Managing your cellphone budget in tough times
Many cash-strapped cellphone subscribers are spending more money on their cellphone bills each month than they need to because they're on the wrong contract or prepaid package for their needs.
That's according to Chris Scoble, managing director at Nashua Mobile. He says that if you are ending each month with a surplus of free minutes it might be time to downgrade to a cheaper package. On the other hand, if you use far more airtime than the free minutes allocated on your contract, it might benefit you to upgrade to a higher value contract.
"Another mistake that many users make is to pay 'out of bundle' rates for data usage and text messages", says Scoble. "Buying a bundle each month or appending a bundle to your contract can save one a significant amount of money as data tariffs in-bundle may be as low as 20 cents, compared to rates of as high as R2.00 out of bundle. Find out how much free data and how many free SMSes you will get when you move onto a new package."
Scoble offers some other cost-busting tips for cellphone users:
- Try to make most of your calls during off-peak times when tariffs are lower. For example, call between 8pm and 7am.
- Rather use your landline to call toll-free (0800 or 086/087) or Telkom numbers since you will be charged standard cellphone rates if you call from your cellphone.
- On-network calls (for example, one Cell C subscriber phones another Cell C subscriber) are cheaper than calls from one Network to another (e.g MTN to Vodacom). If you call one or two people a great deal, it might pay to use the same Network as they do.
- Per-second billing is usually more cost-effective than per-minute billing because you only pay for the time that you actually talk rather than having it rounded up to the minute.
- If you send and receive a lot of Data, the BlackBerry Internet Service which costs as little as R69 a month for unlimited Web and email use on your Smartphone might be ideal for your needs.
- The more Data you buy in a bundle, the cheaper the cost per megabyte becomes.
Finally, Scoble advises users that are on a tight budget to opt for 'soft-locking' of their cellular accounts when the bill crosses a certain threshold. If your budget for calls is only R300 a month, you can ask the service provider to bar any outgoing calls from your handset once you've spent that amount of money. This can help you avoid getting into debt by inadvertently spending money that you don't have. You will still be able to receive calls.