Consumer Reports surveys cell phone providers

November 21, 2013

Consumer Reports surveyed its subscribers in 23 metro areas, including Philadelphia.

Verizon Wireless outscored all other cell providers for texting and data in the Philadelphia area.

If you're looking for ways to save on your cell phone bill - Consumer Reports has advice.

"The traditional two-year contract may not be the best choice for value. Initially you get a big discount on the phone you pick. But moderate users may be paying a lot more for service compared to a prepaid plan," said Rosalind Tordesilla.

Consumer Reports' staffer Monique Little cut her monthly bill by more than half switching to a prepaid plan.

"It saves me about $100 a month," said Monique Little.

In a recent survey of more than 58,000 Consumer Reports subscribers, prepaid Straight Talk earned high marks. The company advertises unlimited talk, text, and data for $45 a month.

Even if you're in a traditional contract, a good way to save is to check your bill to make sure you aren't paying for more data than you use.

"Of the people we surveyed with a monthly data allowance, nearly 40 percent reported using no more than half of it," said Tordesillas.

But if you usually burn through your data allowance, rein in those data hogs - streaming video, music, and gaming.

Another tip - make sure your Wi-Fi connection is always activated, which lets you surf and stream for free in Wi-Fi areas. But never use an insecure connection for sensitive tasks like making purchases or paying bills.

Consumer Reports also advises checking to see whether your employer participates in discount plans with any cell-phone carriers. Just search for "employee discounts" on a provider's website.

By the way - in Consumer Reports' national survey - Consumer Cellular, a small company, was the top-rated provider. But among big-name providers, Verizon Wireless again earned the highest score.

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