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How to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill

by Ryan Guina

Like it or not, a cell phone bill is basically a requirement for most people. In fact, more and more people are dropping their landlines altogether and opting for a cell phone only solution. My wife and I are among the group of people who don’t own a land line and use cell phones and Skype for our phone calls.

But cell phone bills can be expensive – especially if you are one of the people who opts for every add-on the cell phone company offers. Thankfully, there are several ways to reduce your cell phone bill.

How to Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill

Look for corporate discounts. Many cell phone companies offer corporate discounts to large companies. They offer these discounts because the company signs an agreement to use their service as their official cell phone plan. The good news is that these discounts are often available to any member of the company, regardless of whether or not your company picks up the tab. Expect to save anywhere from 10% – 30% off your total cell phone bill.

Sign up for family plan. Family plans are a great way to save money on your cell phone bill. You can often get an add-on line for about $10 per line for shared minutes. This is much less expensive than paying full price for a new line. You can even share a family plan amongst friends if you are willing to agree to a contract and have a strong enough friendship to deal with any contract or payment issues that may pop up.

Drop the insurance. Cell phone insurance isn’t necessary for most people. The average cost for cell phone insurance is about $3 and up per month, depending on the carrier and the phone. Warranties usually cover the first year, so unless you lose the phone, you are out that money. Most people would be better off saving that money and applying it toward their next phone.

Examine texting habits. Most people send or receive at least a few text messages per month. At $0.10 – $0.15 per text, it can add up quickly. Most cell phone companies offer unlimited text plans for anywhere from $5 – $10 per month. Look at your last few cell phone bills. If the number of texts you send or receive covers the cost of unlimited texts, then pay for unlimited texts. Otherwise, drop unlimited texts and pay as you go or request the cell phone company block texts messages to your cell phone to avoid paying for any text mesaages.

Drop extras. See texting and insurance above. Also reconsider GPS, data, and other features that you may be paying extra for, but aren’t using.

Out of contract? Negotiate lower rate or shop for a new plan. Cell phone companies love it when you are in a contract because you are basically at their mercy. Once you are out of your contract you are free to go to another carrier. So shop around. If you find a better deal but prefer your current carrier, negotiate a lower rate. You may have to enter into a new contract, but you may be able to save a few bucks every month. You may also be able to get a great deal on a new cell phone.

Get out of your cellphone contract without paying fees. This is the ultimate in lowering your cell phone bill – get rid of it altogether! Here are tips on how to cancel your cell phone contract without paying early termination fees and how to transfer your cell phone contract without paying fees. These are only good options if you are looking to drop your cell phone coverage or find a cheaper plan.

10 minutes can save you money every month

None of these tips are difficult to pull off, and in most cases will take about 10 minutes or less. And the savings you achieve should make it well worth your time.


Published or updated September 20, 2009.
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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 oneadvice

“10 minutes can save you money every month” > That closing line should be enough for anyone to take your tips on board. After all, who doesn’t want to save money every month!

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2 Craig @ Money Help For Christians

A prepaid phone can also reduce your costs. Each call is more expensive, but in the long run it could save money. Prepaid phones are great for kids who are in the ‘are they old enough for their own phone stage?’ A family with three kids could share one prepaid phone for when the kids go out.

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3 Ryan

Great tip, Craig. I didn’t even think about that!

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4 Andrew

I did just that recently, and am saving about 20 bucks off my cell phone expenses every month. I used to be on a medium usage package which had no texting included. Now I use Straight Talk unlimited for 45 bucks. Unlimited talk and texting so I don’t have to worry about overages anymore. Also, it’s on Verizon’s network which seems to work much better in my area.

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5 Ryan

Glad to hear it worked for you, Andrew. :-)

I had Verizon for about 2 years, but then came across a great deal with Sprint, so I switched over. I was a little hesitant to make the move because of horror stories I’ve heard about Sprint, but I haven’t had any problems.

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6 Jesse

Craig, I clicked through just to mention prepaid phones but you beat me to it. Heres a link to info on my prepaid phone journey. http://gomestic.com/consumer-information/tracfone/

Great article Ryan

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7 Hank

I saved a lot of money be actually looking at my cell phone bill for changes. I usually just toss the bill aside since I pay it through automatic bank account deductions, but actually reading it every month has helped me catch several errors that could have cost me a lot.

