A smartphone.(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
CONSUMER REPORTS - Consumer Reports says if you're paying more than $50 per phone line each month,
it may be time to rustle up a better deal. All of the big phone carriers now offer no-contract plans, and Consumer Reports says that's the way to go. With those plans, the access fee for each phone is lower and you have the freedom to change carriers whenever you want.
Be sure to check other providers' plans to see whether you can save. A Consumer Reports' survey found almost half of those who switched phone-service providers in the past year saved $20 or more per month.
Pay particular attention to your data because that is hands-down the most expensive part of any bill. If you stream a lot of videos consider T-Mobile, which allows you to stream from Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and more without using up data.
If you do change carriers, you may have to buy a new phone, most likely at full price. No-interest leasing and financing options are available to ease the pain.
Leasing is generally the cheapest option for people who like to have the newest phone. But if you plan to buy a phone, most carriers will let you pay for it in monthly interest-free installments. Once you've paid it off, you'll enjoy a lower bill.
If you use only a moderate amount of data—about one gigabyte a month—and use Wi-Fi whenever possible, a smaller carrier might be your best bet. Check out Consumer Cellular or Ting. They earned top marks for value in Consumer Reports' ratings.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.
(Copyright © 2015 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All Rights Reserved.)