Cell Phone

magicJack In Canada - My Review 5 Years Later!

magicjackincanada-5yearslater.jpgI first reviewed magicJack more than 5 years ago when I chose it to replace my home phone service while going internet-only.

It was a rocky start - but once I ironed out all the issues the lack of monthly phone bills has been amazing!

Home phone service costs about $30 + tax every month. Five years worth of that is $2,070.

With magicJack, I paid $50 for the original device which came with 12 months of service and cost around $20 per year thereafter + $10 a year for a Canadian phone number (all figures in US Dollars).

A couple of years later, I decided to purchase an upgraded magicJack Plus so I could plug it directly into my router without needing to keep the computer on. That one cost $80 including shipping and offered another 12 months of free service. The price of additional service for the new device rose to $35 per year + $10 for my Canadian number.

All told, I’ve spent $429 CAD at today’s currency conversion rates for devices and service over the last 5 years - an impressive savings of 79% when compared to the cost of a regular home phone.

I also enjoyed big additional savings from the unlimited long distance to Canada & USA included with magicJack and the long list of calling features it has at no extra charge.

magicJack Is Incredibly Simple To Use

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5 Ways to Hack Your Cell Phone Bill

5waystohackyourcellphonebill.jpgWho doesn’t have a smartphone these days?

In fact, two thirds of Canadians own a smartphone.

And as their capabilities become greater, so do the data requirements...and costs.

Here are some easy ways I save money on my cell phone bill:

  • use wifi whenever possible to avoid extra data charges,
  • use a separate sim card when travelling to the US, and
  • use a smaller service provider.

Want to slash your cell phone bill even more? Read on...

5 Ways to Hack Your Cell Phone Bill

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Cell Phone Contracts Are Evil (Except When They’re Not)

cellphonecontractsareevilexceptwhentheyrenot.jpgI’ve never been a fan of cell phone contracts.

Why? Well, they typically lock you into paying absurdly high monthly rates for a long period of time all so you can get the latest and greatest $800 cell phone for “free” or nearly free.

Want to change your plan or cancel? You either can’t do it at all, have tight restrictions on plans to choose from, or have to pay very high cancellation penalties for every month you have left on your contract. Ouch!

Cell Phones Are NOT Free!

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Cheap Cell Phone And Data Plans For Traveling To The USA

cheapcellphoneanddataplansfortravelingtotheusa.jpgI'm going to be leaving for the American personal finance bloggers conference called FinCon in a couple of days to meet up with like minded people and try to learn ways to make HowToSaveMoney.ca better.

While there, I'm going want to be able to use my cell phone to call home as well as have data access for Google Maps, keeping up on email, checking on my site, looking up restaurants and attractions, tethering to my surface so I can work anywhere, and the list goes on.

There are a lot of options out there and not everyone is aware that you have more choices than just paying through the nose with your existing provider. Here are a few of the choices you have:

The Easiest Way To Go

The easiest thing to do is to check with your current cell phone provider to see what kind of add-ons they have for traveling to the USA. If you plan to use your phone for more than 1 or 2 calls or texts, then this is almost certainly a better option than paying per use.

Pay per use rates are typically around $1.50 per minute talked, up to $1 per text sent, and as much as 5 cents per kilobyte of data used which works out to $500 for 100MB of data, which is insane. Pay per use rates vary by provider, but they are never very attractively priced.

Only considering a combination of talk, text, and data, these are the cheapest rates offered by some popular Canadian providers in no particular order.

* In some cases I had to piece together rates for a talk, text, and data plan where no such plan was offered. In cases where a period of less than 1 month was available, I chose pricing for packages of 7-10 days in duration which would cover the length of a typical vacation.

Provider

Price

Talk

Data

Text (Sent)

Period

Rogers

$40

50 minutes

200MB

Unlimited

31 days

Bell

$50

100 minutes

100MB

1000 messages

30 days

Telus

$25

50 minutes

50MB

150 messages

30 days

Koodo

$40

Unlimited

250MB

Unlimited

10 days

Fido

$40

50 minutes

200MB

Unlimited

31 days

Virgin

$50

100 minutes

100MB

1000 messages

30 days

Wind

$15

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

1 month

The Pretty Cheap And Pretty Easy Way To Go

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Cell Phone Unlocking Explained

cellphoneunlockingexplained.jpgCellular service providers do something known as “locking” to all the cell phones that will be used on their network by instructing the cell phone manufacturers like Samsung to lock the phone via software before the phone ever leaves the factory. What this does is prevent you from using your cell phone on any other network than the one it was originally activated with.

This practice severely limits both your flexibility in choosing another service provider and the resale value of your phone because you can only sell it to other people subscribed to the same network as you are. Fortunately, locking is a simple software-only gatekeeper that is designed to be easily undone if you enter the correct unlock code into your device.

Why Phones Are Locked

There are a few good reasons why phones are locked to begin with but really it is just a way for the cell phone companies to squeeze you for more money. They want to make it difficult for you to switch providers so that you will continue feeding them money every month. Keep reading » about Cell Phone Unlocking Explained

$108 – My Cost For High Speed Internet, TV, 2 Cell Phones, Home Phone, Long Distance, And Movies

108mycostforhighspeedinternettv2cellphoneshomephonelongdistanceandmovies2.jpgI’ve been meaning to write a post for probably a year now on how much I pay all together for my communications and entertainment services on a monthly basis and while reading this post over at Add Vodka earlier today I was inspired to finally get doing it! I’ve written a lot here on how to save money on your monthly bills but I’ve never actually broken down my own costs as a real life example and I think that’s worthwhile, so here goes. All prices include taxes and fees.

