5 Ways to Lower your Cell Phone Bill

We’ve all experienced shock at seeing a high cell phone bill, and the prospect of facing permanently high phone bills is daunting to many people; after all, phone conversations are an essential part of personal and business life. Rather than giving up your phone or keeping it turned off, there are some smart options that you can utilize to keep your bill low, while allowing your to retain all of the advantages that led you to use a cell phone in the first place:

Carefully Evaluate Whether Your Existing Plan is Cost Effective

Even if you’re locked into a contract with a certain provider, most of the time you can switch between various calling plans. In particular, if you have many more minutes than you need, consider moving to a lower cost plan. If you have multiple family members on the account, then you might want to look at a family plan that will provide volume discounts. For many people, a disproportionate percentage of their call time is linked to just a few people: try to coordinate cell phone providers with those you call most, as that will often all free in-network calling.

Schedule Longer Conversations in Advance

Although spontaneous conversations occur all the time, if you can anticipate longer conversations and schedule them for nights and weekends, you’re bound to save on valuable peak time minutes; check when your night minutes kick in, as it varies from plan to plan.

Resist the Temptation to Purchase Add-on Features

Most people are constantly bombarded with advertisements for upgrades on their cell phones, from ring tones to software packages. Make sure you read the fine print on these plans, as they’ll likely to continue to bill you well after the initial purchase.

Find An Affordable Text Messaging Plan

Rather than incurring an expensive per diem text messaging charge, you can often purchase a text messaging plan that will save your quite a bit when all costs are factored in. Many cell phone providers offer plans which can accommodate your level of use.

Use Alternative Methods of Communication

Having a cell phone can be convenient, but also consider utilizing inexpensive methods of communication such as Skype when you’re at your computer – that way, you can cut down on your costs while maintaining a high level of available for business clients, friends and family.

This post was written by Elise Degrass.  Elise is a new freelance writer. She spends most of her day writing and reviewing cell phones.  She appreciates your feedback at elisedegrass@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. I actually used a few of these tips to get my bill from around $50 down to $40. Then the G1 came out and I got obsessed with the phone. Now I’m paying $62/month but I have all the internet data I want, I can check email from anywhere, and my minutes have stayed the same. So I’m happy since most people with this setup are paying a lot more.

    Do I need this phone? Nope. But it’s sure helpful when we need to look stuff up on the road.

  2. My company offers a 20% discount on Verizon plans over $40. Of course, that’s not why I took the job, but it’s a nice little perk. Become familiar with any and all discounts your employer may offer!

  3. Elise, thanks for the great suggestions for achieving cell phone savings. I wanted to write a follow-up post that added on to the discussion. A major method that thousands of wireless subscribers are using to combat unnecessary charges is to have their cell bills analyzed through the website http://www.fixmycellbill.com by a company called Validas. You can find out for free if you’re one of the eight in ten wireless customers paying more than you need to.

    I was able to save around $230 annually off my cell bill using Validas which impressed me so much that I joined the company when the opportunity arose. Validas is rapidly gaining a reputation as the preeminent advocate for the wireless customer. Check out a feature about Validas on The Big Idea with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch at http://www.cnbc.com/id/22782456/. Validas has also been profiled in The New York Times and Business Week.

    To give a brief rundown of how it works, Validas analyzes your uploaded online cell bill to determine how much money you could be saving. Up to this point everything is free. If you choose, Validas provides a highly detailed and personalized cell bill adjustment report that, for five bucks, is emailed to your wireless provider in industry specific format so you can actually implement Validas’s cash saving changes to your plan. If Validas can save you more than $5 on your bill (the average customer currently saves $482 annually through Validas), this obviously provides a cost effective remedy for reducing cellular expenses.

    Good luck to everyone on effectively lowering their cell bills.

    Dylan

  4. Any tips on pre-paid phones? I don’t use cell much and I believe I could save a bundle by going pre-paid, as long as the minutes don’t expire so fast.

    Also, one less monthly bill to worry about. I’m planning to switch next spring when my service agreement expires.

  5. Pre-Paids are great if you aren’t a moderate user. I have some friends that use GoPhone from AT&T (I think) and they’ve never had any complaints.

    I am a power user, and pay for it. But I refuse to use text messaging. No matter how you slice it, even the best plans screw you for what is essentially email. I have an iPhone, and use the emailing features to “text” friends. When I got the phone I also scaled back my at home internet tier to a cheaper version, I do most of my browsing at a local WiFi hotspot and just use my computer at home for writing long emails, watching TV, and website maintenance.

  6. A couple of points to add.

    1) In my experience with AT&T (formerly Cingular), you can switch phone plans while under contract. Unfortunately, you can only switch UP to a more expensive plan without incurring extra costs. And they are significant costs — I believe I was quoted as having to pay $150 to switch from our current Family 700 plan to the Family 450 plan (which would save $12 per month). The fees eliminate any savings that would be gained from changing the plan. As it turned out, we needed the 700min plan as my wife began working from home and uses her cell phone quite a bit now.

