How to Manage Your Cell Phone Bill
By Paul O’Reilly
Even though cell phones and smartphones have become ever-present in our daily lives, many people can still be surprised when they open up their wireless bills. Voice and data overages plus unexpected roaming charges can lead to lead to some sizeable variations on a month-to-month basis.
Yet it doesn't have to be that way. There are a number of simple things we – and our families – can do to make sure our cell phone expenses stay within budget. Here are 7 ways to start managing that bill:
1. Understand your existing plan
Checking and understanding your existing plan is perhaps the biggest money-saving move you can make. Although most people pay their cell phone bills without checking the charges, it’s important to understand why a single bill is high or why the bill can vary from month to month. It’s also important to check your bill if you have been abroad or if you have made a temporary change to your account. Understanding your existing contract is the first step to getting on a plan that will save you money.
2. Switch to a prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan
If you are operating within a strict budget, then a prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan could be the right option. Both types of plans offer cost certainty, meaning you will never have to worry about those dreaded overage charges! And while many people think that a prepaid plan might restrict the number of talk and text minutes, that’s not necessarily the case. Verizon offers a prepaid plan for basic devices with unlimited talk, text and web for just $50 a month. A similar prepaid plan for smartphones offers unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data for $80 per month. (See Verizon’s web site for complete details of prepaid and pay-as-you-go packages.)
3. Consider a friends and family plan
If your spouse or kids have cell phones, it often pays to switch to a family plan, where minutes are grouped and family calls are free. Verizon has a Nationwide Family Share Plan, which covers up to 10 numbers, even landlines. Plus, if you have tweens or teens in the house, make sure everyone is covered by an unlimited texting plan!
4. Monitor data charges
If you have a smartphone, once of the most important considerations is how much data you will consume on a monthly basis. Verizon has an excellent Data Usage Calculator that can help you estimate how much you are going to need. Once you decide on your data plan, there are a number of different apps that can help you keep an eye on your data usage. You can also request text alerts from your carrier when you approach your monthly limits for both voice and data.
5. Set up an international plan before you go abroad
One of the biggest shocks on a cell phone bill are the roaming and international voice and data charges when you come back from an overseas vacation or business trip. Make sure you set up an international plan before you travel to minimize these charges. Your carrier will also make sure your phone will work in the countries that you are visiting.
6. Utilize free in-network calls
Analyze your calls and know who you speak to the most. If you have 2 or 3 close friends or family that represent a large percentage of your call volume, then get everyone to think about switching to a carrier with free in-network calling – it could save everyone a lot of money!
7. Talk to a representative
Visit your carrier’s web site, where you can chat online with a representative. They can explain how plans work, answer any questions, and even sign you up right there over the Web.
Do you have other money-saving tips? Share them with The Online Mom!
This article first appeared in Family Buzz, a
on the exciting and ever-expanding world of mobile technology.