Save Money on Your Mobile: Can You Hear Me Now?

Confused over how to save your cell phone plan? Read this.

ByABC News
March 11, 2009, 4:30 PM

March 12, 2009— -- As Americans continue to cut household expenses to cope with tough economic times, more may be setting their sights on their cell phone bills.

But achieving cell phone savings, critics say, isn't easy because navigating the various plans and features offered by the different carriers can get confusing.

Consumers often don't choose the optimal plan at the outset and later, if they have second thoughts, they're hard-pressed to find a better option, said Schwark Satyavolu, the co-founder of, a Web site that compares wireless phone plans.

"You start overpaying and you stay overpaying because it's too complicated," he said.

For their part, the carriers maintain that their plans are straightforward and they have Web sites and customer service representatives to help consumers choose the best plans.

"Cost savings comes from getting on the right plan and we are so adamant about that," said Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all offered similar assurances.

But both critics and carriers seem to have the same advice for consumers looking to save: Understand what your wireless needs are -- that includes text-messaging and surfing the Web -- when you're choosing a wireless plan.

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"The overall point is to make sure you're not really buying more than you need," said Allan Keiter, the president of, another phone plan comparison Web site.

When it comes to minutes used for phone calls, many consumers would be best served choosing plans that provide about 10 to 15 percent more minutes than they need. Keiter says. That way they don't wind up paying "overages" -- per-minute fees for those who exceed the allotted number of monthly minutes.

For consumers with exceptionally volatile calling patterns -- those who significantly exceed their minute allotments in some months and use few minutes in others -- Keiter recommends choosing plans from AT&T, which allow subscribers to "roll over" unused minutes from previous months into new months.