Secrets & Short Cuts
you won't get from your wireless carrier
every carrier has plans they don't
advertise. Most of them are cheaper plans that include fewer features
than their regular plans. In most cases, the only way to find out about
these plans is to press a Customer Service agent for more information.
Some plans only 'appear' when you threaten to leave the carrier,
although these plans are not supposed to be considered "retention"
plans, but that's what they are. Some plans have discounts for
customers who belong to certain groups and aren't really "plans", and
these discounts need to be applied to your account.
If you don't want to threaten to cancel, ask if there are offers
"to keep me as a customer." This doesn't work if your carrier
doesn't have live customer service.
MINUTES OR DATA? JUST ASK!
this is now less of a problem, one of the
most common self-inflicted wounds is running out of minutes or Data
run out of month. In many cases the carriers will be able to spot you
some extra to help you get through the tough times. As with any call
to Customer Service, you might need to press the issue. Don't use
additional "force", just use multiple pleas. You might use the terms,
"what can I do?" instead of "what can you do?" The
agent needs to look at your records to see if you've been naughty or
nice. Don't expect to be given anything if you're always asking. Quite
often the request for extra minutes or data for this month
goes down a little easier when you ask for a more expensive plan for
next month. Some carriers will change your plan retroactively,
and some will now do it without a contract extension. Often you can
change back if your circumstances change again. Some carriers offer
If your carrier doesn't have "Customer Service," you can
change plans on their web site which may involve a higher monthly
charge, but usually not a penalty or overage fee.
CAN'T MAKE A CALL? WHAT TO DO
There are several possibilities why you can't
make a voice call, and it often happens when you need it most!
Here's what you might experience and what to do about it:
HOW TO USE YOUR PHONE WHEN "ROAMING"
A TEXT MESSAGE
page: "Text Messaging
Gets Through When Others Don't"
CIRCUITS ARE BUSY" or "YOUR
CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED AS DIALED".
usually happens when your phone can access the cell tower, but there
connections available from there. You can bypass the cell
site and enable "Wi-Fi Calling" on your phone. If your
phone uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or data
calls, you can also make calls by switching to Wi-Fi
already using Wi-Fi Calling, the reverse may be true, turn off Wi-Fi
(or Wi-Fi entirely)
and use cellular.
- NO SIGNAL (No Bars),
"NO NETWORK AVAILABLE",
"EMERGENCY CALLS ONLY":
Your phone can't access a usable cell site. First try another
location, go outside, get higher or more out in the open.
Still no signal? Send a Text,
even to 911. Even if the phone finds a signal for only a few seconds,
your message could be sent.
Even if no bars are showing, you can make a call to 911 if there is any cellular
network available, even if your phone has no SIM! Your phone might need
to be forced to another network.
Look in your menu for "Choose networks" or similar to see if
another network is available, including Wi-Fi.
- "ALL HOPE
How dire is your situation? Your phone could be used as a
signal mirror. The smooth surface of your screen can reflect
sunlight which could get someone's attention. At night, you
use your phone's flash light. Do you know how to send "SOS" in
Morse Code (The International Distress Signal)? Use your hand to send
the dots and the longer dashes.
vacation and want to check your Voice Mail, but it won't
work. Most likely, your wireless phone was programmed with a special
code to call Voice Mail such as "*VM" or holding the "1" button. If
you're roaming outside
your network's service area, the network you are using may not
recognize that command. Instead, just call your
own wireless number, followed by a "*" or "#" to access your own
features.More If you're out of the country, an
additional dialing sequence
is required. Most phones will add the sequence for you by adding a
"+" before the voice mail
Most likely, none of your phone book
work outside the US without adding the proper Long Distance sequence.
This can be
prevented by adding "+1" before every entry in your phone book.
"1" is the country code for all North American phone numbers.
If you already have all your numbers entered, you only need
to change the ones that you might be calling from outside the country.
