(BPT) – Cellphone plans these days can top $ 100 or even $ 200 a month, once you include the cost of data. That’s a lot of cash just to stay connected.
Fortunately, consumers can take a few easy steps to slash their bills – without sacrificing quality.
1. Switch to a no-contract provider
You can cut your phone bill in half, or more, simply by switching to a no-contract provider. Consumer advocates point to no-contract plans as a smart option for consumers, offering competitive quality at substantial savings.
What about the quality of service? Not to worry: Many no-contract providers use the same networks as the big carriers. Look for language like “uses the world’s largest GSM network.” That just means they route calls over the same towers as one of the big networks.
No-contract plans are soaring in popularity. Nationwide, one in four cellphone owners has a no-contract plan. Consumer advocates are cheering the trend. “Many consumers don’t realize the savings that are available simply by switching carriers,” says Norman Klugman, chief operating officer of Pure TalkUSA, a leading no-contract provider. “Some of our customers have saved hundreds of dollars a year – in at least one case, enough to go on a Caribbean cruise.”
2. Rely on Wi-Fi for data usage
The biggest reason cellphone bills are soaring is the cost of data. Everyone loves to stream music and video on the go and many people are paying big bucks for the privilege.
Take a look at your cellphone bill and see how much data you’re using each month. Chances are you can cut down on that number by using Wi-Fi wherever it’s available, which won’t count against your monthly data allotment.
Once your data usage levels off to a more reasonable level, make sure you aren’t paying for more than you need. You may be able to switch to a cheaper plan that includes less data.
3. Ditch unlimited talk and text messaging plans
Many cellphone users pay for unlimited talk and text, which is often necessary. Try limiting your monthly minutes and text message use and see if you can get by on a more slimmed-down, cheaper plan.
How do you cut back on minutes? Many apps, such as Skype, offer free talk services over Wi-Fi that enable you to chat with friends without running up your bill. Texting apps such as WhatsApp and GroupMe allow you to send messages for free.
4. Stop using 411 and other paid directories
We’ve all been there. You’re in a tough spot and can’t find the number of the closest gas station or pharmacy, so you dial 411 on your cellphone. Using 411 and other paid directories can add up quickly, costing a couple of dollars for each call.
Instead, try using your Wi-Fi connection to look up information on your phone’s Internet browser or maps application. Leading Web search engines like Google and Bing also offer free directory services.
5. Consider a family plan
It’s economics 101: buying in bulk saves money. This holds true for phone service, too. Most carriers offer some kind of family plan that offers meaningful discounts for getting the entire clan on the same calling plan. Some even offer shared data packages.