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AT&T and T-Mobile Merger: 8 Ways to Combat Possible Rising Prices


Prepare for a likely price hike in wireless service prices with these savvy tips.

With news of a possible merger between two of the nation's largest wireless carriers and one of the most significant deals since the financial crisis, AT&T (T) and T-Mobile's proposed $39 billion deal have many speculating: will this lead to price increases for cell phone plans and other wireless services?

Although this merger is a winning deal for the two companies involved, financial experts and consumer advocates suggest that there's a potential loser in the outcome of the decision - the consumer.

Don't let the uncertain future of unlimited minute and data plans keep you up at night. Prepare for the possible increase in wireless service prices with these 8 savvy saving tips.

1. Extend Your Family
Family plans are great for any group of reasonably trustworthy people, including roommates, friends and extended family. Members of your plan don't need to be related to receive these money saving rates, but make sure everyone on your plan is trustworthy enough to pay their share of the monthly bill.

2. Switch to Pay-As-You-Go Phones
The New Millennium Research Council says that 25 million Americans could save money by switching to a prepaid phone. Prepaid service companies like Boost Mobile (S), NET10 (AMX) and Virgin are more accessible than ever and even major national companies are getting in on the act, crafting reasonable prepaid plans for those who want the reliability of a nationwide network. Some carriers have watered-down versions of other plans, such as the text-friendly T-Mobile offering of $15 per month for unlimited text (but no voice). Others opt for a credit model, where you pay per usage. Rates differ by company, but most charge between 5 and 10 cents per minute or text.

3. Purchase Unlocked Phones
Consider purchasing an "unlocked" phone when switching networks, signing up for a new plan or simply updating your phone. The SIM card (Subscriber Identification Module) isn't associated with one specific provider, therefore these free-agent phones are compatible with any network, allowing you to use them for the service you prefer. Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) are just a few of the electronic stores you can purchase an unlocked phone at a very reasonable price.

4. Use Coupon Codes
You can buy unlocked phones online with coupons for Best Buy (BBY) and TigerDirect from a site like Don't forget to use a coupon when buying accessories to compliment your new phone.

5. Make the Trade
If you are just looking for an upgrade and your phone still works, check GreenPhone or CellTradeUSA to switch for another model. The trade will cost you, but often you will discover a better deal than purchasing elsewhere. Also, consider CraigsList to purchase from a private individual. But, buyer beware, as electronics purchased from this website come with no guarantees.

6. Download Text for FREE Apps
Texting can cost upwards of $10 per month. Cut your provider out of the picture if you have a smartphone. Download free texting apps like Textfree With Voice for iPhone and chompSMS for Android which also include free voice minutes too. Even though you'll only be able to connect to others who have the app, the savings make it worth convincing your family and friends to try out this new method.

7. Take Advantage of Employer Discounts
Switch to the provider your employer uses if you're not voraciously committed to your current provider. Almost every major carrier offers a business discount that can be applied to personal phones. The only thing required is a valid e-mail address or other form of ID from your employer. From major corporations to school districts, plenty of outfits are part of these programs.

8. Let Go of the Extras & Go Basic
Service providers have started heaping on extraneous fees. Almost any desirable phone these days now requires a data plan in addition to voice, text and other services. The key is leaving all else behind and selecting only what you'll use.

Feel free to share these savvy cell phone savings tips with your audience.

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