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Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill

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This is tip #5 of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge.

Today’s tip is to optimize your cellphone bill. Many of us (including me) pick a cellphone plan, then never check to see if it’s the right one for us based on our usage. Because the average cellphone bill is about $50, that’s $600 per year of money you can optimize. Perfect.

angry-cellphone-kid.jpg
Today, I’m going to show you two ways to cut your cellphone bill: one easy, one hard. And remember, this tip doesn’t just apply to cellphones: You can optimize your spending on nearly any other subscription you’ve got.

Optimizing your cellphone bill — the easy way
First let me say, if you still have a landline, the easiest tip is to call your wireless company and bundle it all into one plan — or get rid of your landline altogether.

Anyway, when I went to buy a new cellphone a couple months ago, I picked the unlimited everything plan — unlimited voice, unlimited data, unlimited text. I also set a 3-month check-in on my calendar to go back and analyze my spending patterns so I could cut back on my plan if needed. This is a technique I use a lot: With any usage-based services (e.g., web apps or cell plans), I’ll pay a little more up front so I can monitor my usage, then downgrade to the appropriate plan after 3 months.

You should also know that, according to a recent survey by J.D. Power and Associates, “people who text message, e-mail, and download files on mobile phones spend $14 a month more than people who don’t.” Do you really need all that stuff? Could you try going a couple months without it?

It pays to look at your actual usage and switch to a plan that better fits your needs. If you’re only using 150 text messages, you can probably downgrade to the “200 text messages/month” plan. As you get used to the new limit, add a calendar reminder to check in on the 15th of each month and make sure you’re not wildly over for the first few months.

Optimizing your cellphone — the harder (but more rewarding) way
Cellphone companies have this wildly curious business model of acquiring tons of customers through very expensive means (e.g., national advertising), then churning through them by treating them horribly. Yet even they know that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. You can use this “customer acquisition cost” in your favor. Here’s how:

1. Find comparable plans for your usage on other cellphone networks. For example, I’m with AT&T, so I’ll investigate Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint by going to their websites. Write down how much they each cost, how many minutes you get, and any other benefits.
2. Call your current cellphone company. To make it easy, here are the phone numbers:

AT&T: 1-800-331-0500
Verizon: 1-800-922-0204
TMobile: 1-800-T-MOBILE
Sprint: 1-866-866-7509

3. First, be nice. Ask them what better plans they have to offer you.

You: “Hi, I was looking at my plan and it’s getting pretty expensive. Could you tell me what other plans you have that would save me money?”
Them: Blah blah same plans as on the website blah blah
You: “What about any plans not listed on the website?”
Them: No, what we have is listed on the website. Plus, you’re on a contract and have an early cancellation fee of $XXX
You: “Well, I understand that, but I’d be saving $XXX even with that cancellation fee. Look, you know times are tough so I’m thinking of switching to [COMPETITOR COMPANY]. Unless there are any other plans you have…? No? Ok, can you switch me to your cancellation department, please?”

Note: What you really want is to be switched to their “customer retention” department, which is the group that has the ability to retain you by giving you a bunch of free deals. You can either ask to be switched directly to the customer retention department, or play a game and hope that by asking for “cancellation,” you’re actually transferred to retention. Play around with a few phone calls and see what works best.

When you get to the customer-retention department, ask for the same thing. This is when you pull out your competitive intel on the other services being offered. If Verizon is offering something for $10 less, tell them that. That’s $120 savings / year right there. But you can do more.

You: “Listen, you know times are tough and I need to get a better deal to stick with you guys. You know and I know that your customer acquisition cost is hundreds of dollars. It just makes sense to keep me as a customer, so what can you do to offer me this plan for less money?”

Notice that you didn’t say, “Can you give me a cheaper plan?” because yes/no questions always get a “no” answer when speaking to wireless customer-service reps. Ask leading questions. You also invoked the customer-acquisition cost, which is meaningful to retention reps. Finally, it really helps if you’re a valued customer who’s stuck around for a long time and actually deserves to be treated well. If you jump around from carrier to carrier, you’re not a worthwhile customer to carriers.

One final thing: People get scared that if they go to the cancellation department and try to negotiate, they’ll get their account canceled without really wanting to do that. There are two things to remember about negotiating your wireless bill: (1) You have a MUCH stronger position if you’re actually willing to walk away and switch to another plan, and (2) your account will never get canceled until you say the final word. You can negotiate for 3 hours and walk away if you want.

Use this technique on virtually any subscription you’re paying. Businesses want to keep customers and are willing to negotiate — but since most people don’t, they’re leaving money on the table.

Total savings: $20-$600

***

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123 Comments on "Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill"

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Sarah
Sarah
7 years 9 months ago
This is the first tip that i think might save us, however its not quite as much as what it states. My husband and I together will save $15 by this as what we are doing is dropping the internet, but adding texting onto his phone. (Internet is 20, texting is 5) – our cellphone plan is already pretty optimized – we have a family plan, and the plan itself w/out the texting and internet extras is $60 for both of us. They dont even offer that plan anymore (their current family rate structures have more monthly minutes, but costs… Read more »
Rob Slagle
Rob Slagle
7 years 9 months ago

I did this a couple of years ago. I bundled my Cable, landline and broadband internet to save $30 a month, with unlimited local and long distance on the landline.

