Americans spend an average of $90 per month for individual service (the figure creeps to $111 for iPhone owners), according to a financial services report. Using more data can add up, too. But by doing just a little legwork it’s possible to shave 20 percent or more off your monthly bill, says Barry Gross, founder of BillCutterz. “It’s vital to stay on top of what you’re being charged for and why,” he says.
Read on for ways that he and other pros cut the cost of staying connected.
Dig For Discounts
In addition to family plans, your provider may offer deals through employers and professional organizations, and for students, teachers and government employees. You could get a 10 percent to 20 percent reduction in your monthly fees, but the details may vary across programs, says Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com. “Don’t be afraid to ask for savings,” he says, including waiving the activation fees.
Track Data Use
Even if you’re careful about streaming videos or listening to music on your phone over a cellular network, many apps are set to automatically refresh and typically end up using up valuable bytes. Tricks such as disabling auto-play videos on social media or the background app refresh on iPhone can help curb data usage when you’re not on Wi-Fi. Try using apps that alert you when you are nearing your data limit, then switch over to using only Wi-Fi. Also consider going on a “data diet,” or lowering your tier of data, which can yield savings of 20 percent, James advises.
Drop Your Contract
Are you currently in a two-year contract? It may actually be more affordable to pay an early termination fee or buy the phone outright. A growing array of pay-as-you-go plans can mean great deals for consumers who don’t need monthly contracts. Prepaid plans often start at about $30 per month for talk and text options, and have similar voice quality and data speeds. Expect to pay about $40 to $45 for 2 GB of data on a prepaid plan, which can cover a moderate amount of online use with limited bells and whistles.
Comparison websites could make it simple to pick a more affordable plan. Use three months’ worth of phone bills to determine your typical monthly data and minutes usage, then plug those numbers into the site’s calculator. A search for single-line plans with unlimited minutes and texting, and close to 3 GB of data (the amount an average U.S. consumer uses per month, according to The NPD Group) reveals dozens of options. Narrow your results by plan type or carrier, and sort by price. But don’t buy more data than you need just to score a better deal, says Gross. “Too many times people think they need more data than they actually do.”
See how much you could save by taking advantage of GEICO’s insurance discounts.
By Alina Dizik
Illustration by Doug Chayka
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