I remember the days when you had no idea what your cell phone bill would be at the end of the month. Back then, we were allotted something like 500 out-of-market text messages per month, and once you went over, the bill spiked to terrifying levels. Ever since then, I—like many others—have maintained a passion for keeping my cell phone bill as low as humanly possible. If your bill could use a little trimming, here’s where to start.
“Autopay” your cell phone bill
This one is a slam dunk. Many of the big carriers will offer a discount if you enroll in autopay for your bill every month. T-Mobile offers $5 per line for each eligible phone on your plan, Verizon offers a discount $5-$10 per line depending on your plan, and AT&T offers up to $15 per line depending on your plan. Not only that, but you’ll never again have to worry about late fees getting tacked on to your bill.
One word of warning, though: If you’re traveling outside of the country, make sure you have all of your ducks in a row. You don’t want to get hit with a high phone bill from roaming or international data charges, have it autopay, and then wake up one morning with less money in your checking account than you would’ve otherwise anticipated.
Spring for unlimited data
The real place you can get hit on your phone bill is going over your data allotment. For instance, Verizon charges a steep $15 per gigabyte you go over on your data. This probably isn’t needed for everyone; if you have a cheaper data plan and don’t go over your allotment, there’s no imperative to upgrade to an unlimited plan.
Otherwise, most providers offer unlimited data for competitive prices, so if you haven’t jumped on that already, now might be the time. Verizon’s unlimited data plans start at $80 per month; AT&T’s starts at $65 per month; and T-Mobile’s begins at $65 per month, as well.
Try a smaller carrier
There’s so much hubbub about Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, you’d think they’re the only phone carriers in the game right now. There’s an entire infrastructure of smaller companies who prioritize low prices, though, if you’re willing to make some sacrifices. An unlimited data plan for Mint Mobile costs $30 per month for one line, with cheap options available for plans with less data. A Boost Mobile unlimited data plan begins at $50 per month, and an Xfinity Mobile plan starts at $45 per month (each for one line, as well).
While these carriers are cheaper than their Big Three counterparts, it’s because they lease wireless capacity from bigger companies, instead of maintaining their own cell phone towers. This means it’s possible you could see slower data speeds if the network is congested, since the bigger companies will prioritize their customers first. But if the absolute fastest data is not of big concern to you, this is a great way to save a good chunk of change on your monthly phone bill.
Remember there is power in numbers
If you’re looking to save money on your phone bill, far and away the most effective method is to enroll in a “family plan.” Carriers give significant discounts for groups enrolling in a plan together. The difference between enrolling in the Verizon plan by yourself versus a “family” of four is $25 per month, per line; for AT&T, the difference is $30 per month, per line; and for T-Mobile, it’s a difference of $38.75 per month, per line. And, most importantly, there’s no requirement that the members of a family plan actually be a family—it is open to anyone looking to save money.
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