Personal Finance 

Money Leaks: Cell Phone Overtime Charges

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Cell phonesCell phones and cell phone service are already pricey but nothing compares to how much extra you’ll pay if you go over your plan’s minutes. A typical 450 minute plan from Verizon will cost you $39.99 before any taxes and fees. Use a single minute over 450 and expect to pay 45 cents a minute. A 250 text message plan will cost you $5 with each extra message at ten cents a pop.

Those rates are typical and going over can be very costly. (let’s not even talk about data… in today’s age of smart phones, going over on data can be killer)

This is the latest edition of our new series called Money Leaks.

The easiest way to avoid this is to keep track of how many minutes you’ve used in a particular month. While there are plenty of applications out there, the easiest way is to use whatever your provider gives you. For example, Verizon and T-Mobile will tell you the number of minutes you’ve used if you dial #MIN. Sprint customers have to dial *4 and go through prompts. Everyone can log onto their provider’s website to check your balance.

If you see that you’re using more minutes than you expected, increase your plan. The 450 minute plan costs $39.99 and the 900 minute plan costs $59.99, the difference is about 45 minutes of call time. Or call during off peak times.

What are you tips for avoiding overages?


{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “Money Leaks: Cell Phone Overtime Charges”

  1. Shirley says:

    Cellphone minutes can blow through the roof even for just texting if you don’t know what you are doing.

    We lent a grandson our low-level plan cellphone for one week while he waited for his to be replaced and calls were only to be made to and from us for location checks and plan making.

    Texting is not a call, right? Our normal bill was $23.95 and at the end of that week it was $600+ and was all texting. Never again! 🙁 And he sure learned a lot about plans, minutes and costs.

  2. Wilma says:

    I bought a phone from Consumer Cellular and I have to say I’m thrilled. I can change my minutes, text or internet whenever I want. Even in the middles of the month if I know I’m over. Even if I go over it’s not by much and it costs me 10 cents a minute. The hanging on the phone thing is something I never understood or did. So paying $22 a month for 100 minutes of talk and 100 texts is cool to me. I don’t normally use that up every month.

  3. Steve says:

    We have been sharing a cell plan with friends for two years. In that time we went over the minutes maybe two or three times. I think we spent about $40 total in overage charges. Meanwhile if we had signed up for the higher-minute plan, we would have paid $20 or whatnot every single month.

    It’s similar for text messages. Sure it’s a little annoying paying a quarter (including taxes) when someone texts me a short message. The most annoying thing is how angry it makes my spouse. But even so, I’d rather pay a buck or two a few times a year than an extra $10 ($5 per phone) every month.

    Lesson: Get the cell plan that covers your usage. If you often go over, get a higher plan; but if you don’t go over at least once a year, maybe your plan is too high.

  4. After several months of accidentally going over my minutes and paying hundreds of dollars in overage fees, I finally just switched to an unlimited talk and text plan. The cheapest one for T-Mobile is $65/month, which is substantially lower than the $200-$300 bills I was getting hit with previously. And I never have to worry about talking or texting too much!

  5. Ms J Diaz SS says:

    Going over your minutes once or twice is understandable, but not doing anything to avoid this in the future? If you see how much your cellphone consumption is and realize you are going over your texts and minutes every month, then it’s evident you may need an unlimited plan. Now unlimited plans can be pricey, especially if you are not on a prepaid basis, any carrier would charge you over 100 dollars for this, except in prepaid where you can have unlimited for as low as $45 a month or go over to Tracfone and pay as you go, as much as you need, I only spend an average of $40 a month with Tracfone, and if I need more, I can always add another card.

  6. Scott says:

    Lesson learned last week – do NOT use your data plan while roaming overseas. It costs roughly $20 per MB on most carriers which means your bill will rack up VERY quick. Always disable data services while roaming.

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