Everything seems more expensive these days, so it’s only natural that people are looking for ways to save money. If you’re trying to cut costs, reviewing your cell phone bill is a great place to start. While almost everyone uses a cell phone, most of us don’t give our cell phone bills as much attention as we should. Read on for eight quick and easy tips to help you lower your phone bill.
How Much is the Average Cell Phone?
First things first, let’s set some expectations. According to JD Power, as of June 2023, the average monthly cost for a cell phone plan in the U.S. is $144/month. Of course, phone bill costs can vary widely based on several factors, including your service provider, your plan, and extra perks like streaming services, AAA, premium music, etc.
1. Sign Up for a Family Plan or Group Plan
All big phone carriers, including T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T, offer family plans. In a nutshell, family plans give discounted rates to people sharing one plan. Despite how it sounds, a family plan does not need to be limited to your literal family members; you can get a group of friends together, too. Each plan must have one primary user responsible for paying the bill. Usually the more people on the plan, the better the savings. The number of “family” members allowed on a family plan varies by wireless carrier; we’ve seen a limit of four members, while some wireless providers allow considerably more.
As if that wasn’t enough, many family plans offer cool perks like subscriptions to streaming services. Who says you can’t pick your family? Get a group of friends together, call them family, and get ready to save money.
What Family Plans Should I Use?
Not sure which wireless carrier and family plan is right for you? Try Navi’s free Plan Finder, which allows you to choose up to eight lines and compare the best deals on family plans from top carriers.
2. Audit Your Phone Bill
Another great way to lower your phone bill is to perform an audit of your monthly payments. Most of us pay our phone bills month after month without thinking about them.
Do you know exactly what you are being charged for each month, and if all these charges are fair? This is where auditing comes in.
Auditing your phone bill means reviewing your bill online and ensuring your charges are fair and accurate. Your monthly bill should be about the same month to month. If, while auditing, you notice a change, you can make sure this is not a mistake or something worse like phone bill cramming.
What is phone bill cramming? Cramming is an illegal practice of making confusing phone bills to charge consumers in ways they have not authorized — basically, tricking them into paying for nothing. By auditing, you can make sure your bill is fair.
You can also look at your bill's breakdown and consider if you need everything you are being charged for. For example, if you are not a big texter and you’re currently paying for unlimited texts, switching your plan could help lower your phone bill.
3. Check Your Data Usage
Any time you go on the internet from your phone without connecting to a Wi-Fi network, you’re using cell phone data. Yep, that’s right, scrolling social media apps, navigating via Google Maps or Waze, reading online reviews, and shopping your favorite e-retailers from your phone all use cellular data when not connected to Wi-Fi. And, unless you’re on an unlimited data plan, your phone plan will have a cap or maximum amount of data you can use each month before being charged overages. Check your data usage to ensure you’re not regularly going over your allotted amount of data. Almost all providers have an easy way to monitor your data usage. Following are two examples.
- How to Check Data Usage on iPhone: If you have an iPhone, go to “Settings,” choose “Cellular,” and then select “Mobile Data.”
- How to Check Data Usage on Android: If you are using an Android device, go to “Settings,” choose “Network and Internet,” and then select “Data Usage.”
A great way to decrease your data usage is to use Wi-Fi when you are accessing the internet from your phone. By connecting to Wi-Fi more frequently, you can limit your data usage on your phone, making it less likely that you will go over your data cap.
If your phone bill audit reveals that you regularly go over your data cap, you can try to change your habits (but we all know that can be easier said than done). Alternatively, you can upgrade to a plan with more data or switch to an unlimited data plan. While the monthly fee for plans with more data or unlimited data will cost more than plans with less data, exceeding your data regularly subjects you to overage costs, making it the least cost-effective approach of all. That’s why choosing a plan with the right amount of data could actually lower your phone bill in the long run. In addition to our free, unbiased Plan Finder below that helps you find the best deal on the right plan based on your needs (not the providers’ needs), we also suggest checking out our comparison pages to understand how the wireless carriers and their plans stack up:
4. Change Your Cell Phone Insurance Coverage
Most carriers and manufacturers offer cell phone insurance plans that protect you if your cell phone is lost or broken. While potentially useful, insurance increases your monthly cell phone bill. If you’re comfortable taking the risk, you can forgo cell phone insurance to lower your monthly bill. However, that means you won’t be covered in the case of loss, theft, or anything outside the manufacturer’s warranty. It is important to note that while removing phone insurance can lower your phone bill, it could also cost you in the event that you unexpectedly have to fix or replace your device. You’ll find more on this topic in our article Is Phone Insurance Worth It? — If you decide to go without cell phone insurance, we recommend getting a good phone case and screen protector.
5. Use Autopay
When you set up autopay, the monthly amount you owe your cell phone company will automatically be taken from your bank account or charged to your credit card on a specific date every month.
Enabling automatic payments means you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay your bill every month (just don’t forget to review it from time to time for accuracy!). So, how does autopay lower your phone bill? Most wireless service providers offer discounts to those who use autopay. For this reason, going paperless with autopay can be a win, win, win—good for the environment, good for the wireless carriers, and good for your budget.
6. Use a No Contract Phone Plan
A no-contract phone plan is a plan where users pay upfront, usually once a month or month to month, and do not have to make any long-term commitments that would require them to be with a carrier for a specific amount of time. When you’re searching for a no-contract phone plan, you may also see this type of plan referred to as a prepaid plan.
What Are the Benefits of a No Contract Phone Plan?
With a no-contract phone plan, you only pay for what you need because you can decide how much talk, text, and data is best for you, and at the end of every month, you can reevaluate your needs. You can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time. If a better deal from the carrier you’re with is availalbe, you can hop right on it. Or if a different carrier comes out with an offer that will save you money, you can jump ship and switch carriers with ease.
7. Try a Budget Carrier or MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are wireless carriers we’ve all heard of, and for this reason, they are often referred to as the “Big Three.” But some lesser-known options are rising in popularity, and using a smaller company can be a way to save money. Budget carriers or MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) use the Big Three’s networks while offering cheaper plans. Examples of MVNOs are Cricket Wireless, Republic Wireless, Ting, Straight Talk, Mint Mobile, and Tello. While MVNOs, can help you save money, there are some drawbacks, the main one being deprioritization. Data deprioritization is when major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile slow down MVNOs' data speeds during network congestion, favoring their direct subscribers. Check out our article for more on the difference between MVNOs and the big three.
8. Switch Carriers
Most major carriers offer deals for those looking to switch from their current plan. The best deals can generally be found with postpaid plans from the big three carriers. We recommend trying our Plan Finder below if you're considering switching carriers. You may also want to check out our guide to finding the right wireless carrier for you.
The Bottom Line
The economy has all of us looking at our personal finances. Fortunately, you can lower your cell phone bill using one or all of the tips above. Note that if you’re considering switching plans and or wireless carriers in order to lower your phone bill, you may also want to consider upgrading your current phone while you’re at it, and our Phone Finder can help you understand the cost. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the best deals on plans can usually be found by trading in your phone.