A single text message containing 160 characters is about 140 bytes of data. That’s bytes, not kilobytes. And while it costs carriers virtually nothing to transmit that small amount of data, consumers pay through the nose for this privilege. Individual text messages cost between 10 and 20 cents each, and that adds up quickly on text messaging–friendly phones. Although Sprint includes unlimited messaging in its Simply Everything data plans, T-Mobile charges $10 per month, while AT&T and Verizon Wireless charge $20 for unlimited text messaging—on top of your data fees.
Fortunately, there are applications for Android phones, BlackBerrys, and the iPhone that allow you to send and receive text messages for free.
There are a few caveats: some of the apps themselves cost money, you can’t use your existing phone number, and you’ll likely experience delays in sending or receiving messages in areas with weak data coverage. Nevertheless, using one of these apps is often better than forking over your hard-earned cash to the carriers.