How To Lower Your Cell Phone Bill

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

When the bill for your phone starts to creep up as they often do, knowing how to lower your cell phone bill is a critical part of sticking to your budget.

The good news is that it’s possible to save money both on your cell phone and on your cell phone bill without giving up much, if any, of the value you receive from your cell phone service.

You can learn how to lower your cell phone bill by keeping your current phone, evaluating your plan, and researching other carriers to learn what the best options are for keeping that bill as low as possible.

Table Of Contents

Consider Keeping Your Current Phone Or Buying An Older Model

I remember I used to get my cell phone for free by signing a two-year contract with my cell phone service provider. Technically, the price of the phone was included in a two-year contract, but the company didn’t offer better rates for not signing a contract. It simply made sense to upgrade my phone every two years.

Within the last few years, cell phone service providers moved away from these contracts because smartphone prices skyrocketed. Now, cell phone service providers either make you purchase your cell phone outright, lease your cell phone from the company or purchase your phone on a monthly payment plan.

The best way to cut your cell phone device cost is by purchasing a cell phone that is a couple of generations out of date. For instance, consider buying the iPhone 7 instead of the iPhone X. It could save you hundreds of dollars. If you don’t want to give up the latest technology, consider upgrading your phone less often. Take care of your phone and make it last for two or three cycles rather than upgrading every year.

Finally, consider buying a non-premium phone. While Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhones are typically considered the top-of-the-line phones, other cell phone manufacturers make great hardware that can accomplish many of the same things for hundreds of dollars less. Personally, I use a Motorola G5S Plus which was less than $250.

Consider Buying A Phone Secondhand

Cell phones are expensive, definitely if you’re buying them directly from your service provider. If you’re sick of paying out the nose to upgrade your phone, try giving Gazelle a chance.

Gazelle buys pre-owned cell phones, as well as other electronics, and sells them to consumers at a discounted price. Finding your next cell phone is easy. Just choose your preferred model from Gazelle’s drop-down menus and find a phone at your price point.

When buying from Gazelle, it is important to make sure that the phone you purchase is compatible with your cell phone provider’s service. The best way to do this is to ensure that the “carrier” section of the phone you plan to purchase reflects your carrier or states that the phone is unlocked.

Why pay full price for your next phone when Gazelle could save you hundreds?

Take a look at the phones available on Gazelle.

Evaluate Your Monthly Plan

After you evaluate money-saving moves you can make with your device, it’s time to take a look at your monthly plan.

Do you currently need the plan you’re signed up for? Some people sign up for unlimited data plans but hardly use any data because they’re always on WiFi. If that’s you, see if downgrading to a smaller data plan could save you money.

If you’re a light cell phone user in general, consider switching to a prepaid plan that only charges you for the minutes, texts, and data you use. However, if you’re always getting charged overage fees, consider switching to an unlimited plan that meets your needs if it will cut your bill down after you quit paying overage fees.

Gen MobileStraightforward plans starting at $10/month. Get $5 off any order with coupon CHOOSEFI.
Mint MobilePre-paid cell service that is a steal of a deal if you are ok with pre-paying for a whole year.
Republic WirelessReliable cell service provider that runs on the Sprint/ T-mobile network. They offer low-cost monthly plans and quality service.
TelloRising US prepaid wireless carrier on the Sprint network. No contract, no fees, no fuss. Building your own plan from $5 to $39/month.
Total WirelessThis provider offers unlimited talk, text and data on Verizon's network for $25/month. Plans are prepaid and go month-to-month. No contracts.

Negotiate Your Monthly Plan Rate

If you’re happy with your current cell phone plan and the number of minutes, texts, and data you get, you should still take a look at your plan.

Over the last few years, there has been a major war to take customers away from their current cell phone providers. This has resulted in lower prices for new customers.

However, prices for current customers usually aren’t reduced unless you ask for a lower price. Call your provider to see if a cheaper plan offering the same benefits is available. You may be surprised to hear you’ve been overpaying.

Have Someone Else Negotiate For You

Do you hate negotiating with companies? No one likes calling and talking to call center representatives, so you definitely aren’t alone. If you’d rather pay someone else to see if they can lower your cell phone bill for you without lowering the service you get, consider using a service like Trim.

Trim will negotiate your cell phone bill (and other bills) on your behalf in exchange for 33% of the yearly savings they secure. So if they save you $120 a year on your cell phone bill, they take $40. Trim's business is negotiating so they know the best offers out there and how to negotiate to get those deals.

If you know you won’t call to negotiate, using Trim is a no-brainer. Signing up with them is free and if they can’t secure any savings for you, you don’t pay anything.

Related: Trim Review: Bill Negotiation Without The Hassle

Think About Switching Carriers

At first, switching carriers can seem expensive–and it might very well be. With pricey fees to break your contract and the pain of settling up payments on your cell phone, there is no wonder why many people feel like they are trapped with their current carrier. However, there's nothing to stop you from shopping around, finding a better price for your monthly service or phone or both, and approaching your old carrier about matching the deal Before you switch, why not ask your new carrier if they can help make the process easier on you financially?

If you are purchasing your cell service through a major carrier like Verizon, chances are that they are willing to help. Because they want your business–and definitely don’t want to give it to their competitors–they’ll likely do everything in their power to beat other offers. This could mean cheaper service, discounted or free cell phones, and other free perks.

