These days, almost everyone has a smart phone. If you don’t, you’re considered the odd one out in any social situation. Plus, “dumb” phones don’t always offer the best value these days.
Unfortunately, smart phones come with a high cost. Between the actual price of the phone and the data plans they come with, you could easily be looking at a monthly bill of $100 or more, just for yourself!
I was paying $93 per month with Verizon a year and a half ago. I didn’t question it at first because, well, I just accepted that was the price to pay for decent service.
Then I did some simple math and figured out that service was costing me $1,116 a year. That seems a lot worse, doesn’t it?
Over a thousand dollars, when that money could be going toward my student loan debt. It was enough to spur me into action – I began looking for ways to cut my bill down.
If you’re in the same predicament, here’s a few things you can do to save money on your cell phone bill.
Call and Ask for a Discount
Let’s start small here. The easiest thing you can do, right now (most likely), is call your provider and simply ask them if they can do something for you.
Remember to be nice and polite during the call. Assuming your provider hasn’t done anything crazy, there’s no reason to be demanding or condescending on the phone.
If you’ve been a customer for a while and have always paid on time, feel free to mention that.
The worst they can do is say no, and you can always call back at another point to see if another representative will give you a discount.
To make this a little more convincing, you can always bring up cheaper alternatives you’ve found. If you’re committed to switching, then you can push harder and walk away if need be.
Also, it’s worth checking with your school or employer to see if you’re actually eligible for a discount! Your provider may be able to help you out here if they have a list of people they offer discounts to.
Change Your Plan
The representative you speak with might suggest downgrading your service, depending on the type of plan you have.
When I was with Verizon, I was grandfathered into the unlimited data plan, but there are so many tiers of service these days, it can be hard to keep track of what plan you’re on.
Make sure you understand your options clearly and ask for alternatives based on your phone usage. For example, if you don’t tend to call people, you don’t need unlimited minutes!
Also, double check your data requirements. If you’re an average phone user, you can probably get away with the minimum. Your data usage should be available on your statement. Don’t pay for more than you need.
You can also consider pay-as-you-go plans. This option won’t be for everyone, but if you’re not a heavy cell phone user, you’ll definitely only be paying for what you need. Plus, unused minutes from previous months tend to rollover.
Change Your Service Provider
This is the “scary” one. You might be reluctant to leave one of the big name providers because they offer great service.
I won’t deny that – I switched from Verizon to Republic Wireless, and I do experience dead zones a bit more often. However, the savings are undeniable.
Hopefully the big companies catch on sooner or later, but there are more and more smaller companies springing up to offer super cheap monthly plans.
For example, Republic Wireless offers a $5/month plan that’s WiFi only – perfect for those that always have an internet connection.
They also offer cell + WiFi service at $10/month, 3G for $25/month, and 4G for $40/month. That’s cheaper than a lot of places, and the bonus is you don’t need to sign a contract.
To compensate, you do need to pay full price for the phone, but the savings are still worth it.
Here’s how the math broke down for me when I switched:
I purchased a $300 Moto X (which has been just as good as my old iPhone 4S). I didn’t pay any cancellation fees with Verizon because I was already out of contract with them. I chose the $25/month plan, which meant I was paying $300 per year for the service.
All together, I paid $600 in phone-related costs last year. That still beats paying $1,116! It doesn’t take long to recoup the costs at all. You’ll still come out ahead even if you have to pay the $200 early termination fee.
The awesome part about switching was that I can dedicate $800 this year to my student loans that I otherwise would have been paying toward my phone. Getting rid of debt is definitely worth it to me!
What’s Your Cell Service Worth To You?
In the end, you have to do what’s right for you. Perhaps you really need reliable 4G service, and there’s no better coverage in your area than what one of the big companies offer. Smaller companies still have a lot of growth to do when it comes to being available in more rural areas.
I’m not a heavy cell phone user, and I work from home, so having a WiFi plan works out for me. However, if your job doesn’t offer WiFi, or the signal isn’t that strong, then it might not be worth the lower price if you’re not going to get decent reception.
As with any expense, you should be evaluating how much you’re paying and what you’re getting out of it. I would urge you not to continue paying a high amount simply because everyone else is, though. Make sure it’s worth it to you.
How much do you pay a month for cell phone service? Do you want to lower your payments, or have you lowered them? What did you do?