How To Save Serious Money on Your Cell Phone Bill

Did you know the average American pays $100 a month for their cell phone service?

That’s thousands of dollars a year coming out of your household budget. Want to save some serious money? Check out these tips from the experts.

1. Don’t buy more data than you need

A lot of people get the unlimited data plan because they’re afraid to get hit with any overage charges so they pay the extra cash – just in case. What you need to do is a data audit. Check your cell phone bills for the last few months, average out the gigabytes you used and adjust your data plan accordingly. One-third of Americans don’t even use 1 gigabyte a month.

TIP: If you’re using a lot of data and want to cut down, keep in mind that social media, web surfing and email don’t use much data but streaming music, podcasts and watching videos gobble it up.

2. Don’t keep your old phone when you upgrade to a newer one

You can sell it or trade it in.

When I recently bought a new phone I found Gazelle online and they bought my 3-year old phone. They sent me a prepaid label, I sent the phone to them, and a few days later $50 showed up in my Paypal account. Nice!

If you’re looking for even quicker payment, go to Gadget Salvation. If you choose to get paid via PayPal, you’ll receive your payment within 48 hours. If you choose to get paid with a check, it will take a few days longer through the mail.

Glyde connects you directly with buyers. When you sell your phone, Glyde sends you a pre-paid shipping kit and you send it in. Three days after your buyer gets the phone, you can withdraw that money directly to your bank account, get paid in bitcoins, or receive a paper check.

TIP: Before doing business with any company online, be sure to read their reviews!

3. Keep your old phone and repurpose it

Before I even had the chance to publish this post I saw an episode of the Rachael Ray Show, where her guest, tech expert Chi-Lan Lieu, suggested a few ways to repurpose your old phone. These tips could come in really handy and save you some big bucks too. Now, keep in mind that it has to be a relatively newer phone. Six or eight years old is too old. Ok, here’s the tips:

  1. Turn It Into a Baby, Security or Pet Monitor
  2. Use As a Smart Remote Control For Your Home
  3. Turn It Into an MP3 Player or Radio Streamer
  4. Give It the GoPro Treatment

If any of these look like something you could use, go here to the Rachael Ray Show and see the video of this segment, that includes a written recap with all the info you’ll need.

3. Protect your phone with a case

It’s estimated that 1/3 of all phone screens are cracked. A phone case can save you a minimum of $100 that it would have cost you to get your screen replaced. Plus it’ll save your phone from a lot of wear and tear while you’re using it, so when you go to sell it you’ll get more money for it.

TIP: If you do crack your screen and you’re thinking about replacing it yourself, go to iFixit. They have do-it-yourself guides for Android and IOS devices. Browse through the guides and see if you feel comfortable doing it yourself. If you do, Google around for a replacement screen for your model. Don’t forget to check Ebay.

4. Get a Family Plan (you don’t actually need to be related to those in your “phone family”)

There’s usually a base price plus an extra fee per line. You’ll need to decide whether you want to share data or have separate allotments for each line based on each family member’s usage. Per-person costs can be less expensive with a family plan, so singles might want to create a “family” among friends or relatives to save money. Check WhistleOut for more about Family Plans.

5. Get your new phone online or on the phone

Carriers offer extra savings to people who sign up for new phones online or over the phone. If you go to the store to buy your phone the reps there are aggressively trained to upsell, plus they make a commission on the phone and extra features you buy (Apple reps don’t).

6. Periodically call your carrier and ask if you can save money by switching to a new plan

Competition in the cell phone world is huge and they will want to keep your business. They may offer to lower your monthly rate just for the asking. (As I was writing this I called my carrier to ask if there was a way I could save some money on our Family Plan. Just so happens that the company came out with a new plan the week before and now we’re paying $40 less a month!)

7. Take advantage of discounts

Most carriers offer state, federal, military, teacher, student and employee discounts that can drop the price of your plan by 15%-20% per month.

8. Follow your friends

By using the same carrier as your family and friends, you can often communicate for free. This way, you can talk and text as much as you want and it won’t cost you a dime.

9. Leave your current carrier – or threaten to leave

That’s right. It’s the same with your cable company or your car insurance company. They offer you a low, low promotional rate to switch to their company and as soon as they have you they start increasing your rate. It’s a good idea to check around every year or two and see if you can find a better deal by switching carriers. Sometimes just threatening to leave can do the trick.

TIP: Wireless companies want you as a customer. Their deals are getting better and better so be sure to do some comparison shopping before deciding on a new carrier to make sure you’re getting the best offer.

I know, I know, comparing carriers and their different plans can be sooo confusing and time-consuming. While researching for this post I found a website called WhistleOut who says “We compare 52 wireless & internet companies, so you don’t have to.” Just answer a few questions and WhistleOut will compare plans and tell you which is the best value.

I hope you try some (all) of these tips and save yourself some serious money. If you know of any other ways to save on your cell phone bill I’d love to hear them and add them to the list.