How to Save Money on Cell Phone Bills

Cell phone bills can eat away at your monthly budget, no matter what plan you may have. Certain carriers charge more than others, so you have to determine which one is right for you. The guide below provides some simple tips on how to save money on your cell phone bill.

Contract vs. No Contract

You have to determine if you want to have a cell phone contract. This will dictate how you can save money. If you use your phone a lot and don’t see yourself changing your needs for two years, you might be able to find an affordable phone contract. The tips here are for those who want flexible, non-committed cell phone plans that do not cost much to maintain.

Assess Your Usage

How do you use your cell phone? Do you mostly text? Talk? Email? Play games online? This will go a long way in determining your preferred phone provider. Most of the plans we list on this site offer unlimited talk and text, but some have limits on the amount of data you can use. Any data you use beyond that will cost more money.

When you determine how you are going to use your phone, pick a carrier that offers low rates for your needs. Make sure the service you utilize the most is not limited in use. Then, minimize the charges for everything else.

Only Pay for What You Need

If you only use your cell phone for emergencies, it doesn’t make sense to pay a lot of money for usage every month. Some cell phone providers will allow you to pay only for the months that you use your phone. For instance, if you don’t make a single phone call for the month of June, you may not have to pay anything for that month with certain providers. Then, if you make a call in July, you will pay whatever the fee is for a month of service. Some plans even allow you to just pay per call or per text, but most people use their phones more than a couple times a month. Just make sure you have a plan that suits your needs. It doesn’t make sense to pay for services you do not use.

Get a Family Plan

If you have a number of people in your family that need a cell phone, you may want to consider setting up a family plan. That may not be necessary in the world of no contracts, but sometimes it can save you money. You will pay an additional fee for every person added to the account, but you can usually pool your unlimited text, data and minutes so you don’t get charged for a plan on each line. The more you can bundle your services, the better off you will be.

Pay Online

Some cell phone companies charge for paying your bill by phone, but we’ve never seen any that charge for online payments. In most cases, you can pay by credit card or through your checking account. You might be able to save money through auto payments, if you want to set up a direct deposit from your checking account.

Know Your Peak Hours

If you have a contract or a cell phone plan that has a limited number of minutes, see if there are any times when your minutes are not counted against you. For instance, phone calls between 9 pm and 6 am through Verizon are considered “off-peak,” which means they are completely free and do not count toward your minutes. The same goes for weekend minutes through Verizon on some contracts. If you understand the peak hours, try to avoid making too many phone calls during those times.

Pay Your Bills on Time

To avoid late fees, pay your bills before they are due. If you know you are going to miss a payment by a couple days, contact your phone company and set up a post-dated payment. This may allow you to bypass the fee because the provider knows they are getting the money soon.

Get a Friends and Family Plan

Most cell phone providers have friends and family plans that allow you to select certain numbers from which texts and phone calls are free. This mostly applies to contracted lines, but it can apply to non-contracts in certain situations. If you only call a handful of people throughout the month, you could add their phone numbers to your friends and family package, and then you will get to talk to them for free.

Saving money on cell phone bills is mainly a matter of finding the right cell phone plan for your usage needs. Get something that suits your budget but still allows you to enjoy talking to people on a regular basis.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.