A 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 )