch from T-Mobile to AT&T. Those who are with other carriers, however, won't get the same deal, though they are eligible for some incentives. Find out how much a current trade-in might be worth and see if it's enough to justify making the move. Always consider the various options available to you.

5 of 11

T-Mobile Has Similar Plans

After 2013 came to an end, T-Mobile CEO John Legere posted an image on Twitter indicating his company's plans for 2014. He said he intends to make waves at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and will go after AT&T. Don't expect him to stand idle in the face of this AT&T challenge. Expect him to make a splash at CES. Before switching carriers, wait to see what Legere has up his sleeve.

6 of 11

What About Regional Carriers?

There are several regional carriers, prepaid providers and MVNOs that shouldn't be overlooked. Companies such as US Cellular have consistently ranked quite high in service quality, and some prepaid offerings can save folks quite a bit of money. Granted, many of the prepaid companies are owned by major firms, like AT&T and T-Mobile. And some MVNOs focus only on certain market segments. But selecting a carrier besides one of the big four might benefit certain customers looking to save some cash but still get a nice handset out of the deal.

7 of 11

Do the Two-Year Deals Make Sense?

Despite the hope that two-year service contracts will go the way of the Dodo at some point in the next few years, they're still around now. And it's up to those who want to switch to other carriers to decide whether getting locked into such an agreement for reduced product pricing is really worth it. See what kind of deal you can get on unlocked handsets before taking the two-year plunge.

8 of 11

Check LTE Coverage

The future of wireless connectivity—at least for the next few years—rests on 4G LTE networks. That's why it's extremely important to check out different carriers' LTE networks to determine which has the best coverage in a particular area. Verizon and AT&T have nearly the entire country blanketed with LTE coverage, which puts them ahead in this category, but depending on where one lives, any carrier might work.

9 of 11

Friends Are Your Friends

One of the best ways to determine which carrier is best in a given area is to ask around. Some of your friends are working with carriers that you have no experience with. Ask them what they like and don't like about their service before you make a decision. You might be surprised by what you learn.

10 of 11

Customer Service Reputations Matter

Each year, J.D. Power releases its findings on the top providers in the wireless business. Although Verizon won handily in coverage in 2013, J.D. Power also judged that the company was best in customer care, beating out other major providers. MetroPCS, now owned by T-Mobile, was tops for non-contract carriers. Customer service is a major component in choosing a carrier; don't ignore it.

11 of 11

Get More From the Current Carrier

One of the best moves to make before actually switching carriers is to inform your current provider that you're looking to go elsewhere. In a number of cases, those carriers will provide incentives to keep you put. Looking for a plan upgrade? How about a free line? Before making the leap, see how badly your current carrier wants to keep you.

Top White Papers and Webcasts