I waited for my cell contract to expire, then I went to prepaid phones. I was paying $100 per month for 2 phones before. I’m paying on average on prepaid phones $20 per month.

Keep the tips coming Ramit, they are great for those who aren’t already practicing them.

Nakedbamboo
Nakedbamboo
7 years 9 months ago

Alright, this is a tip that I am going to really get into. I have three lines on one plan and the 2 year contract is up in December. So the timing is perfect for me to do a bit of checking and negotiating.

Alice
7 years 9 months ago

Rob – which provider did you go with? I’m moving to another state and our Verizon plan is past the two year contract and on a month to month basis. I’m considering picking up pay as you go for at least my phone, since I never use it, but maybe even both phones. Do you like the new service? What state are you in?

Stop Getting Cheated
7 years 9 months ago

This is an excellent tip, Ramit. Your negotiation strategy is insightful. Nice job. I am already practicing the other suggestions, but it is always good to hear them again so you remain consistent. You are doing a great job on this project. Keep it up.

Marisa
Marisa
7 years 9 months ago
So I’ve printed out two plans that I think will save me 245 to 159 a year. I’m going to stop by AT&T during my break to discuss the plans with my sales rep. I always ask for the gentleman who signed me up we are on a first name bases. I feel like I get better customer service by always requesting the same rep if he’s not there some one else is sure to take care of me well because if not they know I will discus it with my regular rep. I currently save about 19% because they… Read more »
Caleb Nelson
7 years 9 months ago

I think that this is a really good idea. I have a really fiesty mother. When I was younger, she used to call cell phone customer service lines and cause so much fuss that they would give her unbelievable deals. She has been getting unlimited conversation for $99 four years ago. This is a more formal technique that I will definitely abide by. Thanks for the tip.

Caleb
http://www.mefinanciallyfree.blogspot.com

Christina
Christina
7 years 9 months ago

I just called AT&T and got on the cheaper rate plan for seniors which will save me $10/month. Not half bad considering I really didn’t want to cancel the account.

Mo
Mo
7 years 9 months ago
I was paying 50.00 a month for a cell phone that I rarely used because everyone called me at home or at work. After my contract was up with TMobile, I stayed with them but went to the prepaid plan. It has saved me hundreds of dollars. Once you reach the 100.00 mark on the plan you become a gold member and never lose any unused minutes plus every time you add minutes they give you 15% more as a bonus. I only add minutes when I’m almost out and so I spend less than 10.00 a month. I realize… Read more »
Christina
Christina
7 years 9 months ago

Oh yeah and I should mention I’m not a senior, they say the rate plan is for seniors but when I was on the line with the cancellation people they gave it to me when I asked. The first line people would not.

Green Panda
7 years 9 months ago

I was going to see if I could downgrade our plan since we have 8,000 rollover minutes when I noticed AT&T’s policy:

“The following conditions would cause you to forfeit your Rollover minutes:
Changing to a new Rollover plan where your existing Rollover balance exceeds the Anytime minutes of the new plan. Only minutes in excess of the Anytime minutes in the new plan are forfeited. This will take effect at the end of the billing cycle. ”

I’ll still try and negotiate with them.

Charles
Charles
7 years 9 months ago

I went with the pre paid. Trac fone we really didn’t use that much airtime and were paying a ton. The negotiation insight is always good. In the current economy more than ever don’t accept that things have to be set in stone.
I never wanted to be the ugly negotiator, wound up having to in a few situation but, later found Ramit’s approach easier for me to live with myself and get better deals.
Super stuff, should be applied in as many situations as possible.

anon
anon
7 years 9 months ago
Nice tip! I’ve already done it over a year ago. I went from a $50+ / month bill to a $30 / month bill (which includes more bells and whistles even). My plan is no longer available or I’d share it here. Fortunately my plan is grandfathered in so I can still afford unlimited text, unlimited data usage, etc. I cut my land line too. So in regards to the tips my cumulative savings is still at $0. However I can pretend I changed my cell plan today instead of last year, that would make my savings of $20. I… Read more »
CL
CL
7 years 9 months ago

I just did this over the weekend and saved about $22 a month, so $264 per year. Not too shabby!

Hannah
Hannah
7 years 9 months ago

This is the first tip I’ve been unable to use. My company pays for my cell phone and my husband refuses to get one.

I’m technically saving about $100 a month though, right?

Kacie
7 years 9 months ago
A few months ago, I called AT&T to bargain with them. My contract was up for renewal, and I was shopping around for better rates. After analyzing my usage, I realized that most of my minutes were to other AT&T mobile customers. If I switched carriers, I would need a higher minute plan so I wouldn’t go over. I didn’t really want to switch, but I did want a deal. I’m getting 12% off thanks to an employer discount, and when I asked, they waived the $17 or so “upgrade fee” for me to get a new phone. I don’t… Read more »
TC
TC
7 years 9 months ago

Hmmm…we do have a cell phone and a land line, but the cell is pay-as-you-go and used only for emergencies. I think we spend about $25 every 3 months for the cell. The land line isn’t really used at all, though. That would save us $30 a month.

Michael
Michael
7 years 9 months ago

I have an iPhone with AT&T. How can I threaten to leave them, since no other carrier supports the iPhone? I’m definitely not willing to give up my phone. Also, I tried the billshrink.com website, but the best plan it came up with would cost me $456 more per year. I think this is good tip, but it doesn’t really apply to me.

