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12 tips to cut your cell phone bill

Liane Cassavoy | May 14, 2012
See that cell phone next to you? Unfortunately, you're paying too much money for it--every month.

See that cell phone next to you? Unfortunately, you're paying too much money for it--every month. If overpaying for what you need sounds like a bad idea to you, stop doing it. We've assembled 12 simple actions that you can take to reduce your cell phone bill, so that some of the cash you now spend for service--maybe even half of it--remains in your possession. So check out our tips, and use one or more of them to save big bucks on your bill.

Covering the Basics

1. Find the right plan for you: Carefully review how often and in what ways you use your phone. Ideally, you should do this before signing a cell phone contract, but of course it can be difficult to know exactly how you'll use your phone until you spend time with it every day.

If you're already using your phone, take a close look at your plan, examining the calling, messaging, and data options you've chosen. Then scrutinize your usage pattern. Check several months of phone bills to see whether you pay for more minutes and megabytes than you use, or whether you regularly exceed your usage limits.

How much can I save? Let's use a Verizon Wireless plan as an example.

On the other hand, if where you exceed the 450-minutes-per-month maximum just once during the life of your two-year service plan--even if you exceed it by a lot that one time, you still come out ahead with the lower limit overall. Suppose that you incur $157.50 in overage fees one month but stay under the 450-minute limit during the other 23 months of the service contract. Then you've saved overall by opting for the $39.99-per-month contract instead of the $59.99-per-month contract, since paying $20 more each month for 24 months would cost you an extra $480. Suddenly, that one-time surcharge of $135 seems like a bargain.

2. Trim the fat: Examine your cell phone to see what services you're paying for above and beyond your voice and data plans. Are you paying your carrier for mobile insurance? A GPS service? Roadside assistance? Visual voicemail? Then think about whether you need these extras. In the case of voicemail, for example, your call log shows you the name and number of incoming callers, anyway--and that's free.

How much can I save? This time, let's use AT&T as an example.

Here are a few of the carrier's extra services, and the monthly charge for each:

Opting out of just half of these billing add-ons can save you anywhere from $7.97 to $26.97 each month.

Get the Details on Data

3. Go data-free: Kick it old-school style by dropping your data plan altogether. This option may not be available if you've purchased a smartphone that requires a data plan; but for some consumers it's a sensible move.


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