Avoid Cell-Phone Overages with OverMyMinutes

Last Updated Jan 22, 2010 11:38 AM EST

That monthly mobile-phone bill is high enough without having to worrying about overage charges -- you know, the ones you incur by exceeding your allotted minutes.

OverMyMinutes.com can alert you via e-mail and/or text message when you're approaching your limit, thus preventing any unwelcome surprises when your bill arrives.

Obviously you can check your own account to find out how much gabtime you have left for the month -- assuming you remember to do that. OverMyMinutes is a set-it-and-forget-it solution, a kind of gal-Friday for minute monitoring. Take a look:

Just sign up for a free account, configure a few settings, and presto, you're all set. There's no software to install -- unless you elect to use the new OverMyMinutes Alerter iPhone app [iTunes link], which enables you to create an account and configure alert settings right on your device.

The app has the added advantage of reporting text-message usage as well as minutes: alerts arrive as you hit "five texts left" and then one left. (Thankfully, any text-message alerts you receive come by way of the app itself, so they don't subtract from your available number.)

The only hitch is that you have to provide your carrier username and password. OverMyMinutes swears total privacy and protection, but I'm sure that requirement won't sit well with some users.

That said, if you routinely exceed your monthly minutes (or come close), I'd say signing up for OverMyMinutes is a no-brainer. And iPhone users should definitely grab the app, which is free just like the service.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.