If you want your financial life to improve, you have to be willing to stretch yourself in ways you never have before. Are you trying to get out of debt? Do you want to save money for an emergency fund, vehicle, or vacation? Whatever your financial goal, one of the best ways to reach it faster is to find ways to reduce your spending.
Like most people, I’m a huge fan of saving money. I opt for reusable products when I can. I look for ways to conserve energy and reduce my utility bills. I even put together this guide on 30+ ways to save money with some of my favorite tips.
One area where I found some extra room for savings in my budget was my cell phone bill. Believe it or not, a few simple changes can lower your cell phone bill and add up meaningfully over time.
1. Shop around for a less expensive carrier.
A great way to save money when it comes to your wireless plan is to learn what the competition has to offer. If you’re looking for a discount carrier, there’s no shortage of options you can consider:
- Tello Mobile: Has coast-to-coast coverage through the Nationwide Sprint Network. Unlimited talk, text, and data start at $39 per month — including calls to Mexico, Canada, and China.
- Mint Mobile: Mint's latest program offers unlimited talk, text and 5G or 4G LTE data for $30 per month. You must pay for three months in advance ($90 total). Regular rates for the same plan climb to $40 per month afterward. Other plans are available with unlimited talk and text, but limited data amounts. Check out Mint Mobile now.
- Ting Mobile: Ting provides Nationwide coverage in a different way. Instead of a fixed rate or monthly plan, you pay based on how much you use your phone for talk, text, and data. If you’re worried about how high your bill could climb, you have the option to limit usage per device. Usage caps can be set in your online account dashboard.
- Xfinity Mobile: Xfinity Mobile combines Verizon’s LTE network (which covers 98% of the U.S. population) with millions of WiFi hotspots across the country. The result, Xfinity advertises, is less mobile data usage and less money out of your pocket. Plans start at $15 per month for 1 GB of data. Unlimited data plans start at $45 per month, per line.
- FreedomPop: Believe it or not, free wireless coverage does exist. If you’re an extremely light cell phone user, FreedomPop’s free plan can provide you with 200 minutes of talk, 500 texts, and 500 MB (not GB) of data per month. Unlimited talk and text with 1 GB of data are also available for $17.00 per month.
- Republic Wireless: Republic Wireless offers unlimited talk and text for $15 per month. You pay an additional $5 per GB of data. The carrier also provides a yearly option where you can prepay for service and save. For example, the 2 GB of data plan can be prepaid at $250 per year — $20.83 per month versus $25 per month if you pay as you go.
- Sprint/T-Mobile: Sprint recently merged with T-Mobile and is considered one of the “Big” wireless carriers, along with Verizon and AT&T. But its unlimited plans stand out among the competition. Sprint/T-Mobile's Unlimited Magenta Plan is $35 per month per line and includes Netflix (another savings opportunity).
- Boost Mobile: Boost Mobile offers an unlimited wireless plan (talk, text, and data), starting at $50 per month. The plan includes 12 GB of mobile hotspot usage and comes with a free six-month subscription to Tidal, a music streaming service.
Several of the plans above require you to use less data or deal with slower speeds than you might enjoy on higher-cost plans. Perks like mobile hotspots may be limited or restricted with discount cellular plans too.
Are any of the above are deal breakers for you? If so, you can still consider other ways to potentially lower your cell phone bill with your current cell phone company.
2. Choose a family plan.
Many cellular carriers offer you a break when you sign up for multiple lines. So, if you need wireless service for several phones and tablets, you could save more money across the board.
Here are a few examples of how much you might save:
- AT&T: Pay $65 per month for one line on the Unlimited Starter plan. When you switch to four lines, pay $140 per month ($35 per line).
- Verizon: Pay $70 per month for a single line on the Start Unlimited plan. Change to four lines with the same plan and pay just $35 per line, per month.
Even if you don’t pay for cellular service on multiple phones yourself, you might be able to sign up for a shared plan with family members or friends you trust. Splitting the cost with other trustworthy loved ones can reduce the price everyone on the plan pays for coverage.
3. Sign up for autopay.
Using auto pay for your monthly bill is another way to cut the cost of your wireless service potentially. Numerous carriers offer autopay discounts, including:
- Sprint: Save $5 per month, per line.
- Verizon: Save $10 per month per eligible plan when you sign up for autopay and paperless billing.
- T-Mobile: Save $5 per month, per line.
- Cricket: Save $5 per month on eligible plans.
Before you opt for automatic payments, be sure your budget can handle them. The last thing you want is to rack up overdraft fees from automatic payments because you didn’t plan for them in advance.
Over the years, I’ve found that negotiating with service providers is a great way to save money. Cell phone companies spend piles of advertising dollars every year, trying to attract new customers. You can leverage this knowledge to your advantage.
Saving money on your cell phone bill may be as simple as calling up your wireless carrier and asking for a better price. When you call, let the customer service representative know that you’re thinking about canceling. You’ll likely be transferred to a customer retention specialist.
From there, let customer retention know that you’ve been looking at offers from other mobile phone carriers. Ask if they’re willing to match those better deals to keep you on board as a customer. (It helps to have some specific offers on hand to reference during the call.)
The Bottom Line
When you’re trying to improve your budget, it’s critical to find ways to control your spending. There may be some conveniences you’re willing to cut altogether — perhaps a daily Starbucks trip or cable TV. Yet you can’t cut all expenses from your life.
Of course, just because you can’t cut an expense, like your cell phone bill, doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Lowering the cost of your cell phone bill can help you find more money to put toward the financial goals that matter most to you. Repeat this process in other areas of your budget, and these small changes can add up to something exciting in time.