Going Frugal in 2020? Get a Cheaper Cellphone Plan

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This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com.

Your cellphone bill shouldn’t feel like another house payment. But unnecessary costs creep in — from overpriced installment plans to hidden fees. You can find and get rid of those unneeded charges this month and save a ton of money on your mobile bill. You don’t even have to cut down on your data usage, texting or talk time!

Step one: Free yourself

The top way you can get a cheaper cellphone plan is to ensure that you’re free to switch to another carrier that offers a better plan. If your device is paid off, you’re free to go to any carrier you’d like.

The only way mobile providers get to keep you as their customer these days is via their monthly installment plans. One reason mobile carriers allow you to make monthly payments on your phone with zero interest is that it helps ensure you’ll stay with them for 18, 24 or 30 months — whatever the duration of your installment agreement. In most cases, you can pay off your device, and then you’ll be free to take your phone anywhere you want to go and pursue a cheaper plan.

If paying off your device is not an option right now, don’t worry. You can still switch to a better plan with your current mobile provider. Here’s how:

Step two: Understand your mobile bill

Look at your current itemized mobile bill to see what you are paying for that you don’t need. Sometimes customers will click on a free trial for a carrier add-on and then forget to cancel it before the offer expires — thus adding, say, $5 a month to their bill.

Other times, customers think they’re getting a great deal on a phone or plan, but they’ll end up paying monthly surcharges and line access fees associated with those “deals.” The only way to avoid those kinds of fees is to become familiar with the itemized section of your mobile bill.

If you find that you’re paying unnecessary fees and can’t switch carriers, then call your mobile provider and ask them to suggest a comparable plan that won’t charge you those fees. Sometimes lowering your bill is as simple as moving from a limited data plan to the lowest tier unlimited data plan. If you can switch carriers and you’re paying too much, then continue reading.

Step three: Find a compatible network

If you would like to bring your current cellphone to your new carrier, then you’ll need to know which mobile networks are compatible with your device. That way, when you find a new mobile plan, you won’t run into any issues after you sign up.

While most new phones (models from around 2015 or later) can be used on any network, some older phones cannot. There are two networks currently in use in the United States: CDMA and GSM. CDMA stands for “code division multiple access” and is usually associated with the Verizon and Sprint networks. So, if you originally bought your phone from Verizon or Sprint, then you’re very likely to have a CDMA phone. GSM stands for “global system for mobile” and is usually associated with the AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

Once you find out which network your phone will work on, then you’ll know which carriers you can bring your phone to.

Step four: Consider your requirements

Do you need a family plan, an unlimited data plan or a plan that’s best for those on a budget? Or maybe all three? It’s best to know what you’re looking for before you go shopping so that you can get the best deal. With family plans, the monthly amount you pay per line decreases by adding more lines. So, if you’re on the fence about kicking your kids off of your family plan, that’s one reason to keep them on it!

If you’re on a budget and need a lot of data, then I’d suggest going to an MVNO, which stands for “mobile virtual network operator.” MVNOs are smaller mobile companies that use the networks of larger mobile companies (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint) to provide you with service. That’s also why it’s so important to know which network your phone is compatible with because switching to an MVNO can save you a ton of money.

If you’re a senior, then you’re in luck! Mobile companies LOVE to incentivize their plans by offering senior discounts to those who are age 55 or older. You’ll get the same 4G LTE data, talk time and texting as the other plans, but you’ll pay a bit less.

If your plan-type wasn’t mentioned here or you need a plan for seniors on a budget with a big family, use our special Money Talks News comparison engine provided by WhistleOut to find a plan that’s perfect for you.

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