According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in January and February 2019, 96% of Americans own a cell phone. The convenience of a cell phone has surpassed landlines over the decades, and the latest model has become the must-have accessory. Due to the ever-increasing costs, thanks to the newest technology, it’s one of the most expensive bills an American household can have. If you have more lines to pay for, you can soon become overwhelmed by the sheer cost of the privilege. The good news is, we’re here to tell you that you can lower your cell phone bill and save money off of your next statement.
Follow our easy step-by-step guide packed with hints and tips. Plus, get the latest cell phone plans designed for customers to get the most out of their spending.
Top Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
A lot of people become tied to their cell phone networks out of convenience, laziness, and loyalty. By following our brilliant advice, you can save a few bucks each month, which has the potential to add up to hundreds of dollars each year.
1. Switch to a prepaid plan without a contract
There’s nothing in the rule book that says you must be tied to a lengthy contract to have a cell phone. You could save yourself some money each month by switching to a prepaid plan without a contract. Not only are you free to leave any time you want, but they also offer more customizable options in terms of what you pay for each month. These plans are great if you only use your phone for calls and texts and are not concerned about data usage allowances.
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2. Make the most of wi-fi networks
We’ve all seen the memes. Upset people are crying because they’ve forgotten to turn their wi-fi on when they get home, and they’ve used all their monthly cellular data. Making the most of wi-fi when you come home or pass by wi-fi hotspots when you’re out and about can save you a few bucks on the need for a data plan. Most cell phones have the option to leave the wi-fi connection turned on and actively search for available wi-fi networks. This combats the need to switch it on or forget and potentially use all your data.
If you use data as part of your cell phone plan, make sure you check the terms and conditions carefully. A lot of network providers do not cap your usage, so any additional data outside of your allowance can cost significantly more and result in a huge bill.
3. Limit your background data
The problem with smartphones is they never switch off when you put them down. A lot of apps and processes you download require a constant connection to the high-speed internet to provide the correct and most up-to-date information. Have you noticed the drawback? That’s right. If you don’t connect to a free wi-fi network, you’re eating into your data allowance. Turning off background data on your apps will prevent any high costs. Also, check that your app store does not complete automatic updates unless it is over a wi-fi network. Otherwise, you may find a massive bill at the end of the month!
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4. Sign up the paperless billing or auto pay
Autopay and paperless billing help you keep on top of your finances each month by creating an automatic payment for the correct cellphone bill amount. At the same time, you’re also helping save the planet. The reduction of paper saves costs for your network provider without the need to print and send paper bills each month. It also reduces paper waste and the need for trees.
When you set up autopay and paperless billing on your account, your cellphone company will reduce the amount of your bill each month. That could possibly save you up to $25 depending on your plan and network.
5. Create a share plan to save hundreds of dollars a year
Share plans or family plans work by grouping your phone contracts, so you only have one monthly bill. You can only do this if all phone lines are on the same network. Most mobile networks offer family or sharing plans with a higher discount depending on the number of lines you add to your account. The more lines you have, the higher the discount you can have. Some phone networks have saved people over $200, so it’s worth checking if you can sign up today.
If you want to change to a share plan, check the terms and conditions carefully. Some networks make all the cell phones connected to the plan share minutes, texts, and data. If you have data-hungry teenagers, this might not be a great option. Make sure the plan has a separate allowance for each phone.
6. Ditch the insurance to lower your cell phone bill
If you’re choosing a cell phone plan with a phone included, your network carrier will try to offer you coverage for your new device. Although it is exclusively with your carrier and will allow for quicker and more straightforward claims, they aren’t always the cheapest option. There are plenty of independent cell phone service and gadget insurance companies you can choose, or if you’re the careful type, ditch the insurance altogether.
Another great money-saving tip is if you can’t afford to replace the phone for its full value, you should choose another phone. It would be pointless taking out a contract with a brand-new phone that costs $900+ only to find you have no funds to replace the device should anything happen.
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7. Skip the upgrade
If your phone contract is coming to an end and you’ve finally paid off your cell phone, it is not compulsory to purchase a new handset. By opting to stick with your current model, you could be saving hundreds of dollars a year because you won’t have to pay monthly for your new cell phone.
8. Search for discounts
If you’re serving in the military, a veteran, or emergency service professional, a lot of networks offer discounts on cell phone bills by reducing the cost of your plan each month. Other categories eligible for rebates include students and people over 55, so it’s worth checking with your network how much you could save!
9. Make the most of the latest deals
We all know the score. Christmas and other holidays are a time to spend money, and it’s often the time new cell phones are released. By becoming a savvy shopper, you can ensure you receive the latest phones at great prices. Phone networks often have deals that can save you money on the latest models. By comparing prices, features, and length of the contract, you could save yourself a pretty penny.
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10. Purchase an unlocked phone
Unlocked phones are not network specific. They are often a lot cheaper than carrier provided cell phones. Also, because you pay for them outright, you do not have the additional cost of paying for the handset each month. A simple search for a SIM-free cell phone will bring up a variety of results that are Android or Apple and compatible with any SIM card.
Save even further by choosing a refurbished cell phone. Refurbished cell phones have been returned and are second hand. They cost less because they are not brand new.
Which mobile network should you choose to lower your cell phone bill?
There are plenty of cell phone networks within the U.S., and depending on where you live depends on which carriers you can use. You must choose a network that has the best coverage; otherwise, the money you’re spending won’t be worth it. Check for network coverage on network providers’ websites to make sure it’s the right choice.
We’ve put together a list of a few of the leading networks available and their best phone plans. In addition, we grouped the network operators into easy-to-digest categories based on the size, price range, and type of policy. All prices exclude fees and taxes unless otherwise stated.
