5 Ways to Cut Cell Phone Bills
Before your fingers do more walking, here are a few tips on how to save on cell service.
Contract extensions and high cost of service are users’ top two complaints, says “Consumer Reports.”
November 28, 2007 by Rachel Cericola

Apparently everyone hates their cell phone service. Ask your friends, family, co-workers, mailman—everyone seems to have at least one thing they’d like to change about their current carrier.

It would then make sense that the new study done by Consumer Reports found that less than half of respondents were satisfied with their current plans.

We can’t give you the money to get out of your contract, but we can give you (courtesy of Consumer Reports) a few of their tips to help save a few bucks on cell service:

1. Look into special-caller deals. Verizon Wireless and AT&T don’t charge for calls to other customers using the same service. Alltel’s My Circle plans provide free calling to any 10 designated wireless or landline numbers with any carrier; T-Mobile’s myFaves plans do the same, for five numbers.

2. Avoid overage charges. Consumers who plan on being on the cell more than usual can temporarily increase the monthly minute allotment to avoid overage charges as high as 45 cents per minute. Consumers should also check bills to ensure they are not running significantly under or over the plan’s minutes.

3. Control your child’s phone use. If runaway costs for a child’s cell phone are a problem, consider AT&T’s Smart Limits for Wireless service. It’s a $5-a-month option that allows consumers to control, via the web, the numbers a child can call, text, or instant message, and the timing and duration of that activity.

4. Shop around for the extras. Comparing carriers or plans only by voice minutes can be an expensive mistake for consumers who will also be heavily using the phone’s other capabilities. Text messaging, now used by more than half of the respondents in Consumer Reports Annual Survey of Cell-Phone Service, can cost as much as 15 cents per message a la carte, more for multimedia attachments such as photos. By comparison, one can pay as little as a penny per message in a monthly bundle. Rates vary similarly for a data plan for Web access.

5. Consider a pre-paid phone.
Paying for calls by the minute may save money, especially for consumers who don’t usually come close to using up the time allotted by the fewest-minutes plans, typically 300 minutes a month. And no contract is required.

For other information, including ratings on 60 different smartphones, check out the January issue of Consumer Reports.

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.

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