Do you know what's included on your cell phone bill?
Checked your cell phone bill lately? You should. As cell phones have gotten more sophisticated, some carriers have quietly started changing the way they’re billing customers.
Several service providers are charging more for voice plans and some text and data plans. Those without newer smartphones may be charged for features they’re not using. Too often people don’t know the details of their cell phone contracts or even when the end. If you don’t know what 3G, 4G or even what a smartphone is, then it’s time to find out and make sure you’re not paying for extras you don’t need.
And billing complaints is just one reason why cell phone carriers landed back on our most-complained-about list for 2009.
5 ways to save money on your cell phone bill:
1. Review your bill – Don’t just assume you’re being billed correctly. Read the fine print to be sure your bill and contract, phone, features and usage match up. You can find significant savings by ridding your plan of the “extras” like ringtones, text messaging fees, Internet, roadside assistance and others. Ask yourself:
- Are you paying for a data plan but rarely check email or the Internet on your phone?
- Are you paying for texting but never tap out a message?
- Are you texting without a data plan and paying too much?
- Are you really using the minutes you’re charged for?
- Are you being charged for insurance on your phone? Do you really need it?
- Is your landline phone dusty? Lose it and save that monthly fee.
2. Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate. Don’t switch providers on a whim. Look for special promotions and have examples of one or more competitor’s lower prices or better service deals before you make your call. Don’t settle for customer service. Ask for the consumer retention department. Record the name of the person you’re speaking with and note the date and time you called. These details will increase your credibility if you need to follow up later. Be prepared to end your service if you can’t get a better deal.
3. Bundle services – Consider combining phone, Internet and cable/satellite services, which can result in discounted fees by the provider and more savings.
4. Understand your contract – Always read the fine print before you sign any contract. Look for hidden charges, including text messaging, activation and upgrade fees or insurance. If you’re not happy with your service or want to negotiate a new contract, you should first know how much it would cost you to get out of the contract. Early termination fees have been under federal scrutiny for fairness. So know what you’re up against before you end your contract.
5. Consider Prepaid – If you’re not a high-volume cell phone user, a prepaid phone might be the way to go. You aren’t hit with pricey overage charges, aren’t locked into a long-term contract and you pay for only the minutes you use.