    2) Typically, text plans are not “per diem” but a “per message” charge. At AT&T it is now $0.20 per message whether sent or received — ouch! Unfortunately despite telling my mother that I only deal with textmsgs when it is an emergency or very very important, she still likes to pile a few up in my inbox as her messaging plan is free. Oh well.
    Speaking of free, A friend of mine has told me that Verizon offers free text messaging to its customers. It may be worth it for some people to shop around for providers/plans more suited to their cell phone habits.

  7. @DavidK:

    Verizon does NOT offer free text messaging, unless you opt for the “Select” plan or higher. But the price of the “Select” plan is the exact same as the “Basic” plan plus an unlimited text messaging package. And it doesn’t include any other features! They’ve just packaged it to make it feel like you’re getting more, but you’re not.

    I pay $10/month to add 500 text messages to my plan. Once you do have text messaging, though, in-network messages don’t count against your balance. So, since I rarely text out of the network, I use at most 50 of my messages each month.

  8. @Joe, whoa, hold on there cowboy. I don’t know anything about Verizon, that’s why I stated that a friend told me. Of course, I didn’t quite believe it when I heard it, so I’m glad you explained it. I believe she has a “Select” plan and noticed that the people she messages don’t count against her plan, so she assumed that they were free. Many people just pay the bill and have no idea how any of it works.

    Meanwhile, I break out the magnifying glass for every bill I get and I assume many here do as well. :-)

  9. My response wasn’t intended to sound mean, or any other negative adjective. I just wanted to make sure that any readers got the truth. If anything like that bled through, it’s more an indication of my frustration with Verizon (and the outrageous charges for text messaging in general, by all carriers).

  10. No problem Joe.

    Amen to the charges for text messaging. Being in IT myself, it seems outrageous to independently charge for something that should be just covered by the existing plan charges. I understand they have to cover the equipment and pay the support people who care for them, but we pay enough for these plans already. And since the infrastructure is already in place, what is left that we’re paying for? I guess that we really are paying for all those people standing in the background of those Verizon ads.

  11. Prepaid works very well up to about 300 minutes/month.

    The cheapest for occasional use is T-Mobile prepaid, because once you add $100 in refills, any refill (even the $10 one) extends expiration for another year.

    Page Plus is probably the cheapest prepaid Verizon reseller, but require a minimum $10 refill every 120 days, though you can manage your account online.

    Most other prepaid plans require you to add (every year) a $100 card to extend expiration for a year.

  12. In the United States, you are fortunate to have a somewhat competitive market. Here, in Canada, we pay some of the world’s highest rates in the world. Our cell phone oligopoly (a handful of companies) of course claim they have extra costs because of the size of the country and small population (a load of crock, because only a small fraction of the country actually has cell coverage and the regions covered have a higher population density that the United States). To make a long story short, our cell phone companies love gouging us. My solution: a Virgin Mobile prepaid cell phone. Just as long as I buy $15 worth of airtime every 6 months, my phone number does not expire. I don’t use it as a phone, and keep it mainly for traveling or emergencies. On average, I might spend $5 or $10 on my cell phone. It only cost me $50-or-so when I bought it and it had a $20 credit included.

  13. Here’s one that might seem a little extreme, but if you’re in a position where you need to make a few bucks, and you want to lower your bill for a couple of years, try what I did:

    Get a job (or second job) at Radio Shack. Coordinate getting an employee rate through the carriers you sell at your store (around $20/month for 3000 anytime minutes, 1000 N/W). After it’s all locked in, you can quit or stay at the job as your financial circumstances dictate. I’ve never heard of anyone losing their employee rate once they leave. I’ve been gone for 2 years and still enjoy $20/month.

  14. Have folks tried calling their carrier and asking for a lower rate, especially around the time your 2 year plan is up (I’m sure someone has mentioned this, but the method does reduce cost)!

    Best,
    ttp://www.scordo.com/blog/blog – a practical living blog

  15. If you’re an occasional user or don’t care about data usage, there’s a small company called Consumer Cellular (www.consumercellular.com) with very low rate plans and no contracts. I’m not affiliated with them except as a customer, but AARP recently endorsed them. Our contract at T-Mobile just ended and they wouldn’t match the rate, so we’ve recently changed our plan to them. They have minute plans starting at $20 for 200 minute or $30 for 500 minutes, with an extra $10 for each additional line. I couldn’t believe the savings on our plan.

  16. My bill was almost 150.00 a month and I almost cut it in half. Try http://www.onlinebillreview.com they scan your bill and save you money. I now get a 23% discount every month because of where I work. I’ve been here over 3 years and didn’t know I could get a discount! Go check them out they should be able to help you.

  17. I great way to lower your cell phone bill is to switch to straight talk. I get unlimted calling and texting for only $45 a month. I didn’t have to sign a contract and they are on the verizon network so the service is great!

  18. With the economy sinking, I had to really evaluate my bills and my cell phone bill was an easy one to shrink down. I decided to go with prepaid and Net10, my first choice, has really helped me keep money in my pocket – more than $65 a month over my other carrier. The calling network is better than I expected and while the phone choices aren’t my favorite, they are super affordable and I can switch between phones when I like. This no contract thing is the best way to go if you need to save and Net10 is a great help.

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