NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Now that so many U.S. consumers are going "cable-free" in favor of standalone video packages like Roku and Hulu, cell phone bills are now being targeted by many of those same consumers who've grown weary of high phone bills. Call it cord-cutting 2.0.
According to a recent study by Coupon Cabin, 46% of cell phone customers have a monthly bill over $100, while 13% have a bill over $200 a month. Ask any parent of teenagers and you'll hear horror stories of bills $300 up, thanks primarily to budget-sucking "data overages" that telecom companies like Verizon or AT&T use to lard up monthly fees.
Now, no-contract providers like GIV Mobile, Metro PCS, PTel, and Republic Wireless are popping up with low-cost alternatives to the large carriers, with some plans (like GIV Mobile), starting as low as $20 per month with 250 MB of 4G data. (The company also donates 8% of the monthly bill to the charity of the customer's choosing.)
Going to a no-contract carrier isn't the only way to save cash on your monthly cell phone bill. But if you do, take some precautions first. "You can sign up with a non-major cell phone provider such as T-Mobile, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Cricket or Metro PCS," says Harrine Freeman, chief executive officer at H.E. Freeman Enterprises, a Bethesda, Md.-based financial services firm. "Before switching, verify if your cell phone runs on a CDMA or GSM network. Not all phones can be used on all networks."
Freeman also advises getting a basic plan with basic features.