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New tool suggests the right cell phone plan for you

Cinch Financial, which already offers tools to help you find the right bank or credit card, turns its attention to mobile phone plans.


So many mobile phone plans to research. So little time.

Scott Webster/CNET

Avoiding the toil required to find a better phone plan? A new online tool may be able to help.

The tool, launched Wednesday, throws a number of questions at you in an attempt to narrow down the best mobile phone plan for you or your family. The phone plan search is the latest tool from Cinch Financial, a company that tries to help you find the right banks, credit cards and other financial products.

The process of finding the best mobile phone plan has always been a daunting one, but a spate of new offers by US carriers in the last several months may perplex consumers more than usual. Sprint and T-Mobile, in hot pursuit of new customers, have been especially busy cooking up promotions, discounts and new features. Deals often come with limitations and hidden costs, though, making it a serious challenge for consumers to figure out the best bang for their buck.

Cinch Financial's new tool assesses your needs and then suggests plans among both the major carriers and smaller competitors in the US. The tool is designed to take into account all the cell phone plans on the market, look at the fine print and then customize its recommendations based on your specific situation, according to the company.

Here's how it works:

On the new page, you answer one question after another to narrow down your choices. The tool asks you such questions as why you're looking for a new phone plan, who is your current carrier, how many lines you need, whether you want a new phone, what type and brand of phone you want and how many gigabytes of data you use each month.

After you finish answering the questions, the site suggests a plan among one or more carriers. Cinch lists the upfront, monthly and total costs for the plan and explains why it recommends that specific one. The tool then leads you to a series of final steps through which you can view more details on the plan, find a store that sells it or surf to the chosen carrier's website.

Cinch said that it uses the data collected about the various plans to pick up helpful tidbits. As one example, the company said that people tend to buy plans with too much data and that the easiest way to save money is to simply cut back on your monthly data allotment.

According to the company, its advice is unbiased because no company can pay to be recommended.

Cinch didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.