Cell phones make it easy to communicate on the go and offer a sense of security in case of emergencies, but they can also be costly. If you’re concerned about your monthly cell phone bill, these tips can help determine if you’ve got the right plan for your needs.
Think about your lifestyle
Consider how and when you use your phone. Do you only use it to make phone calls? If so, a simple flip phone without a data plan may be all you need. If you only use data at home where you have access to WiFi, low data or a pay-as-you-go plan may be a better fit for you.
On the other hand, if you enjoy streaming videos during your granddaughter’s soccer practice, you want to make sure your plan is robust enough to avoid overages. Browsing the Internet uses very little data, but if you’re sending a lot of pictures or streaming music and video, your data needs will be higher.
Do a data inventory
Log into your mobile carrier’s website or app and look at your data use over the past few months. Are you only using a fraction of your data allotment? If so, there’s a good chance you’re overpaying. If you are using 75% or more regularly, your current plan is probably best for your needs.
Call your current carrier
Once you know your usage and your lifestyle needs, give your mobile carrier a call and ask if there’s a less expensive plan that will work. Don’t feel pressured to make a change right away. Write down the plan information or ask them to email it to you. This will give you time to make sure the plan details are a good fit.
Shop around for a different plan
With a baseline cost from your carrier, you can shop around for better deals. Be wary of getting caught up in special promotions that may cost you more over time. Remember, your current phone may not work with a different carrier, so factor in the possible cost of a new phone.
Share the wealth (and bill)
Today’s mobile plans usually include a lot of data that may be unnecessary for empty nesters. One option is to pair up with family members or friends to save money. Family plans typically have larger or unlimited amounts of pooled data and can cost less for each person than an individual plan. You’ll also have access to extra data if you need it without paying for more each month.
Keep your old phone
Cell phones sold through mobile carriers are often “locked” to that carrier — you can’t simply replace the SIM card with one from the new provider. While it is possible to unlock phones, carriers don’t all use the same cellular protocol. If you’re hoping to keep your old phone, do your homework before switching. Ask your old carrier if they can unlock your phone, and ask the new carrier if the phone will work on their network. If not, you’ll need a new device.
Quick tips for saving on your cell phone plan
- Be willing to change carriers for a more competitive plan
- Seek a plan that is flexible and allows you to roll over extra data or add more
- Consider a pay-as-you-go plan
- Share your plan to bring down costs
- Avoid paying for extras you don’t need like parental controls
- Ask someone you trust to review the contract and help you think through the decision
Cell phone plans aren’t one-size-fits-all. These tips can help you find a plan that meets your needs and budget.
Christy Matte is a Boston-based writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She has been covering tech for the past decade and has been enamored with it her whole life. Christy has two Minecraft-obsessed kids, a software engineer husband, a crazy cat who thinks she’s a dog, and a hedgehog who just barely tolerates them all.