A monthly mobile phone plan seems straightforward on paper. You pay a specific fee and receive a specific allowance of minutes and data in return. Yet phone bills are rarely that straightforward, particularly if you are a Smartphone addict. Ringtones, apps, downloaded music, roaming fees, international fees… there’s a whole host of charges that could pop up on your phone bill at the end of the month. This is no problem when you plan in advance for extra phone usage, but if you’re caught unaware by hidden charges it can put a serious dent in your monthly budget. It’s helpful to be aware of the type of extra charges out there, so that you can avoid them and seek out alternative services if necessary.

“Free” Offers and Subscription Services

One common problem is the prevalence of premium subscription services. Teenagers in particular may download what appears to be a free ringtone or download an app, only to find out that they have signed up for a subscription service. Although that first ringtone may be free, it’s followed by additional services which they are charged for later on. Always be sure to read the fine print before agreeing to any service or download, even if it initially appears to be free of charge. Entering contests is another common way to put your mobile number on a subscription list without your awareness.

Avoid Hidden Phone Fees

International Charges

If you have friends or family abroad, you might use your phone for brief chats. After all, if you are making brief calls the charges can’t be too high, right? This can be one of the most surprising expenses for consumers, because international phone calls can cost a fortune. Some contracts will charge you not only by the minute, but also for connecting and disconnecting. There may be additional fees for calling payphones, landlines, or mobile phones depending on your terms and conditions. One way to avoid these hidden expenses is to use a separate prepaid option for your international calls. It’s worth looking at options like Lebara pay as you go SIM cards, which allow you to budget for your call without hidden transaction fees.

Roaming Fees

Another time when you might incur surprising international expenses is when you’re travelling abroad yourself. If you keep your phone on in foreign countries, it could pick up data roaming fees numbering well into the hundreds of pounds. It’s best to leave your phone at home if possible, or get a local SIM card to use instead. Lebara SIM cards or international calling cards can help you stay in touch with loved ones without dealing with roaming fees. Active Smartphone apps can also lead to extra roaming fees. When apps are left active, even if they’re not being used they could forward new content to the phone which could incur extra charges over time. It’s best to work over Wi-Fi whenever possible, and be sure to close all apps when the phone is not in use.

Fortunately with a bit of vigilance and the use of alternative services like prepaid phone cards, you can avoid some of the hidden fees that plague Smartphone users. Taking the time to read terms and conditions before downloading anything can help protect you and keep your bill in check.

By Jasmina