How to Calculate the Actual Costs of Cell Phone Plans

The cost of your cell phone plan includes taxes and fees.
The cost of your cell phone plan includes taxes and fees. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Calculating the actual cost of your cell phone service plan involves much more than the advertised prices. Service fees and taxes are applied to the cost of features you have chosen to amass a higher price than you may have anticipated. Getting an accurate cost is crucial in budgeting for your plan and may allow you to choose a lower-priced plan to stay within your means. Your location will also determine the amount of taxes you pay for service. Remember to find the tax rates for your area to arrive at the real cost of maintaining cell phone service.

Consider the plan you have chosen or will be choosing. If you elect to agree to a plan that includes a finite number of minutes, choose the level above your expected talk time to avoid overages. For example, if you normally use 100 minutes of talk time during the daytime on weekdays, choose a plan that allows at least 150 minutes to avoid going over the allotted talk time.

Choose a plan that offers free night and weekend minutes. Find the parameters of nights and weekdays. Some plans define nighttime as 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., while others start the night rates earlier. Calculate the number of minutes you plan to use during the day and how many will be or can be used at night.

Chart the time you spend outside of the coverage area of your plan. Find the rates for your cell plan under "roaming" if you regularly travel outside the area covered by standard rates.

Find the tax rates for your state by visiting (see Resources). Check the rates for your state and apply the rate to your service plan price for the actual price subtotal.

Add the local 911 surcharge to the subtotal. The local rate varies by municipality. Contact your local Department of Revenue to find the exact surcharge rate.

Combine the service plan rate with the taxes and fees. Add any overages and roaming charges as defined in your service plan disclosure to arrive at the actual service cost.

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