Frugal Living 

7 Ways to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill

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NokiaA decade ago, cell phones were just gaining in popularity; now, according to Pew Internet, “83% of American adults have some type of cell phone” and “35% of American adults have a smartphone.” Many American households have dropped their home land lines in favor of using their cell phones exclusively. While cell phones offer great convenience and we have come to rely on them as a necessity, they can often come with a hefty price tag. If you have a cell phone, you likely want to reduce the expense.

With the release of the new iPhone 5, we thought it’d be important to put a little perspective back into everyone’s lives. The iPhone is pricey – $199 if you get a 2 year plan, which starts at $80-$85 a month. It’s hundreds more if you try to buy it without the plan. If you’re in line to buy one of those, chances are you will need some of these tips!

Here are some strategies to help you save some cash on your cell phone bill.

Consider a prepaid plan—If you just use your phone for emergencies or for an occasional call, consider using a prepaid plan. Depending on how infrequently you use your phone, you may be able to get by paying only $10 to $20 a month. My husband and I each have a cell phone, but we only use it if we need to contact each other during the day or our kids’ schools need to contact us. We buy prepaid minutes for about $30 every two or three months. I would love a smartphone, but right now, saving money is more important to us.

Consider keeping a landline, with modifications—There really is no sense in paying a big phone company $30 or $40 a month for a home line, but often when you cut the landline, your cell phone bills soar. Instead, keep the landline but look into a VOIP service such as Ooma Telo or Magic Jack. Then you can get your landline service for less than $5, which will likely save you on your cell phone bill since you won’t be using it at home.

Check with your employer—Many companies offer their employees a discount on cell phone plans if they go with a certain provider. My husband’s employer offers discounts from 15% to 23%, depending on the carrier you choose. They also offer five different carriers to choose from. Check your company’s website or your Human Resources department.

Be honest about your text usage—If you don’t text much, pay per text. If you text endlessly (or have a teenager on your plan who does), go with unlimited texting.

Cut the extras—There are plenty of extras you can get on your cell phone. Do you need all of them? Probably not. Go through your bill and cut any services that are not necessary. Do you really need your cell phone carrier providing roadside assistance when your car insurance carrier likely already provides this service for you? All of those little extras can add up to a large bill.

Pay attention to when you talk and text—Many companies offer discounted rates for using your phone at off-peak times. Can some of your calls wait until it is no longer prime time? You will still need to make some calls during primetime, but other calls can wait until later, and you can save money.

Negotiate—You may be used to negotiating your cable bill and credit card interest rates, but did you know you can also negotiate your cell phone service. Sometimes you can just speak with a customer service rep and get results; other times you may need to ask to speak to a supervisor or the retention department. You won’t always have success with this tactic, but it only takes a few minutes to ask, and the worst they can say is “no”.

Of course, another option to save money is to avoid having a cell phone at all, but only 17% of the U.S. population chooses that alternative.

What other ways would you recommend to save on cell phone bills?

(Photo: honou)

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “7 Ways to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill”

  1. If you want a smartphone but don’t want to pay $100/month, there are a couple options. You can either find a year or two old phone off Craigslist or free from a friend and use it with a bring your own device service like StraightTalk ($30-$45) or switch to Republic Wireless with unlimited everything for $19/month (the only catch is you have to buy their phone for $250 up front).

    Another slightly more ghetto option is to get a FreedomPop 4G access point (it’s like a MiFi) for $0-30/month depending on usage. Use it with an iPod Touch.

    • kaaal says:

      Sorry, what is MiFi. A lot of the information is new to me. Never heard of Straight Talk or FreedomPop 4G. I am interested. I have an Amazon account and this would help when I am buying items; I would got Amamzon and see what it is selling for.
      thank you.

  2. If you have a data plan you can get a free texting phone number from the textplus app and can send texts through the app instead. It does have ads and uses a little bit of data but it is far cheaper than paying for texting. The only problem is if you have old sturbborn friends who continue to text your old number you have to pay for those texts. I actually had AT&T block texts to my phone so I don’t have to deal with it.

  3. Mike Annis says:

    Great article. It was featured on the Frugal News Review podcast episode 9.


  4. Pam says:

    Great tips Melissa, i learned a lot of things here. You see i am still working on my Frugality 101 and this one is a good thing to add up to my program.

  5. Rob says:

    Get a Google Voice phone number and use it during the day so you don’t have to use your paid minutes. You can reduce your plan minutes as long as you use Google voice through the net. It’s free! It helps to have Sprint unlimited data too!

    • kaaal says:

      You got my attention. I have a Google Voice number. I use it rarely. My plan is with Verizon; fixed monthly rate. Am I correct is I reduce the plan and incorporate Google, I will save money.

  6. timmy longstocking jr. says:

    my 2¢

    buy an unlocked iphone on craigslist and get a cheaper option like t-mobile. i pay $60 (total amount) for unlimited talk & text, i don’t use data on my iphone. is pretty cool. super cheap rates (sprint network) and awesome customer service.

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