June 4, 2015
expensive phone bill

If you have looked over your phone bill recently, you probably winced at each new charge and flinched when you got to the total. Monthly phone costs are constantly on the rise, with some families reporting that they are paying three or four hundred dollars a month. Wondering where all that money goes? Here is a brief glimpse into some of the charges you are probably seeing on your phone bill, as well as some suggestions on how you can keep more of that money in your wallet.

Cellphone companies are notorious for tacking on fee after fee. From the moment you sign up with a carrier, you are facing not only the price of your new phone, which, these days, is likely so high that it needs to be financed, but also a whole range of other charges as well. A few of the standard ones you are likely to see include fees for activation, sending and receiving texts, and data usage. If you are starting a family plan that includes more than one phone, you will see a fee for each additional line as well. This can add up to a significant chunk of your monthly income.

The good news is that there are several actions you can take to lower your cellphone bill.

First, look for carriers who have no-contract plans. Most of us are used to signing up for long term contracts that are difficult, not to mention expensive, to get out of. Not having a contract gives you the freedom to switch carriers if you find a better deal somewhere else.

Next, stop and consider what extra services you actually use on your phone. Sales people who are trying to push texting packages and data heavy plans are good at making you think you need everything. The question is, do you really? Make sure that you are only signing up for what you will actually use. Along with that, consider whether you truly need the latest and greatest phone. You can often get a slightly older model phone for considerably less—sometimes even free.

One thing you should definitely do is pay attention to your bill and be on the lookout for something called cramming, which happens when you are charged for services you did not authorize. In May 2015, the FCC announced that both Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corporation would have to pay millions of dollars to their customers who were fraudulently charged for unauthorized third-party premium text messaging services. The bottom line is that if you do not know exactly what a charge on your bill is for, you should ask.

Phone companies offering landlines are not innocent of this sort of gouging either. While the fee quoted for your basic phone service is probably quite low, once all the bells and whistles have been added on, you might be looking at small fortune. A few items you might be paying extra for are caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, 411 directory assistance, long distance, and conference calls.

What can you do about all those extra fees?  VoIP providers like magicJack offer a great alternative. Not only is magicJack a no-contract service, you get all those additional services like caller ID, voicemail, call forward, call waiting, and 411 for no additional cost.

If the amount of money your phone company is stealing from you each month makes you cringe, consider a few of these suggestions for lowering your bill and getting exactly what you need from your phone service.