Consumer Report: Top Cell Services

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Consumer Cellular, a small company, was the top-rated provider in Consumer Reports’ just published survey of its subscribers. Among big-name providers, Verizon Wireless earned the highest score. Sprint has fallen to the bottom of the ratings, with low marks for value, voice, text and 4G reliability.

And Consumer Reports has advice for saving on your cell-phone bill. It turns out the traditional two-year contract is not necessarily the best choice for value. Initially you get a big discount on the phone you pick. But you may be paying a lot more for service compared to a prepaid plan.

In a recent survey of more than 58,000 Consumer Reports’ subscribers, prepaid Straight Talk earned high marks. The company advertises unlimited talk, text and data for $45 a month.

Even if you’re in a traditional contract, a good way to save is to check your bill to make sure you aren’t paying for more data than you use. Of the people surveyed with a monthly data allowance, nearly 40 percent reported using no more than half of it.

But, if you usually burn through your data allowance, rein in those data hogs such as streaming video, music and gaming.

Another tip is to make sure your Wi-Fi connection is always activated which lets you surf and stream for free in Wi-Fi areas. But, never us an unsecure connection for sensitive tasks like making purchases or paying bills.

Consumer Reports also advises checking to see if your employer participates in discount plans with any of the big nationwide cell phone carriers. You can find out by searching for “employee discounts” on your provider’s website.

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