Plan minutes may be the principal piece of information in each cell phone plan. Plan minutes are the number of monthly cell phone airtime minutes--or "talk time"--that your plan allows without you incurring overages. In general, this applies both to calls placed and received.
For instance, a plan with 1,000 minutes allows you to make or receive calls on your cell phone for a total of 1,000 minutes a month. So, let's say that on the first Monday of the month you place a 2-hour cell phone call to a friend's house; then your friend calls you back on your cell phone and you talk for another 3 hours. By the end of the day, you will have used 300 of your 1,000 minutes--meaning that you have 700 minutes left before you incur overages.
Often, calls placed or received on evenings and weekends do not count against your plan minutes. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the details of your particular cell phone plan.
2. Free Weekends and Evenings
With most wireless phone plans, talk-time is free on weekends and on weeknights. This means that if you place or receive a cell phone call on Saturday, on Sunday or on a weeknight your call does not count against the plan minutes.
For different carriers, the "evening" may start at different times. Some, for instance, may give you free calls after 7PM, others after 9PM. The expression "early nights & weekends" generally means that a plan's free minutes kick in earlier than 9:00PM on weeknights. If you know that you are more likely to place or receive cell phone calls after a given time on weeknight, this is a piece of information that can help you decide which cell phone plan to choose.
3. Free Incoming Calls Plans
Some cell phone plans from Sprint offer free incoming calls. In other words, all calls received do not count towards the plan minutes quota.
4. Additional Minutes
The expression "additional minutes" refers to the cost of each minute of cell phone talk time after you have run out of your plan's monthly minutes. These are also called "overage charges" or simply "overages."
For plans giving you free evenings and weekends, additional minutes charges only apply to cell phone calls placed or received during weekdays.
If you know that your cell phone usage schedule is unpredictable, and that you may occasionally go beyond your plan minutes, the cost of additional minutes may be an important piece of information. If, instead, you notice that you constantly go beyond your plan's minutes, it is often cheaper to upgrade to a plan with more minutes.
5. Rollover Unused Minutes
This is a feature introduced by Cingular Wireless, that allows you to save any unused minutes and to add them to next month's allowance. The benefit of this feature is that you do not pay for minutes you don't use.
6. Mobile to Mobile Phone Calls
The expression mobile to mobile calls refers to calls between cell phones on the same carrier's network. With many cell phone calling plans from major carriers, mobile to mobile calls are free--meaning that they do not count against your monthly minutes.
7. Roaming and Roaming Charges
Depending on where you are at the time you place a cell phone call, your phone can "get a signal" in two ways. The first and simplest is when your phone connects to its carrier's regular network--normally referred to as the carrier's calling area. The second is where the cell phone is located somewhere not covered by its carrier--but where it has to use the facilities of another provider for connectivity. This second case is called roaming, and roaming charges are the charges you incur when placing this type of call.
The reason for roaming charges is that you are "borrowing" the services of another carrier with whom you have no contract.
Most cell phones will signal to you when you are in a roaming area, so that you always know when you are placing a roaming call.
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