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Have you ever opened your cell phone bill and thought, “Wow, that was cheap”? Yeah, didn’t think so.
But take heart: It’s possible to save money on your cell phone bill without making drastic changes. Simple tweaks can lower your bill — leading to big savings over time.
1. Opt for autopay
Most wireless carriers will knock $5 to $10 off your bill if you sign up for automatic payments. T-Mobile applies its $5 discount per line, so a family of four could save $20 on their monthly bill by opting for autopay. With some carriers, including Verizon, you can’t use a credit card for automatic payments but must link a checking account or debit card instead.
2. Switch to prepaid
Skip the credit check and the expense of postpaid plans by switching to a prepaid plan or carrier.
Prepaid plans from Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T start at around $30 to $40 for a limited amount of data.
Alternatively, prepay-only carriers like Visible, Mint Mobile and Cricket offer lower-cost plans, some of which include unlimited data. Plans from these carriers run on the same national networks as the big three carriers.
3. Change or remove your cell phone insurance
Most cell phone carriers offer a variety of protection plans. Your options can include extended warranties, insurance and 24/7 tech support for any Bluetooth-enabled device in your home.
In most cases, the lowest tier of device protection has more than enough coverage. It protects you if your phone is lost, stolen or damaged. It’s also the least expensive option available through your wireless carrier, but the price will likely vary by device.
Remove insurance entirely and you’ll save anywhere from $80 to $300 per year, depending on your carrier and current protection plan. This is a great option if your phone is older and/or you don’t have a history of dropping devices on the ground.
4. Skip the phone upgrade
Your smartphone is built to last more than two years, but lots of people still trade up after 24 months. Doing so can lock you into another 18 to 24 months of installment payments for that new phone — adding $20 to $40 per month, per line to your bill. Keeping your smartphone for even a year after it's paid off can save you hundreds of dollars. So, wait until your phone truly needs to be replaced before upgrading. Then, consider a used cell phone to save even more money.
5. Cash in on discounts
Students, government employees, current and former service members, and employees of some companies may qualify for a discount on their cell phone service. The easiest way to find out: Call your carrier or stop into a store. You often need to verify your status — with an email address or pay stub, for example — to keep your discount active.
6. Add lines
This seems counterintuitive, because adding one or more lines will increase your bill. But splitting the cost with other people can lower the amount you each pay.
One plan with multiple lines makes obvious sense for families, but it could also be a good option for a close group of friends. Nominate an account holder to handle billing, and arrange for others to pay up via a peer-to-peer payment platform like Venmo or Paypal each month.
7. Update your service address
The taxes and fees added to your bill each month are based on where you live. If you’ve moved to a new state, or someone on your family plan has, you could save big just by updating your service address. And doing so is easy. In most cases, you simply log in to your account and change it under your user profile, just as you would for your billing address.