Want to save the most money possible? Consider switching cell phone carriers. While you may be able to save some money switching from one of the big four carriers to another, often the best savings come by switching to an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).

MVNOs usually rent network capacity from one or more of the big four networks and offer prepaid or other types of plans at a lower cost. If you’re happy with your current cell coverage, look for an MVNO that uses the same network but offers a plan that better suits your needs in terms of minutes, texts and data as well as price.

Some MVNOs offer special features too. Republic Wireless, Mint MobileGen Mobile, and FreedomPop are all MVNOs. We've taken a hard look at each one so you can see which might work best for you.

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless can help you cut your phone bill down to as little as $15 a month without sacrificing quality! They won’t even try to rope you into a pesky contract. So, why pay hundreds through your current cell phone provider when you could save it for your future?

Republic Wireless offers a low-cost plan that is truly customizable to your needs. For $15 a month you will receive unlimited talk and text. If you are a data junkie like most of us, you can purchase up to 15GB of data a month for $5 per GB.

If you plan on staying with Republic Wireless for a whole year, you can even pay in advance to save yourself some extra cash. For their most basic plan, which included just unlimited talk and text, yearly subscribers can save an extra $30 per year.

Related: Cut Your Cell Phone Bill: Republic Wireless Review

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile is a low-cost cell phone service provider that can fit into even the tightest of budgets. With plans starting at $15 a month, giving them a try is a risk-free choice. Mint Mobile even backs up its service with a seven-day guarantee. If you find yourself regretting signing up within seven days of beginning your service, they will refund you in full.

Mint Mobile offers three-, six-, or twelve-month plans. These plans get less expensive per month the longer the length of the plan that you purchase. This means that you will save more money by paying for a year upfront, then you would by just purchasing a three-month plan.

Mint Mobile’s first plan, which costs $25 a month after its intro offer, includes unlimited talk and text as well as 3GB of data. If you purchase the same plan, but for six months of service, your monthly cost goes down to $20. If you pay for a whole year of service, the plan will only cost you the intro offer rate of $15 per month. Buying a year’s worth of service could save you $120 a month.

Learn more about Mint Mobile's cell phone plans

Gen Mobile

If you are looking for a way to dramatically decrease the amount of money that you spend on your cell phone bill, Gen Mobile might just be your answer. One of the most impressive things about Gen Mobile’s service is that it knows no borders. All of their plans allow you to text internationally and the majority allow you to call internationally as well.

Gen Mobile lets you pay as you go, or three months in advance, for their very basic phone plans. If you decide to pay in advance, expect to save more than you would by purchasing your service monthly.

Gen Mobile’s simplest plan, which costs only $5 a month, does not include anything but unlimited texting. For those who don’t enjoy talking on the phone or using data, this could be the perfect low-cost plan. The only setback of this plan is that it is only available monthly and does not qualify for a three-month discount.

If you are in search of a plan that is more advanced, Gen Mobile can help you with that too. Their $25 a month plan, which includes unlimited talk and text, as well as 3GB of data, might be right for you. If you decide to buy the three-month plan, you will pay only $20 a month. This is a savings of $60.

Related: Cell Service Starting At $5 A Month: Gen Mobile Review

FreedomPop

For some, FreedomPop is the perfect free cell phone plan. Yup, you heard that right. FreedomPop has a free plan that could have you paying absolutely nothing to enjoy your phone. With the support of wifi calling, which can save you minutes and data, FreedomPop is a viable option for a low-cost phone plan.

FreedomPop is popular for its free cell service plan. If you purchase your phone through them, they will give you 200 minutes, 500 texts, and 500MB of data a month for free. As you add on additional data or opt-in for unlimited talk and text, the plans monthly rates go up.

Here are three of their most basic plans:

Check out what FreedomPop has to offer.

The Cons Of Switching Carriers

Sometimes switching carriers can really expensive and sometimes it can be to your benefit.

If you have a contract with your current carrier, read it carefully. Check for fees and payments that might be due if you break the contract before the planned termination date. If there would be money due, contact your carrier directly. Tell them that you would like to switch and ask if there is anything they can do to release you from your contract. Sometimes carriers are willing to negotiate a smaller fee with you and let you leave. Other times they might insist that you pay exactly what is due.

As opposed to asking to be released from your contract, you can also ask for your carrier to match another carrier's cost so that you're paying less but staying with the same provider. If you purchased your current cell service through a major carrier like Verizon, chances are better that they are willing to help. Because they want your business–and definitely don’t want to give it to their competitors–they’ll likely do as much as they can to beat other offers. This could mean cheaper service, discounted or free cell phones, and other free perks.

Can I Bring My Own Phone If I Switch

When switching to a new carrier, it can sometimes be hard to know if you are able to bring your own phone or if you must buy one. Luckily, all four of the carriers we highlighted above give you the option to bring your own phone–which will save you hundreds in the long run! You may have to purchase a new sim card or pay an activation fee, but the savings are surely worth it.

If you are in need of a new phone, each carrier has an online store where you can purchase some of today’s best devices at reasonable prices.

Start Saving Today

Saving money on your cell phone bill isn’t hard if you haven’t been paying attention to getting the best possible deal over the last few years.

Figure out where you’re willing to cut back or call up to negotiate your cell phone plan and start saving today. Then invest that money. You’ll reach FI even faster thanks to the reduced recurring expense.

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How To Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

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