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It’s no secret that cell phone bills are out-of-this-world expensive. After your monthly housing, grocery and utility costs, it might just be the next priciest item in your budget. But are there actual ways you can lower your cell phone bill?
Remember way back when you used your cell phone pretty much just to make calls? Back before the smartphone existed? Cell phone plans used to be pretty basic.
Nowadays, we’re surrounded with a million different cellular providers and too many plans to count. It can be overwhelming when you try to decipher all the options just to lower the cost of your cell phone plan.
If you’re tired of paying a small fortune every month to have cell phone service, try these five tips to lower your cell phone bill:
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5 Tips for Lowering Your Cell Phone Bill
1. Use Wi-Fi When You Can
Try to stay on a Wi-Fi connection whenever it’s available—especially at home or work. And if you don’t have Wi-Fi access when you’re out and about, be smart. Don’t download or stream any movies, podcasts, or music unless you’re on Wi-Fi.
Data overages can add up quickly, and some providers charge you as much as $15! Make sure you stay within your monthly limit by only using 4G/LTE when you need it. Some carriers will send you a warning when you’re nearing your limit. Sign up for the alerts!
2. Cut the Insurance
If you feel like you truly "need" insurance for your cell phone, stop and ask yourself this question: Have I bought a phone I can’t actually afford? If you don’t have the cash on hand to replace your phone if something happens to it, your phone is too expensive for your budget.
Let’s say you pay about $11 a month for insurance. That adds up to an extra $132 a year you’re shelling out just in case something happens to your phone. Instead, set aside a few extra dollars a month so you can pay for a replacement phone if you ever need one.
3. Negotiate a Better Price
When you’re in the market for a new phone, don’t just assume you have to pay the sticker price. Go to the store and talk with a salesperson to see if you can get the activation or upgrade fee waived. If you’ve been a customer for a long time, be sure to bring that up as well.
Shop around if you aren’t satisfied with your current cell service. See who can give you the services you need for the price that fits your budget. And let your current provider know what you find out too! If you see a great offer from a competitor, ask your current provider if they can match it. Use whatever leverage you have, including fees—or lack of fees—from competitors. It never hurts to ask for a better deal. Competition with other carriers is stiff, so they might just agree!
Another thing to find out is if your work offers team members a corporate discount. It’s worth a shot to see if they reimburse you for using your phone for work (email, calls, etc.). Are you using your phone for a home business or side hustle? You might be able to deduct some of your plan’s cost when tax time rolls around.
4. Buy No-Contract Phones
Cell phone companies know how to make money. Lots and lots of money. One way they do that is through contracts. To buy a phone through them, you’ll usually have to sign a two-year contract to use their network. And then they’ll hit you with a ridiculous cancellation charge if you attempt to switch carriers.
So, what do you do instead? Buy no-contract, gently used phones. This will be phones labeled "unlocked" that can take a SIM card. Ask around and look online for older phone models to purchase at a discounted price. No, you won’t get the hottest or newest smartphone this way, but you can get a really good smartphone without locking yourself into one company for years to come.
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Does your old phone make calls just fine? Great. Keep it a little longer. Don’t get tempted by the latest and greatest shiny cell phone on the market.
And steer clear of falling into the trap of rolling the cost of a brand-new phone into your wireless bill. You’d just be making payments on a new phone. No thanks! Keeping your old (perfectly fine) phone can save you plenty of money in the long run.
5. Cut Out the Stuff You Don’t Use
Take a look at your monthly bill. This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t even look at the breakdown of their cell phone bill. They continue paying for things they never use like emergency roadside assistance, 411, and "enhanced voicemail."
Look long and hard at your phone bill and decide if you really need everything you’re paying for. If not, it might be time to switch your plan. If you don’t talk on your phone a lot, you might even be able to downgrade to a plan with fewer minutes, or one with less data if you never come close to reaching the limit.
Some carriers even offer prepaid plans or allow you to pay only for what you use. See if either of those options could reduce your costs. Look into all the possibilities out there!
Bonus Tip on How to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
Add up all the long-term costs before you buy. If you’re shopping carriers, you should add up the cost of the phone plus the cost of the service for the total life of the contract. That puts the total amount in your face instead of just the month-to-month payments.
Remember, your monthly budget is just about the numbers. If you make your cell phone bill a smaller part of your budget, that means you’ll have more money each month to throw at your debt or to save for your future.
Make sure you’re budgeting for your cell phone bill each month. For an easy way to budget on the go, check out EveryDollar, our free budgeting app. You can setup your first budget in as little as 10 minutes!