How much do you pay for your cell phone each month?
If you’re anything like the average American phone customer, chances are your monthly bill hovers somewhere near $73. And for people like Phil Barry—who pays for his own phone, as well as phones for his mother and daughter—cell phone bills can climb north of $300.
Odds are you could stand to pay a little less to use your smartphone. After all, there are reasons why your bill might seem to inch up every few months.
According to a recent study, 17 percent of the average cell phone bill goes to federal, state and local taxes. In today’s world of streaming video, unlimited data plans are virtually nonexistent, and many customers have to pay overage charges if they eclipse certain thresholds. On top of that, the big four carriers—Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T—have also developed reputations for charging customers hidden fees.
If you’re sick of forking over an exorbitant amount of cash each month for using your smartphone, you’re certainly not alone. The good news is that by making use of other technologies and exploiting “loopholes” of sorts, you can enjoy unlimited talk, text, and data – including free international roaming – for as little as $10 a month.
Here are three methods for reducing your monthly phone bill, without compromising on the quality of the services you receive.
Consider Prepaid Smartphones
Sick of being locked into a subsidized contract and scrambling to come up with the money to pay your bill each month? Other customers are too, which is why we’re seeing such a drastic rise in prepaid smartphone subscriptions.
It’s important to keep in mind that these kinds of plans are no longer confined to older, legacy devices like they used to be.
“Prepaid smartphones are no longer just cheap, also-ran options, focused on older and less capable phones,” says Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at the NPD Group. “As the smartphone market matures, and as growth slows, carriers have been smart to aggressively market some of their best current smartphones on a prepaid basis to a new set of customers, in order to keep sales humming along.”
It’s worked: Sales of prepaid services grew 91 percent from 2011 to 2012, as customers have realized they can save as much as $1,000 over the course of a two-year period by paying up front.
Choose a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)
MVNOs, like ROK Mobile and Cricket Wireless, don’t own any infrastructure on their own. Instead, they buy bandwidth in bulk from the big four carriers, reselling it to their customers at substantially discounted prices. These virtual providers often don’t have contracts, and they let you bring your own devices should you so choose.
Because of the flexibility they offer, the MVNO market has experienced considerable growth in recent years. With no shortage of vendors to choose from, you’re almost certain to find a better deal from an MVNO than a major network, provided you spend the time researching your options.
Go the Combination Route
By making use of cutting-edge services, you’re able to reduce your phone costs even more.
For example, a combination of Google Voice, Google Hangouts and a T-Mobile Simple Choice Data Plan can get you an unlimited phone plan with free international roaming—all for $10 a month. Should you decide to go in this direction, you’re able to use whichever device you have on hand; you don’t have to buy a new one unless you want to.
While many of us are conditioned into thinking we’ve got to fork over considerable chunks of cash each month to own smartphones, that’s not necessarily the case. If you do the legwork, you can find a setup that works best for your situation and needs.
In the end, your wallet will thank you.