Buying a new phone or changing your plan? Here are a few things to consider when searching for a mobile phone plan.

Which mobile phone plan?

The minute you decide to take out a mobile phone plan, the first question is: which provider? Telecom providers are constantly competing to offer you the best deals on plans in the market.

There are several things to consider when searching for a mobile phone plan…

[Compare mobile plans in the UAE | Compare mobile plans in Saudi Arabia]

1. Data, SMS or phone calls only?

So what do you really need the mobile phone plan for – data plan, calls and messages or a mix of all three? If you don’t get everything you need in one mobile phone plan, you can always take two separate plans to serve all your needs. Make sure you pay only for what you will be using and don’t take mobile phone plans with a higher fee than you can afford, or benefits you do not necessarily need. Don’t forget there are many places where you can get free WiFi and you can normally pay for ad hoc WiFi hotspots on the move with your provider, so think carefully before signing up to a data plan.

[Related: How do I stop cold calls and spam?]

2. Pre-paid (pay as you go) or post-paid (contract)?

How much do you use your phone? How tight is your budget? Pre-paid will help keep your bills down – you choose how much money to put on your plan and how often, whether through scratch cards or online. Post-paid will mean a minimum monthly fee but can work out better value for calls and data, particularly with free minutes or data thrown in.

[Related: How to choose the right mobile plan for youUseful mobile commands for UAE customersUseful mobile commands for Saudi customers]

3. Do you need a mobile handset with the plan?

If you plan to buy a mobile phone, especially a smartphone, you can get it as part of your mobile phone plan purchase. Providers offer handsets with easy payment plans over 12 to 24 months – but these plans come with an upfront fee and, if you do your sums, the overall cost can be quite a bit higher than buying your phone outright. You will be locked into a contract while paying off the phone for up to 24 months.

4. Free national and international minutes or SMS

Providers offer mobile phone plans that come with free national and/ or international minutes and SMS. Monthly fees are usually higher when you get free minutes, so always compare the different mobile phone plans to pick the one with the minutes you will need. It’s very tempting to go for the mobile phone plan that offers you the most free minutes – but if you don’t use them, you lose them, and you’ll still be paying that hefty monthly fee.

[Related: Cheap international calls from Saudi ArabiaCheap international calls from the UAE]