The truth is that most of us are paying more than we should for our cellphone plans. Lucky for us, there are easy ways to save on cellphone service that can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. Try these six options:
1. Join a family plan
When you’re going to out to dinner or buying movie tickets, being a family can be expensive. But in the wireless market, buying in bulk can save you money. On a family plan, the more lines you have, the more the price per line drops.
With family plan pricing, the general rule is that the first line is the most expensive, the second line is cheaper, and the third, fourth, fifth lines are even cheaper.
Friends can join too!
There’s no need to be blood relatives of other account holders to take advantage of a family plan. Most plans will allow you to add up to nine lines — but there’s just one bill and one credit check. The account goes under one person’s name (the main account holder) and only the account holder’s credit history will be reviewed.
Frenemies Alert: The account holder is financially responsible, so be sure all plan members are fiscally fit.
Compare and save: Sprint Unlimited Plan, 1 Line versus 5 Lines
When on a five-line family plan, the cost per line drops down to $24 a month, a monthly savings of $26 or more than $300 a year!
2. Own your phone
Owning your phone in full saves you the monthly costs of your Equipment Installment Plan, which is on average about $25 a month (or $300 a year). Plus, the older your phone is, the less likely you’ll need phone insurance.
Your device may not need to be covered if it’s an older model, which could mean the insurance premiums are relatively expensive when compared with the phone’s value. Not paying for phone insurance can easily save you $10 a month or over $100 a year.
3. Switch carriers
You can keep your data amount and your quality coverage, but switch from a major carrier to a smaller one and the only thing you’ll notice is the savings on your monthly bill. Because many of the smaller carriers use all the same cell tower infrastructures as the major carriers, you won’t have to sacrifice coverage quality.
If you’re switching carriers, good timing can save you money. To minimize the likelihood of paying for two services as you switch, try signing up with your new carrier about four days from the end of your current billing cycle. This allows some wiggle room for your “old” carrier to release your phone from its service and help avoid any bill overlapping.
Compare and save: 3GB Data Plan AT&T versus Metro PCS
Switch from a major carrier to a smaller one and you can count on solid coverage and cheaper prices. MetroPCS runs off T-Mobile’s network, plus it offers some fun features like data-free music streaming. Both of these plans offer unlimited talk and text and 3GB of data, but Metro PCS is $20 cheaper a month, for a savings of $240 a year.
4. Ditch unlimited data: Go data-free
Since the average American uses only about 3GB a month, most of us don’t need unlimited data, especially if you’re often using your home or work Wi-Fi network.
But if you have the need to stream music 24/7, (which can burn though a lot of data) instead of choosing a pricey unlimited data plan, try one that allows you to stream music data-free. An assortment of plans offer data-free music streaming music, so you can stream from music sites like Pandora, Spotify without it counting against your plan’s data.
Compare and save: Virgin Mobile’s Unlimited Data Plan versus 5 GB Plan
Music lovers on the cheaper 5GB plan can rock out nonstop and still have 5GB of data a month for other internet tasks. That is plus an extra $25 in their pocket a month (or $300 a year) for skipping on the unlimited data plan.
5. Ask your carrier for a better deal
One thing you can be sure of, your service provider doesn’t want to lose you to the competition. Ask for a better deal, and you’ll probably get it. Often you can get more data and pay less just with a phone call.
Also, carriers often don’t automatically apply all the new advertised features to their existing customers. For example, many carriers have done away with data overage charges—which are on average about $15 per additional gigabyte — but require “older customers” to opt-in to this feature. Getting rid of data overage fees can easily translate into saving a couple of hundred dollars a year.
To help you get the best plan value, here are some questions to ask your carrier:
- Am I paying the best price for the amount of data and lines I have?
- Are there any new benefits or features that should be included on my plan for free?
- Are there any special employee discounts or customer appreciation programs available?
6. Drop to a lower data tier
Use less data and you’ll pay less. Drop a data tier can save you easily $10 a month or $120 a year.
Sure, most of us use our work, home, or school Wi-Fi, but you can also hop on free Wi-Fi when you’re out and about and save cellular data. Downloading maps and music playlists are another easy way to save on data. Just remember your information’s not secure on public Wi-Fi, so save your online shopping or banking for when you’re on a secure network.
Compare and save: TPO’s 1GB versus 2GB Plan
Expect lower prices and strong coverage with The People’s Operator (TPO), which runs off both Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks. Plus, the carrier donates 10 percent of your bill to your favorite cause for free. Its 2GB plan (which includes unlimited talk and text ) is already one of the best-priced plans in the market, but if you drop a down a tier to 1GB, you’ll save even more, nearly a hundred dollars a year.
All prices and plans are accurate at time of publish date.
How do you manage the cost of cellphone charges? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.