MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rollover, 4G, text, talk and bundle.

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With so many cell phone plans and services, it’s hard to know what you’re really paying for — and if you’re spending more than you should.

WCCO’s Aristea Brady found a cell plan answer that could save you hundreds of dollars each year, no matter what your carrier.

Monthly cell phone bills range in price about as much as reception ranges from the Twin Cities to the middle of the Boundary Waters.

“Most people are still with the traditional go in, sign up for a two-year, get subsidized equipment and you’ll usually end up paying for it in the long run,” said Tamer Azzazi, General Manager of World of Wireless in St. Paul.

Azzazi says the real way to save money is to forgo the carrot. Don’t be lured by the early offer of a discounted phone. Instead, opt for plans that don’t have a contract.

You’ll pay more up front, but your monthly bill drops significantly. Big carriers don’t talk about these too often.

“They basically buy blocks of time from the carriers and they resell them,” Azzazi said.

Companies that re-sell minutes are called “mobile virtual network operators” and Azzazi says they are, hands down, the best deals on the market.

While some of the cheaper plans are only available for older phones, Azzazi says you can bring your own equipment to the plan, and even keep your phone number.

For as little as $40 per month, you can hook up any Android phone, like the Samsung Galaxy S III, or any iPhone, even the 4, 4S or 5. Those plans include unlimited talk, text, and Web.

If you want faster internet or use it a lot, it’s anywhere from $10 to $20 more per month.

What about saving with a “family plan”? Azzazi says the tipping point is three lines.

If you have more than three people in your family, a major carrier’s “family plan” could save you money.

If you don’t need to pay for unlimited because you’re not on the phone often, say hello to pre-paid plans.

“That way you are just paying for what you use, and for most people in the long run, that’s going to cost you less money,” said consumer-technology writer for the twincities.com and The Pioneer Press Julio Ojeda-Zapata.

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Ojeda-Zapata says for those on pre-paid, there’s even a way to get around paying for texting.

“I text with a service called ‘Google Voice,’ and it’ll text for free,” he said. “I never pay for texting.”

You can load apps like “Google Voice” onto your phone and text as much as you feel like it, with no bill attached.

You can always forget the need for a cell phone altogether, and instead go ‘Skype to Skype’ for free long distance calling.

For those of us who don’t use a ton of data, the companies that re-sell minutes can save you a lot of money.

But even if you’re a heavy Web surfer or emailer, you’ll still likely save money with these re-sellers.

To do so, you have to be out of your contract with the main carrier.

List of “Mobile Virtual Network Operators”

Unlimited talk, text, 4G Web

  • Re-seller of AT&T- “Jolt” and “H2O,” $50/month (Jolt) or (H20)

Unlimited talk, text, 3G Web

  • Re-seller of AT&T – “Jolt” and “H2O”- $40/month (Jolt) or (H20)

Which plan is compatible with the phone you already have?

AT&T iPhones:
Compatible with “Simple Plan,” “T-Mobile,” “Jolt” and “H2O”

Verizon iPhones:
Compatible with “Page Plus”

Sprint iPhones:
**Cannot be hooked up to MVNO.
**Note: “Virgin Mobile” offers iPhones for sale at full cost.

AT&T Droids:
Compatible with “Simple Plan,” “T-Mobile,” “Jolt” and “H2O”

Verizon Droids:
Compatible with “Page Plus”

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Sprint Droids:
**Varies from plan to plan.
**Note: “Virgin” and “Boost” offer Droid phones starting at $100.