Save Money on Your Cell Phone in 2011

August 3, 2011

Gas and groceries aren’t the only consumer goods that only seem to increase in price. Telecom products, roughly translated: cell phone, internet and cable, are notorious for skyrocketing in costs.

Just this month, Verizon joined a majority of cell carriers that are switching to usage based data plans pinching consumers for higher cost cell plans. Netflix announced a new pricing strategy inflating the cost of video by mail and streaming by 72%. To think a little more than a decade ago, I spent $15 per month on my cell phone, $30 per month on cable and $14 per month on internet, or roughly the same amount as one cell phone plan. The average family now spends around $200 per month.

While rolling back these telecom expenses is not always an easy task, cell phones offer the greatest opportunity for families since there are a large number of carriers and plans to choose from. Below are some potential ways to save on your cell phone bill this year.

Ask about a no contract plan

Get Rich Slowly discovered that T-Mobile offers no contract plans that can save you $5 a month on your plan:

The exact same plan without a contract was $110 a month instead of $140 a month, for a savings of $360 a year. I looked for the catch, but the only catch was the no-contract plan didn’t offer the usual discount on a new phone.

$5 may not sound like much, but cutting out 5% of your bill adds up, plus you do not have the hassle of a contract.

(compare no contract plans)

Employee Discounts?

Many corporations bargain deals for their employees. You can save between 6% and 25% if you work for a company that has negotiated discounts with Verizon or Sprint. My wife enjoys a much appreciated 15% at Verizon. However, you can’t take advantage of the savings, if you don’t know you qualify for the savings. Check with your HR department and if they don’t have a discount for employees, ask them to.

Families Should Optimize

My family has two cell phones with unlimited minutes. Yet, I have access to a free phone during work hours right at my desk. When I’m at home or with my wife, I have access to her phone. I only really need a phone during my commute or when I’m not with my family. It’s time for me to get a prepaid or no contract plan. T Mobile has one that is 10 cents a minute, which will save me $25 per month.

While having an unlimited plan for every member of the family is convenient, is it really necessary? The answer for me is no.

Consumer telecom is quickly becoming a large part of the American family budget and it is likely to keep growing. Learn how to save and control these costs now and you will avoid the squeeze of constantly rising prices.

Update:

G E Miller learns that even Virgin Mobile is not immune to the inflation of telecom.

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