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According to the Pew Research Center, nearly all Americans (97%) have a cell phone of some kind. But that doesn't mean it's gotten more affordable to own one. In fact, JD Power told CNBC that the average cell phone bill is now $152.
According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the Consumer Price Index of telephone services has increased 7% since Jan. 2019. While that might sound minimal, consumers are feeling the sting from taxes. The Tax Foundation found wireless taxes have increased by 50%, from 15.1% to 22.6% on the average bill. And unfortunately, there is no amount of negotiating or tricks to avoid these charges.
However, there are a few other ways to lessen the burden of your cell phone bill. Here are four tips to lower your cell phone bill today.
1. Consider switching to an alternative low-cost carrier
You don't have stick with the big names. A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is often a much cheaper option than the large carriers like Verizon or AT&T.
MVNOs, such as Mint Mobile, Consumer Cellular or Republic Wireless, don't have their own networks like the large carriers. They essentially act as middlemen, purchasing data in bulk from the large carriers at wholesale, and then reselling it to consumers. This means you can get large network capabilities without the premium price.
Each of these carriers come with different plans, depending on how much data you use. Costs range from $15 - $40 per month. JD Power said the average bill when you use a MVNO is $78, just about half of the large carriers.
If you want to be extremely frugal, aim to get the cheapest plan possible, and try your best to utilize Wi-Fi networks so you can avoid using your cell data.
2. Bundle with friends and family
Turns out sticking with your parents' family plan is actually a smart financial move. And if you're not still sharing data with mom and dad, consider creating a group plan, or joining one.
The more people you can get involved, the cheaper it is per person. For example, a single line on Verizon under the "Start Unlimited" plan is $70 per person, without taxes and fees. A plan with four people will run each person $35 per person, without taxes and fees. Over a year, that's a $420 savings. You can put this away in a high-yield savings account to build interest on top of it as well.
3. Use the right credit card
- Citi® Double Cash Card: You can earn 2% cash back on your cell phone bill, 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill.
- Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year (then 1%).
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: 2X miles per dollar on all eligible purchases.
Your cell phone company may be charging you monthly for cell phone insurance. Several credit cards, including the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and The Platinum Card® from American Express, offer insurance by simply paying your monthly bill each month with the card. By doing this, you can call your cell phone provider and cancel the insurance policy, saving you even more.
4. Analyze your current plan
Carriers often offer a wide array of plans, so it is beneficial to analyze if you're on the right plan.
Next time you receive your statement, take a look at the plan you're currently paying for. You may be overpaying for services you don't need.
For example, you could be paying for an unlimited talk, text and data plan, when there's a cheaper pro-rated option available. Or, if you are paying for a pro-rated plan, and you're consistently going over each month, switching to an unlimited plan may be a more cost-effective strategy.
Also, take a look at some of the additional benefits offered by carriers that you may be able to use. For example, Verizon offers plans that include subscription services such as Hulu, Disney+, Apple Music and ESPN+.
Cell phones, particularly smartphones, have become an essential part of our daily lives — so it's not an easy expense to cut from your budget. However, just like any other monthly bill you receive, there are ways to ease the burden on your wallet each month.
Before you pay your next cell phone bill, be sure to take a hard look at what you are paying for. And if you aren't sure if you're getting the best deal, give your cell phone carrier a call to see if you are eligible for any discounts or promotions. This simple call can easily make a difference in your monthly budget, and get you closer to achieving your financial goals.
Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
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