Even though you might have paid very little for a brand new smartphone like the Galaxy S5, your cell phone bill can still really add up over time. What follows are a number of effective changes that you can make each month in reducing the amount you pay for cell phone service. Plus, ensuring that your phone connects automatically with the Wi-Fi system instead of using the mobile data can save you money as well. These are just a few ways that you can save a considerable amount of money with your cell phone. Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your mobile phone cost. Typically, contract-based plans lock customers into a 2-year service agreement at a fixed monthly price in exchange for subsidizing part of the cost of the cellphone. Prepaid cellphones are an alternative to pricey, 2-year contracts offered by the big wireless carriers. Pay-as-you-go plans allow customers to buy packs of minutes online, over the phone, or at select retailers. Monthly prepaid plans offer a set number of minutes, texts, and data usage (Internet) each month.
Prepaid cellphones used to be best only for consumers who dona€™t need a lot of minutes, dona€™t want the latest high-tech phone, or only want a phone for emergencies. T-Mobile offers 30 minutes of calling for $10, with the minutes expiring 90 days after activation. One Verizon plan charges a 99 cent "daily access fee" on days the phone is used, with unlimited mobile-to-mobile calls to Verizon customers and 10 cents-per-minute calls elsewhere.
Net10 used to simply offer a 10-cents-per-minute rate for any pack of minutes, but the company now offers more choices. Virgin Mobile offers a 300-minute plan with unlimited text and Web for $35 (Blackberry plans cost an extra $10).
Straight Talk, for $30, offers callers 1,000 anytime minutes, 1,000 text messages, 30 megabytes of data, and unlimited 411 calls. Boost Mobile's unlimited talk, text and data plan costs $50 a month, but with every 6 months of on-time payment callers receive a $5 discount, up to $15.
Most cellphones have a trial period during which you can return the phone and cancel the contract without penalty.
For more advice on how much data you need and how to cut data costs, visit CUBa€™s Data Guide. If you do have a landline and a cellphone, use your wireless plan to help reduce your overall costs. Lifeline, a federal program funded by telecom carriers to give low-income callers access to basic phone service, has been extended to wireless customers. To protect yourself, scour your bill each month for suspicious charges, such as "Premium Services," "Text Subscription," "Membership Fee," and other vaguely named services. If you think you are a victim, call the cramming company to dispute the charge (the companya€™s number should be on your bill). Finding ways to cut expenses means money in your pocket instead of going to the cell phone company. For most people, the savings may seem relatively small at first, but over time they can really add up. Find the Data Plan that Best Suits Your Needs: Too many people choose “Unlimited” or “Premium” plans when they don’t actually use nearly the amount of data that is required. Use Data to Save Money: For example, if you download Skype to your mobile device, you can save money using it instead of your cell network.