At least add a "+1 [your 10-digit phone number]" to access
your Voice Mail. Most phones let you enter a "+" by holding
(zero) button. You may also be able to check your carrier's
web site or customer service for
instructions on what to do if you travel off their network or out of
for more wireless roaming tips at The
'GLOVE BOX' PHONE
were you when you realized you left your phone on the kitchen counter?
Most likely you had driven about 5 miles in your car.
Do you really want to go back, tripling your distance?
The solution is a 'Glove Box phone'. This is your
cheapest phone with the cheapest plan. You get peace of mind
for very few bucks. There are several low-cost ways to outfit
your glove box:
MESSAGING WORKS WHEN OTHER METHODS DON'T
In most cases you can activate your old phone with a prepaid plan.
There are also options with some prepaid carriers to include a Free or
low-cost phone just for signing up for service. However,
since we're looking at dirt-cheap plans, you may want to search for a
leftover phone from a friend.
Yes, you could use that phone for Free, check our Free wireless options,
but you'll have a bit more confidence with a small plan. Talk and
Text plans start as low as $5 per month. You might find a old
Pay-as-you-go plan for a little as $10 per year. If cost is
not important, you can add the Glove Box Phone as another member of
your 'family' plan, lowering the plan cost
You need to
use a fairly recent phone. 3G, and non-LTE phones are being
phased out. You can use one for the short term, but what happens when
you need it the day after they deactivate the old network?
You need it
charged. After a few months of forgetting about it,
the day you need it the battery is dead. The easy way to
prevent this is to also throw in a cheap mobile charger
You need to
refill the plan. With the lowest-cost plans you'll need to
add some money to it and that may need to be done by a certain date.
Look for a plan that allows 'auto-refill', or plans with
refills once or twice a year. Put the date in your
daytimer, or better yet, on your regular phone's calendar.
Feel free to renew your plan early when you think of it.
Refilling early ensures you keep your old minutes.
you have a communications problem, like during a
hurricane, getting "All Circuits Busy", not enough 'bars' on your phone
and the like,
consider sending a Text Message. It works when trying to contact any
other wireless subscriber and all you need is their phone number. This
is your backup for when there is a power outage,
you're in a bad coverage area, or you're at a convention and everybody
else is using their phone.
This is a great way to communicate when severe
weather cuts you off. Your phone will 'hold' the message until it can
receive a clear signal, then sends it. Some phones hold the message
longer than others, so check periodically to see if the message needs
to be re-sent. It is also an inexpensive way to communicate
internationally as Text is billed at rates much lower than voice calls,
Additionally, you should become aware of how other callers can send a
Text Message to you,
in case the emergency is at
their end. Be aware that phone numbers from text messages may be
different than numbers shown on a voice call especially if the caller
uses a VoIP or VoLTE (data) circuit. Make sure you're Texting a
wireless number and not a landline.
many areas of the US, you can send a Text to 911 to get serious help.
can't call, try to Text. Don't test it to find out, call your nearest
dispatch center on a non-emergency number and ask if and where Text to
911 works, before
you need it.
THE MATH ON YOUR PLAN
assume you always save with a "Family" plan.
Consider separate plans for each user to get more features, or pay
less, for each.
Also, you might be paying more for "unlimited" features, like Data and
Text, when an "a la carte" or fixed amount plan could save you
substantial fees. Sit down with 6 months of your bills, or lacking
that, look at how you used your phone over the last few months and
compare your charges to your usage. The
offer an analysis of your usage on their "my account" pages. There
could be better "bundles" and features available now than when you
first signed up.
On the other hand, you can also add
"family" members to your plan to lower the cost per member. Not every
member of a Family plan needs to be a blood relative and does not need
to live in the same house...or even the same city. If you
5G, make sure your phone can access 5G and that your carrier actually
offers 5G in your neighborhood. Just
because they claim 5G in your town doesn't mean it's available at your
If you're not sure you're paying the best price, consult the Cheaper
There are a number of ways to get your wireless for less including Prepaid, changing
plans, changing carriers and more.
and Short Cuts