Getting Cheaper Wireless
Cellular doesn't need to be expensive, but costs
can get out of control
if you're not paying attention. The wireless companies take advantage
of this, but with some simple steps, you can achieve significant
savings, often more than half off. You might not
need to change carriers.
Switch Plans - Eliminate
more than 50% of wireless customers are on the wrong plan. You can save
by switching to a cheaper plan that more closely matches your usage,
one that includes more features you now pay extra for, or one that
includes more Data which keeps you from paying expensive overages.
Most carriers will help you evaluate your usage over the past year and
tell you which plans would be best. This is a call you can make on the
way to work. If someone in your family uses more Text or Data than
Voice, there are plans with Data-only, or Unlimited Data with some
extra Voice minutes or Unlimited minutes to wireless numbers. You might
be able to cut the number of "anytime" minutes needed by adding Mobile
to Mobile or Night & Weekend minutes. Want to admit
you're over 65? More inexpensive plans
now offer competitive combinations of Calls, Texts, Data and Features
that are split among all members of a "family". The big benefit is how
loosely they define a family. You can join with a friend or colleague
to share a plan, just make sure you agree how billing and overages will
be handled. Many carriers will bill each "member" separately.
Employer, School or Organization Might Get You a Discount:
work for a large company, government agency or university, you probably
qualify for a discount, as much as 25%. This may include phones for
yourself and all your family. Check our Employee Discount Page
or ask your personnel department (instead of the boss), sometimes the
carrier will help you look. It may require a change of wireless
You may be
able to use your current phone or carrier and start paying by the
minute instead of by the month. There are choices among the major
carriers as well as substantial deals among prepaid-only companies like
who offer nationwide coverage. See the Guide to Switching to
to a "Wi-Fi First" Service :
several carriers that try to complete your calls over Wi-Fi and failing
that then will try to complete your calls on a cellular channel.
Examples of this type of service is Republic Wireless.
to Data-Only Service:
carriers will sell you a package that only includes Data access.
When you need to make a call or text you will do it through
an app that completes calls through VOIP (Voice Over Internet
Protocol) either through a data connection or Wi-Fi. This is available from several carriers, many prepaids and Google Project Fi.
The most common unused product
is handset insurance. Unless you have really bad luck, insurance won't
pay off when phone replacement still may cost you up to a $125
deductible. You also may have an old plan
that charges extra for features like long distance, or does not include
mobile to mobile calls. You may be better off dropping long distance if
you make few long distance calls, or see Change
or Limit Usage:
prevent the kids from downloading too many ringtones or apps by
blocking data downloads on their, or your, account. You can also set up
warning messages that account limits have been reached. Some carriers
offer these usage controls for free, others charge as much as $5 per
month, but it may be well worth it. Some of these features can be set
up and changed online.
Support and Subsidies:
Most wireless carriers offer a
government-subsidized "Lifeline" or "Link-Up" service at a
significantly reduced cost. Lifeline support lowers the cost of basic,
monthly local telephone service and can be Free or just a few dollars
per month. An eligible customer may receive the Lifeline discount on
either a wireline or wireless connection but the discount is available
for only one account per household. Qualifying programs are either
determined by each state's Public Utility Commission or the federal
Lifeline/Link-Up program. Some states and U.S. territories do not
provide state-funded discounts, but in most cases, an individual is
eligible if he or she participates in any one of several
public-assistance programs. Get more on our FREE Wireless Page.
Carriers are doing more to
retain customers now. Ask your current carrier if they can give you an
incentive to stay put. You'll need to be out of contract to be serious,
but there are ways to get out of
your contract. Being transferred to the "cancellation
department" is where you'll get the incentives. If you decide to
actually leave, see How to Switch.
to a Carrier That Doesn't Add Taxes or Fees:
Several carriers now absorb
all taxes and fees and offer your monthly charge as a single flat fee.
Even some Prepaid carriers charge taxes and
"government-imposed" fees. Look for a new carrier that
doesn't charge anything above the fixed cost. You may need to
press your new carrier to reveal all of the charges that will be added
to your bill.
for Special "Deals":
Some carriers will subtract a
certain amount from your bill if you sign up for "Auto-Pay".
Also, watch your online account page for extra deals that may
require you agreeing to the new (lower) charge. This may
include promotions that are being offered to new customers. Watch out,
making changes to your account, like changing your credit card, may
cancel these deals.
Pay Huge Data Roaming Rates:
phones have the ability to turn off cellular data access and use free,
or cheap, Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi Calling can make regular calls through
any Wi-Fi connection in the world
but may use your regular calling minutes, although with no long
Overpay for International Calls:
Some carriers, like TracFone,
offer free international calls to a number of countries. Others, like Metro PCS,
provide unlimited international calls for a set fee. You can also use
the wi-fi features of some phones to use service like Skype, and even
using the Skype app on some Verizon
Wireless phones does not incur long distance charges even on
calls made through the Verizon network. You can also program a prepaid
calling card code in to your phone book. There are several inexpensive
international long distance services available through your phone's broadband connection.
Don't Overpay for
Roaming Outside the US:
There are lots of options for using a wireless
phone in foreign countries. In some cases you can save with your
current phone and wireless carrier. See International