With the dizzying array of phone models and plans on the market today, shopping for a phone plan can feel overwhelming.

To make sure the phone plan you choose is the best option for you, consider the following tips from the best smartphone service providers and industry pros:

1. Decide on which phone features you need

Most smartphones cell phone providers offer today give users a wide range of options and apps — internet browsing, a camera and photo storage, voice-activated dialing, music, games, video features and more.

But before choosing which phone to get, you must know which of these features you need. Also, figure out how much you can save by not getting all of them. By doing a simple needs assessment and listing the features that are must-haves and just nice to have, you can choose a smartphone that suits your lifestyle.

2. Choose the right data plan

Identify your data requirements to know the volume you need each day. You may check your phone settings to get an overview of how much data you consume per month. This will provide you an idea on the data service allocation that’s best for you.

Do you need a plan that offers daily internet, a control data plan, or perhaps a plan with unlimited Facebook and unlimited YouTube? There are also unlimited internet plans for personal or business use.

3. Negotiate the service contract

Plenty of smartphone customers do not know that the duration of the service contract is negotiable. Though it may take a lot of negotiating on your part, you can actually talk down a three-year contract to a two-year contract, for instance.

Whenever possible, you must apply for a shorter contract while getting the device at a discounted price. But in most cases, a mobile phone will cost more if you choose a contract that is reduced by a year. So depending on your preference, a plan with at least one to two years contract can be a better route for you to take. Just make sure that your budget can handle the monthly phone bill which comes with the plan.

4. Check the plan coverage

All cell phone service providers vary in coverage – an excellent service provider in one region may be lousy in another region, so you need to ask around. Check with your friends using the same service what areas have weak coverage based on their experience.

There are some service providers that allow you to try out their service before signing a contract. Others permit new subscribers to terminate their contract within a short period of time, which is usually about two to three days from day one, if they find the service unsatisfactory.

The best way to get to know the provider is through a trusted referral. Remember that great service is best reflected in the loyalty of customers.

5. Maintain a good credit score

When determining the value of the smartphone plan that is available to you, your credit score will play a huge factor. If you have maintained an excellent credit score, it is likely that you can walk out from your service provider’s office with your phone activated without paying an initial deposit or any cash out for your chosen device.

Furthermore, a good relationship with your existing service provider with which you have paid your monthly bills on time will be advantageous if you choose to simply purchase a new phone with a new plan from them.

When it comes to getting huge savings for your new phone plan, knowing what you need and what is on offer is crucial. Be aware of these cost-savings tips to avoid rushing into buying the first phone plan offered to you. You need to picture what your phone plan looks like every month, including fees, prorated service charges, and taxes. This way, you can choose the best smartphone plan for your lifestyle.