Go Pre-Paid: If you talk a lot on the phone, then having a no-contract unlimited plan may be the best way to save money over time.
Bundle Your Text Messages: Considering that carriers can charge about 20 cents per text message, it may pay to have them bundled if the savings are right. Click here for free cell phones and see if you can save more money every month from now on. Prepaid plans dona€™t require a contract or a credit check, and dona€™t slap customers with exit or overage fees.
Customers pay the provider each month, but arena€™t locked into a contract and can exit the plan at any time. Contract plans generally offer the latest model smartphones and can be a better deal for families who want multiple lines. Thirty-three cents-per-minute is a bad rate, but at $3.33 a month, this is a good "emergency phone" option. While the 25 cent-per-minute rate isn't cheap, at about $8 a month, a low-usage caller won't find a plan for much less.
One deal includes 750 minutes of talk time for $25, with the minutes expiring after 30 days.
Some refurbished phones are free with the purchase of airtime, but smart phones can cost up to $200. However, with certain contract-based plans, if you go over your allotted minutes youa€™ll pay hefty overage fees of up to 49 cents per minute. Any time you are surfing the web, checking emails, streaming music or posting on social media, your phone is using up "data." Data costs can take up a significant portion of your bill, which is why it is important to accurately gauge your usage per month and then choose a plan that most closely matches your data needs. Any cellphone, as long as it's charged and within range of a cellphone tower, can dial 911.
For example, if you consistently have a lot of wireless minutes left at the end of each month, use them to make long-distance calls from home.
If your cell phone battery is dead and your home loses power, you wona€™t be able to make a call.
Online contests, surveys and spam text messages are just a few of the ways scammers gain access to your bill. Considering that roughly 87% of all Americans have a mobile phone and pay on average about $71 per month, the key to saving money is finding the right plan that fits your needs and adjusting your behavior when using your cell phone.
Skype is particularly effective with international rates as compared to most cell phone plans. Heavy texting teenagers might be better served with an unlimited plan, but if you only text every so often then you might want to go with a smaller fee structure that allows you to save more money. Some plans include free mobile-to-mobile calling, free or discounted night and weekend minutes, and picture and video messaging. To access the minutes, the caller typically enters a code into his or her phone, recharging it with a purchased amount of talk time.
Some companies, like Boost Mobile, offer monthly plans lower in price than comparable offers from large carriers, and without the 2-year agreement. This could be a good plan for someone who doesn't use the phone every day (avoiding the access fee), or has a lot of friends and family on Verizon's network.
The company's $40 monthly "Premium" plan includes 400 anytime minutes and unlimited night and weekend minutes, with a one-time $35 activation fee. This could be a good deal for callers who tend to text and surf the web more than they talk on the phone. Still, this is a good deal for those who want the bells and whistles without a two-year contract.


Asking friends and neighbors about wireless coverage in your area is a good place to start. A CUB analysis of more than 4,000 bills showed that the average Illinois wireless customer paid for more than 6 hours of unused minutesa€”enough to drive from Chicago to Cairo, IL while talking on the phone. Keep in mind that authorities may not be able to determine your exact location if you call from a cellphone, as they do when receiving calls from a landline. Plus, in an emergency, authorities may not be able to locate your exact location when calling from a cellphone, as they do when receiving landline calls. They take advantage of complex bills to hide fradulent chargesa€”usually less than $10 a montha€”among other fees.
For those who like to text, they can get a phone that includes a QWERTY keyboard that doesn’t have an operating system, so that is basically a free service which can reduce your costs as well.
This also applies to people who don’t use their cell phones much as a pre-paid plan can save them money over time.
With some plans minutes expire after a certain period of time if the customer doesna€™t buy more. Minutes expire every 60 days, text messages are 10 cents each, and Voice Mail service costs an additional $3 per month.
Read your cellphone bill each month, and if youa€™re consistently below your allotted number of minutes, ask your carrier if you can downgrade to a plan with fewer minutes. The carrier may require a police report and a deductible before replacing your phone, and may only give you a used phone in return.
Depending on your calling habits, you may be able to drop your regular long-distance completely. Plus, you can always unlock your device and switch to another plan if it suits your budget better. However, many of these pre-paid plans use a monthly fee, so look for ways to extend the time. Similarly, if your cellphone package comes with free voice mail, dona€™t pay the monthly fee for the same service on your landline.
Also consider that there might be some disadvantages as well, so do your research first before making the switch. As long as you have data service (cellular or WiFi) you can send text to any smartphone that has Whatsapp installed. Give friends and family your wireless number and tell them to leave messages in that voicemail box. If youa€™re not ready to ditch the landline entirely, check with your landline company to get the lowest plan possible.
If most of your family and friends are using iOS device you can simply use iMessage to do text.
For example, AT&T offers some customers the Consumera€™s Choice plan, designed by CUB to fit the needs of the average landline caller.
For long-distance, beyond 15 miles from home, you can often find rates as low as 2 to 3 cents per minute.



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