$66.61 – High Speed Internet (50mbps Down / 30mbps Up)

Here in Atlantic Canada we have some of the best high speed internet service in all of Canada. We don’t have much competition or low cost providers, Rogers and BellAliant are pretty much it for choices, but Aliant has always been an early pioneer for high speed internet in Canada. My parents actually had 8mbps fibre optic high speed at their house all the way back in 1997!  Unfortunately, it was before its time and they later discontinued it in favour of much slower and cheaper DSL, but since 2009 fibre has returned with even higher speeds in their new FibreOp service!

I’m actually on the lowest speed at 20mbps 50mbps (they upped it for free), which is more than enough, but they also offer download speeds of up to 250mbps! Even better, there is no download cap so I can stream and download as much multimedia as I want. By calling and negotiating a better deal, I was able to get a $10 monthly discount off the regular rates. Keep in mind, I have no other services with them but internet so they don’t usually like to discount things too much unless you bundle multiple services together, so I think I did pretty well there to even get a discount.

Cost Breakdown: $68.95 – $10.00 + $7.66 tax = $66.61

FREE – Unlimited On Demand TV

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How to Minimize Your Monthly Cell Phone Bill with a Smartphone and a Data Plan

howtominimizeyourmonthlycellphonebillwithasmartphoneandadataplan.jpgThe Internet has significantly changed the way we communicate. Many people have already eliminated their monthly home phone by using Voice over IP (VoIP). Similarly, the business case for Enterprise VoIP is compelling. It eliminates separate voice and data services and the associated cost of maintenance.

If you have a Smartphone with a data plan, you can minimize your cell phone monthly bill by maximizing VoIP. That is, use low-cost VoIP to make calls as much as possible and only use prepaid minutes as backup.

How much do voice plans cost?

Mobility carriers offer to sell you a cell phone voice plan with 150-200 minutes for $30-35/month. Additional minutes are often charged at 30-40 cents/minute. This means you're spending about 20-30 cents/minute if you use all the minutes precisely. The monthly amount is fixed, whether you use all the minutes or not.

Don't pay for minutes you won't use

A prepaid plan can help you minimize mobile voice cost, which often costs 20-25 cents/minute in a pay-as-you-go setup. You only get charged for the calls you make or receive. Examples of prepaid carriers are President's Choice Mobile (aka PC Telecom), Telus Prepaid, Virgin Mobile, and Fido prepaid. The big wireless companies also usually have a prepaid option as well, but they are typically more costly overall.

How to choose a mobile data plan?

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HOT - New Android Smartphone For $50 NO CONTRACT (Use With Any Provider)!

LG Optimus One I posted an amazing deal I got on a brand new android smart phone in my latest How To Save Money Radar. But, since this is such a smoking hot deal, I thought I should write a separate post with a step by step guide on how to get one yourself before this offer expires on March 31st, 2011 along with answering some common questions!

First things first, I want to make sure everyone understands that modern smart phones do not really cost between $0 and $100, which is what you see them typically advertised for. They actually cost more than $500 if you don’t want to be tied down with a 3 year contract. Some people don’t look at a 3 year contract as a big deal, but it is a big deal and here’s why:

  • Contracts eliminate your negotiating power and you can usually negotiate with retentions to save an enormous amount off your monthly bill if you aren’t under contract.
  • Contracts with smartphones often force you into an expensive monthly plan in addition to an expensive data plan totalling more than $50/month to get the cheap phone price.
  • Contracts stop you from switching to another provider that better meets your needs or that has better prices.
    • This is especially bad when a great promotion comes along and you want to switch.
    • Many prepaid companies offer outstanding value for savvy consumers and light users ($8.50 per month or less).
  • Contracts stop you from changing your phone whenever you want if you don’t like it or a newer model comes out that you really want.
    • If your phone dies out of warranty or you drop it, lose it, or otherwise break it then you are on the hook for the full cost of replacing it!
  • Contracts have huge cancellation fees (up to $400) if you need to get out of it because you are moving out of the country or to a place that doesn’t have service from your provider.
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Save Money Using Calling Cards

savemoneyusingcallingcards.jpgCalling cards have been kicking around convenience stores forever and have always offered significant savings off the standard long distance rates charged by phone service providers, yet still many people choose not to use them. People like the convenience of being able to pick up the phone, quickly dial a number, and be immediately connected to their desired party. In other cases it may not be an issue of convenience, but instead an issue of complexity. Calling cards can be complex with huge lists of local access numbers, different rules and fees for using every card, and lots of fine print to read.

It is true that calling cards add in extra steps that can be cumbersome, so is using a calling card really worth it? I believe the answer to that question is yes! They can save you a lot of money, so in that regard they are worth it, and, after reading this guide, you should have a much better understanding of how they work, how you can make use of them without too much hassle, and what the best calling cards are for your personal needs.

In This Guide

Understanding How Calling Cards Work

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Long Distance Is Cheap: Are You Paying Too Much?

longdistanceischeapareyoupayingtoomuch.jpgWith technology developing at breakneck speeds, the price of long distance has plummeted rapidly in the past ten years. Not only has the cost of long distance over wired phone lines dropped dramatically, but it is even less when using internet technologies like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). However, this doesn’t stop your home phone or cell phone service providers from trying to gouge you with rates as high as 35 cents per minute for long distance within Canada and the USA.

Nowadays, many home phone providers have dropped their rates to be more competitive and a common rate to pay would be 5 cents per minute. This seems like an amazing improvement when you consider the older rates, but the fact of the matter is you can easily achieve rates as low as 1 cent per minute using calling cards or FREE or almost free using VoIP related technologies and services! Make sure you read the entire post so you get to see all of the best and free options! Keep reading » about Long Distance Is Cheap: Are You Paying Too Much?

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