If you’re on an an individual phone plan with one of the big four carriers, these tips can cut your phone bill in half!
1. Use Low-Cost Carriers Like Metro (by T-Mobile)
If you want to get some big savings, get out of the mindset that you have to stay with Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, or AT&T to get decent phone service. Many of the smaller carriers use the same cell networks as the big boys, and offer the latest phones.
The biggest downside of these carriers that I can think of is that their stores are not as nice, and not as fully staffed. You might have to wait a while to get helped. But if you’re willing to put up with slower customer service once in a while, you could save hundreds of dollars per year!
One other downside could be the cost of international roaming. Check with the provider for the details.
Metro by T-Mobile (formerly Metro PCS) offers the latest iPhones and Android phones with individual service starting at $30/month for unlimited calling and texting and 2GB of data on the T-Mobile cell network. Note, this plan is not widely advertised, and they push more expensive plans online and in-store, so do your homework!
I just moved my mom to Metro, saving her over $40/month! And, there was a special for new customers, so she saved $150 on the latest iPhone XR!
Sure, the store was not as nice as a Verizon or T-Mobile store. And, there was only one employee working the front desk and we had to wait fifteen minutes to be helped. But, the savings were more than worth the wait!
One more thing about Metro by T-Mobile: they gave my mom a free case and screen protector. I was pleasantly surprised! Sure, these are small things, but other carriers gouge you for these accessories!
Straight Talk Wireless offers the previous-generation Samsung and Apple phones for as low as $35 per month.
Walmart Family Mobile is owned by the same operator that owns Straight Talk. They offer plans starting at an insanely low $25/month!
Republic Wireless has a variety of Motorola phones and uses the Sprint network. Plans start at $15/month for voice and text only, with data for $5 more. Several readers have told me they swear by Republic Wireless! Republic Wireless is an awesome deal if you are OK with Android phones.
2. If You Don’t Talk Very Much…
Ting is a cell phone service provider where you only pay for as much as you use. Go to their site and plug in your usage numbers from your last three bills to see if it can save you money. I talk on my cell phone for about 500 minutes per month, send and receive about 500 texts (wow, I had no idea it was that many), and use about 500MB of data. With these usage numbers, I could save about $100 per year by switching to Ting vs. T-Mobile.
So, plug in your numbers and see if Ting can save you money.
3. Get a Family Plan
If you want to stay with the big four but get big discounts, family plans are the way to go.
For example, T-Mobile’s ONE plan starts at $70/line for one person, but goes to $60/line for two, $40/line for three, and $35/line for four people
Verizon’s Unlimited plan is $75/line for one person, $65/line for two, $50/line for three, and $40/line for four.
AT&T’s Unlimited plan is $70/line for one, $63/line for two, $49/line for three, and $40/line for four.
Sprint’s Unlimited Basic plan is $60/line for one person, $50/line for two, $40/line for three, and $30/line for four people.
If you are single, don’t dismiss family plans just yet. You don’t actually need to be in the same family to use a family plan. The main thing is that the bill goes to one address. You each get separate phone numbers. Perhaps you could go in with a trusted friend? Or, how about your parents or grandparents? Extended family? Cousins, aunts, uncles? Keep an open mind here, because the savings are dramatic. Depending on which company you choose, you can cut your phone bill in half!
4. Research Lower-Rate Plans
The cell phone salespeople like to tout their “unlimited” standard plans, but if you don’t need unlimited data, there might be a cheaper plan.
For example, when shopping for a plan for my parents at Sprint years ago, the salesperson insisted that we were getting the cheapest plan, which was an unlimited plan. Only after talking to the manager did we find out that there indeed was a cheaper plan with limited data / minutes that would be fine for my parents. This will save them hundreds of dollars per year.
Similarly, when I went to Metro by T-Mobile to get a new plan for my mom, the salesperson only mentioned the $50 and $60/month plans. Fortunately, I had done my homework online and knew about the $30/month plan.
Do your homework and check for the carrier’s lowest rates online,. The salespeople will not always volunteer that information!
5. Check Your Employer for Employee Discounts
If you work for a big company, check to see if they offer discounted phone plans for their employees. Several of the previous companies that I’ve worked for have offered these. Savings can be up to 20%. Thanks to reader Kanwar for this tip!
How about other discounts for active duty military or educators? Ask what is available.
6. Ask for Freebies!
While the price of the plan might not be negotiable, there are other ways you can negotiate with salespeople eager to close the deal. Ask if you can get the activation fee and any other fees waived as part of the deal. Ask for a free case, screen protector, or other accessories. I love freebies! I was able to get a free case. Hey, it might not be much, but it’s something!
7. Make an Appointment to Drop the Insurance After a Year
The salespeople always push the $10 (or so) monthly cell phone insurance. I usually get it when I first get a new phone, just because it would suck to lose or break a brand new phone. But, I always cancel it about a year later, because at that point, the value of the phone has diminished. If you are very prone to losing or breaking your phone, insurance might be worth it. If not, you’ll save over $120 per year or more.
Put an event in your calendar to cancel your insurance after a certain point. If you never cancel, you’ll be paying $10/month for basically the rest of your life for insurance, which is probably way more than the cost of replacing lost phones!
8. Beware of Extra Costs and Fine Print!
When I took my parents to the Sprint store to get a new phone, the salesperson said that they were giving away a free Samsung tablet with the plan. It turns out it wasn’t free; there was a $10 monthly charge for it. We had to go through a huge ordeal to get it corrected. Beware of tricks like this to inflate your bill!
The salespeople also will push accessories. If you can get them for free, then great. Otherwise, get cases and screen protectors from Amazon or other sources where they are insanely cheaper!
9. Live With Your Old Phone as Long as Possible
The longer you can live with your current phone after it’s paid off, the more money you will save.
I don’t necessarily recommend buying very old model phones, because they will become obsolete sooner and you’ll have to replace them, which could end up costing more.
On the other hand, I also don’t recommend purchasing the bleeding-edge latest phone that just came out because those go for a premium.
10. Trade in Your Old Phone
If you need a new phone, your old phone might have some trade-in value. When I traded in my parents’ old iPhone 4’s at Sprint, they gave us some Bluetooth speakers which I was able to sell on eBay to recoup some of the cost. Or, you might want to just sell your old phone on eBay.
Let me know about other tips you’ve found to save money on your cell phone bill!