Once upon a time, if your car broke down or you lost your way, you had to look for a payphone and hope you had a quarter to call for help. Nowadays, however, you don't have to go out of your way or carry small change just in case — all you need is a cell phone.
Cell phones have come a long way since they were first introduced. Now small and sleek and even decorative, these phones are capable of making and receiving calls just about anywhere. With cell phone companies building towers and expanding their networks every day, it won't be long until dead zones are a thing of the past.
Whether you want a cell phone for everyday use or just for emergencies, there's a cell phone plan to fit your needs.
Prepaid cell phones operate with phone cards — plastic cards similar to gift or credit cards that can be purchased at many cell phone retailers, as well as convenience stores and some grocery stores. Cards come in preset denominations — usually $10, $20, and $25 dollars — that, when activated, get translated into minutes of cell phone use. Usually, prepaid cell phone users only have a certain amount of time (e.g., three months) to use these minutes or they expire. On the flip side, users should have a backup card handy when they're running low on minutes to ensure continuous service.
For those who use their phones regularly, whether for personal or business communication, a monthly cell phone plan will likely be a better option. Exact plan costs and details vary according to the cell phone provider, but most have options ranging from around $30 a month to over $100 a month for complete talk and text packages geared toward businesspeople.
Most cell phone plans include at least one calling feature, and many providers allow you to add other features on for a nominal monthly cost. Voicemail is probably the most common feature, while call forward and call waiting are also popular options. Businesspeople might appreciate a conference call feature, as well.
In addition to calling features, many cell phones include built-in features, such as a clock and calculator, and SmartPhones, like the iPhone and Blackberry, also have numerous software applications available.
For even more convenience, or just for added style, there are a number of cell phone accessories available. Protect your cell phone and express your personality with a stylish case; keep your cell phone ready for action with cell phone batteries; and go hands-free with a Bluetooth headset.
Most accessories are designed to fit specific makes and models of cell phone, so take your phone shopping with you, or at least write down the brand and model number.