Firming Up Your Overhead: The Cell Phone Bill - Strategist
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Firming Up Your Overhead: The Cell Phone Bill

It's probably a fair assessment to say that most people are on monthly plans with one of the Big Three carriers. Because of device subsidies and limited competition, the rates for postpaid plans seem to always be increasing. If you are looking to cut costs, the cell phone bill might be a good place to start.

Take a look at your monthly bill. How much are you paying? We tried to find the cheapest reasonable plan (at least 450 minutes, at least 1 GB of data, some texting plan) on each carrier. If your cell phone is your primary work phone, you'll probably need even more minutes.

AT&T

450 minutes; 5,000 night and weekend minutes; Unlimited mobile to mobile; Unlimited texts; 3 GB of data.

Notes: AT&T's texting plan is all-or-nothing. That means $0.20 per text or $20 for unlimited.

Grand total per month: $89.99, plus taxes and fees.

Verizon

Unlimited Talk and Text, 1 GB of data

Notes: Verizon has switched over completely to shared plans. We're going to assume that everyone is, like us, lonely and sad. That means the smallest plan you can get on the "Share Everything" plan, sharing only with yourself, is unlimited talk and text with 1 GB of data. (For 2 GB, add $10. For 4 GB, add $20.)

Grand total per month: $90, plus taxes and fees

Sprint

450 minutes; Unlimited calls to any cell phone in the U.S.; Unlimited texts; Unlimited data

Notes: Sprint's 4G coverage is almost nonexistent in most places.

Grand total per month: $79.99, plus taxes and fees

You should also consider the coverage in your area. Verizon absolutely has the best network in the country, especially in regards to 4G LTE coverage. It really isn't close. Sprint has the best deal in town, in terms of quantity for the price, though again, no 4G in most cities.

If you need something cheaper than $90 per month, consider prepaid companies, such as Straight Talk, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Cricket. Most of these companies rent space on the Big Three networks and resell it at a far lower rate. For example, unlimited talk, text, and data is only $45 on Straight Talk. They let you choose between the T-Mobile and AT&T networks as well.

The caveat for the prepaid option is the cost of the phone. If you don't already own a fancy iPhone or Android, and want one, you're probably going to have to pay full price for one or pick up a second-hand phone on eBay or Craigslist. Whether you buy a phone outright or have an off-contract phone handy, you'll be saving around $50 per month per line if you switch to prepaid.

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