Your cell phone plan may have extra perks you don’t know about

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Your cell phone plan may have extra perks you don’t know about
Image Credit: Flickr/Robert Scoble
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Choosing a cell phone carrier is all about finding the best price with the fewest strings attached.

The Big 4 wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile — have historically offered more expensive plans with 24-month contracts, but as smaller operators — Metro PCS, Cricket, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Straight Talk and others — have grown and become bigger competitors in the industry, the Big 4 have come around with better deals. And better deals mean more perks you probably don’t even know about.

Read more: Project Fi: Google’s new $20/month cell service

How often do you go to your wireless carrier’s website and read all the fine print about your plan? Probably not very often. But you should, because you could be missing out on some great bonuses that are already included with your cell phone plan.

These ‘bonuses’ likely won’t make or break your decision about which carrier to choose, but if you’re already a customer and stuck in a contract (for now), you’ll want to know about them! Lifehacker rounded up some of the best extras offered by the Big 4 and we’ve highlighted some of them below.

Verizon

According to Lifehacker, most of Verizon’s extra perks come with the company’s MORE Everything Plan, the basic plan that allows users to share data usage across multiple devices. Earlier this year, the network dropped the prices on most of its shared data plans — a big move for a carrier that hasn’t traditionally been known for deep discounts. But if you’re already a Verizon customer, here are some extra bonuses you could be missing out on:

  • Free access to NFL Mobile: The subscription to NFL Mobile gets you access to live footage from NFL games, as well as other shows and features from the NFL Network. BUT, it does use your data. So make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi before you eat up your month’s worth of data in one sitting.

  • Free hotspot: Turn your phone into a hotspot for free. But again, any data you use does count toward your monthly limit.

  • Extra data with auto-pay: Pre-paid customers (non-contract customers) can get an extra 1GB of data per month for signing up for auto-pay. 

  • IndyCar Access: Free access to the premium features in the IndyCar apps. 

  • Free cloud storage: Everyone could use a little more storage, right? All Verizon customers get 5GB of free storage and MORE Everything Plan customers get 25GB of free storage.

AT&T

Nothing too special here, but a few things for AT&T customers to be aware of:

  • Free Wi-Fi access: If you’re an AT&T customer, many retailers offer you access to free Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi is pretty much everywhere now, but in this case, your phone would be automatically connected.
  • Perks for Mobile Share members: Customers of AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plans get a few extra bonuses, including rollover data, unlimited international texting from the U.S. and 50GB of cloud storage.

T-Mobile

Customers of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan with at least 3GB of data get several extra bonuses. Here are a couple of highlights:

  • Unlimited music streaming: Unlimited music streaming that doesn’t count against your monthly data usage. So if you stream a lot of music on your phone, this is a huge perk! T-Mobile gives you unlimited streaming from Apple Music, Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, and more.
  • Free calling & texting from Canada and Mexico: T-Mobile customers get free calling and texting to, from and within the U.S., Canada and Mexico. That means you can call or text someone in any of the three countries, from any of the three, without any extra charge.
  • Free access to UnRadio: Customers of the Unlimited 4G LTE plans get free access to Rhapsody’s UnRadio — a music app — with unlimited skips and no ads. 
  • Data rollover: If you don’t use up your month’s worth of data, whatever is left will roll over to the next month like unused minutes. 
  • MLB At Bat Subscription: Free access to MLB At Bat.

Read more: Clark’s smartphone & cell plan guide for 2015

Sprint

Sprint has a few extra bonuses for sports fans, international travelers who don’t mind slow speeds and people who don’t like to miss live TV.

  • Unlimited international data and text: Free (but slow) access to data and texting while traveling outside of the U.S. 
  • Nascar Mobile: Customers of Sprint Everything data plans get free premium access to NASCAR apps. 
  • NBA Game Time: Access to the NBA app
  • Sprint TV: The subscription comes with any data package on Sprint and Android phones and includes access to watch live TV from several sites. But just a warning, according to Lifehacker, the reviews aren’t great. So do some research on this before you get your hopes up.

Check out Lifehacker’s full report here.

For more stories on mobile and electronics, click here.

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