ConsumerWatch: Group Offers Tips For Cutting Cell Phone Costs

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Google Nexus One Smartphone. (CBS)

Google Nexus One Smartphone. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Thirty-six percent of cellphone users say their monthly bills are higher than what they expected when they signed up for service, according to a new report by the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG).

The consumer group has come up with a guide called “Making the Right Call” to help consumers get those cell phone costs in line.

Tips include:

Get a Plan That Fits: The group said most Americans are overpaying for services they don’t need because they don’t choose plans based on their actual talk, text and data usage. You can track your usage on your phone with an app, or by going online to your service provider’s website.

Don’t Overpay for Your Phone: If you know what phone you want, CALPIRG advises buying it online, where the group said you can generally get the lowest price.

Family Plans Aren’t Just for Families: “A group of friends can get together and get a discount on their cell phone plan,” said CALPIRG’s Jon Fox, the author of the report. Fox said the only concern is to make sure participants are vigilant about paying on time, so the person whose name is on the account doesn’t face credit consequences for late payments.

Ask for a Discount: Many cellphone companies offer discounts to students, credit union members, veterans and employees of certain companies. For example, Sprint offers a 24 percent discount to eligible students, while Verizon offers a 15 percent discount to Military vets.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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