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How to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill

Updated on May 9, 2016
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy writes about family, home life, parenting, money-saving tips, and many other topics, as well as essays and occasional humor pieces.

Don't Go Over Your Data Plan!

Data plans are costly - here's how you can save money on your bill each month.
Data plans are costly - here's how you can save money on your bill each month. | Source

Tips to Have a Lower Cell Phone Bill

So, your cell phone is now an extension of your hand, and you carry it everywhere.

Maybe you text, play games, read books, send and receive emails and, oh yeah, make a few calls.

Data plans are expensive, and some of the more popular service providers (such as AT&T) no longer offer plans with unlimited data.

And, if you don't use a huge amount of data, you need a way to keep your usage under the limit (which saves money each month).

Here's how to reduce your usage painlessly, save battery life and avoid going over the limit of your plan.

Use Wi-Fi on Your Cell Phone Whenever Possible

Yes, you already have wi-fi turned on, but you can start using 3G, 4G or LTE if you're downloading something in a wi-fi area and the phone wants to speed things up a bit.

Example - I just bought an iPhone 5, which has LTE capability. Within a short time (as in, less than a day), I got an alert that I was nearing the limit of my plan. I had been installing apps, and even in my wi-fi area, the phone had reverted to LTE.

Yes, 4G and LTE are razor-fast (especially LTE) and great and all that, but if I'm not in a huge hurry, I'm happy with wi-fi speed, too. And I am even more happy if I don't have to pay a higher bill next month.

The solution? If you're in a wi-fi area, turn off all data as well as 3G or 4G, or LTE. Don't break into a cold sweat - you can turn it back on when you leave the house or finish your cup of whatever at Starbucks.

Set Up Special Email Accounts for Junk

Stop reading and do this, right now. You will thank me later.

Pick whatever free email service you want, and set up an account for all subscriptions, memberships and other sites that spam you continually. Then, click the 'manage subscription' or 'manage emails' setting on the notices you get and change the email to your new Junk account.

If you don't need to read the emails from these places the minute you get them (I'm guessing you can wait, right?), don't even load that account on your phone.

If you'd like the option of reading them on the run, you can load this account into your phone and then turn it off (takes only a few seconds) when you're out in the car, or wherever, and turn it back on when you're in a wi-fi zone. Or, just read them at home, on the computer.

This one trick will save you a ton of data by not eating up your megabytes each month with the ads, photos, messages and whatever else comes in from these accounts. But you still have the convenience of getting the messages when you want to view them, not minute-by-minute.

Use "Manual" to Retrieve Emails, Not "Push"

Again, this is a setting you can turn on and off as needed. But it's a helpful one to use if you want to avoid going over your limit and you're getting close.

Just go to settings on your phone, and select 'manual' to fetch your emails. This means you will only get new ones when you click on email, and the phone searches for new messages.

By changing this setting, you can wait until you're in a wi-fi area and then fetch your messages while you're sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, or drinking that cuppa whatever at your best hangout.

This is a good setting to use if you aren't able to filter all of the data-eating emails into one account. Professionals who need to view graphics, videos, or other huge attachments can save money by manually retrieving messages from those accounts when they're in a wi-fi area.

Otherwise, the phone will eat up your data by looking for messages at whatever interval you've set. Even a few messages with photos will take a bite (or byte?) out of your monthly usage.

What do YOU do with your phone?

How much do you use your phone for games, texting and other non-call activities?

See results

How to Save Money on Texting

This won't save data, exactly, but you can save quite a bit of money on your cell plan by loading and using a free texting app.

There are quite a few to choose from (the number has grown in the past year), so search for 'texting' apps, read the reviews and ask your friends to make a selection.

Usually, the app is free, and the texting is free, and you even get a free phone number for texting. They make money by loading ads (little bars on the bottom of the screen on the good ones, pop-ups on the bad apps). And they make money by selling super-cheap minutes that let you call from the app.

Yes, the apps really work - you can even make international calls back to the USA when you're out of the country - for just pennies. And, if you're not on an unlimited calls plan, you can revert to the app for calls and make them for next to nothing, rather than paying ginormous fees for going over your minutes.

It might take a month or two to train your friends to text you on the new number, but they will indeed do it, and it's worth it. I was able to cut off my texting plan completely with an app like this, and I made phone calls back to the states from wi-fi hotspots while traveling internationally.

These tips can save a ton of money over the long haul - and they're easy to follow!

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks! I was so glad to figure out these tricks!

  • scryba profile image

    scryba 4 years ago

    Great Hub..

    - Scryba

  • scryba profile image

    scryba 4 years ago

    Its really awesome..

    - Scryba

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Linda - I'm glad you found helpful ideas here! It's always easier to increase you cell plan than to decrease, so consider starting with the lowest tier or plan you can manage. Let us know how it goes!

  • lindacee profile image

    lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

    All great tips Marcy! Looking into getting a new cell phone and plan. These ideas will come in handy! Voted up and useful. Thanks!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Wow - that's a great tip, alocsin! I am glad you mentioned it here - many people don't come anywhere near using their data limit each month, if they're in wi-fi areas. Thanks for the comment!

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I'd like to suggest using a pay-as-you go plan (they even have these for iPhones, though Apple doesn't like to advertise that). Have been using Tracfone for several years now and don't spend more than $10 a month. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Yay! Let me know how it works for you! You can turn off the incoming emails account-by-account in most smartphones, and then turn them back on as needed. Sure saves data when you are getting piles of junk that can wait until later. The texting app alone has saved me hundreds of dollars already. I spent a month or so 'training' my friends to use the new number for texts, and I put a signature on the bottom (I use Pinger, but there are others) that says it's from my text number. Now, almost everyone uses that. and only now & then do I get stray messages.

    Apple also has a web-based free texting thing, I believe. Good luck in cutting those bills!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

    I just had to up our plan due to my hubby's texting (sigh!). I am going to check out the manual email option and the texting apps. Great hub and Thank you!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    LOL! I know what you mean, Peg! Unfortunately, I'm hooked on my smartphone - but I don't feel so bad now that I've figured out the trick to keeping my bill down! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    Marcy, This is well explained information that will save money for people who use these apps extensively. There are so many plans and options these days that it helps to have some friendly guidance on cell phone savings. We recently got a couple of new Smart phones. Later I switched back to my old flip phone. Mash the buttons and dial. That saves a ton of data minutes. LOL

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Turtlewoman - I'm with you - I've saved several hundred on texting and on the data plan, too. I can find a lot of good things to do with that extra money!

  • Turtlewoman profile image

    Kim Lam 4 years ago from California

    Very helpful article, Marcy. I am currently using the free app for texting and saving $20/month (used to pay for the unlimited texting) That's $240 saved last year!:-) I haven't considered the email account for junk mail, so thanks for that!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Billy! I've been able to save a ton of money by using these tips - especially since I am usually in a wi-fi area.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I will pass this one to Bev; she is in charge of all these details. Very useful information, Marcy!

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