Beth
Beth
7 years 9 months ago

This tip is an excellent reminder that I should switch to my boyfriend’s family plan. There’s one slot left. I was offered it months ago.

Household savings for today: $54

Week: $40 + potential ebay auction money.

Anca
Anca
7 years 9 months ago

Probably your best tip so far, yet it won’t save me any money since I have an iPhone (with the cheapest plan and no frills).

Vik
Vik
7 years 9 months ago

Don’t use a cell much, use a TracFone (or similar), don’t give the number out to friends, spend about $100 per YEAR. Ta-da!

WD
WD
7 years 9 months ago

Step 3 is the most important part here. Be nice, polite and reasonable!

Snickers
7 years 9 months ago

This is an excellent tip.I saved around 25 dollars a month by making the switch. I realised after couple of months that I was not using as much as I thought I would. I went online and changed it there . did not even have to speak to the CR guys

Rhonda
Rhonda
7 years 9 months ago
Right now I’m “between cell phone plans”. I had been using a tracphone, which worked fine for me as I only used it for emergencies when traveling, not chatting or regular calls. But my husband, 2 college age kids, and 1 high schooler all have cell phones. We still have a land-line as we live in a mountainous area where cell reception is still iffy much of the time at home, and no cable available. I will definitely look at the bill and go to the website to see if we can get a better deal on the family members’… Read more »
PM
PM
7 years 9 months ago

When my plan was up for renewal in Feb I checked all the competitors. I was paying less at AT&T so I stuck with them. I just went and checked them all again, not thinking anything would actually change. AT&T is way overcharging me now! Wow – I could save up to $25 with T-Mobile and get unlimited on data, text and email. Definitely going to call AT&T and see if I can work a deal since I’ve been with Cingular/AT&T since 2002.

Peggy
Peggy
7 years 9 months ago

No cell phone here at all. I lived 45 years of my life without one, had one for three years and am now living quite comfortably without one. When we lived in a rural area I carried one because there wasn’t always a phone booth within walking distance. I used it all of twice, both times to call AAA when my car broke down while driving alone at night. Don’t need it, sure don’t need the $50 a month bill.

Todays’ tip: $0
Cumulative: $0

topseekrit
topseekrit
7 years 9 months ago

Dang, I was actually hoping I would see a savings with today’s tip since I’ve been thinking about switching providers for the longest – bad cell phone signal! Turns out I’m on the best plan.

Fred
Fred
7 years 9 months ago

Nice tip! I’m on prepaid so it doesn’t apply to me, but your ‘other subscriptions’ suggestion reminds me to end my online banking contract (€30 annual fee, while the competition does this for free).

Valeria | TimelessLessons
7 years 9 months ago

Probably your best tip so far… something I’m really going to get into.

Marisa
Marisa
7 years 9 months ago
So I went to AT&T to change plans to the cheaper suggested one. They said they couldn’t switch it without charging me $175 even though I’d still be using their company. On Billshrink the deactivation fee was not mentioned. I explained that if I were to pay the fee it would be in my best interest to change to Verison since they don’t have as many junk fees, would give me a lower rate, offer better phone, waive the start up fee, and I would actullay be able to use my phone in my house. I’ve change living location recently… Read more »
Sra
7 years 9 months ago
I was skeptical about this $1,000 challenge, but when I saw this post, I decided to give it a try, because I am rather tired of paying $50 per month when I don’t really use my cell all that much. So first I examined my text usage and was astonished to see that I use less than 200 texts per month, but I have an unlimited plan. I switched that to 400 texts per month and shaved $10 off my bill. Next I looked at my minutes usage. I pay $30 for 300 minutes and free weekends, and I usually… Read more »
Gregg
7 years 9 months ago

Michael – I hear that Sprint has a phone that competes with the iPhone and it just came out, they are trying to compete with the iPhone so their plan offers unlimited everything for $100, which I believe it less expensive than th eiPhone plans. Also, the phone can be like $150, which from what I understand is cheaper than the iPhone. I dont know all the details, but its something to look into.

Nakedbamboo
Nakedbamboo
7 years 9 months ago
Well, after getting all excited, it looks like I am only going to save $10 a month on this one. I had the AT&T 700 minute plan and did some analysis and found that we were averaging 590 minutes. So I can easily tighten up on the calls and drop down to the 550 minute plan. Unfortunately, like Green Panda says, I will loose most of my 2200 rollover minutes. Also, unfortuntely, all the other major carriers have the exact same pricing for their plans and, anyway, nobody else offers anything less than a 700 minute plan. So I don’t… Read more »
JE
JE
7 years 9 months ago

It’s never a bad idea to think about what you really need. I’m a self-employed work-at-home individual, so I rarely use my cell. A landline and a pay-as-you-go cell for on-the-road emergencies serve my purposes for a total savings of about $40 per month over having a landline and a regular cell (I consider a landline essential because I have children).

