Trying to live without a mobile phone is unthinkable these days. Whether you use it to keep contact with friends and family, keep up-to-date on business matters when out of the office, or stay informed on breaking news, you simply have to be mobile.
Given how much time we spend connected, it’s important to keep close tabs on spending. This goes especially for those who make frequent long distance calls. Here are a few ways to avoid taking a hit in the wallet each month:
1. Track your minutes
Whether you use a set monthly mobile plan or long distance calling cards, it’s important that your phone plan offers real-time stats on minute usage. Knowing your call history (where, when and for how long) helps you plan for the future.
The best plans provide an alert once you’ve used up your allotment of free or cheap minutes. Also, know whether your plan rounds unused time up to the nearest minute.
2. Negotiate and re-negotiate
Long distance service providers are private companies looking out for their own bottom line. You should have the same attitude. Drive a hard bargain – negotiate for as many free minutes and cost-saving features as possible – and when your current plan expires, re-negotiate for one that is easier on your wallet. They need your business.
3. Think twice before purchasing an unlimited plan
Unlimited plans are convenient because you never need to worry about running out of minutes. But they’re often a waste of money. Use the statistics at your disposal to track monthly minute usage and expenditure. There’s a good chance that a basic plan will meet your needs at a much lower cost.
4. Use prepaid services
If you’ve tracked your monthly minutes and decided that fewer are better, go with the prepaid option. Many long distance service providers offer prepaid plans, and cheap international calling cards will also let you customize your minutes. But don’t buy too few minutes either. Low-minute options usually charge the highest per-minute rates. Find a healthy medium.
5. Ditch mobile phone insurance
You’re understandably tempted to insure that $200 iPhone or Android device. Don’t be. For the vast majority of mobile users, phone insurance is money down the drain. A standard insurance plan will cost about $8 dollars per month, so nearly $200 over the life of a two-year contract (this can be about 20% of your entire mobile bill). These days, mobile phones rarely break. Insurance just isn’t necessary.
6. Use cheap long distance service providers for international calls
Many of Canada’s bigger mobile providers charge hefty fees for long distance calls. No sweat, because you can easily find a service specializing in cheap long distance calls. The best long distance service providers offer you the same low rates all day, every day. Look for one that allows you to connect with your existing phone number.