If you asked anybody 15 years ago if they needed an expensive handheld device to connect them to YouTube, email, and Facebook, they would have laughed in your face. After all, they had their Palm Pilots, didn’t they? Even less than two decades ago, cell phones were an exclusive luxury that we may have wanted, but we definitely didn’t need.
Today, of course, we’re permanently attached to our phones. The idea of leaving home without it is enough to start a panic attack. Unfortunately, this is an expensive priority. Cell phone bills are creeping higher and higher, and there’s nothing we can do to avoid a $300 monthly phone bill.
Or is there?
Switching to a prepaid cell phone could save you a surprising amount of money every month. Unlike a standard contract that finds frivolous reasons to charge you for a hefty service plan each month, prepaid cell phones only give you what you actually need… which means you only pay for what you need.
How Data Charges Cost You
Streaming Netflix on-the-go is convenient but costly. This is the first thing to consider dropping on a prepaid cell phone plan, or at least reducing.
For example, a regular T-Mobile plan offers four lines for $140/month. Each line receives unlimited data, minutes, and text messages. However, once you add in the price of the phones themselves on each line (assuming $20/month over 24 months), you end up paying more than $200/month for your cell phone service. And that’s before any sneaky extra, fees, taxes, and upcharges.
Many prepaid phones, on the other hand, offer unlimited text, calls, and data at 2.5GB or 5GB speeds for less than $50 a month. Virgin Mobile, for example offers a 5GB prepaid plan with unlimited minutes and messages for just $35/month. If you already have a cell phone, or buy an older model at a great discount, you can save hundreds each month compared to your current three-figure service plan.
If you don’t have data needs at all, you can find cell phone service for next to nothing. Ting offers a “Ting Small” plan for just $12/month for people who don’t use data. If you’re determined to trim your phone budget at any cost, definitely consider this option.
Compare Your Coverage
Your options for cell phone coverage aren’t unlimited, but you do have a variety of choices. The providers include:
- Boost Mobile
- Virgin Mobile
- Republic Wireless
- Cricket Wireless
Each carrier has its own reputation, perks, and drawbacks. Don’t commit to the first service you find, but consider and compare your choices by evaluating your priorities. Is unlimited data essential for your job, or can you survive on 5GB during the times when you’re not connected to WiFi? If you send messages more than you make calls, you can choose a plan with limited minutes to save money.
Shop Around for Prepaid Phones
Above all, shop around to find the best deal.
Consider the cost of a standard two-year cell phone contract. Service companies like T-Mobile and Spring lure us into contracts by allowing us to finance our overpriced phones over a 24-month period. Or they give you the phone at what appears to be a discount while charging you higher monthly fees and obligating you to those fees for two long years. Either way, it’s not a great situation.
Look at different prepaid phone options to find the lowest price that still meets your service needs. Consider shopping around during a holiday to score promotional deals as well.
That cellphone in your pocket shouldn’t drain your budget, and thanks to the right prepaid plan, it doesn’t have to.
Don’t wait to get out of debt! Read this: A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide to Get Out of Debt.