Receiving an abnormally high phone bill in the mail is never fun, especially when you’re on a tight budget. Mobile service providers often have a laundry list of various overage charges and other fees that can appear on your bill without notice. Fortunately, many of these hidden charges can be avoided by taking a few precautions during regular use. Here are some tips on how to avoid high cell phone bills.

Use Wi-Fi
If you’re on a limited data plan, like so many of us are, you’re probably facing overage charges or disconnection if you go over the limit set by your service provider. To avoid this, use Wi-Fi whenever possible. This will allow you to offset your limited data bandwidth and enjoy a faster and more predictable connection.

Weigh Your Options
Are you currently using a limited texting plan? Do you find yourself at risk of running over your limit during the month? Many carriers offer upgrades to unlimited texting for just a few dollars more, which is a giant savings over the $0.10 – $0.20 per message incoming or outgoing when you reach your limit. This is especially important if you’re using a family plan that’s shared with teenagers. Sending and receiving thousands of text messages per month is not uncommon among teens, especially if their friends don’t know you’re drawing from a limit. Remember, incoming messages that you don’t control also cost you money.

Find a Plan with Rollover Minutes
Rollover minutes are a great way to get exactly what you pay for. If your provider of choice has a rollover plan, you might want to consider it. Being capped at 400 minutes per month can be a drag when an emergency or travel hits, and having the peace of mind of knowing you’ve got those minutes in the bank can help. Overage costs for minutes can range from reasonable to outrageous. Loaning one of our phones to a teenager in the family once, we were surprised to see a bill of over $300 more than usual. This would have been avoided if we had a rollover plan.

Watch Out for Surprise Charges and Roaming Fees
Some providers are tricky when it comes to the fine print. Yes, you may have a great deal for general use, but what about those little extras like three-way calling and roaming? If you take your phone across the border, are you going to face extreme charges in the event that your phone continues to check for email or track your location through background apps, even when you’re not actively using it?

It could be a good idea to leave your primary phone at home and buy a prepaid phone made for the country you’ll be visiting. In addition, you can purchase a foreign SIM card and use that until you head back home. In either case, you’re probably going to save a boatload over what you would have spent using your local plan in another country.