Jillian
Jillian
7 years 9 months ago
I have been with Sprint for over 7 years. Last November I called to add my husband to my plan and the woman helping me was so great! She automatically gave me a 10% Loyalty discount. I have had a LOT of problems with them, but I have managed to keep my loyalty discount – which I LOVE since it also applies to my data plan (which I nabbed for a measly $5/mo from the same woman), text messages, etc. If you are with Sprint, ask them for the 10% loyalty discount and ask them to look up the codes… Read more »
Aaron
Aaron
7 years 9 months ago
I had used verizon for the past three years, but I was leaving the country for 12 months, and I wanted to keep my phone number active so I could use it as voice mail when I was away and then get my number when I came back. Verizon wanted to charge me the full monthly rate for this. I figured out that I could get a prepaid plan with t-mobile, and pay $10 every 3 months to keep my account active. When I told verizon that I wanted to switch, I asked if they were willing to match t-mobiles… Read more »
Jane
7 years 9 months ago

This tip is such a great reminder. Another thing to do is to check that bill with a fine tooth comb. I found out one month that my “roaming patterns” had changed. In other words when I got my blue tooth headset, I wasn’t aware when I was roaming and was getting caught. I called and they took off the $16 overage.

Personal Budget Planning
7 years 9 months ago

Hey, I just wanted to stop by and say, first, congrats on having such a popular blog, and two, thanks for your methods and challenges on saving money. They really push you to save and the more you save, the more you WANT to save.

Jade Cow
7 years 9 months ago

This is fascinating. I’m actually planning on getting an iPhone this December. And I just found out that I get a 20% discount with AT&T though my job, which means my bill will not go up by much. Keep an eye out for employer based discounts!

JB
JB
7 years 9 months ago

I did this 4 months ago because I was fed up with new ‘misc fees’ and terrible service from Sprint. I am now saving 30 dollars a month on my family share plan, and service doesn’t seem so terrible anymore 🙂

Ken
Ken
7 years 9 months ago
I had actually just done this reccently with my cable company. I had a plan with phone, internet and television all bundled together and for the first year it was $39.99. Well that expired so I called them back and discussed my various options with Verizon Fios and Direct TV readily available to me. At first they claimed that the deal I had originally was only good for new customers but after a little negotiating I got them to resign me for the same $39.99/mo. Which certainly beats the 80 or 90 they wanted per month. I also switched to… Read more »
Today's Budget
7 years 9 months ago

Billshrink is a great site. I’ve blogged about it before and started back in July with a plan change saving $536/year. So … new tip for some… I’m still waiting for a tip that I haven’t already implemented. Still hopeful!

Keeley
7 years 9 months ago

This one I’m feeling kind of lost on as my husband manages the cell phones; I don’t even know what plan we’re on!

Still it will be good to open the discussion with him and see where we stand. We’re also considering getting rid of our landline so that will save some spondoolicks, though I unfortunately can’t tell how much at the moment.

Day 1 savings: $0
Day 2 savings: $18
Day 3 savings: $25
Day 4: completed
Day 5: in the works

Matt
Matt
7 years 9 months ago

I’m on my dad’s family cell phone plan because it’s cheaper to buy a family plan. I send him $12 each month as reimbursement for my portion of the service. Unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited minutes within the Alltel network. Texting is $0.35 apiece but I do without.

billi
7 years 9 months ago

Sarah, (& everyone else I see complaining about Ramit’s FREE blog),
Remember this is only tip #5, maybe there will be more tips for you, maybe not. Maybe some tips won’t work for you right now, but in another season of your life. What’s the worst that can happen? You save $15 instead of 1k this month. You’ve still saved money! 🙂

Claire
Claire
7 years 9 months ago

Cool site, but it told me that I’m already on the best plan for my cell usage. We dropped our land line months ago, so we already have that savings. I’m not going to bother calling my cell phone carrier because I’m already getting a 21% discount on phone service through my employer. The only extra add on service we have is unlimited text messaging, which we use often enough to justify the unlimited charges.

Today’s tip: $0
Cumulative: $57

Bill K
Bill K
7 years 9 months ago

Well I swapped to a plan that is only marginally above my usage at an $11/mo savings (on a $40 plan). Mentioning that my contract is up in a month netted me a 50% increase in minutes for 2 months, which will give me the safe overhead to test out my usage on the new plan without going over.

Noted on my calendar to check up on usage a couple times.

Saved to date: $40

Jane
Jane
7 years 9 months ago

Ha, the ‘leave a tip’ bit keeps forwarding me to a page to write my own survey – If you can get me past it, the latest tip is ‘eat out of the freezer/cupboards this month’ . so far, saved £40 this week… [usual grocery bill £50 per week, spent £10 on veg, living off rice/packets/soup/freezer contents, reckon I can save £30-40 every week ]

RookieMom Heather
7 years 9 months ago

I just saved $20 on a the minimum plan AT+T offers — I think — PLUS iPhone extra charges of $20 per month for 2 adults. Their site let me do the whole thing in about 6 minutes so I’m not totally sure I got the best deal, but $20 is $20. Yay.

And for a tip… I heart the clothing swap. I think its more appropriate for women than men, but I could be wrong: http://www.rookiemoms.com/swap-til-you-drop/

Maria | Never the Same River Twice

This post reminded me that I need to get off my butt & cancel my landline. The savings of $45 per month or $540 per year are offset by the high speed internet I just installed, but I split that cost, so it’s $20 per month, $240 per year. Total savings: $25 this month.

I’ve sold a couple items through Amazon for a net gain of ~ $20.

We’ve also had an unprecedented warm spell, so the heat hasn’t been on since Nov. 1. Savings ~$10.