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8 Ryan

Good point, Hank. :)

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9 Bargain Babe

Great tips, Ryan. I’ve written about the first two on my blog and appreciate the additional tips. I’d certainly like to lower my cell phone bill and am considering breaking my contract to do so!

I’m going to include this post in my roundup of personal finance posts on BargainBabe.com because I think my readers will find it really useful.

Julia
aka Bargain Babe

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10 Ryan

Thanks, Julia. Be sure to check out the articles I linked to at the end about how you can cancel or transfer your contract without fees. It may not apply in all instances, but you find something to work for your situation. :-)

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11 Jesse

Ah I just remembered one more tip. This website http://www.myvalidas.com/ will allow you to upload your phone bill and it will analyze it for trends in which you are paying more than you should be. It will also compare your bill and usage with other carriers. If prepaid isnt for you, give them a shot and see if they can show you how to lower your bill. A great service, and I think its still free for the initial report.

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12 The Financial Blogger

I got mine paid by my own small corporation. Hence, I pay my phone bill with “before” tax money ;-) 30% rebate on my bill!

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13 Lesley

I have saved alot of money by going onto a prepaid account, it has cut my phone bill in half. Its a great idea for any one looking to save money.
http://www.celldefense.com is where I found out how I could do this.

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14 Phillipa

I’ve saved a lot by switching to prepaid too, but I found other advantages with Net10. It has a fantastic flat international rate. I pay only 15 cents a minute for calls to the UK and a whole lot of other countries. I came upon another nice surprise after I’d had my Net10 phone for a while. 411 calls are the same price as a local call which is a flat 10 cents a minute to anywhere in the nation.

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15 Jesse

@Phillipa

Thats great. Net10 is actually run by the same company as Tracfone, which is the prepaid provider I use. They are very similar with slight differenses here and there.

The main thing is one will be better based on particular usage data. For me, Tracfone was the better choice, but someone making international calls, or more calls per month would be better off going with Net10.

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16 Alex

I use StraightTalk, and for an unlimited plan it’s only $45 a month. Compared to $69.99 for Sprint, that’s a great way to save money every month. Also the coverage is awesome, mainly because it’s carried on the Verizon network.

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17 Alexandra

I also saved a lot of money by switching to prepaid – StraightTalk! The reception is always great since it runs on Verizon network. For $45/month, I can talk/text forever and ever and I love it!

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18 lester

I’ve got the he Motorola W376 phone from tracfone. With service from as little as $7 a month for the minimal contact needed to be in touch and the Double minutes feature gives you 120 minutes for under $20 for 3 months. I save a huge amount of cash. I love my tracfone

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19 martina

You’re totally right. Cell phone companies are evil. They gouge their customers without regard for economic hardships. Break the shackles!!!! Go to pre-paid. StraighTalk from Walmart, Best Buy or Target will give you the nationwide coverage of Verizon’s network for only $45 a month with UNLIMITED talk, text and 3G Data. Plus, there are several excellent phones to chose from including the screen touch smart phone Finesse. No contracts, No hidden fees. $540 a month plus the one time phone fee. Nobody can beat StraighTalk.

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20 Kimberly

The above poster mentioned cell phone companies being evil and I totally agree – that’s why I switched over to prepaid. I left my contract carrier over a year ago and went with Net10 prepaid and I’m finally able to cope with my cell phone bill. Without a contract, I have the flexibilty to change phones and plans based on use and price and not be locked in. The calling network is pretty dependable and while the selection of phones isn’t the best, it is better priced than any I’ve found. The best thing about Net10 though is the incredible savings – more than $70 a month for me and all I had to do was limit my talking. Net10 is a great option for the moderate talker who needs dependable service.

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21 Beth Shira

I use Straight Talk too and love it. (btw, contrary to what another commenter said, it’s only available at Walmart and not the other stores, though you can get it online from Straight Talk’s website, too.)

I have the E71 which runs off AT&T’s towers and it’s a true smart phone. With unlimited everything for $45, it’s a crazy good deal, seriously. I cannot recommend it enough!

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22 AmberR

I recently made the switch to StraightTalk and must say, it’s pretty awesome. Paying $45 for unlimited talk/text with a reliable service is an unbelievable. deal. I was a little hesitant at first buying a cell phone from Wal-Mart but boy am I ever so glad i did it!

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