The following is a guest post by Carol Montrose.
If you’re looking for ways to scale back your budget, you might start thinking back to the good old days when your phone didn’t keep you on such a short leash and your bill for calling friends and family wasn’t sky high. But in this day and age it seems like it’s practically impossible to live without a cell phone, especially if you use it in the course of your job. So if you’d like to keep the mobile service you’ve come to rely on but without the additional fees that always seem to get tacked onto your monthly bill, then here are just a few ways to save some money while you talk and text to your heart’s content.
- Compare plans. The differences between carriers are pretty minute these days, what with companies that have less coverage beefing up their service by merging with competitors and everyone striving to offer 4G phones, data packages, apps galore, and the hottest devices to hit the market. For instance, comparing T-Mobile 4g phones to Verizon or AT&T 4g phones could be a difficult task, as there are so many available options. But comparison shopping is still essential to finding the plan that fits your needs at the best price, so don’t slack on your homework if you want to pay less on your bill; remember that there are often penalties for early cancellation of a contract, so if you find a better plan down the road, you may be out of luck.
- Consider unlimited options. Most carriers are cancelling unlimited data packages. It seems they’ve realized how much money they’re losing by not charging users for every downloadable minute. Of course, this means you’re going to have to watch yourself if you don’t want to end up owing an arm and a leg for constantly refreshing Google maps or checking in on Foursquare ad nauseum. But if you think you’re going to exceed your talk and text minutes every month, you can still get unlimited options for these. Just make sure you really need them since you don’t want to overpay for the priciest plan. Not sure? Start with the cheapest plan and add to it as needed.
- Track usage. If you end up choosing a plan that has limits on talk, text, pix, and downloads, you’ll know pretty quickly if you’ve gone over because your bill will be a lot higher than usual. And this can easily occur when you use a family plan where everyone is sharing minutes. So if you want to keep your low monthly rate without having to worry about overages, you’ll simply have to carefully track usage.
- Ask about roaming charges. Many carriers now have enough coverage that you’ll rarely have to worry about roaming charges when you travel domestically; as long as you’re on their network it’s free (so to speak). But if you happen to find yourself outside of the coverall area, you could face pretty steep charges for piggy-backing on another carrier’s towers. Just to be sure you avoid this costly mistake, you should make sure that your carrier provides coverage in areas that you travel to frequently.
- Beware of MRCs. Monthly recurring charges are a phenomenon that few people notice (until it’s too late). In most cases, they come with downloaded games or other apps and they simply appear on your monthly bill. So it’s always a good idea to look over your statement before you pay so that you can cancel any unwanted MRCs that you may have accidentally agreed to when you failed to read the fine print of a user agreement (it happens more than you might imagine).
Carol Montrose writes for Free Government Cell Phones where you can see if you qualify for a free phone and learn more about ReachOut Wireless.