Total net change so far: $55.

James
James
7 years 9 months ago
I really like this tip, but I already implemented it a few months ago. My first contract with Sprint was up, so I renegotiated a new plan with them: 5 phones 1000 shared anytime minutes 300 texts unlimited mobile-to-mobile unlimited nights and weekends starting at 7 PM Free unlimited roaming Sprint to home (Free calls to/from one number) Total including all taxes and fees is $91.18 (less than $20/phone). So, I agree with Ramit – almost no matter what plan you have, you can save money. However, you have to be willing to walk if necessary, and you MUST go… Read more »
Amanda
7 years 9 months ago

I did this and am saving $5 per month from going from unlimited texts to 1000 per month (yes, I use that many).

I have already pared down by only having 600 minutes and by only having email (instead of email and internet). I did that several months ago…

ekrabs
ekrabs
7 years 9 months ago

I rarely use my cellphone, but I still need a phone number of some kind for those rare but important occasions.

I currently use Tracphone, and at $0.10 a minute, I am roughly average less than $10 a month on my phone bill.

I also don’t need or have a landline. I’m not sure what reference I would use in terms of savings, but… this is it for me.

Plette
Plette
7 years 9 months ago
This is very good information, but I have one more thing to add. If you are with Sprint watch out!! After being with Sprint for three years, (one year and 1 month after my 2yr contract ended), I changed my plan to include more text messaging. About 7 months later I had saved up enough to get an IPhone 3G, thus had to sign up with ATT. So I paid off my last bill, then had my number ported. roughly two weeks later, I got a bill from Sprint telling me that they renewd my contract for 2 more years… Read more »
Brandon
Brandon
7 years 9 months ago

Thanks Ramit! Finally made me revisit this plan, saved $20/month. Did the same thing for my car insurance and saved $300/year.

Rachel
Rachel
7 years 9 months ago

I just did this, and the fifteen minute conversation with AT&T has just saved me $20.00/month, or $240.00 per YEAR. That is huge. This is a fantastic series you have going, Ramit. Thank you. 🙂

Poor Boomer
Poor Boomer
7 years 9 months ago

I have a prepaid cellphone costs 25 cents per minute with a minimum $5 per month. ($5 gives me 20 minutes which expire in 30 days; unused minutes roll over if more minutes are added before expiration.)

To save money I use the phone primarily for incoming calls and save outgoing calls for times when I have access to a “free” landline.

G.L.
G.L.
7 years 9 months ago
Wow, this one actually helped me save money. 🙂 Well, kind of… It turns out that my text messaging plan is not unlimited, as I was told by a CSR a few months back, but actually only 300 texts a month. That means that I was going over by about $7-8 a month for the past few months! >:-[~~~~~] Did some research on similar phone plans online. Turns out mine is actually as good as it gets – 1,000 minutes and 300 messages for $45/month. Called Sprint, tried to get them to price-match their competitor’s cheaper (yet inferior) plan and… Read more »
TrippNC
TrippNC
7 years 9 months ago
For those of you out there sometimes making a call won’t do it, if not go try a CSR at an actual store location. I had just gotten a phone less than a month ago and got a work phone shortly after. When calling my company’s call center I was told that I’d be charged an early disconnection fee (175) and that the refund would take 6-8weeks, and insisted such. I went to a location last night and had my wife work with me good cop bad cop (yes sometimes it does work). Not only did we get her phone… Read more »
Cat
Cat
7 years 9 months ago

Check if your employer provides discount with service providers. I recently found out that my company offers Verizon discounts and am now saving 15% off the cheapest plan.

Sid
7 years 9 months ago
WOW!!!!! What an amazing money saving tip…I did exactly what the article told me to do and the my mobile provider went nuts that I was willing to walk away. I asked to be transferred to the cancellation department and they automatically, without asking me, turned me over to their retention department. They started being extremely nice to me and this & that & al this other stuff. They lowered my monthly bill by taking off $27 dollars a month for me to keep me on even a better plan. Thats $324 of savings a year. AMAZING! Thank you so… Read more »
Sean Oliver
7 years 9 months ago

I just got off the phone with ATT wireless and armed with the billshrink data, got $10 shaved off my bill for 3 months for a total savings of $30. The rep told me she could have done more if I was on a group plan. I wasn’t required to get a new plan, but at my same level of service saved $10 a month. I was encouraged to call back in 3 months as they are happy to help such a quality customer stay happy.

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Aaron
Aaron
7 years 9 months ago

Tried calling Verizon and they shut me down as I receive a corporate discount. My suggestion would also look into your employers benefits to see if they have negotiated corporate discounts for their employees. Second note, I have applied this principle to my gym membership and saved $10/mo.

Bob
Bob
7 years 9 months ago

I also tried calling Verizon today as I found that with ATT I can save $16 dollars a month. Verizon wouldn’t budge because I am already getting an employer discount of $20 per month through Verizon and plus my work is paying $30 per month for me to have my phone. I save $50 a month this way…but still end up paying $80 because I have a Blackberry. The contract is up soon so I may switch to ATT to save even more.

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[…] Optimize your mobile phone bill – I’ve already done this and will save £20 on my phone bill this month. […]

Funny about Money
7 years 9 months ago

🙂 I optimized my cell phone bill, all right: when Qwest decided to rip me off, I canceled Qwest’s service, and with it, the Qwest cell phone (a discussion with the state corporation commission helped with ending the contract early).

