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Four Important Tips for Avoiding Phone Bill Shock

No one enjoys paying bills. But there’s a special kind of nausea that comes from opening your monthly phone bill and seeing a figure 10-20-50% higher than what you expected. Most of us go through a few predictable stages: shock, denial, anger and finally despair.

You can take simple steps to avoid finding yourself, once again, on the wrong end of a ballooning phone bill. Just follow these simple tips:

Avoid Roaming Data

Having a data plan can provide good bang for your buck, provided you use it properly. So don’t use data when roaming. It’s a hidden charge that phone service providers use to hit careless customers. The worst thing about roaming is that you can activate it accidentally.

In 2013, a British Columbia family was hit with a $22,000 bill after their son used data roaming to watch YouTube videos while vacationing in Mexico. The problem? He accidentally turned off “airplane mode” and unwittingly used 12 hours of data roaming!

Read the Fine Print Before Signing a Contract

It sounds basic, but a lot of costumers don’t take the time to read through every line before they sign a service contract. It’s especially important to know the rates for each type of call and time of day.

Calls are usually more expensive in the afternoon due to peak business hours. Some plans offer free evening calls, but read the contract carefully, and read all communications you receive from the provider. UK phone provider BT recently infuriated customers by moving its free evening calls period back to 7 PM from 6 PM, costing a lot of customers a lot of money.

Don’t Overuse the Data Plan

The number one reason customers get hit with big phone bills is because they went over on their data. The charge may be big or small, depending on your plan. Charges range from $5 to $25 per extra 100 MB usage. Here are tips for keeping data usage down

  • Switch off Wi-Fi assist if you use an iPhone. This feature automatically switches you to mobile internet if you have a bad Wi-Fi connection. It’s also a recipe for a massive phone bill.
  • Know your data allowance.
  • Use Wi-Fi whenever it’s available. Free internet!
  • Don’t download music or videos.

Use an International Calling Provider to Call Overseas

A lot of phone users in Canada get hit with big bills just for calling their relatives overseas. International calls tend to be expensive with the big providers.

So if you’re trying to call mom in Pakistan or your cousin in Ukraine, consider going with an international calling provider. Calling cards are an option. A prepaid card lets you upload a certain amount of money to use for international calls, ensuring that you won’t go over budget.

Related: 5 Things to Consider While Buying a Prepaid Phone Card

You can also go with a provider like ttagTM. It’s easy to use: sign up for an account, make a deposit, and you’re given a local number you can use to call anywhere in the world. Best of all, there are no contractual commitments or hidden fees.

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