Paying too much for cell phone service? Here are 5 ways to save money, by Mary Hunt

If soaring costs are getting you down, finding realistic ways to reduce your expenses will keep your head above water and your spirits up. In this column, I’m going to share five ways to save money on your cell phone bill. By applying one or more of these tips, you may be able to cut your monthly bill in half.

NOPE. 1: CHANGE COMPANY

Unlimited plans from Verizon and AT&T are the most expensive, with T-Mobile coming in third. These service providers are popular among customers as they are familiar brands and offer good network coverage.

But here’s what most people don’t realize: The major wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) own and operate discount brands that use the same towers and charge lower monthly rates. AT&T owns Cricket Wireless. Verizon owns Visible. T-Mobile owns Metro by T-Mobile.

These discount companies are known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators, or MVNOs. They don’t own cell towers, but they partner with major carriers to provide affordable wireless service to their customers. Some MVNOs offer plans as cheap as $10 per month.

Call a few MVNOs to find out how much you could save. But before you jump ship with your current provider, make sure you’re not under a contract that would be expensive to terminate.

NOPE. 2: SWITCH PLANS WITH YOUR EXISTING PROVIDER

Don’t want to change mobile provider? You may be able to save money by changing your plans with the business you currently have. Call customer service and have them go over your current plan with you. You may be paying for a lot of services that you don’t use, like an unlimited data plan. But do you really use or even need so much data? More than likely, because you’re connecting to Wi-Fi at home and maybe even at work, you’re using a lot less data than you think. It won’t cost you a penny to find out! Make the call.

NOPE. 3: JOIN A FAMILY PLAN

Generally, family plans are cheaper per phone line than purchasing services on your own. For example, discount carriers Cricket and Metro by T-Mobile offered four lines of unlimited cell phone service for $25 per month per line, or just $100 per month. Or take a look at Visible, which offers Party Pay, a service that lets you put multiple people on one plan, with each person having a separate account and separate bill.

NOPE. 4: YOU CAN QUALIFY FOR A SPECIAL DISCOUNT

Some of the major wireless service providers offer discounts or special offers for teachers, the military, and seniors.

For example, by subscribing to T-Mobile’s Magenta Unlimited 55+ plan, customers 55 and older can get two lines with unlimited calls, texts and smartphone data for a flat rate of $70 per month – none annual service contract required. That’s a big saving!

NOPE. 5: ACCEPT AUTOMATIC PAYMENT

Put your monthly cell phone bill on autopay and you’ll likely get a small cashback each month. It may not seem like much, but even if it’s a measly $5 a month, that’s $60 a year. Not bad for such a simple gesture.

Tip: Before you jump in too quickly, call to find out if your provider offers an incentive to switch to automatic payment. Then, if you choose to go, automatically pay with your credit card, not a checking account or debit card for security. But even more, if you choose to cancel the automatic payment, it will be much easier to remove it from your credit card account.

For more, including links to sources, go to EverydayCheapskate.com/cellphone.

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments to https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living”.

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