Best cell services

FRESNO, Calif.

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

The big nationwide cell-phone carriers come up short when it comes to value for the money. Sprint edged out the others. It 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.

If you're someone who only calls and texts, a small national carrier - Consumer Cellular - beat out the big carriers for value. Consumer Reports says that if you use the Internet sparingly or not at all, Consumer Cellular is definitely worth considering. Consumer Reports compared plans and found that Consumer Cellular 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. There's no contract. You just pay for minutes or texts 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 such as Walmart, Costco, or RadioShack. 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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