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5 Ways to Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill

If your monthly cell phone invoice is often for an amount that is higher than what you expected, you might be unknowingly using your phone in a way that generates extra charges. Consider the following ways to reduce your monthly cell phone bill:

  1. Reduce Air-time
  2. Talk During Off-peak Hours
  3. Reduce Roaming
  4. Reduce Long-distance Calls
  5. Reduce Data Transfers

To calculate the total cost of a cell phone calling plan over the term of a service contract, see our Cell phone Calling Plan Cost Worksheet (PDF file for printing).

To calculate the total monthly usage and charges on your landline (fixed wire), long distance and cellular (mobile wireless) phone services, see our Phone Usage and Cost Worksheet (PDF file for printing).

1. Reduce Airtime

If you pay by the minute for incoming or outgoing calls, the more you talk the more it will cost you. You will pay more if you exceed the fixed-price call minute limits of your calling plan.

Calling from outside your plan's unlimited calling area can incur airtime charges. Know the boundaries of your unlimited calling area. Avoid making calls outside of this area.

If your airtime is billed in 60-second increments, not in one- or six-second increments, you pay a full-minute charge for short calls. Avoid short calls, such as wrong numbers and leave-no-message voice mails.

Sign up with a free home calling plan that gives you unlimited calls between your home phone line and mobile handset or handsets. It uses no airtime, but long distance and roaming charges apply.

Know the customer service phone number or Web address at your service provider where you can check your airtime usage. Note any unusually high or frequent usage.

If you have excessive airtime, look at when, where and why you are making those calls. Try to reduce the number of calls you make or the time you spend on each call.

2. Talk During Off-peak Hours

You get less discount or pay more for calls made during peak times (as defined by your service provider).

Understand which hours are peak and off-peak periods at your service provider. Check the time of day before you make a call, especially a long call.

Calls started during the peak time are charged the peak-time rate for the entire call including the time that extends into the off-peak period. Avoid starting a call during the last minutes of peak time because you won't get any off-peak rate.

3. Reduce Roaming

Calling from outside your service provider's calling plan coverage area can incur expensive per-minute roaming charges from another carrier's network.

Know the boundaries of your plan's coverage area. Avoid making calls outside of the coverage area. Some carriers have remote access phone numbers to dial into when in certain out-of-plan areas.

4. Reduce Long-distance Calls

You pay long-distance charges for outgoing long-distance calls and usually for incoming long-distance calls.

You can avoid long-distance charges by using local roaming dial-in numbers, if available from your service provider, whenever you are outside the coverage area.

If you use a lot of long distance, look for a calling plan that includes some minutes of long-distance in its monthly fees.

Wireless service providers have high long-distance rates. If you make long, frequent or international long-distance calls, consider using a prepaid long-distance calling card. Some cards have the lowest rates, but you will still pay local airtime charges, if applicable, to dial in to the card's local or toll-free access number. To speed dialing, store the card access number and password in your phone book.

5. Reduce Data Transfers

Over certain calling plan data limits, you pay per megabyte or per minute to download e-mails, messages, ringtones, images, etc. This can include receiving spam (unwanted junk messages) on your phone.

To reduce data transfer fees, make your messages shorter. Be brief. Use messaging jargon and acronyms, such as "IMHO" for "in my humble opinion." Don't include the original message in your reply, if not relevant. See Text Messaging Acronyms and Abbreviations.

Have your name (e-mail address) removed from some e-distribution lists. Some plans charge for incoming messages. Especially important at large organizations with many employees.

If you can live with less up-to-date information, reduce the frequency of any messaging information alerts you receive.

Have your service provider or company block mobile spam at their server. Don't give out your mobile phone number to vendors of promotional offers.

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