I now have a land line, period, which thru’ Cox is one heckuva lot cheaper than a cell phone costs. How do I not care whether I can yak at my friends while sashaying down the sidewalk? Let me count the ways….

Niki
Niki
7 years 9 months ago

Thank you! The detailed plan of attack definitely makes this tip so tangible and easy to do. I just called up my internet provider and followed the conversation you provided. Before I even needed to go down the cancellation path, they offered me an economy package that is a slower speed but saves me $20/month, which I didn’t know they had! I’m so grateful for your tip because the main reason I’ve been unsuccessful in the past with this endeavor is not knowing what to say and how to say it. Thanks, Ramit!

Barbara Jean Walsh
7 years 9 months ago

I tend to use my cellphone to check on email when I’m away from my computer, which doesn’t happen all that often. But then I do pay the price. I’ll work on restraining myself and rein in my curiosity until I get home again.

Alicia
Alicia
7 years 9 months ago

Sprint also now includes a ‘plan optimizer’ on their web site which will automatically calculate your usage against their ‘best’ plans. It automatically found a plan for $20+ cheaper than I was paying (BlackBerry with data plan) and so far I’ve saved $25 per month. One caveat – make sure they change your plan and pro rate any time remaining in the month you switched. It took Sprint > 2 months to ‘update’ my plan and I had to ask for a credit (which they offered. I also suggest emailing to follow up).

Charlotte
Charlotte
7 years 9 months ago
Ha, I am so pumped, I was feeling discouraged because when I called all the other carriers they were all more expensive than my Sprint plan. I just decided to call Sprint to be sure that I had the right numbers (mins, price per line, etc) since no one was cheaper, just by calling in the lady said “Well ma’me by looking at your account I see you would benefit from blah blah plan, it has 200 hundred additional mins. and no extra for the unlimited text – as I have a houseful of teens that is very important- and… Read more »
Sarah C.
Sarah C.
7 years 9 months ago
I tried this out last night with ATT. I looked up some other plans and found one on Sprint that actually looked good for me (which was a surprise since I always thought my 450 minutes for 39.99 was the lowest plan for most carriers). The Sprint plan is 200 minutes/1000 nights and weekend for 29.99 (still more than i’d use but $10 cheaper a month). I know pay-as-you-go might be even cheaper for someone like me, but I’ve been told I wouldn’t be able to keep my number if I switched to that type of plan. I’m out of… Read more »
PDXGirl
PDXGirl
7 years 9 months ago

Nothing saved here, I’m on my parent’s family plan for $20 a month, hard to find a better deal than that.

Marco Almeida
Marco Almeida
7 years 9 months ago

Hi everybody,
I’m from Portugal and I did just that kind of negotiation a few months ago with my Internet and Cable provider: I’m now paying 10 euros less per month AND got free national phone calls for 1 year. Nice!

We’ve got the power! Hehehe

alexinmadison
alexinmadison
7 years 9 months ago

$0 for me on this one. I currently have a company cell.

Robert C
Robert C
7 years 9 months ago

I’ll review my phone bill again. Although my company pays 75 dollars a bill, I still use up to $120 a month with my wifes phone. So thats $45 bucks still out of my pocket. So I’ll delete the text messaging off her phone and add it on mine. That adds back onto my phone bill. So I’ll almost hit the $75 max. If I move all that over my personal bill should end up being 30 bucks a month. Thanks for the advice.

Kristy
Kristy
7 years 9 months ago
Sounds like I need to research plans when I return stateside next year. We currently pay 980 yen (about $10) per phone for free unlimited texting all the time, free incoming calls all the time, and free outgoing calls 0600-2100; I had to teach my teenager that she can only text after 2100 as she ran her phone up an extra $20 by talking to her friends after that hour. We were with Sprint for nearly 10 years before but had problems with them trying to charge us the ETF when we were exempt with orders overseas — took 3… Read more »
Asti
7 years 9 months ago
I have had Verizon for last 4 years. Never have I gone over my basic lowest plan minutes. I also get employee discount from my university. This month however, I was traveling out-of-state and apparently you have to reprogram your phone to be able to access all the minutes/balance information on your phone or Verizon website – something I didn’t do. So I couldn’t access any of that information and was crazy busy the whole time. I had to talk to several people and didn’t pay attention to my minutes. As a result, when my bill came, I was over… Read more »
Cheska
7 years 9 months ago
Good advice, I’m glad I found the link to your site from one of the other finance blogs I frequent. The first thing I did when it came to cutting down my cell phone bill was come to terms with the fact that I don’t need an iPhone or blackberry with 8274375 programs, email, internet access, mp3 player, ringback tones, etc. I needed a working phone that allowed me to make phone calls and the occasional text, period. I also did what you did with the plan; I signed up for a moderate plan and tracked my usage for several… Read more »
jon
7 years 9 months ago

This was *tough* *tough* *tough*. I do realize however, that my data access on my mobile is a complete luxury, and $30+tax/month makes sense. This may be one of those that I pick back up again shortly though 🙂

I’ve gotten great rates with cable companies in the past by using your technique above (i was honestly about to switch ‘cos direcTV had a better deal than dish at the time) so i got hooked up by dish.

nowdays i have neither, although boxee + 12GB internet have supplanted cable. i prefer full on demand rather than piping it to me anyway.

j.

