Wireless subscribers have the opportunity to save big, thanks to the recent changes among service providers. “Big providers are offering new plans that decouple the cost of monthly service from the cost of the handset, and they are competing to steal each other’s customers,” according to ConsumerReports.org. The smaller providers are also successfully trying to win over new subscribers as they pioneer new ways to minimize bill costs. Consumer Reports identifies four ways in which you can reduce your monthly cellphone bill.
Drop the Contract
Consumer Reports advises against locking yourself into multi-year contracts. It may seem cheaper to lock in for two years of service to get a $650 iPhone 6 for just $200, “But it’s cheaper to buy the same phone through an installment plan, where you pay for the handset through monthly, no-interest payments over a couple of years.” The line access fees on installment plans are generally cheaper and don’t require you to put any money down. You can save even more once the phone is paid off, dropping your monthly bill by $30. If you’re locked into a contract with an expensive cancellation fee, go online to see if there are any other cost-efficient alternatives that your service provider offers. If not and you’re looking to switch providers, some wireless companies will buy you out of your contract. “In the fall, Sprint and T-Mobile offered several hundred dollars per line to consumers who brought a phone and switched from another carrier,” according to Consumer Reports.
Add Up Your Data Needs
Get an idea of how much data you require by reviewing old bills, consulting your carrier’s data calculator, or using a data-measuring app like My Data Manager. “Most people can get by with 1GB to 2GB per month, especially if they make ample use of Wi-Fi connections,” according to ConsumerReports.org. If someone on your plan travels often, however, or has limited Wi-Fi access, factor in 4GB to 5GB for their device.
Shop the Big Players
Smaller carriers are usually cheaper, but bigger providers usually have a better overall deal. In Consumer Reports’ survey, “Verizon Wireless earned decent marks across the board for voice, text, Web, and 4G reliability, and AT&T was a standout for 4G service.” T-Mobile, offered the best prices and ranked high for resolving issues promptly and for having a knowledgeable staff. Sprint scored low across all measures. Bigger providers are the best option if you’re seeking reliable networks and exceptional customer service.
Or Go Small
The most satisfied customers in the survey were those that went with the smaller companies, such as Consumer Cellular, Net10, Republic Wireless, Straight Talk, TracFone, Ting, and Virgin Mobile. Their significantly lower prices really attracted consumers, and some of them were said to have quality customer service too. “As an example of what you might pay, Consumer Cellular can provide a family of three with 1,200 voice minutes, 15,000 text messages, and 2.5GB of data for just $80 per month—for all three lines,” as reported on Consumer Reports. “You can buy a cheap flip phone from the company for about $35 or step up to advanced models such as the iPhone 6, which costs $150 up front, followed by 20 monthly payments of $25.” The smaller providers may vary in pricing approach. While Consumer Cellular has a set flat fee each month, Ting offers has a pay-as-you go plan. “You pay a barely-there access fee of $6 per phone line and cheap additional rates such as $9 for 500 minutes of calls and $19 for 1GB of data.” Because the bill depends on how many minutes and megabytes you use, you may find yourself paying even less.