I’ll be honest – I don’t know what I would do without my cell phone. Data, texts, even calls – I use them all. But why does it have to be so darn expensive? Here are some tips to save some money on this indispensable tool.
1. Watch Your Data Usage
Unlimited data plans are becoming more popular again, but unless you’ve chosen to pay a premium for this plan, you’ll need to keep an eye on your data usage. Most providers hit you with a significant fee the moment you go over that limit, and the fees will continue until the end of the month.
Fortunately, most phones have easy ways to check your data usage, and can even be set up to alert you if you’re getting close to the limit. Your provider will often also send you alerts when you get close to your limit if you sign up for it.
Be sure to use the Wi-Fi while at home and work to save on data use. When you’re out and about, at a coffee shop or restaurant for example, be sure to ask them if they have Wi-Fi available for guests.
For those with unlimited plans – could you save some money by switching to a non-unlimited plan and taking advantage of the suggestions we made here?
2. Limit Background Data Use
Many of your apps like to run in the background and use data after you’ve used them and some will even start up without you knowing when you turn on your phone. Figure out how to disable these on your phone and then be sure to turn off the ones you don’t need. Each app may not drain a lot of your data (and your battery) individually, but together all your apps can certainly make a dent.
3. Switch to a Family or Group Plan
In the cell phone world, more lines means less cost per line. Sure, the overall bill will be higher, but when you split that bill three, four, or even five ways, you’ll start to see significant savings each month. Individual lines are just designed to be more expensive, so check with your carrier to see what options you have for adding friends or family.
4. Your Employer Might Save You Money
Whether you’re working from home or not, check with your employer to see if they have a corporate discount with your wireless carrier. Some carriers offer special deals for teachers, those who serve in the military, and seniors. If you own your own business, you may be able to write off some wireless expenses when tax time rolls around.
5. Do Away With the Insurance
Getting insurance on your phone through your wireless carrier costs a lot of money and is rarely necessary. If you’re always buying the top of the line phones and feel the need to buy the insurance in case something happens to it, chances are you’re paying too much for the phone. If you can’t easily afford to replace it, buy a slightly older model phone or one with less features.
Also, check with your credit card company to see if they provide insurance on your cell phone. You’d have to make your monthly payments on the card, but most likely you’re already doing that anyway.
6. Let Your Credit Card Pay You Back
Speaking of credit cards, there are many cards out there that provide cash back for services, including paying your cell phone bill. You’re going to pay it anyway, why not get a little more back for doing so? Some cards to consider are from Chase and Citi.
7. Double-Check Your Bill
If you’re not making any changes to your bill, then your bill shouldn’t be changing on you. It may dance around one or two dollars every month because taxes and fees always seem to be changing ever so slightly, but it shouldn’t change any more than that. Carefully inspect your bill each month to look for any sneaky charges or add-ons that found their way on there.
Speaking of checking your bill, are there any charges that you know about that you don’t really need? Consider downgrading some services you don’t use (or don’t use often) to put some money back in your pocket.
8. Sign Up for Autopay and Paperless Billing
Many cell phone carriers out there will provide incentives to customers who are willing to sign up for one or both of these services. Since they both save the carrier time and money, they want to pass along some of those savings to you. How thoughtful!
Head over to your carrier’s site and set yourself up for these features. Autopay allows you to automatically pay your bill monthly by linking a credit card, debit card, or bank account to your cell phone account. Paperless billing simply means you’ll only receive the bill to your email each month, not a physical copy in the mail. It’s possible to save a good $5 with each feature!
9. Wait a Bit Longer to Upgrade
New phones are great, but do you really need the newest model as soon as it comes out? Chances are, the features on the new phone aren’t that much of an improvement over last year’s model. Consider buying last year’s model and using it for at least a few years before doing this same step over again. Your wallet will thank you for it!
10. Switch Providers
If all else fails, see what else is out there. Make a list of the services you can’t live without and shop around. Chances are you can find a better deal at one of the smaller carriers out there. Don’t fret, the smaller carriers usually use the same towers as the big providers anyway, so you’re getting basically the same service for a lesser price! Make sure you do a little research so you don’t get stuck with a crummy carrier.