The Results Are In: Best Cell Services

Cell phones keep getting "smarter," and customers keep getting more frustrated with the high cost of staying in touch.

Consumer Reports has just released its annual ratings of cell-phone carriers and has advice for people who are upset about their bills.

"I don't understand again why the bills would be so high."

"They're outrageous."

"It's high for no reason. Extra charges for no reason."

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.

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

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

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

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

Tordesillas says, "There's no contact with prepaid phones. You just pay for minutes or tests as you go."

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.

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