Do you prefer your carrier's minute plans, or have you moved on to an application alternative?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Ten years ago, the most important factor on anybody's phone plan was most likely going to be the amount of minutes that you had available to you every month. Text messaging was still very new, and data wasn't even really a thing then (at least, not a really usable thing). In the end, it was just smarter to go with a phone plan that offered the highest amount of minutes because back then, that's what cell phones were primarily used for. It's crazy, but it's true.
Obviously, we have a very different story going on today. Even through imagery we can see that the purpose of mobile "phones" has changed drastically. Mobile advertisements of the past would show somebody happily talking away with their cell phone up to their ear, while images on billboards and commercials today mostly show people smiling or giggling at something on their screen, perhaps a funny cat video or a sweet text from their significant other. Who knows. The point is, the way we have used our phones has changed, and therefore our plans have as well.
Data and text messaging have since taken precedence over minutes in many cases with the uprising of the smartphone, and in many cases even obliterating the need for a huge amount of minute plans in the first place; yet, many carriers still bundle large minute plans with packages that include unlimited data or unlimited text messaging. For people who hardly plan on making one or two phone calls a month, this could easily be seen as a wasted expense. But since we are talking about the issue of minutes used versus minutes paid for pertaining to smartphone usage, we might as well consider the fact that we could just as easily forget including the minute plan altogether with a carrier (should the option be available) and roll with an application that provides this service for free.
There have been a surplus of applications to pop up on the market that allow users to make voice calls to other people for free. While it used to be more common to only find these programs and use them while connected to Wi-Fi, plenty of applications have since upgraded to allowing you to be able to make phone calls over 3G speeds. Some applications, like Google Talk (or now Hangouts), are even included in Android devices right out of the box. iOS and Windows Phone also have the options to download it through their applications stores. Even if you don't like hangouts, all platforms have some form of Skype available, which is also another viable alternative to making phone calls for free within the U.S.
Free isn't necessarily the only option either. Many companies only charge you for how many minutes you actually use, which is still better than paying for minutes that you never use (especailly if they don't roll over, like AT&T's). But seriously, when I think about it and when I go over my usage every month I do question why I have a plan with 500 minutes and I only ever use a few of them. Even including mobile-to-mobile and nights and weekends, voice chats just aren't a big part of my day-to-day phone usage anymore. This seems to be the case for a lot of people now that text messaging has become mainstream and data connectivity is just as convenient as ever.
With that being said, what do you find yourself preferring, readers? Do you have more minutes in your plan than you ever end up using? Have you already nixed the minutes on your plan in favor of an application that offers voice chat for cheaper or free?
Image via The Traveling Journal