Finding an Affordable Cellphone Plan

In today’s technology age, cellphone plans are a necessary, and often costly, living expense.

But for families seeking housing assistance, making cellphone plan payments each month can be a burden. However, there are ways to find affordable cellphone plans that fit your needs. The information below explains how to find the best plan for the lowest rate, with tips for lowering your bill, information on low-price carriers and more.

The Importance of Affordable Cellphone Service

More than six years ago, the number of active cellphones exceeded the number of people living in the U.S. Today, around three-quarters of adults in America own a smartphone, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center. To compete for customers, cellphone providers are dropping their prices and advertising enticing deals for data and minutes. If you take advantage of competitive prices, you can reduce your monthly bill by large percentages.

Best Cheap Cellphone Providers

In the United Stated, most households have cellphone plans with one of the major providers like AT&T or Sprint. To find cheap cellphone service, look beyond these top brands and consider a smaller, low-cost carrier. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) are wireless carriers that operate off the network of major networks and offer low-price plans. Cheap MVNOs include MetroPCS and Project Fi. Depending on your needs, either type of company can offer affordable plans.

MVNO Cellphone Plans: Benefits & Drawbacks

Mobile Virtual Network Operators, also known as MVNOs, consist of smaller, lesser-known phone carriers that typically offer less expensive cellphone plans with greater freedom. MVNO companies lease or share minutes and data from the major networks, then resell it to cellphone clients. Unlike large cellphone provider companies, MVNO companies do not have the physical structures for cellphone service. MVNOs work with or lease from the big companies to provide services. Some MVNOs are owned by major carriers, others are independent companies.

Most MVNO cellphone plans do not require contracts, so you do not have to have good credit to qualify for a plan. MVNO plans are often cheaper and more straightforward than plans offered by major carriers. However, in some cases, MVNO plans have slower data speeds since they are sharing or leasing bandwidth from major networks.

The Different Types of Cellphone Plans

In addition to different major and MVNO providers, you also have several different types of plans to choose from when deciding on a policy. The four primary types of cellphone plans include:

  • Contract plans
  • Month-to-month or no-contract plans
  • Prepaid or pay-as-you-go plans
  • Payment plans

Contract cellphone plans typically require a two-year commitment. A major benefit of choosing a contract cellphone plan is the company typically subsidizes the cost of purchasing a new model phone when you sign up. However, drawbacks include activation fees when you start service and early termination fees if you try to cancel before your contract term is up. Some companies may no longer offer cellphone plan contracts.

Month-to-month or no-contract cellphone plans come with a monthly bill, but without the commitment of a contract. Often, month-to-month plans let you pick and choose different features like unlimited texting or data. A downside of these types of plans is that you typically have to pay full price for a phone up front. Some companies may offer plans that offer a combination of plan styles.

Pay-as-you-go or prepaid cellphone service plans come with no contract, monthly bill or commitment. With these types of cellphone plans, you typically purchase a certain amount of minutes to be spread out over weeks or months. Pay-as-you-go might be an ideal choice if you do not want a cellphone contract, have poor credit or will use the cellphone only for emergencies. These plans typically come with fewer features and require you to purchase a full-price phone up front.

How to Save on Cellphone Plans

Once have determined the right cellphone plans for your budget and needs, you should make sure to uncover the best deals and reduce the price of your monthly bill. Many cellphone companies have agreements with businesses, schools and government agencies to offer discounts to qualifying clients. If you are an employee at a participating organization, a student at a participating school or a member of a participating organization, you could save 10 to 20 percent off your monthly cellphone bill. Check your provider’s website to learn what discounts they offer to partner organizations.

 

Unless you have an unlimited plan, keep an eye on your data usage and talk time to avoid going over each month. Consider using a tracking service to track your usage with a phone application. Today, you can download free apps that track how much data and minutes you have used, and the app alerts you before you go over. Being mindful of your data usage and talk time can help you avoid high fees for exceeding your usage limits.

Many cellphone service providers offer discounts for customers who opt for paper-free billing and automated payments for monthly fees. Switch to paperless autopay and you could save up to $5 per line. You can save money on international calls, or even domestic calls, by using apps like Skype or WhatsApp. These kinds of phone apps let you make long-distance calls and send texts over the internet instead of using minutes or charging international call rates. Additionally, you should avoid toll-free telephone numbers when using your cellphone if you have a landline. Toll-free calls are not free if you use your cellphone without unlimited minutes or talk time, and long hold times mean that you may use many of your minutes for the month.

Many cellphone companies offer promotions to new customers who switch plans from a rival. If possible, try to take advantage of these plans, but be ready to switch to a new provider once the promotion deal is up. If you are happy with your current plan, contact a customer service representative from your phone companies to ask about new offerings and see if you can save by switching to a different plan.

Additionally, you must make sure to be realistic with your cellphone usage and habits. Make sure you are paying for only what you need while leaving yourself some headway to avoid going over your plan. If you notice you are using more or less than what your current plan offers, contact your cellphone provider’s customer service department to find out what changes you can make to adjust your plan.

 

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