Consumer Reports ranks cell phone providers


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," said Rosalind Tordesillas with Consumer Reports.

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," Tordesillas 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," Tordesillas said.

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

Another way to cut your costs is to 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 regardless of whether you're getting a smart phone.

As for the four major wireless carriers, for overall satisfaction, Verizon is No. 1, with Sprint a close second. Although Verizon didn't do as well for value, it edged out Sprint for texting. T-Mobile was next, and AT&T came in last place with the lowest customer satisfaction rating for a second year in a row.

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