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Posted: 2:29 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

Free texting apps can cut your bill

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If you're paying big bucks for a text messaging plan, I want you to reduce that expense to zero pennies a month! There are a number of apps available for free text messaging if you're a smart phone user.

Did you know the number of text messages sent in the United States last year was over 2 trillion? Sometimes it seems like my college daughter accounts for 1.99 trillion of those texts! And that's the thing, the younger someone is, the more likely that all they do is texting and very little talking on the phone.

That's caused some cell phone companies to see this as a huge revenue source. To give you an example, AT&T has now gone to a $20/month text plan in a rate hike. (Or you can go on a family plan.) But they're both a waste of your money all around for two reasons.

First, there are practically no expenses involved for the cell companies in delivering text messages. The technology sits on top of the already existing telecomm platform. Second, you can download free apps to your smart phone and text for nada while bypassing the cell company's own systems.

Both CNNMoney.com and The Los Angeles Times  ran recent stories about some apps that you should consider giving a try. Note that some of these are what's called "app-to-app" programs,  which require both parties to have the same program installed on their phones. Some allow you to make all outgoing texts for free, though incoming texts would still be subject to data charges.

As CNNMoney explains, "Dozens of [apps] offer 'free' text messaging services, which allow wireless customers to send and receive texts by piggybacking on their existing data plans. That means people who download [these apps]…are able to bypass the expensive texting plans offered by wireless companies."

Here are just a few options:


You may have also heard that Apple will have its own free app for easy interoperable text messaging for called iMessage coming soon. And Facebook already has something similar called Facebook Messenger.

Another idea: Use the web to text.  Some carriers have some limited web-to SMS services.  Verizon Wireless customers can send a text to other Verizon users at vtext.com , or you can send a text via email to “verizon wireless phone number”@vtext.com. Sprint has a similar web based app that allows you to text other Sprint customers. Check with your carrier to see if they offer a web text service.

So go through your cell bill. If you are throwing away your money -- and for an AT&T customer that can be $240 a year  -- take that money put it in your pocket (unless you are a stock holder of AT&T and want to increase your stock value!)

Try out these free choices. If you're happy, cancel the text messaging plans from the big cell companies.

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