Just about everyone has a cell phone these days. And over a third now have smartphones. Cell phone plans from the Big 4 (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile) can cost as much as $80-$100 a month for just one line! So what are your options if you’re looking to save on cell phone service?
Consumer Reports lists Five ways you can save on your cell-phone bill as follows:
- Don’t automatically buy from the company store
- Consider a lower-priced carrier
- Use alternative services
- Max out on Wi-Fi
- Investigate employee discounts
Here are my thoughts:
- The only way I’m buying from the company store is if they have the phone I want and it’s free (with contract.) If you’re with one of the Big 4, the company’s website is a great place to start. They often run online-only specials for popular phones that you won’t get ordering by phone or in-store.
- The article mentions Consumer Cellular, which I’ve never heard of, as a low-cost alternative. But some of the other no-contract players out there include Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile, Boost, Metro PCS and Cricket. Some of these run on a Big 4-network, and some have their own networks. The advantage of these players is that you don’t have to sign a contract, and you can get a plan for as low as $30 a month. If you need robust national coverage, some of these options may not be for you. Be sure to check out the carrier’s coverage map before making a decision.
- Carriers like to charge a massive fee for texting packages, and if you don’t sign up for one you’ll pay a per-text price of 10 to 20 cents. And unlimited data is becoming practically extinct. This means you will have to be more creative in finding ways to avoid added costs and imposed limits. Both Apple and Android have apps that allow you to send unlimited texts for free. And for data, there’s a mobile web browser I like called Opera Mini that can limit the amount of data your phone uses to surf the internet. It uses compression technology behind the scenes but still gives you the same browsing experience.
- Using Wi-Fi whenever possible is one of the most important things you can do to keep your monthly bill down. Most smart phones can switch seamlessly from data networks to Wi-Fi when you’re in range of a hotspot previously accessed by your phone. Whenever I’m around the house, my phone is always using Wi-Fi for data, which allows me to keep my usage below the 200MB level every month.
- Check your provider’s website to see whether they offer a discount for employees at your company. Some providers offer discounts for college students too, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.