5 On Your Side

Carriers offer smart ways to save on pricey smartphone bills

Posted March 7

Most people couldn't function without their cellphones, but many would be happy to do without the big bills that come with them.

There are ways to save, however.

Consumer Reports says now may be the time to take a closer look at your cellphone plan. Some small carriers may offer better deals for your lifestyle than the big four companies that dominate much of the service offered in the U.S.

The big takeaway is that not all plans are created equal.

Whether you're a college student, world traveler or part of a busy family, there is a plan that'll work for you.

"College students are already paying high tuition bills, so they'll want a plan that keeps rates low and uses the WiFi networks that are already available on most college campuses," Consumer Reports' Chris Raymond said.

Consumer Reports says Ting Wireless may be a good option. It offers one of the most affordable deals around and it's compatible with about 80 percent of smartphones.

For only $6 a month, users can get unlimited calls and texts when they're using WiFi.

When you're not on WiFi, cellular prices are still reasonable. Best of all, your bill can be based on how much service you used in the previous month.

If you need a family plan, Consumer Reports says you'll want one that's highly customizable with low rates and top-notch customer service.

Consumer Reports recommends Consumer Cellular.

It's one of their top-rated services, and it offers plans and smartphones in several different price ranges.

The downside is that there are fewer phone models to choose from.

If you often travel out of the country, using your smartphone can be expensive.

"For world travelers, we recommend Google Project Fi, which relies on WiFi for service to keep costs low," Raymond said.

When WiFi isn't available out of the country, rates are still affordable.

One drawback with Google's Project Fi service, Consumer Reports says, is that it only offers three phone models – Google's new Pixel and older Nexus phones, the 6P and 5X.

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