Q: I travel a lot, and I constantly pay exorbitant fees for Internet service at hotels. How can I stay connected for less on the road?
A: Your best bet is to buy an Air Carda wireless modem you pop into your laptop that gives you unlimited Internet access. Available from wireless-service providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, an Air Card typically costs $30 to $100, depending on the type you need. Theres also a monthly service fee of about $60, but if youre gone for more than four days a month, its well worth itsome hotels charge as much as $15 a day, plus per-minute fees.
Check out www.cheapaircards.com for deals. You also can ask your hotel who their wireless-service provider is and then go directly to that company to buy a “day pass” that costs less than what the hotel charges. For example, my husband recently stayed at a Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston that charged $10 a day for Internet access from T-Mobile. He called T-Mobile and was able to purchase a day pass for just $4.99.
Q: Ive heard of friends bargaining down bills with their cable, phone, and utilities. How can I do the same?
A: With more people slashing their spending, companies are more willing than ever to offer incentives to keep customers. Simply call your service provider, explain that youve been a loyal customer for a set period of time, and state that youd like to get a better monthly rate or take advantage of any special promotions that are available.
If that doesnt yield a good deal, call back and speak to a representative who handles new sign-ups. This time, tell the rep that youre considering switching to a less-expensive package or provider, but before doing so youd like to know if you can get any of the same deals being offered to new clients. (Cable companies, for instance, routinely offer nice sweetenerslike one month of free service, cash-back rewards, rebates, or goodies like prepaid phone cardsto new customers.)
Another bargaining chip: Consider getting multiple services from one company. For example, many phone companies offer local and long-distance phone service, plus Internet access and cable- or satellite-television service for less than $100 a month. Thats far less than what youd pay for each service separately.