5 steps to a lower cellphone bill
With sophisticated smartphones and expensive data plans, it's more important than ever to rein in your family's cell phone bills.
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Money Talks News.
Over the past 20 years, our mobile phones have grown smaller as our bills have grown larger. These bills are taking up so much of our budget, it's easy for a small family to spend more on wireless services than they do on electricity.
While Money Talks News already gave you 5 Ways to Save on Your Cellphone Bill, here are five more easy steps to cut your costs ...
1. Go in as a family
Signing up for a family plan helps cut your bill in two ways.
First, additional phones cost a fraction of the first one or two, reducing your average cost. For example, T-Mobile offers an individual plan with 500 minutes of talk for $40, while a family plan with two phones costs $60, with up to three additional lines for $10 each.
Second, family members tend to call each other frequently. Since calls among plan members don't typically count against the minutes purchased, a family on the same plan can get away with purchasing fewer total minutes. Remember, family plans aren't limited to those related to you or even members of your household -- many plans allow you to include family living out of state or even friends.
2. Sell your upgrades
Most providers offer their customers a free or highly discounted new phone when they renew their contract. But how much do you really need a new phone every two years?
Instead of using the new phone or declining the upgrade, order the latest, greatest new thing and put it straight on eBay. I've sold discounted phones for $200 more than I paid, netting the four people on our family plan more than $800.
You can even do better. Verizon is selling the new iPhone 4s for $199 when you start a new plan or renew an existing one. This model is now selling on eBay for $650. I'm even able to replace the phone I do use for a fraction of these profits, as long as I don't choose the latest and greatest model.
3. Get a group or corporate discount
When looking for savings, always ask about which companies and groups are offered discounts. You'd be surprised how many organizations receive a group discount of 5 or 10 percent. So long as one person on your plan is a member at any time, the whole plan will be eligible. The best part is that once you qualify, you are likely to receive the discount in perpetuity. For example, I'm still receiving a discount given to employees of a major company that I left more than four years ago. Post continues below.
4. Go to eBay for accessories
One of the reasons providers love to offer customers new phones is that they have a good chance of selling you their overpriced accessories. The car chargers, ear pieces, and protective covers often cost $20 or more - and can usually be found for less than $5 on eBay. If you need your accessories any time soon, be sure to select only items sold from the United States, since many Asian sellers can take more than a month to deliver their product.
5. Use a rewards credit card to pay your bills
I receive 5% off all my wireless bills, including new phone purchases, because I charge everything to my American Express SimplyCash Business Card. Now, 5% may not sound like much, but that's on top of all other discounts, so it adds up. Several versions of Chase's Ink card for business also offer five times the points when used to pay for wireless bills.
Wireless service is important, but it shouldn't be your most expensive utility bill!
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Guess what, einstein:
When you sign the contract for the upgrade, you end up paying that $400 that you "saved" over the course of the next two years.
Without the upgrade, you qualify for cheaper monthly plans. But WITH the upgrade, you get a "discounted" phone, but you end up paying the full price of the phone in the long run.
Your actual savings? zero. And they locked you into another 2-year contract, without a newer phone to show for it.
And yes, some poeple do need a new phone every two years, because smartphone technology changes so fast...most 2009 phones and some 2010 phones are already obsolete, or will be so by the end of 2012.
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