Do Incoming Calls Use Minutes?

By Julius Vandersteen

If you are preparing to sign up for cellphone service, you will want to know how much you should expect to pay, and whether incoming phone calls will use your allotted free minutes. Incoming cell phone calls typically do use your minutes, but there may be certain conditions under which your cell phone service provider will not count incoming calls.

Incoming Calls

When someone calls you on your cell phone, the service provider keeps track of the date, time and duration of the call for billing purposes. If you sign up for a plan with a certain number of free minutes each month, the cell phone service provider counts the number of minutes of phone calls that you make and combines them with the number of minutes of incoming calls. If you go over your monthly allotment, such as 500 minutes per month, you could be charged for each additional minute of incoming calls.

Cellphone Plans

Cell phone service providers offer consumers a variety of calling plans. You could get service just for yourself, or get a family plan where you share a pool of calling minutes with other people in your household. Depending on what plan you sign up for, you may be able to make and receive calls for free during evening hours and on the weekends, so incoming calls won’t use up your minutes. When someone calls you while your cell phone is off, you could still be charged against your minutes if the caller leaves a voicemail message for you.

Rollover Minutes

If your cell phone service provider offers rollover minutes, it means that you can apply unused calling minutes from one month into the next month. For example, if your plan gives you 300 minutes per month but you only spoke for 100 minutes, the remaining unused 200 minutes carry over to the next billing cycle. You’d be able to receive up to 500 minutes of incoming calls during the next month without being billed for extra talk time.


If you find that you are very close to your allotted free minutes of calls each month on your cell phone plan or routinely go over those minutes, you need to contact your cell phone service provider to find out whether you can upgrade your service to get more minutes. Another option is to limit the calls you make, as well as to ask people to call you during non-peak evening and weekend hours when calls are free. Depending on your service provider, you may not be charged for incoming calls if the caller is part of your family plan or if she gets service from the same company you use.