Are you ready to lower your cell phone bill? Unlimited plans from the major wireless providers cost around $80 a month, so millions of Americans are spending nearly $1,000 a year — or even more — just for cell phone service.
The good news is that there are opportunities to save hundreds of dollars every year!
Paying Too Much for Cell Phone Service? Here’s How To Save Money
In this article, we’ll share nine ways to save money on your cell phone bill. Apply one or more of our tips, and you may be able to cut your monthly bill in half!
- Switch to a New Cell Phone Carrier
- Find a New Plan With Your Existing Provider
- Shop for Phone Deals
- Keep Your Phone Longer
- Join a Family Plan
- Sign Up for Auto-Pay
- See if You Qualify for a Special Discount
- Buy a Phone Case
- Get Free Cell Phone Insurance
1. Switch to a New Cell Phone Carrier
Verizon and AT&T’s unlimited wireless plans are the most expensive, but they’re popular because customers are happy with the network coverage.
Here’s the deal: The leading cell phone providers (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) own discount brands that use the same towers and charge lower monthly fees:
- Verizon owns Visible
- AT&T owns Cricket Wireless
- T-Mobile owns Metro by T-Mobile
The major players also have relationships with many other low-cost cell phone providers, typically prepaid carriers. Check out our list of best prepaid phone plans here.
These companies are called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). They don’t own any cell phone towers themselves, but they partner with companies that do to offer affordable wireless service.
Some MVNOs have cheap phone plans that start at $10 per month. See Team Clark’s guide to find the best cell phone plans and deals!
2. Find a New Plan With Your Existing Provider
Not interested in switching cell phone providers? You can still save money by considering other plan options.
The major cell phone companies have shifted toward unlimited data plans, but do you really use that much data? With most people connected to Wi-Fi at home and work, you may be using less data than you realize.
Track your usage and check to see if you could save money with a plan that has a fixed amount of data per month.
3. Shop for Phone Deals
If you think your cell phone carrier always has the best deals on new phones, think again!
Our ClarkDeals.com experts find great used phone prices on eBay. They look for sellers who have a 98% or above positive feedback score and phones with a warranty and decent return policy.
You’ll typically find more deals if you wait a few weeks or even a month after a new phone model is released to shop for it.
And if the phone you’re getting rid of is worth anything, you may be able to get a discount or cash back for trading it in. Here’s a list of websites that will pay you for your old cell phone.
4. Keep Your Phone Longer
High-end cell phones from Apple, Samsung and other manufacturers can easily last a few years, so resist the temptation to upgrade every time a new version of the phone comes out.
If your phone is working well and you’re happy with it, don’t rush into a new device payment. Keep using it!
5. Join a Family Plan
Family plans are cheaper per phone line than buying service on your own. Discount carriers such as Cricket and Metro by T-Mobile have offered four lines of unlimited cell phone service for $100 a month — just $25 a month per line. Visible offers a service called Party Pay which lets you put multiple people on one plan with separate accounts and separate bills.
The only downside with a family plan is that when someone wants to switch, they may be reluctant to split from the family plan.
6. Sign Up for Auto-Pay
Putting your cell phone bill on auto-pay is perhaps the easiest way to save money. When you sign up for auto-pay with a postpaid carrier (often called “auto-refill” with prepaid carriers), you can usually get a $5 monthly discount.
Money expert Clark Howard suggests that you use auto-pay with your credit card, not a checking account or debit card.
7. See if You Qualify for a Special Discount
Have you checked to see if you qualify for additional discounts? The major wireless providers may offer special deals for members of the military, teachers and seniors. There may also be discounts available through your employer.
With the T-Mobile Magenta Unlimited 55 plan, customers 55 and older can get two lines for $70 a month — a big savings! Check out our guide to the best cell phones for seniors to find more senior-friendly savings.
8. Buy a Phone Case
Purchasing a phone case is a smart move to protect your phone from damage, but buying a phone case from one of the major cell phone providers will usually prove damaging to your wallet.
Those cases can cost up to $50, but you can find a comparable phone case on Amazon or eBay for $5 to $15.
9. Get Free Cell Phone Insurance
For years, Clark has encouraged people to ignore the cell phone insurance sales pitch. The mobile phone protection that the carriers sell can cost up to $10 a month per device.
Instead, get the coverage for free by using a credit card to pay your cell phone bill.
Not all credit cards pay to replace your stolen or damaged cell phone, but free cell phone insurance is offered on more than a dozen cards. We have a list of them here.
Keep in mind that you must pay your monthly cell phone bill with the credit card to receive the mobile phone protection benefit.
Switching phone carriers and waiting for phone deals are the two tips that will save you the most on your wireless bill over time.
If you’re able to cut your monthly cell phone bill from $80 to $40 per month, that saves $480 a year! Keep it up for 10 years and you’ll have nearly $5,000 to budget for other expenses.
What steps have you taken to lower your cell phone bill? Share your #1 tip in the comments below.