For a casual cell-phone user, the cost of the service in Britain is a proven expense that is considerably lower than here in the US.
The difference is in the treatment of incoming minutes. In UK, they are free. On a pay-as-you-go scheme, one conceivably can have zero balance on their account, yet use their phone extensively, provided other people initiate calls to their mobile. In America, you would still be spending your minutes, regardless of who calls whom.
So, our expenditure on two pay-as-you-go phones rarely exceeded £30 a month. Fast-forward to today, pay-as-you-go makes little sense when you will be shedding minutes for receiving calls. So we got on a family plan with two lines, minimum number of included minutes (albeit with unlimited texting and unlimited in-network mobile-to-mobile use), and the monthly bill comes to $125 when all fees, surcharges and taxes are factored in. We’ll do our darnedest best to use up as many of the minutes as we can, but the difference in monthly expense is quite noticeable.
I’ve been told by friends that the situation could be in reverse for those whose whole life revolves around cell phones. Yet, OECD just listed the US as the most expensive for light/medium cell phone use among its members and in bottom five for heavy users. Britain is mid-table for non-heavy users, and very close to the top for heavy ones. (I’m almost surprised that my personal observations are so easily corroborated by the official stats…)
On the other end of the spectrum are the fuel costs. Full tank of gas seems to run us under $45 these days. In England, at the best of times, we were looking at roughly £60, at worse ones – £80. Do your own exchange rates calculations, if you will.