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5 Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill

Small changes to your payment method, insurance package and even service address could add up to big savings on your cell phone bill.
September 27, 2016
Bills, Personal Finance
4 Ways to Lower Next Month's Cell Phone Bill
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

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 lower your charges before your next billing cycle.

Simple tweaks can make small dents in your bill — and those savings add up over time.

» SIGN UP: NerdWallet can help you save money by lowering your bills

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. Some carriers, including Verizon, require you pay by check or debit card to receive the discount.

2. Switch to prepaid

You can slash your monthly cell phone costs by switching to a prepaid carrier. Consider these examples:

    • A 5GB plan with Cricket Wireless costs $40 per month. The same plan with AT&T, which owns Cricket, is $80 per month without the autopay discount.
    • Four lines of unlimited data cost $100 per month with MetroPCS, but $180 per month (before autopay discounts) with its parent company, T-Mobile.
    • Verizon customers can get 3GB of prepaid data for $40 per month or 2GB of postpaid data for $55 per month.

Prepaid carriers typically charge full retail price upfront for new phones, rather than billing you in installments over 18 to 24 months. You can save on the upfront cost by keeping your current phone, if it’s compatible, or purchasing a used device.

» MORE: See NerdWallet’s picks for best prepaid cell phone plans

3. 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.

The table below shows the cost of sharing an unlimited plan versus going solo. When multiple unlimited plans were offered, the cheapest plan was used. Prices include autopay discounts, but do not include taxes and fees.

» MORE: How to share your cell phone bill with your roommates

4. 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 full-blown 24/7 tech support for any Bluetooth-enabled device in your home.

In most cases, standard insurance provides 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.

Switching from a premium protection plan to basic insurance coverage will save you a few dollars each month. Remove insurance entirely and you’ll save $80 to $180 per year, depending on your carrier and current protection plan.

Dropping insurance could be risky if you have a brand-new phone, but it can make sense for older devices. That’s because insurance providers for major cell phone carriers typically charge deductibles ranging from $100 to $300.

After about a year, the deductible and the accumulated monthly premiums add up to more than the phone is worth. At that point, you can typically save money by opting out of insurance and buying a used phone if yours is lost or stolen.

If forgoing a policy makes you feel vulnerable, consider an alternative, such as AppleCare+ or SquareTrade.

You could be saving up to $50 per month on your bills. See how much you could save.

NerdWallet can help you lower your bills and find you more ways to save money.

5. 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.

A person who moves from Washington state to Oregon would save an average of $170 per year in wireless taxes and fees, according to a June 2016 NerdWallet study. Migrating from Illinois to Wisconsin? You’d pocket $103.72 in savings on average. Those figures are based on an individual cell phone bill; the savings would be greater on a family plan.

Updating your service address 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.

NerdWallet members save money by lowering their cell phone, cable and internet bills. See how much you could save as a NerdWallet member.

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