Phones from Bell that fall in to the “Basic” category can only be bought outright, or grabbed on Basic Phone contract plans. If you’ve opted for the latter, things are going to work a little differently for you when it comes to data usage and charges.
Basic Phone plans (formally “Voice plans”) all have unlimited nation-wide text, picture and video messaging, as well as a range of included call minutes, going from 200 mins local-only up to unlimited nation-wide calls.
You also have unlimited local nights from 6pm till 7am, and weekends from 6pm Friday to 7am Monday.
The kicker? None of these plans have any data inclusions.
Then how do I get data?
These plans function on a Pay Per Use basis, though it’s not quite as simple as being charged per MB.
There are five tiers of usage. Once you tip over from one tier to another, you're charged a flat rate until you make it up to the next tier. Once you surpass the highest tier of 1GB, you are charged at a flat rate of 5c per MB. That works out to around $50 per 1GB.
At the end of each month your bill reverts back to its basic cost without any pre-set extra data charges left from the previous billing period. As soon as you use a single kilobyte of data (impossible to avoid unless you have mobile data switched off), you start working your way up the payment stages again.
If this all sounds pretty expensive it's because data use is not what these plans are designed for. The theory is that customers that buy cheaper phones are less interested in using internet-based services when out and about. As such, charging them only for what they use could end up being much cheaper than slapping them with fixed fee for a 1GB bolt-on.
Whether or not this theory is sound is up to you. Keep in mind, under 500MB is some seriously low usage. 1GB is not even a particularly large allowance, so if you spend a lot of time online then you may find yourself well past that 1GB restriction. If you love browsing Facebook and sharing on Instagram, then Basic plans are not for you.
Save by buying outright
The devices Bell calls “Basic” are usually pretty cheap to purchase outright. Of course, not everyone has $100-$250 to front for a smartphone, but if you do, you can save serious dollars.
Buying a phone at full price means that you can take it to a Bell BYO phone plan. These offer cheaper per-month rates for data. So much cheaper that it’s unlikely you’ll ever find yourself missing that Pay Per Use billing system.
We recently did a comparison of the cheapest way to pick up a Moto G3 with 1GB of data per month. It was discovered that buying the phone outright from Bell and taking it to one of the company’s own BYO phone plans will save you more than the phone is actually worth – about $280 over the course of 2 years. This is assuming that you went ahead and paid $40 for that top 1GB data tier every month on a Basic Phone plan.
Confused phone image from Shutterstock