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*Bob Hansen, NBC Newschannel*Click HERE to watch this story
A popular gift every year is a cell phone. Phones have gone from being an extravagance to a necessity; and cell phones are everywhere.
But are we paying too much when we buy them. Those monthly fees can really add up.
But when we shop for a phone few of us think about the calling plan. Kevin McAllister of San Diego Wireless said, "What you pay for a phone is miniscule compared to what you pay every month for phone service."
Consumer experts say cellular companies clearly push phones first and calling plans second even though many of us pay thousands of dollars on phone plans.
Before you say 'I don't spend that much money on a phone plan' think about this. In the course of a year or two, you spent as much on that plan as it would cost you to buy a big screen TV." "I'd say probably about 25 to 35 percent of people are truly on the wrong plan," said McAllister.
So what can you do about it? Wireless experts say know your calling habits before you walk in the store.
Then shop the plan first and phone second. That approach could save you a bundle. "Because you're a more educated shopper. You know what you're going to buy, how you're going to use it, so you don't get roped into plans that you don't need," McAllister said.
The key is knowing your needs. Are you going to surf the web? Text message? Send pictures? What you want is not equal on all calling plans.
Also, shop around. Like airline tickets, cellular plans are always changing. In fact, competition between carriers just before the holiday can open up some excellent phone plans.
But don't count on those deals lasting very long.