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Cell phone plans getting more and more confusing
(CNN) If you've shopped for a cell phone recently you know there are overwhelming number of choices.
Not just for the phones themselves, but also the plans.
And picking the wrong one can cost you.
Last year consumers overpaid more than 52-billion dollars for plans which they never used.
Jeff Abell has more on navigating the sea of cell phone plans and finding the right one for you.
It used to be so simple.
Phones have become simply confusing.
"I see the average consumer is in over his head."
Its not just the phone but the phone plan that has many cost-conscious consumers ready to cut the line.
There are monthly plans and family plans.
"You have a much better camera on it."
And smarter phones.
"Also has a built in heart rate monitor which is amazing."
"I couldn't begin to tell you what the average citizen needs. Or what they're paying above what. They should be paying. But I'm almost sure they're paying more than they should be."
To navigate through this pricing puzzle we went to the Best Buy Mobility Store which sells phones from every company.
And plans from every carrier.
Manager Charles Ostrander says the first question consumers should ask should deal with data.
"Data is anything that the phone does that's non-voice."
Because most consumers use far less data than they pay for each month.
Ostrander says the key to finding the right phone is finding the right amount of data.
"If I send a picture to somebody that takes data. If I go and check my email that takes data."
"If you're not sure of how much data you'll need, we have a data usage calculator."
Once data usage is determined the shopping can begin.
Typically, with any phone, committing to a two year deal will drastically reduce the price of the phone.
"If you do do a two year contract, you get a subsidized price on the phone so you don't pay full retail for it . But keep in mind you have to maintain that phone for the next two years as part of the agreement."
But most carriers will re-coup the price of the phone over the life of the contract.
All consumers who use just an "average" amount of data will spend between 1400 and 22000 dollars depending on the carrier.
T-Mobile is the cheapest, Verizon the most expensive.
"To further complicate matters, there's still another option for those who have no interest in signing another contract for another two more years."
"These are no contract phones."
Almost every carrier now offers these no-contract phones.
They require consumers to pay for the phone up front.
But some phones sell for less than a hundred dollars and their monthly plans are almost half the price of the contracted ones.
And remember - be sure to read all the fine print before you sign any contract, because getting out of it will cost you.
Most carriers charge pretty hefty early termination fees.