Mobile Phone Monogamy

Cellphone-only households outnumbered landline-only ones for the first time in late 2006.

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You can use your mobile phone to surf the Internet, listen to music, do banking, use GPS, send text messages, and talk from almost anywhere in the country save an airplane. So why pay for a landline phone that can only be used at home and face the hassle of changing the number if you relocate?

Why indeed? Cellphone-only households outnumbered landline-only ones for the first time in late 2006, according to Mediamark Research. Still, nearly 4 in 5 Americans have both a mobile phone and a landline home phone, according to Yankee Group Research. That means they may be paying twice for the same service. "A traditional landline phone costs maybe $50 a month," says Allan Keiter, president of the phone plan comparison website MyRatePlan.com. But this often doesn't include voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, or long distance. A mobile phone costs about as much, but it typically includes all of those services. So cutting the cord could halve your monthly phone expenses.

Of course, careful planning is needed to make sure services like extra ringtones, text messages, and data plans for Web surfing don't cut into those savings. And cellphones do suffer by comparison with landlines in some ways: limited battery life, static, dropped calls, and sometimes spotty reception. While a cellphone can be a godsend for stranded motorists or parents trying to keep tabs on kids, calling 911 from a cell doesn't automatically pinpoint your location. Plus, incoming mobile calls are not free.

The actual cellphone itself needn't cost much, though. Some 28 percent of cellphones bought this fall were free because of special rebates and promotions, according to NPD Group, and 27 percent more cost less than $50.