Switching Cell Phone Carriers? Here Are the 3 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Rido / Shutterstock.com

This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com.

Enough is enough. You’re tired of deal after deal passing you by. You and your cell phone are ready to head to greener pastures. Switching carriers is a great way to save on your cell phone bill, but in doing so be sure you avoid these common mistakes that can wind up costing you more than you need to pay:

1. You don’t know how much data you need

Young woman texting.
Elena Kharichkina / Shutterstock.com

Ask most people much cell phone data they use in a month and the mostly likely response is ‘no idea.’ Perhaps you’ve seen the ads and now want the ease of unlimited data. But do you need it? Considering that the average person uses about 3GB a month, an unlimited plan may add a lot of extra gigabytes to add to your bill unnecessarily. Better to check back over your past cell phone bills and figure out the average amount of data that you use in a month. For the best savings, find a plan that you offers you that amount of data, no more, no less.

Beware also of the size-up trap. Yes for an extra $10, you can get another 2GB of data, but if you don’t use that amount, you’re still spending more than you need to.

Compare the prices of a 3GB plan vs unlimited data:

2. You’re paying for extra features you don’t use

Couple looking at bills, appearing shocked.
baranq / Shutterstock.com

When it comes to cell phone plans, often people have no idea what they are paying for. Considering the average American pays more than $1,000 on cell phone bills, it’s time we all figure out what we’re getting for our hard-earned money. When you’re switching to a new plan, be sure that the plan isn’t charging you extra for roadside assistance or cloud storage that either you don’t need or you already have through another membership like Costco or AAA.

Also, you don’t often need to pay for extra data when plans offer data-free (zero-data) streaming options. Often you can stream video and music content from carrier’s partner sites like DirecTV, Spotify and Pandora without draining your cellular data.

Compare and save: Check out these carriers that offer data-free streaming options.

3. You don’t know all of your carrier options

Older man shrugging shoulders in "I don't know" expression.
pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

Most people don’t realize all of the options there are beyond the four major carriers — AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. Many smaller cellphone carriers (MVNOs) and prepaid carriers offer the same exact same infrastructure and use all of the same towers as the major carriers but charge a fraction of the cost. For example, AT&T’s prepaid subsidiary Cricket uses all of pop’s towers but charges a lot less.

Compare and save: H2O is a smaller carrier that uses a major carrier’s network (AT&T’s infrastructure) without the major prices. In fact when you compare it to Verizon, you get more data for less money.

Also, some of the carriers like US Mobile and Ting specialize in build-your-own plans that allow you to decide the buckets of talk, text and data. Those who want a cell phone only as an emergency backup or want a data-less, internet-free phone option for their younger child could save a lot of money with these smaller carriers.

Do you know what you’re paying your cellphone carrier for? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.