Over the past ten or so years, we've seen the average cost for wireless service decrease significantly. In fact, we're paying approximately 23 percent less per line today than we were paying in 2008, which should make paying that pesky bill each month a little easier.
And yet, many of us continue to feel like we're overpaying. No matter how "affordable" the wireless carriers try to make their plans, we continue to wish they were cheaper. Fortunately, you don't have to wait for the carriers to drop their cell phone plans.
As it turns out, you can make your monthly wireless plan cheaper right now. These are the seven best ways to lower your cell phone bill in 2019.
1. Keep Your Phone
To keep the cost of your bill as low as possible, keep your current device as long as possible. And if you're already on an equipment installment plan (EIP), you can reduce the cost of your bill by paying off the remaining balance of your device.
According to reports, more and more people are keeping their phones longer. In fact, the average smartphone is nearly three years old by the time it's replaced with a newer model. Some analysts point to rising prices attached to the latest smartphones, but the fact that instalment plans will raise your monthly cell phone bill is surely another consideration.
2. Go Unlimited
Before T-Mobile brought back unlimited plans, mobile data was quite expensive. Users who weren't lucky enough to be "grandfathered" into truly unlimited data had high-cost, low-cap data buckets forced onto them. With these buckets, each user got an allotment of data, after which any additional data usage incurred overage charges.
Fortunately, unlimited data is all but the norm now, which has made unlimited data plans quite affordable by comparison.
All major US carriers offer unlimited data right now, and each carrier's rates for unlimited plans are somewhat comparable. If you have an outdated plan, consider getting a quote for a new plan by visiting one of your carrier's retail locations. There's a good chance that switching to a new plan will make your bill cheaper.
3. Discounts & Promotions
After you've gotten rid of EIP and changed your plan, what can you do next? The answer: discounts and promotions.
You could be eligible for discounts that you don't even know about. If you're in the Armed Forces, for example, most carriers will discount your monthly service plan; while the amount of the discount can vary, 25 percent isn't uncommon.
Similarly, many companies have partnerships with the wireless carriers, allowing their employees to get discounted wireless service. All four of the major US carriers - AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile - offer such programs; just click on the link that corresponds to your carrier to check eligibility.
Two other discounts worth mentioning, and which are very easy to get, are discounts for automatic bill payment and paperless billing. Typically, these discounts range from $5 to $10, depending on the criteria and the number of lines on your account.
Finally, many carriers offer promotional plans that are available for a limited time. These plans usually offer the same features as the carrier's standard plans but at a lower monthly rate. Best of all, once you enroll in a promotional plan, you're "grandfathered" into the plan once it goes away, which means the plan cannot be taken from you. You'll retain the perks of the plan and its discount until you switch to another plan.
4. Share Your Plan
It might seem counterproductive to reduce your bill by adding more lines to your account, but hear us out.
For a single line of service, the cost of a monthly bill is higher per line than a family plan. The reason for this is because carriers offer reduced rates for additional lines of service. So when you add additional lines to an account, the cost per line actually goes down.
For this reason, adding additional lines for family or friends can be a great way to reduce the average cost per line. If each person pays for his or her own line, then you'll likely end up paying much less than you are for a single-line plan. Of course, this is contingent on the fact that each line doesn't have additional charges, like an EIP, insurance, and other costs.
5. Drop the Extras
Wireless service plans don't usually seem unreasonable when you look at the base price. But after the add-ons
- e.g. equipment installment plans, device protection plans, international calling, etc. - the plan becomes a lot more expensive.
Many of the add-ons that people attach to their plans are unnecessary. A prime example would be the enhanced voicemail services that most carriers offer; for many people, the additional cost isn't warranted by what little real-world value that enhanced voicemail offers.
Depending on your device, the protection plan is another add-on that you might consider eliminating, too. It's nice to have simply for the peace of mind, but device protection - which most people never end up using - increases the cost of your monthly bill by $10 or potentially even more.
6. Shop Other Carriers
If you've paid off your device, changed your plan, applied your discounts, removed the add-ons, and you're still not happy with the cost of your monthly bill, then it's time to start shopping other carriers.
Changing wireless carriers is a hassle that most people don't want to deal with, but if you feel like your bill is too high, it's a good idea to at least see what else is available. At the very least, you can probably use your knowledge of other carriers cell phone plans to negotiate a better rate with your current carrier.
When your carrier has done all it can do, switching providers might be one of the only options left. But the good news is that it's becoming quite commonplace for carriers to offer special rates or promotions for new customers who are transferring from one of their competitors. In fact, both Sprint and T-Mobile have periodic promotions for new customers where they'll pay off the remainder of your current EIP. Keep an eye out for such promotions; they may offer you the best opportunity to make your move, especially if you have an EIP on your current plan.
7. Go Prepaid
Going prepaid is arguably one of the best routes to take if your priority is to save money on your monthly wireless bill. Why? Because
- (a) you can get basically the same plans that the postpaid cell phone plans offer, but
- (b) these plans are almost always cheaper.
AT&T, which is considered one of the most expensive of the main US wireless providers, and Cricket Wireless. Currently, AT&T's single-line unlimited plan costs $80 per month; if you sign up for autopay and paperless billing that drops to $70 per month within two to three billing cycles.
By comparison, Cricket Wireless - which runs on AT&T's mobile network and, for all intents and purposes, offers indistinguishable coverage - offers a nearly identical plan that starts at $55 per month, or $50 after the autopay discount. This is a minimum difference of $20 per month before taking the rising taxes and fees added to postpaid service plans into consideration.
This discrepancy can be seen across all the major carriers and their prepaid networks. So if you're looking to save money on your bill, switching to a prepaid service provider offers the greatest potential for savings.
Cell phones have become an essential part of daily life. At any given time, there's a good chance that we - or the people around us - are watching videos, posting on social media, or browsing the web. As long as the cell phone is a central part of our daily lives, we're going to need wireless service plans.
But that doesn't mean we're forced to pay high rates. As it turns out, there are many ways to make your cell phone bill more affordable, whether it's with discounts, unlimited data, or by converting to a family plan.