choosing the right mobile plan

11 Useful Tips for Choosing the Right Mobile Plan

Calling and surfing with smartphones can quickly take a bite out of your wallet. Check out these key tips for choosing the right mobile plan from independent online comparison service moneyland.ch.

Understanding the terms and conditions attached to Swiss mobile plans and prepaid offers before you sign up can help you get more calls and data for less money. Here, moneyland.ch lists key tips for choosing the right mobile plan.

1. Understand your own telecom needs

Many Swiss mobile plans now offer unlimited calls and unlimited data, and some even include roaming call and data. The price tags of these plans are correspondingly high. Many mobile users overestimate their telecom needs, and average users will not make full use of these plans.

In order to avoid wasting money on plans which you do not need, take the time to estimate approximately how many minutes you actually spend on calls, and how much data you actually transfer from your mobile device every month. If you are not sure about how much you actually use your phone, consider starting with an affordable plan and then upgrading to a more extensive plan if necessary.

2. Pay attention to network coverage

Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt each operate their own mobile networks across Switzerland. Independent tests – such as those conducted by Connect – rate the Swisscom and Sunrise networks higher than Salt’s.

Check into which network provides the best coverage for the locations and regions which you frequent, such as your home, workplace, clubs and commuting stretch. Network coverage can vary broadly between locations.

4G (LTE) is the most recently implemented mobile radio transmission standard and allows for more efficient connections and faster data transfer speeds. Check whether or not a plan supports 4G before you subscribe.

3. Choose the right data transfer speed

Many Swiss telecom service providers limit mobile data transfer speeds. Some providers like Salt and Wingo do not limit data transfer speeds across all plans. Other mobile providers provide different data transfer speeds with different plans. Swisscom, for example, limits data transfer speeds for all customers except those who subscribe to its most expensive plans.

A plan which delivers data transfer speeds of 10 to 20 Mbps is generally sufficient for the average mobile data user. If you transfer large amounts of data or use your phone as an Internet hotspot for your other devices, getting a plan with a higher data transfer speed can make sense. The moneyland.ch mobile plan comparison clearly lists the data transfer speeds provided by Swiss mobile plans.

Important: The data transfer speeds advertised by telecom providers should be taken as a rough guideline only because all of a network’s customers share a limited amount of bandwidth. In actual practice, you will not normally be able to transfer data at the advertised speeds.

4. Flat fees are often the best choice

If you enjoy streaming video or music over the Internet on your mobile device, the large amounts of data involved often make getting a plan with unlimited data at a flat rate the cheapest option.

Good to know: If you primarily connect through wireless local area networks (WLAN) instead of using mobile data, you most likely do not need unlimited data. Many streaming services like Spotify and Netflix let you download content (via WLAN, for example) and then replay it using the offline mode which does not require mobile data. If you do this, you can pass on expensive unlimited data plans.

5. Consider prepaid offers

When you use a prepaid offer, you must purchase credits in advance. You can then use these credits to make calls or transfer data. This is generally less convenient than making calls on credit and then paying your bills in arrears as is the case with mobile plans. But prepaid offers have a number of advantages. Firstly, many consumers are more conscious of costs when using prepaid, and therefore spend less on telecom services. Secondly, prepaid mobile users are not tied into binding contracts and can easily switch service providers at any time. Thirdly, prepaid users can only make calls or use data if they have sufficient prepaid credits, so they are never hit with unexpected bills.

It is also worth noting that you do not need a mobile plan in order to use mobile data. Prepaid offers with data packages and even unlimited data are now available.

6. Keep your phone number when changing telecom providers

Many consumers wrongly assume that they will lose their phone number if they change telecom service providers. This misinformation is widespread. All Swiss mobile service providers let you keep your phone number when migrating to a different service provider.

When you subscribe to a new plan or prepaid offer, simply tell your new service provider that you would like to keep your existing phone number. Your new service provider will arrange the transfer of your phone number with your previous service provider. Important: Make sure to clarify to your previous service provider that you would like to migrate in keeping with the terms and conditions of your existing contract. Doing this will help you avoid possible penalties for breach-of-contract.

7. Do not get dazzled by offers of free mobile phones

There are still mobile service providers and resellers like Mobilezone, Interdiscount and Fust which offer very cheap or even free smartphones in combination with specific mobile plans. Obviously, the phones are not free, but are paid for by the mobile plan payments you make throughout the contract term. These plans typically charge high penalty fees when you terminate the contract before the end of the pre-agreed term.

A positive development is that an increasing number of telecom service providers including Sunrise, M-Budget and Simplymobile have begun to offer contracts which allow plan holders to pay off phones throughout the contract term. Customers who terminate their plan ahead of schedule must still cover all outstanding installment payments, but they are not charged a penalty fee.

8. Avoid long-term contracts

Swiss consumers are often shocked at the high bills charged to them after they terminate mobile plan contracts. The reason for these high bills is that Swiss telecom service providers charge high penalty fees – often as high as 1000 Swiss francs – when you terminate your contract ahead of the termination date stated in the contract. These penalty fees may even apply when you migrate to a different plan from the same service provider.

You can avoid penalty fees by sticking to plans with short contract terms. Some telecom service providers have become more customer friendly and no longer require minimum contract terms. But even these service providers still typically require you to give two-months’ notice in order to terminate contracts. That means that you will have to continue to pay for your existing plan for two months before you can terminate it. Minimum contract terms and notice periods for each plan are clearly listed in the moneyland.ch mobile plan comparison.

9. Smaller telecom providers are often cheaper

Many Swiss mobile users automatically default to plans branded by the three largest telecom service providers – Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt. But in so doing they do themselves a disservice because all three of the major telecom service providers operate multiple service brands and offer many of more affordable plans under one of their secondary brands or in collaboration with other companies using their own branding.

Swisscom powers the Wingo, Simplymobile and M-Budget mobile plans in this way. Sunrise offers mobile plans through its Aldi, Lebara and Yallo brands. Salt is behind mobile plans offered by Coop.

10. Compare roaming fees

There are still major discrepancies in the fees charged for mobile roaming. While some telecom service providers offer affordable data bundles and options for roaming in European countries, roaming with many other service providers remains expensive.

If you frequently travel to destinations outside of Europe, make sure to check the costs of roaming carefully before you subscribe to a mobile plan. The differences in the fees charged by different service providers for mobile roaming at less-popular travel destinations are huge. Some telecom service providers offer 1 gigabyte data roaming bundles for certain countries for less than 30 francs, while others charge several thousand francs for the same service.

11. Don’t be swayed by multiple-plan discounts

Many telecom providers offer major multiple-plan discounts when you subscribe to more than one of their telecom plans such as TV plans, broadband plans, landline plans and mobile plans. Getting all your plans from one provider is convenient because you typically receive just one bill for all subscriptions. But in many cases, you pay more when you take out all your plans from one provider than you would if you subscribed to the cheapest available plans in each category.

More on this topic:
Swiss mobile plan comparison

About Moneyland Magazine

The moneyland.ch magazine provides accurate, unbiased information on topics related to finance and money. In addition to research and expert interviews, the magazine contains numerous financial guides.