Are sneaky text messages costing you more?

sms messages

Most of us have at some point or another experienced bill shock, and MMS, or picture messages are a common reason.

When you add emoticons, little smiley faces and the like to your text messages they can inadvertently switch from free SMS text messages that come out of your allowance to picture, or MMS messages. Far from being free these messages can in fact cost up to 40p each, depending on your network.

How to avoid converting your text message into an MMS:

  • Don’t use smiley faces or emoticons – these are the cartoon style icons. Besides, what’s wrong with a good old fashioned side smiley face anyway? 🙂
  • Don’t send long messages – text messages can vary in length from 160 to 360 characters. Some phones have a character counter which displays how many characters you’ve used in your text message. If you’re sending a long text send it as two separate messages instead.
  • Don’t include attachments – adding pictures, sound, videos, drawings, or locations will all count as an MMS
  • Don’t send texts to large groups – Sending a group text to 25 or more people will be classed as one MMS – so if you need to send a text to a large group, make sure you send it in batches of 24 recipients or less.
  • Don’t include contact cards – type your contact details into a text message instead.
  • Don’t send text messages to email addresses – if your contacts are synced, through Facebook for example, check you don’t select your recipient’s email by mistake.
  • Don’t use subject headers – does your text need a title? Probably not so leave the subject header out.

So, should you call up your network to complain? Not really. Though your network should make it clear to you what you will be billed for, it’s actually down to your handset settings. However if you do find yourself with a bigger than expected bill it’s a good idea to speak to your provider, they may be able to reduce the amount.

If you are being charged for services you didn’t intend to use then check your manufacturers guides for information on enabling or disabling services on your specific device. Some manufacturers including Apple let you enable or disable your MMS.

From your iPhone’s Home screen, tap Settings > scroll down to and tap Messages. To enable, drag the MMS Messaging switch to ON. To disable, drag the MMS Messaging switch to OFF.

If you are using an iPhone make use of Apple’s iMessage to avoid any charges. This is similar to WhatsApp in that it sends pictures and texts over wifi or uses your data allowance so you won’t be billed, unless you’ve run out of data. To make it clear which mode you are in, the send button and text bubbles will be green if you are using SMS/MMS and blue if you’re using iMessage.