Dylan
7 years 9 months ago
There is another key route that an increasing number of cell phone subscribers are taking to slash their bills. In particular, customers with plans by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular are seeing substantial savings achieved through a company called Validas. The name of the Validas website, http://www.fixmycellbill.com, provides a good idea of what they do. Within seconds, Validas analyzes your online cell bill and generates a dollar figure of the exact amount you could be saving on your plan. Validas was able to save me over 19 bucks every month on my Verizon Wireless plan–or over 230 dollars… Read more »
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[…] down 3 degrees Sell something on eBay today Involve your friends in your savings challenge Optimize your cellphone bill Use gas prices to become your own hedge fund Create a “No Spending” day once a week Implement […]

Stacy
Stacy
7 years 8 months ago
This prompted me to reasses my packages. I just called our cell-phone carrier because I noticed that we had 11,000 roll-over minutes, which meant our plan was too high. I also discovered that they were still charging me for an international package even though I called them numerous times to remove. In the end, I received a $36.49 credit towards next month bill and I reduced our monthly bill by $100. That’s a $1,200 savings for the year. On our cable, phone, internet, I did not have a bundle package. I signed up with a promotion and have put a… Read more »
Sharad
Sharad
7 years 8 months ago

Just called AT&T Wireless and was transferred to the cancellation department. Even though I’m on an iPhone plan, which is difficult to have reduced, I was able to save $20 a month by negotiating with the CSR to let me keep my 5,500 rollover minutes. The amount of additional minutes I’ll need each month will allow me to save about $20 a month for a year, for a net savings of $240.

Kelly
Kelly
7 years 8 months ago
I actually had two cell phone plans with AT&T, one for my “business” phone and one for my family phones, both of which contain iPhone goodies. My family plan was about $120 a month and my business was running about $130 per month. So at that I was paying $250ish per month for cell service. I called AT&T a week or so ago to see if I could have both plans rolled into one. They merged my two plans together and now my monthly bill for the same services and numbers is $150. So that is a net savings of… Read more »
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[…] If he or she doesn’t give you the plan right away, do what Ramit Sethi recommended over at iwilltechyoutoberich.com  You: “Listen, you know times are tough and I need to get a better deal to stick with you […]

liz
7 years 7 months ago

i just found your blog (my friend sent me the link) and i love it! i just used this tip and in one hour (research + phone time w/ verizon) i lowered my bill $24.99 per month and got a $25 credit towards a new phone ($50 under my insurance plan… mine broke).

total savings: $24.99/month x 19 months + $25 for new phone = $499.81.

you are awesome!

Ghost
Ghost
7 years 7 months ago

I called AT&T and they changed my 39.99 plan to 29.99 for only three months so basically I’ll have to do same negotiation once again after 3 months. Any suggestions????????? on how to deal with AT&T next time.

Budgeta
Budgeta
7 years 7 months ago
My family has been getting a “government rate” because my husband worked for a city that gave him a phone. When he left that city and went to another city we kept the number and the “government rate” was left in tact. So I suggest asking for the “gov rate” and see what you can get. I cut my land line $15 by downgrading to the “poverty package”. The phone guy started laughing when I used the “poverty package” term. I went back to an old fashioned answering machine my mom had lying around. I figured why pay the Qwest… Read more »
Budgeta
Budgeta
7 years 7 months ago

Another cell phone tip: You can have them put a lock on the megabyte and pixflix. I did this because my kids would occasionally on accident push those buttons and then I would find a charge or $1.95 on my bill. I’m still going to check my bills, but the Verizon rep said that this “lock” would take care of the accidental charges.

David ben-Avram
7 years 7 months ago
People, the iPhone is luxury item with no direct competitor, so you will have limited (if any) bargaining power with the iPhone and it’s proprietary service plans. If you really want to learn to be rich, avoid the clutches of the shiny iPhone and find a respectable phone for less that gives you more pricing flexibility. Moreover, when it comes time to purchase a phone, scour the Internet cell phone stores (like letstalk.com) for their best price on the handset (and maybe the free accessories it comes with), print it out and take it to a local merchant POST-HASTE and… Read more »
Karen
Karen
7 years 6 months ago

I just made this call to my cell phone company last night and got a free month of service and 100 extra minutes this month. Worked like a charm. Thanks Ramit!

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7 years 6 months ago

[…] So I’m trying to optimize our cell phone bill based on reading Ramit’s post on lowering cell phone expenses.  […]

Chike
Chike
7 years 5 months ago

To Michael, Nov 2008:

We’re stuck with the iPhone, but you still might be able to save money.

After reading the comments here, I went to the att.com/wireless website and downgraded my plan on the original iPhone for a net savings of $27/month. It took less than 5 minutes.

You lose some rollover minutes by doing this, but in my case I use the data much more than the actual phone. (Rollover minutes have no value if you never actually use them.)

Ron
Ron
7 years 5 months ago

I just called Comcast and saved $32/mo with no changes to service just by asking for a cheaper bundle.

jon roth
7 years 3 months ago

I saved $9/mo on AT&T. First used Billshrink.com to get my argument straight. I went from a $40/mo plan for 450 minutes, 5000 nights&weekends with $9 add-on for early N&W (starting 7PM) to an unadvertised (I think) $40 1000 minute plan with unlimited N&W, but no mobile-to-mobile or rollover. Annual savings $108 (before taxes), took 2 phone calls and about an hour.

