Savvy shoppers know that the best way to get the best prices is to shop around. However, for whatever reason, many consumers don’t shop around for their cell phone service — which means they are very likely paying way too much.
According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, American consumers have become loyal to a fault when it comes to their cell phone provider. Of the 90,000 people CR surveyed, 6% switched providers in the past year — and nearly half of those people saw their wireless bill decrease by $20 or more per month.
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Are you paying double what you should for cell phone service?
The experts at Consumer Reports say as many as 50% to 70% of Americans are overpaying for their cell phone plans. According to Michael Gikas, senior editor for electronics and technology at Consumer Reports, you should really pay no more than $50 per line — instead of the $100 per month that many people are currently spending on service.
But the company isn’t just going to decrease your monthly bill — or even tell you that a cheaper rate is available.
“Carriers, by and large, unless you make a move, aren’t likely to inform you,” Gikas said. “They’ll never call you to tell you how to save money if you are already their customer.”
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Over the past few years, increased competition in the wireless industry has led to some pretty big price wars — meaning more (and better) deals for consumers. But if you want to get the best rate, either with another provider or from the one you’re currently with, you have to pay attention — and you have to ask!
Wireless providers are always offering new, super-low promotional prices as a way to bring in new customers. They aren’t going to automatically enroll current customers in these discounted plans, because since most people don’t ask, they’ll continue to keep paying the same overpriced bill every month — instead of the best available rates the company has to offer.
Cell phone providers want your money — so if a better plan is available, you have to figure it out on your own. Don’t bet on the company informing you that you’d be better off, and would save money, with another plan, because that will likely never happen.
How to get a cheaper monthly plan
Wireless providers are offering new plans, deals and discounts all the time — so every so often, check out all the plans being offered by your provider to see if there’s one that would work better for you and your family.
These companies will also typically offer special rates to customers to threaten to leave — just like cable companies. They would rather keep you as a customer than lose your business entirely to a different or low-cost provider.
Here are some additional tips from Consumer Reports to help you choose the best plan:
- You shouldn’t pay more than $25 to $50 per line per month for service (above the cost of the actual phone).
- If you don’t need much data, consider a smaller, discount provider.
- If you need a lot of data — or a plan with three to four phone lines — you may be better off with one of the Big 4 providers.
- Make sure the provider’s coverage fits your needs. Also, make sure there is a grace period during which you can cancel the plan — in case you sign up and then realize your phone doesn’t work in your home, office or somewhere else you’ll need to use it.
- Compare all available plans — sometimes it can be cheaper to get more data than you need, depending on the number of phone lines, overage fees etc.
- Don’t sign a two-year contract.