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Reading Your Cell Phone Bill-data Services, Taxes, And Insurance

Apr 23, 2008
Most people admit that they just pay their monthly cell phone bill without looking at it. Many of these individuals say that they do not know what all the different listings are or what they mean. When looking at your cell phone bill you will see the different sections and the charges listed within these areas. The first section on your bill is usually your Monthly Plan, while the second may be the Calling Charges section. The last few sections probably include the Messaging/ Data Charges section, the Taxes Section, and the Insurance section.

The Messaging/Data Charges section is the listing of the preset charges that you have set up as part of your cell phone plan. This includes text messaging and surfing the Internet with your cell phone. The only additional charge in this section is the Text Messaging Surcharge. This fee is incurred if you text message someone abroad as these messages are not included in most service provider's plans. There will also probably be a $.15 fee for each of these text messages that are sent.

The next section is probably the Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges section. This is the area where most people become confused. First there is usually a FCC Universal Service Charge. This is a fee that your cell phone service provider charges all their customers to meet a mandatory FCC requirement that the companies should help fund telecommunications infrastructures for low-income residents as well as schools, libraries, and health-care services. Technically, the customers are paying for this funding as well as the providers.

The next listing in the Taxes section is the State and Local Charges. Some states and local governments have a sales tax for wireless infrastructure, the E911 service, or discounted telephone services for low-income customers. Some areas may charge for all three. If this amount seems too high to you, you can call your provider but usually there is nothing that the company can do about these fees.

The Regulatory Fees and the Administrative Charges are usually the next two listings in the Taxes section. The Regulatory Fees are the charges that you pay to finance federally mandated programs such as services for the hearing- and speech-impaired customers, wireless phone number portability, and an enhanced 911 system that enables law enforcement officials to track your location in case of an emergency. Administrative Charges are simply the fees passed along to you by your cell phone service provider to cover the administrative costs of their business. On your first bill, this fee may seem to be high due to an activation fee that most providers charge to new customers. You may be able to get this fee waived if you sign a two-year contract with the provider. Otherwise, you are probably going to have to pay it.

The last section of your cell phone bill is probably the Insurance section. There may only be one listing in this area-Handset Insurance. This insurance provides extra protection for you if your cell phone is lost or stolen. This fee may also include road-side service if you are broken down. If you can afford it, this insurance is a nice asset to have.

Understanding your cell phone bill can enable you to choose a plan that better fits your needs as well as allowing you to eliminate any unnecessary costs.
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