Best Cell Services

December 6, 2011 3:34:02 AM PST
Cell phones keep getting ''smarter,'' and customers keep getting more frustrated with the high cost of staying in touch.

The big nationwide cell-phone carriers come up short when it comes to value for the money in Consumer Reports' annual survey of its readers. Sprint edged out the others.

"Sprint is the last of the big carriers to offer unlimited data plans, which can make a big difference if you surf the Web or if you download lots of apps and videos," Rosalind Tordesillas, Consumer Reports, said.

If you're someone who only calls and texts, a small national carrier -- Consumer Cellular -- beat out the big carriers for value.

"Consumer Cellular is definitely worth considering. When we compared plans, this company had the best rates most often, especially for the basics," Rosalind Tordesillas, Consumer Reports, said.

A prepaid service is another money-saving option for people who call or text occasionally.

"There's no contract with prepaid phones. You just pay for minutes or texts as you go," Rosalind Tordesillas.

TracFone was rated among the best prepaid carriers in Consumer Reports' satisfaction survey.

Another way to cut your costs -- shop for a phone in stores like Walmart, Costco, or Radio Shack. The selection may not be as wide, but you can save money -- a smart move, whether you're getting a smart phone or not.

How did the other carriers do in Consumer Reports' survey? For overall satisfaction Verizon tied Sprint. Although Verizon didn't do as well for value, it edged out Sprint for texting. AT&T rated last in the survey -- a dubious distinction the carrier has held for years.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2011. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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