How to Read Your Monthly Wireless Bill

The sample bill below is meant to help you understand the charges that may appear on your monthly wireless bill. Formats may vary, so check your wireless provider’s website for more details.

What's Your Plan?

Whether you need a plan for you, your family or your business, it’s important to select the plan that fits your unique needs. Depending on your plan, there may be limited number of voice minutes, text messages sent and received and megabytes of data included in your monthly plan.
sampleplan
Voice Minutes
Text Messaging
Data Usage

1,500
1,000
2 GB
yourBill
Previous Balance
Last Payment
Updates/Adjustments
New Balance
Total Amount Due

49.26
49.26
0
48.73
48.73

Paid 8/1


Due By 9/1
texting
Total Texts Sent
Total Texts Received

696
542

data
Data Used

694 MB
Many carriers allow you to add more people (e.g., spouse, children, etc.) with separate devices and unique phone numbers, to your plan for a discounted price.
Voice Calls
Total Minutes Used
Rollover Minutes
Nights and Weekends Minutes
Same Career Or Plan Minutes


646
250
400
100
texting
Total Texts Sent
Total Texts Received

1,330
2,000

data
Data Used

320 MB
Wireless carriers are required to charge taxes, fees and surcharges by federal, state and local governments. To recoup the administrative cost for these mandates, the carrier may charge fees and/or surcharges.
State and Local Taxes
Universal Service Charge
911 Service Fee
Third Party Billing


4.16
2.42
0.56
0.99
If you go over those limits, you may be charged for the additional use. 24/7 and for free, you may check your usage via your mobile device or by contacting your carrier. Many carriers already offer usage alerts so you know when you are close to reaching these limits. In addition, your service provider may offer plans so you may block or limit services to avoid unwanted or unexpected charges.
Data Wireless data means access to the Internet, email, apps, social media and more. Connecting a wireless device to Wi-Fi decreases the data used from your carriers’ data plan. However, be careful of Wi-Fi “honeypots” and make sure your personal information is protected and secure.
Megabytes (MB) – There might be a limited number of megabytes of data per month that a user can access. Generally speaking:
  • One minute of streaming video takes up roughly 4MB
  • Downloading one app or song takes up roughly 4MB
  • One plain text email takes up roughly two percent of 1 MB
Gigabyte (GB) –One gigabyte is equal to roughly 1,024 MB.
Data Usage Tips:
  • Downloading apps or streaming videos and music is often the culprit of data usage.
  • Use Wi-Fi at home or with other trusted Wi-Fi networks to limit your data usage on cellular networks saving your monthly plan allotment.
Most plans only cover data usage within the continental U.S. so check with your carrier before using your device internationally (or in U.S. territories, Mexico and Canada).

Honeypot Wi-Fi Network: An unknown or distrusted public Wi-Fi network, often created by hackers, to lure in users with “free” internet access and comprise their mobile devices. Avoid using unknown Wi-Fi networks and public Wi-Fi hot spots.
Additional Line:
  • Your monthly bill will detail usage by number.
  • Changes to plans, or adjustments, are also listed on your monthly bill.
Tips: Monitor individual use on your monthly bill so you may gauge and adjust your plan. For example, if one user texts or calls a significant amount more than others, switching to a higher or unlimited plan may help you avoid unexpected charges later.
Texting (or SMS)
  • Limited or Unlimited – Some plans have a prescribed number of texts you can send and receive per monthly billing cycle. Those are limited plans, and often charges are enforced when a customer exceeds that limit. Another option your carrier may offer is to pay a flat fee for unlimited text messaging.
  • Pay Per Use – Paying a price per message sent and received.
Insurance and Protection – Many carriers offer protection coverage for their wireless devices similar to an insurance plan. While plans vary, for a one-time or monthly fee, plans offer replacement phones in case of loss, theft or damage.

Ending Contract Early – Many customers choose to sign contracts for long-term plans in exchange for the benefits those plans provide. Should a customer decide to change carriers and break that contract before its expiration, there may be an early termination fee (ETF). If you choose to switch your service provider, in most cases you are able to port your phone number to your new provider.

Last Updated: November 2013
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