Taryn from BillShrink writes in with some helpful tips that can cut your cellular costs:
1. You don’t have to be related to get a family plan
Blood relatives need not necessarily apply. You can get a family plan with trusted friends, roommates, co-workers, etc. BillShrink surveyed 50,000 users and found that 60% have a family plan – that’s a 20% increase over last year. Verizon leads against all other carriers with 65% of its users choosing multiple- versus single- line plans.
2. Unlimited plans aren’t as ubiquitous as you’d think
With the recent changes national carriers (Verizon and AT&T) made to their unlimited plans, and the flurry of ads about what a great value they are, you’d think unlimited plans would be your best bet for keeping your wallet fat and your wireless bills manageable. However, the truth is that unlimited plans encourage us to buy many more minutes than we actually need.
So BillShrink decided to take a closer look and found that only 12% of customers should either stick with or consider switching to an unlimited plan. BillShrink finds that the average person is paying $325 more a year than they need to on their cell phone plans. This is up over a $100 from last year, which may indicate that the trend towards unlimited plans is really a trend in overpaying.
3. Checking your voicemail costs you more than you think
Who just called you? You might not realize that you are paying to check your messages.
BillShrink looked at over 15,000 bills from AT&T and Verizon to find that the average AT&T customer pays $2.44 per bill to listen to their voicemails and the average Verizon customer pays $3.61 per bill to retrieve their messages.
4. Talk your way out of unnecessary fees
Although the Universal Connectivity Charge is not required by the government, many carriers decide to pass the costs on to their customers. This money goes into a fund to “assure telephone service to all households.”
Many customers we’ve talked with say they were able to negotiate their carrier into removing these charges, saving themselves upwards of $50 (the costs of a month’s service) over the lifetime of a standard two-year contract.
5. Taking a vacation? Then tune out and turn OFF your phone.
If you are going far afield (travelling overseas, going on a cruise or even backpacking in the great outdoors), turn your phone off and keep it off. Most roaming rates are a pricey $2.49 per minute. And, some carriers like T-Mobile will even charge you $4.99 even if you don’t pick up the call and the call gets forwarded to your voicemail.
Keep in mind that if you really want to send a video message to your pals while on vacation, the cost of a video message could be a whopping $7. And know that if you are roaming internationally and download a 5 megapixel picture attachment in your email, or watch a 3-minute YouTube video while waiting at a terminal, it could cost you $40!
If you’ve tried any of these practices, let us know how well they work. And if you have any other recommendations for saving on your cell phone bill, please leave them in the comments.