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7 years 3 months ago

[…] how to save money on your cell phone, including calling up your company and asking for a discount. Read his article and see how to save some serious […]

phone
7 years 2 months ago

I’ve blogged about it before and started back in July with a plan change saving $536/year. tks.

Marc
7 years 2 months ago

Just checked out billshrink after watching your recent youtube spot. Saved $60 a month on my phone bill in 2 minutes. Amazing.

Mary
Mary
7 years 1 month ago

I’m on a discounted plan through my company and was paying 50/mo for 500 minutes. My roommate mentioned her plan for 30/mo for 450 min. I have never gone over and looked at my current month which is done next week and I only have used 66 minutes so I quickly switched to the $20/mo cheaper plan and can’t wait. I hate giving Verizon any extra money since they have caused me so much stress and blatantly steal people’s money so yay!

tori
tori
7 years 1 month ago

I just tried this with Verizon and unfortunately it didn’t work out. Rather than give me a discount, the operator offered to cancel everything and charge me a $250 cancellation fee. What did I do wrong?!

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[…] Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill, Rachel writes: “I just did this, and the fifteen minute conversation with AT&T has just […]

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[…] Tip #3: Sell something on eBay today Tip #4: Involve your friends in your savings challenge Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill Tip #6: Use gas prices to become your own hedge fund Tip #7: Create a “No Spending” day once a […]

Nancy
Nancy
6 years 3 months ago
I have Sprint. Had Sprint for over 10 years. Every mnonth I have about 300 or 400 minutes left EVERY month. My son texts more than calls. We have 700 minutes on shared plan. I use about 150 every month. This past month for some reason he has been calling more than texting and we were over by about 250 minutes. $92.00 charge. I am going to demand all my minutes that I have had left over and if they don’t do it,I will cancel and I will have that bill hanging over my head till the day I die,but… Read more »
Stuart
Stuart
9 months 23 days ago

Cheers – worked…great post.

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9 months 3 days ago

What’s up, I check your new stuff named “Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill – I Will Teach You To Be Rich” like every week.

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8 months 25 days ago

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8 months 25 days ago

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8 months 1 day ago

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[…] also a huge fan of Ramit Sethi’s blog because there was one specific post I read that helped me save $30/month on my cable bill with one simple phone […]

Claudette
7 months 21 days ago

Thanks for finally writing about >Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill – I Will Teach
You To Be Rich <Loved it!

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[…] phone plan, then never check to see if it’s the right one for us based on our usage,” writes Sethi. “Because the average cell phone bill is about $50, that’s $600 per year of money […]

Taliah Bargas
Taliah Bargas
7 months 20 hours ago
Just did this today. I’m really struggling at the moment. With no work for a freelancer paying for bills has become a nightmare. I don’t deal with stress very well so you can only image how stressful it was for me to pay 120$ a month for my cellphone to be kept on. Multiple arrangements and 20$ here and there. Depressing being completely broke but I have came across this website before and thought about doing this but never did. So, on one so not very exciting day I sat down and called my cell company sprint. They have a… Read more »
Andy
6 months 30 days ago

I was able to save a good bit of money just by ditching unlimited texting. Even though it’s only $10 a month, at 10 cents per text I would have to text over 100 texts a month to make it worth the price, and I simply just don’t text that much anymore. And with services like Kik and other things like that, we almost don’t need texting at all anymore.

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[…] a cell phone plan, then never check to see if it’s the right one for us based on our usage,” writes author Ramit Sethi. “Because the average cell phone bill is about $50, that’s $600 per year […]

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[…] but they’re easy targets, and they’re pretty quick to cut.  Reduce/negotiate your wireless data plan (we’ve cut ours from almost $130/mo to $85/mo!) Bigger targets of opportunity are certainly […]

Cell Phones for seniors
3 months 9 days ago

that is good thanks

Khushi Dhomne
Khushi Dhomne
3 months 9 days ago

How do I decrease the number of the bill when it is already came. And its too much and I cant tell my parents about my increased bill so how do I do that..

intouch wireless
2 months 15 days ago

Very informative for me .
new phone
>

Kit Clark
Kit Clark
2 months 9 days ago
I called Verizon to negotiate my bill. I used many of Ramit’s strategies; paying special attention not to ask any questions. After speaking with 4 different Customer Care representatives I was able to get a one time credit of just over a $100, which is equivalent to 3 months of paying what Sprint is offering with their “cut your bill in half” plan. I have mixed feelings on the matter and am unconvinced that this was a “win”. The savings are not built in and certainly don’t constitute a “big win” that would pay dividends for years. The Verizon representives… Read more »
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stee
stee
23 hours 6 minutes ago

Got sick and tired of high Verizon phone bills, paying $70/month just wasn’t for me anymore. I have a nice Note 3 smartphone that’s plenty fast enough for web browsing so I had no need to go with a newer phone beyond that. Solution? Went to Tracfone with their bring your own smartphone. In this case, I was able to continue using Verizon! It’s like no difference whatsoever in connection speeds. Just that I now save hundreds of dollars a year getting the same product delivered to me.

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