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How to lower your monthly phone bill

Given the amount of time we spend calling people, emailing for work, streaming music, watching Netflix, and so on, it would be quite the shock to suddenly find ourselves in a world without smartphones. Yet because we use them so much, our monthly bills can be higher than ever — and in a time when money’s a little tight, that can be an unwelcome surprise.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to make sure your monthly phone bill is as low as possible, and that’s true no matter what plan you’re on. Here are some ideas for how to lower your monthly phone bill.

Sign up for autopay

Many phone carriers lower their prices for customers who sign up for autopay. There’s a good reason — customers who sign up for autopay are more likely to pay their bills on time every month, so companies are willing to give customers who do so a bit of a discount.

Most large phone carriers offer autopay, and discounts for those who sign up for autopay can be as high as $10 per month.

Switch to a prepaid plan

If you’re willing to consider switching to a new plan, it may be worth considering a prepaid one. Prepaid phone plans generally don’t offer things like unlimited data, and even if they do, they usually skimp on other features like roaming and multi-line discounts.

It’s awesome for individuals, who don’t enjoy the per-line connection discount that large families can often access. A good prepaid plan combined with miserly mobile data use can leave you with a bill that’s $20 to $40 per month — generally lower than individual plans at major national carriers.

Which prepaid plan should you go for? All major carriers offer prepaid plans. Check out our full guide of prepaid plans here.

Add lines on the same plan

If you have a family of phone users, it may be worth bringing everyone in on the same plan, if possible. Most carriers offer discounts for multiple lines on the same plan, and those discounts could save you quite a bit of money, depending on how many lines you have. For example, T-Mobile’s Magenta plan costs at $70 per month for one line with autopay — but with four lines, you’ll pay an average of $35 per line, or a total of $140.

You don’t necessarily have to be a family to make use of savings. You could join a phone plan with your friends, then share the costs. This can unlock huge discounts that rival the price you’d pay as an individual on a prepaid plan, but without the monthly data limitations  prepaid plans often have.

Just make sure you can trust those you share a plan with, since you might end up stuck with a hug bill if no one else pays. There’s potential privacy/security concerns, too, as other people on the account may be able to call in and make changes to the account without everyone’s prior approval.

Use Wi-Fi instead of cellular

Using too much cellular data can result in extra charges, depending on the plan you have. Even if you have an unlimited plan, you might see better speeds if you stick to Wi-Fi instead of cellular data.

It may seem obvious to use Wi-Fi instead of cellular data when you’re at home, but it can help to do so when you’re at other places too. For example, make sure your phone connects to the Wi-Fi network at your workplace, as well as at friends and family’s houses, cafes, and so on.

It also helps to be smart about what you’re doing while using cellular data. For example, if you know you’re going to want music, movies, podcasts, and so on when on the go, make sure you download it on Wi-Fi before you head out so you don’t have to stream it over cellular. Most media apps have a setting that ensures they only download over Wi-Fi, so it’s worth digging into the settings of your apps.

Take care of your phone, and keep it

This one seems obvious, but the impact taking care of your phone can have might be bigger than you thought. These days, many people pay for their phones over 24 months, and then get a new phone when the 24 months is up. This makes the phone less expensive upfront but hugely increases the plan’s monthly bill.

If, however, you make sure that your phone is well taken care of, you could get a solid three or four years of use out of it — especially if it’s an iPhone. Because of that, you might get a year or two of not having to pay off your phone, which could cut your phone plan cost down a ton.

Also, being more careful with a phone to make sure it lasts means you can ditch phone insurance. That’s another cost that drives up your monthly phone bill without much benefit.

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