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Saving on Your Cell Phone Bill

By Cary Anderson

The advent of the smartphone and wireless data has caused cell phone costs to spike. The average monthly cost for cell phone service in the U.S. today is around $60. Many are paying in excess of $100 for their smartphone data plans after you factor in taxes and surcharges. So what can one do to lower their spending on a mobile phone service?

Avoid Contracts

Cell phone providers are adept at trapping people into multi-year contracts by dangling a nice discount for a phone that will be outdated within six months. By committing to a plan in order to get a discount on a phone, you’re really just trading future money for present money. Most people do not really need the latest high-end smartphone. There is no reason to commit to a multi-year contract with a mainstream provider just to have a fashion accessory that will be outdated in no time. Excuse yourself from the presale line for the latest wizard gadget and look into some more frugal options.

Go Prepaid

A prepaid cell phone can help you avoid a contract and put the power in your hands for how much you spend on mobile phone service. This is a far superior option to a contract for anyone who plans on spending ten minutes per day or less on cell phone calls. There are popular prepaid plans that require only $25 every three months to be loaded onto the phone. Prepaid plans result in great savings since most people don’t come close to using the allotment from the contract they committed to.

There are a few incorrect assumptions made about these prepaid plans. One, that you can’t acquire a hip smartphone if you sign up with a “no contract” provider. This is false. Popular no contract providers like Cricket and Clear are now offering state of the art Android smartphones with plans that provide for unlimited texting and data usage at half the monthly cost of popular contract providers. Another false concern is that the network coverage is inadequate with prepaid phones. However, the networks for prepaid providers are pretty top notch these days and shouldn’t leave anyone living in or near a major urban area with many complaints. Those living in rural areas will find issues with the mainstream providers anyway.

Reasonably Estimate Your Usage

Try to keep track of your cell phone usage to have a good idea of what type of coverage you need. You can look at past billing records to formulate a rough idea of how much you are likely to use your phone in the future. Do you send enough text messages to sign up for an unlimited plan? Many prepaid phones charge $0.10 per text but will offer unlimited texting for $5 or $10 per month. So if you send more than 50 or 100 texts, the unlimited plan is worth it. By walking into a cell phone provider store equipped with the knowledge of how much you will be likely to use your cell phone, you can help yourself avoid signing up for money-wasting plans.

Make Calls from Home Computer

If you are already paying for home Internet service, you have access to cheaper phone rates than you might be getting through your cell phone. Skype charges 2 cents per minute for calls made within the U.S. Google Voice charges 1 cent per minute. If you are able to make your calls through this medium you could save substantially on your cell phone bill.

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