When I got my first cellphone I was about 16 and it was a slick Razr flip phone. While the phone wasn’t exactly cheap, it wasn’t anywhere close to the $1,000 iPhone most people have today. Plus, the family plan with my parents was barely more than $20/month. That was in the days of no texting and, certainly, no internet was available on the phone yet.
Add another zero to that $20, and you have a more average family plan cost today. It seems ridiculous to pay that much… and yet many of us do.
So, let’s look at a few ways to shave off unnecessary costs from your phone bill.
1. Switch Cellphone Carriers
Cellphone companies see each other as major competition. To beat each other out, companies will often offer customers of other carriers steep discounts if they switch to their service.
Here’s an example of a promotion currently being offered (June 2022) by T-mobile. Often, all the different carriers will have a “get a free phone when you switch” sort of deal like T-mobile’s, it’ll just be worded slightly differently.
Since a new smartphone can cost over $1,000, these deals can save you some serious cash. Just make sure to check the fine print. Sometimes you’ll need to have already paid off your old phone, or only certain types of plans qualify for the deal.
2. Switch to Prepaid
Prepaid cellphone plans are often cheaper than monthly or yearly plans, especially if you already own your phone. Because you’re paying for a plan upfront, your carrier knows they’ll get paid, so in turn, you get a discount.
How much you save will depend on the plan you’re switching to and how much data you’re looking for. You can save hundreds, even thousands over a few years by opting for cheaper prepaid options.
3. Subscribe to Autopay and Paperless Billing
Certain cellphone carriers offer discounts when you sign up for autopay. By doing so, you’re creating less of a paperwork hassle for the carrier and you’re ensuring they’ll get paid on time every month.
Verizon currently offers an autopay discount of $10 off your bill per line when you have a specific plan. Even if you don’t qualify under this autopay discount, there’s another $5 off your bill per line option with most of the other Verizon plans as well.
4. Ask Your Phone Carrier about Discounts
Have you ever asked your carrier about the discounts they offer? If not, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on easy savings. There are discounts for a variety of categories, including:
- First responders.
- Medical professionals.
- Employees of particular companies.
It doesn’t hurt to call a service rep and ask if you qualify for any of these discounts, or any others the company may offer.
5. Decline or Downgrade your Insurance Coverage
Cellphone insurance can add up quickly, especially if you have it for multiple lines. Plus, it might be redundant! That is, your credit card might already have you covered with cellphone loss and damage insurance coverage as an added perk.
For example, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers this coverage when you pay your bill with your card. Capital One will reimburse you up to $800 for a stolen or damaged cellphone.
6. Reevaluate Your Data Usage
Unlimited data plans cost more than 1G or 2G plans.
While many people have larger families and really do need the unlimited data, others barely use over 1G in an average month.
You can find out how much data you use via your carrier’s app or customer portal. If you’re not using a massive amount of data, consider switching to a lower data plan.
7. Add Lines to Your Account (or Remove Unnecessary Lines)
As you add lines to your account, the cost per line tends to go down with most carriers. If you split the cost of a large plan with other people, you can reduce your personal monthly cost.
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, don’t add lines just to add them. If it’s just you, some carriers do prioritize individual plan holders. Visible, for example, offers a simple unlimited data, talk, and text line starting at $25/month.
8. Use WiFi, Not Data
WiFi is pretty much everywhere and, even though it isn’t always reliable, using it on your cellphone can help you save money.
If you have a limited data plan, you can avoid being charged for going over your limit by ensuring that WiFi is enabled wherever possible.
9. Don’t Upgrade Your Phone
Considering a phone upgrade just so that you can buy the latest model? If so, what would happen if you just… stuck with the phone you already have? I mean, it won’t have the newest technology, but it likely still works, even if it has a scratch on the screen.
If you do upgrade, especially if you don’t buy the phone outright, you’ll be extending the financing cycle. If you don’t upgrade, you can likely drop anywhere from $10 to $50 off your monthly bill.
10. Decline Unnecessary Features
When you sign up for your phone plan, the salespeople are likely to try to sell you unnecessary features and products that you really don’t need.
For example, all those expensive phone accessories like wireless chargers, cases with battery packs, and screen protectors that cost more than your monthly plan payment.
You can often get these items cheaper online or in other stores.
11. Understand the Features of Your Plan
Just like you may not need endless amounts of data you’re overpaying for, consider the other features of your plan as well.
For example, do you need features like international calling? When you sign up for a phone plan, make sure that you know who you can call with your plan versus who you will be charged an extra fee to reach. Ask before you sign on the dotted line of a plan, especially if you have friends internationally who you want to speak with often.
12. Negotiate With Your Carrier
I won’t name names, but the carrier I use claims in all their commercials that there are absolutely no hidden fees. To be honest, that’s not quite been my experience, but there aren’t many other carrier options in my more rural community.
Cellphone carriers have customer retention departments that are meant to help retain customers and will often give discounts to customers who are about to switch to a different carrier.
If you’ve had enough of your carrier, give your retention department a call and let them know you intend to leave for a company that offers better plan options for your needs. They’ll likely consider giving you a discount in order to keep your business.
13. Take Advantage of Cash Back
Cash back offers from credit cards and apps can help you save money on your cellphone bill. This strategy only works when you pay off your credit card bill each month, though. If not, you’re just making up the difference in interest payments.
If you have any saved-up rewards, you can often get statement credits or direct cash back which you can then apply towards the cost of the phone.
Read more: Best Cash Back Credit Cards
Your expensive cellphone bill doesn’t need to be set in stone. There are a variety of steps you can take to get rid of unnecessary costs. Asking for discounts, forgoing expensive add-ons, switching plans, and using less data are just a few of the ways you can potentially save hundreds every year.
Featured image: Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock.com