5 Ways to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill
Learn 5 clever ways to cut the cost of using your cell phone, without sacrificing any of the great features you’ve come to expect.
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Savings Tip #3: Log On to WiFi
Streaming videos and downloading large files over a cell network uses a large amount of data. If you have a smartphone or other mobile device without an unlimited data plan, you typically get charged extra when you exceed your monthly data cap.
One way to avoid running out of data before the end of the month is to set up an alert that warns you when you get close to your limit. Another is to always use WiFi when you’re surfing the web at home or in a public place that has it. WiFi doesn't use up your data allocation so it's a safe and fast way to do the data heavy lifting. Just make sure you don't use free or public WiFi for personal finance. Check out Tech Talker's episode on The Dangers of Unsecured Wifi Hotspots for more info.
Savings Tip #4: Turn Off Roaming
You might assume that if you don’t make or receive cell phone calls while you’re traveling outside of the country, that you won’t be charged. However, your smartphone may still connect with other networks in foreign countries and use data automatically for things like checking email or the local weather.
To make sure your phone isn’t too smart for your own good, turn off data roaming in your devices’ settings before your trip starts. You’ll still be able to get wireless internet where it’s available in other countries, but you won’t get charged extra for data roaming.
Savings Tip #5: Ditch Your Contract
A growing number of consumers are choosing month-to-month cell phone plans instead of long-term contracts. This gives you more flexibility, often at a lower price.
However, going without a contract usually means that you have to buy your own phone instead of getting one that’s subsidized by your provider. But you might still come out ahead.
Let’s say your cell phone company sells you a brand new shiny smartphone for $200 with a 2-year contract. If your monthly rate is $60 a month for those 2 years, you’ve paid $1,440 plus $200 for the phone, for a grand total of $1,640.
On the other hand, you could buy your own smartphone for about $600 and get a monthly plan for around $40 a month. You’d pay $960 plus $600, or $1,560, which is less than a contract, over a 2-year period. And you wouldn’t be locked into an agreement, so you’d have the ability to switch providers or phones if it doesn’t work out.
If you’re currently stuck in a contract and want to avoid paying an early termination fee to get out, consider using online marketplaces such as CellSwapper.com or TradeMyCellular.com. They match match people who want to ditch contracts with people who want to start them.
As you can see, there are many ways to save money on your cell phone bill. Start with the 5 ways that I've recommended here, but as we all know, technology changes almost daily. So stay vigilant for new options that may suit you or your family's needs.
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This episode was written by Susan Johnston and edited by Laura Adams. Susan is a freelance writer who covers personal finance for US News & World Report, CreditSesame.com, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @UrbanMuseWriter.