You’re Likely Wasting Money on Your Cell Phone


Looking for some quick savings for your small business or home? Change your cell phone plan.

Roughly 90 percent of Illinois smartphone users are wasting hundreds of dollars each year on smartphone data packages, the Citizens Utility Board said in a new report.

CUB's report, issued Tuesday, comes after three years of analysis of 19,000 cell phone bills. Roughly 70 percent of those bills, CUB said, showed an average of $331 in wasted minutes, texts, allotted data and useless services.

"Too many customers are wasting money on bulky data plans that aren't tailored to their needs," said David Kolata, CUB's Executive Director.

The organization's Guide to Cell Phone Data Plans is a companion to the CUB Cellphone Saver, an online service that analyzes wireless bills and offers custom ways to save money.

Looking at 11,000 Verizon Wireless bills, Cellphone Saver found customers use an average of 456 MB per month, far less than the 2GB allowed in most plans.  With Verizon Wireless' most inexpensive plan -- at $30 per month -- customers were paying $278 a year on data that was never getting used.

CUB said it would like to see carriers change their plans to offer only 50MB or 1GB data packages, family sharing and rollover plans.

Sprint is currently the only wireless carrier to offer truly unlimited plans. Verizon Wireless on July 7 joined T-Mobile, AT&T and Chicago-based U.S. Cellular as only offering tiered data packages.

"With data, unfortunately, there still aren't as many good options as there are on voice.  We'd like to see that change," said Kolata.

Some companies do offer low-data plans.  For example, AT&T does offer a 200MB/month package for $15/month.  That's about the same as sending and receiving about 1,000 one-page email messages. Verizon Wireless said they also offer tools to help keep customer costs low.

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