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The Big Names
One of the top four cell phone carriers, Verizon Wireless service boasts of coast-to-coast coverage. If you’re traveling, you know you won’t drop a call. Verizon has one of the fastest available 4G mobile internets. A lot of mobile internet coverage drops out at peak times. If you are on Verizon, you barely notice peak times as the internet can continue to run without interference, thanks to their extensive network reach.
Verizon is known for its higher prices, and if you’re on a tight budget, it may not be the best option for you. Also, Verizon Wireless’ cheapest contract plan is the Basic Plan with unlimited talk, unlimited texting, and 500MB of data for $30 per month per line. Be careful if you go over your limit as the cost is currently an extra $5 per 500Mb overage.
Known as the most expensive network, AT&T is still one of the biggest network coverage providers available. Not only are you able to keep connected throughout the country, but AT&T also has some of the best options for devices including tablets, cell phones, and hotspots. If you’re after data and streaming services, their best plan available in the Play More Unlimited.
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With a reputation for having inadequate coverage in more rural areas, you may find that unless you live in a built-up area, they aren’t the right choice for you. The good thing about T-Mobile is their standard plans all come with unlimited talk, texts, and unlimited data plans so you can stay in touch if you like. Their cheapest plan, Essentials, is currently $60 per month. If that price is too high, you could always opt for their Simply Prepaid. This plan includes unlimited calls and texts, plus up to 10 GB of data per month for as little as $40.
Another one of the largest networks in the U.S., Sprint has a vast area of coverage, but it can come at a price. Their network coverage is often inadequate, and there has been plenty of bad experiences with dropped calls and slow internet connection. If this is something you can put up with, their cheaper plans are quite attractive. And if you have a large family, you can save hundreds monthly by switching to a shared plan with unlimited calls, texts, and data, plus extras.
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The Mid-Range Providers
By using AT&T’s networks, you can get great coverage for a fraction of the price of some of the top four networks. Cricket Wireless is a competitor of some of the lower-cost prepaid cell phone networks and has high internet speeds and customer service. Their plans range from $25 for unlimited talk, text, and data to around $50 for the more expensive contracts suitable for streaming.
Using Sprint’s network, Ting’s network coverage can be hit and miss. They also aren’t suited for heavy phone use. Customizable plans let you choose what elements you want to pay for as part of your bundle, which does make it an excellent and cheap option if your budget is on the lower scale.
The Budget Carriers
Also running on AT&T’s network is Consumer Cellular. Being a budget carrier means they do not offer great packages with tons of data, but if you’re looking for a bargain, it’s worth taking a look. You can tailor your plan for the elements that you use the most, making it one of the more flexible network providers on the market. Pick up a decent call or text only plan from $20 per month.
This prepaid provider has some of the best affordable plans on the market, and running on Sprint’s network gives it some great coverage. Although it’s probably not suitable for high data users as they don’t offer unlimited plans, you can pick up a prepaid plan for as little as $15 for the first three months.
This company offers the most affordable prepaid plans on the market, hands down. If you’re within their coverage area, it’s worth a look. They even offer unlocked phones, which make it much cheaper than most providers. If you’re after calls or texts, these plans come in at under $10 a month!
Pre-Paid & No-Contract Plans to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
Previously called MetroPCS, this provider runs off the T-Mobile network and has some fast data speeds. Don’t expect a good selection of the latest cell phones, but their price range is cheaper. An unlimited plan will cost $50 a month.
One of the best things about Boost Mobile is they include their taxes and fees within their advertised pricing. Great when you need a total amount for a strict budget. This company is worth a look if you’re a family and need multiple lines. Four lines cost around $120 per month all in with HD quality data.
The Best of the Best
Here’s a selection of what we feel are the best available plans on offer. Depending on your network area, you may not have access to these plans. Visit the network websites to check your coverage (prices exclude fees and taxes unless otherwise stated).
Best for Calls
Company: U.S. Mobile
Plan: Custom Plan (Prepaid), 1500 minutes, 0 texts, 0 data
Total Cost: $9 per month
Best for Texts
Company: U.S. Mobile
Plan: Custom Plan (Prepaid), 0 minutes, 4000 texts, 0 data
Total Cost: $7 per month
Company: Boost Mobile
Plan: $50/mo Unlimited Gigs, Unlimited minutes, Unlimited texts, Unlimited data, 12 GB hotspot, Tidal for six months, 480p quality streaming
Total Cost: $50 including fees and taxes
Plan: Unlimited Plus, Unlimited calls, Unlimited texts, Unlimited data, Includes Hulu subscription, Includes Tidal subscription, 50 GB hotspot, HD quality streaming
Total Cost: $70 per month
Share Plans/Family Plans
Company: Sprint Mobile
Plan: Unlimited Basic, Unlimited calls, Unlimited texts, Unlimited data, Includes Hulu, SD quality streaming, 500 MB mobile hotspot, Roaming in Mexico and Canada for calls and texts plus 5 GB of 4G data, Free texts and basic data in over 200 countries
Total Cost: $100 for up to 5 cell phones
Plan: Any custom-built plan of your choosing
Ting offers no extra cost for international calls to over 60 countries. You can check their full list of countries here to make sure you will be covered.
Total Cost: Cost of your chosen plan
Summing It Up
If you’re still within your contract, you can always use these steps. Make sure you set a reminder so you can save some cash when the time comes. Also, if you’re struggling with money, don’t let it get in the way of your goals. Check out our handy money-saving guide packed with tips and advice and get your finances back off the ground.
Have you used any of these cell phone providers? Let us know how you rate them!