Today there’s a whole new literary genre devoted to Internet addiction. To summarize the issue, many of us can literally no longer remember life before smart devices. Some of us (48% of 18-34 year olds, to be exact) check Facebook before we even get out of bed in the morning. 80% of smart device users (which is nearly all of us these days) check their device before brushing their teeth.

What does this mean for the cell phone marketplace? It means big business…and big bucks…and big competition between providers for your patronage. However, while cell and Internet service providers are willing to do just about anything to lure you away from one of their competitors, what they do with you after they get you is an entirely different story! In fact, according to CNN Money, customer loyalty in the cell service market is at an all-time low—and stands to drop lower still in coming years. So you may easily be lured in with a good promotion that promises lower rates with more storage and functionality. But watch out once you bite that hook and sign on the dotted line. At that point, they have you, so you must be just as wary about hidden fees as you would have been had you stayed with your old provider.

Hopefully the tips in this article can keep your costs as low as possible—no matter which cell provider you choose!

1. Contract-cancellation charges

As the cell phone market gets more and more competitive, fewer providers are attempting to enforce early-cancellation penalties. But this doesn’t mean your provider won’t try.

Tips to avoid paying: If you do happen to be with a cell provider that enforces early-termination fees, there are a couple of tactics you can try. First, consult your contract and cite the specific reasons why you want out of your contract. If your provider failed to live up to their end of the deal in the service they provided to you, you can cite contract violations to get out of your contract. Also, try asking the new provider to pay the fee for you—if the new provider is eager enough to win you away, they might just oblige!

2. Cramming charges

Cramming refers to a particularly nasty and underhanded practice by unscrupulous app services that will barrage your phone with texts and alerts until you manually respond with "no" or "stop."

Tips to avoid paying: Careful monthly bill review is the only surefire way to keep these unauthorized charges from affecting you. If you see any charge you don't remember authorizing—even if it looks legitimate—be prepared to question it.

3. Unauthorized-app charges

While you may think the app you just downloaded is free, that doesn't mean everything it provides will also be free.

Tips to avoid paying: This issue is likely not as big of a concern for adult app users, but if you permit your kids to use apps on your phone, you should hide your password from them and set up any other available safeguards to prevent them from purchasing app upgrades on your phone.

4. Buying more plan than you need

Most cell providers offer detailed online information for a user's account. You can use this information to monitor your monthly usage. If you find you have overestimated the amount of minutes, data storage or texting you need, you can save money by downgrading your plan.

Tips to avoid paying: This can be especially useful if you have a new plan with different monthly limits than what you’ve been used to in the past. Just monitor your usage the first two or three of months, and see where you perhaps may be failing to use your services fully. Then you can downgrade services as needed.

NOTE: Before you downgrade, be sure to inquire first about any service-change fees!


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