How to Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill
Take Control of Runaway Charges With These Money-Saving Tips
If you've been on auto-pilot when it comes to your cell phone plan, now is the time to reassess and do some comparison shopping. Not only have rates dropped in recent months, but even existing plans often carry unnecessary service charges that you can cut to lower your monthly bill. Here's how:
Analyze your usage – Pull out your last couple of bills and analyze how many minutes you've been using, how many text messages you wrote, and who you call. Once you have a clear picture of your usage habits, see if you could downsize your plan. Do you really need that unlimited plan? Billshrink.com discovered in a recent survey that most people use far less than they're paying for. Even if go over your limit once or twice a year, you'll end up saving on monthly rates and come out ahead during the lifetime of your contract.
Also, if you find yourself racking up minutes talking to one special someone, consider switching to their cell provider (particular if you call multiple people who happen to use the same company) or see if they're interested in signing up with your carrier to get free in-network calling.
Cut service charges – Once you've determined how much of your available minutes you're using, look for extra fees. If you have phone insurance but tend to buy inexpensive phones that you keep for a year or two, you probably shouldn't be spending the $5 a month on the chance you'll lose your phone. Insurance does make sense for those who upgrade often to buy, say, a $500 smart phone.
Don't be afraid to ask your cell carrier about other fees. A Universal Connectivity Charge, for example, isn't actually required by law and isn't a government tax. Ask your provider if these types of charges can be removed. Obviously, you'll have to pay the taxes on your bill, but all bets are off for other service charges and fees.
Check out the competition – Look at competing plans from other providers and your current one. Do a quick comparison online at sites like myrateplan.com. Another excellent online tool is billshrink.com, which analyzes your current bill and suggests alternatives.
Ask your current provider about switching to a better plan without extending your contract. More competitive rates have made major carriers amenable to switching without contract extensions to existing members. And you won't know unless you ask.