Honey, I Shrunk The Mobile Phone Bill
For many households, the mobile phone bill is one of the major expenses in the monthly budget. The average smartphone bill is about $80 per month, and it can go much higher if you have a family plan with some unnecessary bells and whistles. But I've got some tips for paring down that bill and keeping it under control. Read on to learn how to save on your monthly mobile phone bill...
TIPS: Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill
Did you know, you don't have to get your mobile phone service from one of the "Big Three" cellular companies? My first tip is to consider getting your cellular service from a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), instead of directly from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile. MVNOs buy service in bulk from these carriers; often, they pass on to customers savings of up to 50%. It’s exactly the same network, just re-branded and re-sold.
Some of the more popular MVNOs include Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Cricket Wireless, H20 Wireless, MetroPCS, Net10, Republic Wireless, Straight Talk, Tello, Ting, Tracfone and Walmart Family Plan. You can find a much longer list of MVNOs, with links to their websites at BestMVNO.com
Over the years, I've learned that lots of AskBob readers love Consumer Cellular, which I wrote about in my article Can You Fall in Love With a Phone Company?. I've also reviewed Ting, Tello, and Republic Wireless. You'll need to pick one that's compatible with your phone, your usage patterns, and one that has a good signal where you use it most often.
Next, buy your phone with one lump sum of hard-saved cash, if you possibly can. Avoid finance charges hidden in those “easy monthly payments” advertised by phone sellers. It’s hard to determine who offers the best deal on a given phone because offers are constantly being changed and their complex terms are all different. Just shop around and compare plans and prices carefully.
You might think your local Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile store is the best place to go when looking for a new phone. But it might be the worst, in terms of the price tag. Some good places to shop for bargains on the latest smartphones include your local Best Buy, Staples, Costco, and WalMart stores. Amazon and Wirefly are two online phone sellers that offer excellent deals. These third-party resellers can access your AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon account and make any changes necessary. You can also find mobile phones on eBay or Swappa, and activate them via your mobile provider's website. I've bought two phones on Swappa, and was happy with both transactions.
Don’t throw your old phone into the junk drawer when you get a new one. You’re probably not going to use it again. Instead, trade it in for cash or credit on a new phone, or sell it to a third-party phone refurbisher or broker. Gazelle and others are large trading sites that pay more money for used phones than carriers do. See my article HOWTO: Sell Your Cell Phone (or Other Gadget) Be sure to do a factory reset on your phone before selling it, to erase all personal data that you may have on it.
More Money-Saving Tips for Mobile Phones
Maybe you don't need a new phone. Every mall seems to have at least one "phone fixit" kiosk where you can get a cracked screen or a broken charging port replaced for much less than the cost of a new phone. My wife's Samsung Galaxy would no longer charge after getting wet, but the phone was otherwise functional. Even a used model was more than we wanted to spend, but a guy in the mall replaced the charging port for $45 in 15 minutes. Replacing a screen typically costs around $80-$100, but you can buy do-it-yourself kits for much less.
Consider a family plan even if you do not have a family, strictly speaking. Just as many cash-strapped Millennials are sharing houses, many more share cell phone service plans as “families.” Friends on family plans can save up to 60% versus buying individual service plans.
Check for discounts offered by your provider. Verizon has monthly discounts for corporate, government and education employees, as well as service members and veterans. AT&T discounts are also available through employers, schools, and associations. Your benefits or HR department would be a good place to ask. If you're a senior, call your provider and ask about discounts too!
Tweaking your data plan can make a big difference in your monthly bill. Most users do not come close to using up their gigabytes. Some cell plans let you roll unused bytes into the next month’s allotment. If you're on a family plan, and you're getting whacked with overages, a larger or "unlimited" plan may save you money.
Shop around for the extras. Power cables, batteries, protective cases, earbuds, and other accessories should be bought at Walmart or online, never in a dedicated brick-and-mortar store operated by your mobile carrier. Prices there are grossly inflated.
And finally, you probably shouldn't buy device insurance. I've written about the scam of electronics insurance. Short story: like all insurance policeis, they are rigged in the seller's favor. Some of these plans cost as much as $40 a month, and they don't even guarantee that they will replace your broken phone with the same model. A few years back, I fried my brand-new Motorola Z3, (see Oops! I Dropped My Phone AGAIN) and broke the screen on the used replacement phone I bought. But I don't regret not having device insurance. Over the long run, I think I'll still come out ahead.
What’s your favorite way to save money on phones every month, or when buying or selling a phone? Share this article with friends, and then post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Feb 2022
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved