March 5 2010|11.46 AM UTC

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Cell Phone Plans, This Week’s Money Saving Tip

Category: WirelessTags: , ,

Use this week’s tip on cell phone plans to beat service contracts!

This week’s money saving tip comes from BillShrink CEO Peter Pham.

Eighty percent of Americans overpay on their wireless plans. On average, BillShrink finds that people overspend about $300 on a standard two-year contract. However, we’ve found that a number of people overspend by a lot more – for example, residents in the states of California, Florida, Nevada and New York overpay in the range of $480-$600 during their contract lifetimes. The biggest reason – people don’t really know how many voice minutes, texts and data they actually use. If more people “right-sized” their plans to meet their actual needs, or if more friends/colleagues/neighbors/family members signed up for family plans, they could save hundreds of dollars a year.

Speaking of which, the trend toward getting “family plans” continues to grow as people pool together their minutes, text and data needs among family members, roommates, co-workers, friends and neighbors. At BillShrink, we’ve seen a 2x increase in the number of queries about best family plans over the last six months.

Peter’s Cell Phone Savings Tips:

Set aside 15 minutes to comb through your cell phone bill, or use BillShrink to do all the homework for you for free.

Family plan: If you aren’t on a family plan, seriously consider combining plans with your wife, kids, parents and even trusted friends/neighbors (just remember they will have access to who you are calling so make sure these are trusted pals). You’ll find the biggest immediate savings by switching to a family plan.

Your network: Also take a look at who you call the most. Since 65% of an individual’s calls are typically to the same five numbers, take a look to see if your friends, family and co-workers are with one carrier. If so, consider switching to take advantage of in-network friends and family plans like Verizon’s Friends & Family or AT&T’s A-List.

Skip the new phone: We covet the newest gadget, but all the carriers offer free phones with a 2-year plan and today’s devices are feature packed so consider a free phone to avoid additional hardware costs.

Eliminate services you don’t use. Do you really need a $3 per month emergency roadside assistance plan that you never even requested? A quick call to your carrier can get this and other unnecessary charges removed.

Directory Assistance. You’re not still calling 411 are you? Carriers can charge $1.25 or more for every 411 call. Try using a service like 1-800-GOOG-411 or (800) FREE-411 for free directory assistance.

(Original article source CBS News)

See BillShrink for cell phone plans, to take advantage of the savings Peter has highlighted. Do you have a helpful hint for reducing cell phone costs? Share yours below.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Raul March 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm

These are great tips. In addition you might stop paper billing as that can save you a dollar or 2 per month. You can get rid of detailed billing which gives you a list of all the numbers and times. That can save you an additional 2 per month. Of course if it’s for business or if you want to track your children’s phone calls, then this is not a good idea.

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justin March 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm

if most of your calls are to cellphones and/or you txt, email or do any data stuff, check sprint. Anymobile anytime = better than any calling circle or pick 5 etc.

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f March 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

didn’t find any tips for cell phone bills even after clicking on the link!!

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Peter F March 9, 2010 at 2:47 am

You guys don’t mention prepaid phones as an option? I’ve been saving huge by using prepaid phones. First of all it allows you to customize your spending from month to month (without extending a contract) and you can easily change providers to make use of new offers. Plus there are none of the hidden charges that you mention in your article!

I’ve actually found that for my typical usage I’m best off using the NET10 prepaid service. Easy, no frills plans – but good value!

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Yola March 11, 2010 at 1:48 am

I’ve changed to prepaid and went with Net10 as it’s such good value for money! All calls cost 10c per minute but the big bonus for me is texts only cost 5c each and I text PLENTY! I also think that on prepaid one is more aware of spending while on the phone than on a contract. All I know is I’m saving a fortune compared to when I was on contract!

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Edwin R March 11, 2010 at 2:18 am

I’d second the prepaid option, and also Net10 specifically. If you get one of their prepaid phones (mostly in the $30-$50 range), the first 300 minutes and 60 days are free. After that you top up your minutes before they expire (which depends on which top-up option you go for), and its a flat rate 10c per minute for local, long distance or roaming calls and all texts are 5c. If you’re one of those people who hates the hidden costs in cell phone plans, this is about as clear and transparent as they come. Hope this helps!

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Edwin R March 11, 2010 at 2:34 am

I’d second the prepaid option and specifically Net10 plans. If you buy one of their phones (typically in the $30-$50 range) you get 60 days and 300 minutes of service free. Then you simply ‘top up’ your minutes before they expire (which depends on which prepaid card you buy each time), and you get a flat 10c per minute call rate on all local, long distance or roaming calls, plus 5c for all texts. If you’re one of those people who hate the hidden costs in most cell phone plans then this is about as clear and transparent as you can get. Hope this helps save some $$.

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Sam Soong March 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

For me, prepaid rules. I did a bit of research and also discovered NET10 was the best for my purposes. I don’t use a lot of minutes — maybe 200 or so a month — and I’m not a mad texter or websurfer either, but 10¢ a minute for calls and 3¢ for texts is crazy good. And no fees per day or other bs.

I got a very nice Samsung phone with a slide-out qwerty keyboard and no one knows it’s prepaid. Costs me a big $30 a month for all my stuff.

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Kate March 24, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I’m not a heavy cell phone user.. figure I use about 100-150 min. a month. I now have a LG300 phone which I’m very happy with especially since Net10 phones come with 200 min. + 60 days of service, I basically got my phone for free!

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Gregtonger April 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Find net10 to work beta then any contract out there. if you’re buying a year’s worth of minutes you can really use them for a year almost. Its great and it don’t matter if you buy large or small you still get your 10c a minute. It’s hard to find affordability like this in the cellular market. Plus if you travel allot it can save you allot of money as the rate does not change for out of regional calls.

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Lee Nonme September 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Agree wholeheartedly about prepaid. Why not? I like Straight Talk. Save alot with it.

Skeptical? Take a look a this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYlbfhsSnPE

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