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Or maybe not, as long as you have an exit plan.

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If you've bought a phone with another carrier, double-check to make sure you've paid off your phone in full, or else you may need to pony up for the rest you owe. But before you do, see if the carrier you want to switch to offers to pay out the rest of your debt. Some do, some don't, so ask.

Before you switch wireless carriers, read this

Unless you're bringing your own phone to a network, you'll need to buy one, which means you'll be paying for the whole thing up front, or by monthly installments -- these are payments you'll need to factor in as you calculate how much you want to pay your new carrier each month. When in doubt, give customer service a call. Are you looking for yourself or for a group?

A shared plan or family plan, which splits a monthly bucket of data among two to four phone lines, usually wind up being cheaper per month than going solo. The downsides? You get a smaller amount of data for yourself, and you can't predict how many GBs everyone else will use. Read our family plan breakdown here.

Best Cell Phone Providers of - Coverage, Service & Plans Compared

How important is price to you? If you need the absolute lowest rate, shop during seasonal sales, like national holidays, back-to-school season, and Dads and Grads. Some carriers will cut you a better deal if you bring your number over from a previous carrier or trade in your old phone. Occasionally, you'll find a deal that pairs a specific phone model with a particular rate plan. There may be other, less tangible perks to paying a little more than rock bottom, like better coverage where you like to vacation or perks like a fuller phone selection.

Carriers also lure customers with programs that let you save this month's unused data for next month, for example, or stream music and videos from certain sites without charging you for all that data use that last is T-Mobile, by the way. Carriers have largely done away with two-year contract pricing, but you can still get it if you want.

What would you like to do?: Select One Add Line Upgrade Line. LOG IN. Don't have an account? Register here. Prepaid Customers Prepaid customers can begin enjoying the convenience of managing their account online, adding funds and setting up Auto Pay.

The Best Cell Phone Plans

Basic Phones. Bring Your Own Device. High-Speed Internet. Total Plans. Prepaid Plans. Small Business Plans.

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  8. And that overshadows some of Cricket's positives, such as friendly customer service. Cricket Shop Plans. Virgin tried switching its focus to the iPhone, only offering Apple's phone to new customers for a time. But Android phones are now back on offer, and Virgin reshuffled its wireless plans, adding tiered data to its unlimited plan.

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    5. Virgin's multiple reboots during the past year don't exactly inspire confidence. Virgin Shop Plans. Straight Talk has been a disaster in our ratings, with poor marks in our speed testing and customer-serving ratings. Things are looking up on the performance front at least, where Straight Talk improved in this year's testing.

      Our ratings still reflect the old test results, but we'll be updating them soon. Still, Straight Talk's plans and special features haven't been enough to get it out of the cellar, though the carrier has at least bolstered the data allotments on current plans, which gives customers more options. Straight Talk Shop Plans.

      Wireless Carriers Best Picks Page 1: Introduction Page 1: Introduction Page 2: Verizon - The 1 Phone Carrier Page 3: Sprint Page 7: Boost Page 8: Cricket Page 9: Virgin Page Straight Talk.

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      Best Wireless Carrier Verizon. Shop Plans.

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      Runner-Up T-Mobile. About the author. Tom's Guide Staff. Read more. Latest in Wireless Carriers. United States France.

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