How to avoid a high mobile phone bill

9 Mar 2017 | Contributed by Genoveva Geppaart

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You may have experienced it: the bill from your mobile phone provider is much higher than you expected.

There can be several reasons for this:

  • Text services
  • More text messages than  your subscription (bundel) includes
  • Games, apps and internet
  • Phone calls
  • Costs for your mobile phone as part of your  subscription costs



Text services


You may have received paid messages  (SMS berichten) from a quiz, ringtone, etc., or you may have subscribed without knowing it (i.e. by claiming a prize.).

You can unsubscribe by sending STOP to the 4-digit code of the service. You will receive a free message that confirms that you unsubscribed.  You can also check on (Dutch only) which subscriptions you have, and unsubscribe or block your number for it. 


More text messages than your subscription includes


You may have sent more text messages (SMS berichten) than included in your subscription (bundel) or sent/received text messages in another country. Stay aware of the number of text messages you send monthly. When you travel to another country, check if your provider has a holiday subscription (vakantiebundel). This option is cheaper when you are abroad.

Some providers allow you to block any text messages when you have reached your subscription maximum.



Games, apps and internet

Playing games, watching video, sharing a photo via WhatsApp, listening to music via Spotify can result in using more data than included in your subscription.  You can avoid this by using a Wi-Fi connection. You can also change your phone settings to block apps not allowed to use your subscription data  Some providers also offer the possibility to stop using data.

Many mobile phones switch automatically from a 3G connection to a 4G connection if the signal is too weak. Turn this option off to avoid a high phone bill.



Phone calls

Avoid extra costs by using an app from your provider (if available) to check how much you have used in a particular month. Some providers also allow you to set a limit for making phone calls. Once you have reached the limit, you cannot make any more calls.   

Other options are:

  • use a chat app such as WhatsApp. Facebook Messenger, Skype or Viber.
  • use 0900 numbers. These are paid service numbers and prices for using them can vary. The costs of the 0900 calls you make will be charged on your regular telephone bill. An overview of 0900 numbers is available on (Dutch only).
    • use discount telephone cards (belkaarten or telefoonkaarten also known as “ calling cards”). They have a fixed purchase price, but call costs are variable. Most cards have an expiry date and a limited period of use once activated. Unfortunately, not all companies offering these cards are reliable. Some charge additional, unannounced costs or the card expires before the official expiry date. Cards from Budget Phone Card ( ) and IDT ( are among the most reliable.


Costs for your mobile phone as part of your subscription costs

If you don’t need a new phone every year or every two years, you might consider using a SIM-only subscription and separately buy a phone. Check carefully what you need in terms of data, minutes and text messages and what the costs are if you use more than what your subscription includes.  Make sure you check carefully what a subscription includes, also after the discount you receive during the first few months.




If you often use more data, minutes or text messages than provided in your subscription, it may be an idea to upgrade your subscription. This is usually cheaper than paying extra for data, minutes or text messages that are not included in your subscription.  However, keep in mind that downgrading is often not possible, which means that you can’t get back to your original subscription.

As of 1 June 2017, there are no roaming charges if you are temporarily in another EU country.

You will pay the same as when you make a call within your country of residence. Mobile phone providers are now offering subscriptions that include – sometimes even unlimited -- use within the EU.


Source: (a Dutch-only website)

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