According to the statistics, Americans now value their cell phones more than their auto insurance.
The average cost of owning a cell phone has climbed from $50 per month in 2007 to $93 per month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the average cost of car insurance is $80 per month.
With 95% of Americans now using cell phones, there’s no going back to the days of the landline, which could possibly be had for less than $25 per month. There are, however, a few things you can do to save money on that small computer you usually have in your hand and possibly pay off your credit card debt faster.
Tips for Immediately Lowering Your Cell Phone Bills
Switching to a low-cost cell phone plan is obvious, but there are numerous more things you can do today to reduce your cell phone bill.
Simply monitoring your data consumption can help you save money. Overages accumulate. Verizon costs $15 for every additional GB, and they round up, so if you go over your limit by a single byte, you’ll be charged $15.
According to Domo, a data visualization software provider, mobile phones account for more than half of all web searches. That means that some of us are bound to exceed our data restrictions at some point.
The goal is not to limit your data use entirely, but to know when and where to utilize it. Here are some best-use examples:
Use Wi-Fi instead. Wi-Fi is available everywhere, so you should have no trouble keeping connected. When you stroll into a restaurant or a retail shop, it’s worth asking the staff about it. Applebee’s, Arby’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Target, BestBuy, and so on all provide free Wi-Fi. Make use of it, and keep your information for something vital.
Keep an eye on your background data usage. Some apps will consume your data even when you aren’t using them. Twitter and Facebook will preload videos for you to watch as you scroll down your stream. You may save data by going into your settings and disabling “auto-play” for these apps.
Disable Background App Refresh. Background app refresh keeps your apps’ content up-to-date by scanning for new information while you’re offline. This is why your Instagram feed changes every time you reopen the app after a little interruption. Go to your settings and set background app refresh to “off” or “Wi-Fi only” to avoid consuming the last few bytes of your valuable data.
Plans for a Family
The idea behind a family plan is straightforward: the more lines you add, the less you pay.
That means that if you and your partner have two different plans, you’re both squandering money.
The “Go Unlimited” plan from Verizon costs $75 per month (with autopay). When you add another line, the cost of both lines is reduced by $10. The price decreases with each new line added (up to four lines), so adding an uncle or an old college roommate will save you even more money. A Verizon Go Unlimited family plan with four or more lines costs $40 per month.
Is an unlimited plan beneficial?
It all depends on how you intend to use your phone. If it’s your primary source of entertainment and you’re streaming everything from the latest Solange song to YouTube cat fail compilations, an unlimited package can save you money.
However, if you primarily use your phone to send emails (10 KB per email) or surf websites (1 MB per page), forgo the unlimited plan.
Sprint’s Unlimited Plus plan includes 10GB of data for $70 per month, while their base plan includes 2GB of data for $40 per month, with an additional $15 per GB after you exceed your limit.
HD video streaming consumes 1.6 GB per hour (500MB per hour for SD), which implies that if you had the $40 per month plan, streaming one movie would consume your entire data allotment for the month. So, if you want to watch HD videos for a few hours from places with no Wi-Fi, such as a park or a bus, an unlimited subscription is the way to go.
Keep in mind that many unlimited programs are deceptive. What they really mean is “unlimited until you reach a certain limit,” at which point your speed will be throttled down, frequently to as low as 600 kbps.
You may still tweet, but forget about watching the latest Game of Thrones in 720p.
Is cell phone insurance necessary?
Insurance is only worthwhile if your phone is involved in a sequence of catastrophic situations.
Look into insurance if you’re continually leaving your phone in Ubers or dropping it in bathrooms. However, if you’ve gone six months without a scratch and handle your phone like an extension of your body, a robust case (between $30 and $60) is your best chance.
According to a consumer report poll conducted in 2016, 50% of respondents reported at least one serious cell phone catastrophe in the previous two years.
If you lose your phone and don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay for a replacement yourself. Carrying the latest iPhone XS will set you back roughly $1,000. Depending on the model, repairing a cracked screen can cost anywhere from $50 to $300.
If you’re so irresponsible, $13 per month for coverage doesn’t seem so bad. Remember that this amount does not include the deductible you will be charged for each claim, which can range between $19 and $299.
In addition, the number of claims you can file is usually limited. Verizon’s Total Mobile Protection Plan, for example, limits you to three claims per year.
Should you change carriers?
Although it is the most dramatic choice, moving to a smaller carrier will almost surely save you money. Smaller carriers are less expensive and use the same cell towers as larger carriers, so you won’t have to worry about poor signal quality.
Many of the smaller airlines have outstanding customer satisfaction ratings. TracFone Wireless achieved a score of 78 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, compared to T-Mobile (76) and Sprint (74).
The disadvantage is that during times of significant network congestion, your data may be deprioritized. You’ll also have a reduced selection of phones to choose from. Verizon has about 60 different phone models. Republic Wireless has 12 plans, none of which include the iPhone. If you must have an iPhone, look for lightly used, unlocked phones online.
Many carriers, including Republic Wireless, Google Project Fi, and others, will allow you to bring your own phone to use on their network. Simply ensure that the phone you purchase is compatible with the carrier of your choice. Older iPhone models will not be compatible with Google Project Fi; however, phones after the i5s should be fine.
I’m in need of money to pay my phone bill.
If you are having difficulty paying your phone bills, you may be eligible for Lifeline, a government program that provides subsidies to low-income families and individuals.
Lifeline is available to households earning at or below 135% of the federal poverty threshold. You qualify if you are a family of three with a household income of $38,874 or less. Bring proof of income, such as a tax return or three consecutive pay stubs.
Another way to qualify is if you or someone in your family receives federal assistance, such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps
- SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income.
- Federal Public Housing Administration (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Remember, each household can only have one lifeline.
Many of us are frequently on the move and require limitless data plans to keep up with news and work. Some of us, though, simply need our phones to call family or friends or to record something spontaneous, such as a toddler’s first steps or a passing celebrity.
These features do not have to be expensive. Spend as little money as possible on your smartphone. Use the money you save to pay down other debts.