For many Americans, smartphones have become almost as vital to daily life as eating and breathing. Consumers increasingly see phones not just as connectors and guides but also as mobile banks, using them to cash checks, transfer money and check their account balances on the go.
But your finances could have an even more intricate relationship with your smartphone than you realize. In financial services site WalletHub's recent iPhone Launch Survey, for example, 70 percent of respondents report that they didn't know credit scores can affect cell phone bills.
They can, although this connection primarily affects users purchasing a new phone or changing carriers. "If you have poor or no credit, you might be required to pay a down payment before getting your phone," WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez tells CNBC Make It.
While a good credit score won't technically lower your phone bill, a poor one could raise it if you're losing out on the most favorable deals. The best way to combat this, Gonzalez says, is to work on raising your credit score as much as possible before signing up for a new phone plan.
"Consumers now have one more thing to factor into their monthly phone bill," she tells CNBC Make It. "If you can wait until, say, the holiday season or possibly next year to get a new phone, it might save you money. Try to improve your credit score as much as possible before buying."
To improve your credit score, start by paying your bills on time every month. If you already have debt, create a plan to begin paying that down, and aim to keep your credit card balances as low as possible.
This link between credit scores and smartphone bills goes both ways. For consumers with a low score or no credit at all, financial institutions are beginning to use mobile data, including locations and number of calls and texts, as a means of determining creditworthiness.
"Alternative data from unconventional sources may help consumers who are stuck outside the system build a credit history to access mainstream credit sources," Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray said in a statement announcing the exploration, according to USA Today.
The system isn't perfect yet, as companies are still figuring out how to protect customer privacy and combat geographical biases. But the process speaks to just how intertwined tech and finance already are and will continue to become.
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