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Saving Money on Cell Phones

Category Utilities
Trying to save money on your cell phone plan can be a confusing and exhausting process. Don't give up, there are ways to cost cut. This is a guide about saving money on your sell phone plan.


Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

By 17 found this helpful
October 3, 2014

In filling out one of those endless surveys online the other day (don't take them, they truly are endless), one interesting thing came out of it. A window popped up advertising a federal program offering completely FREE cell phones and service.

I thought it was a scam at first, but after much curious research, including a call to a county office, I discovered this is for real! It is Q Link Wireless, the link is below. Or, you can call them toll free at 1-855-754-6543.

I looked up the qualifications and you must either meet federal monthly income guidelines or participate in any of the following programs: Medicaid, Temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), Food stamps/Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), Federal housing/Section 8 assistance, Supplemental security income (SSI), Low income energy assistance program (LIHEAP), National school lunch program.

What a blessing for those who cannot afford a phone, or who would benefit greatly from an additional one. I just thought everyone should know this is available.

Source: internet surfing


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By 12 found this helpful
September 15, 2014

Ok. How many remember the TV show "Laugh In" from the late 60s - early 70s? The title of my tip originated from that show. I have a small cell phone. It's not a smart one, but it's fine for what I need it for. Anyway, my husband had purchased me a nice $15 case for it and I had the case for several years. Then I lost it and I would not spend another $15 to get a replacement case.


Instead, I bought a pair of toddler socks. The phone fits perfectly down inside the sock and is easy to see in my purse. It protects my phone and serves its purpose. The added plus is I have a "spare case" if I should lose the sock. So "Sock It To Me."

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August 5, 2013

Cell phones are many times free to anyone receiving any kind of assistance: Lower income families, SSI, food stamps, Medicaid. I believe this service is available in many states in the US. Check the link below or Google - Free phones.

Also, many land-line companies offer a reduced rate for people in these programs. You have to ask about this as they will not volunteer this information.

What do you need? Cell phone or land line? Or both? Things to consider:

  • How much are you on the road that you may need a cell?

  • How many necessary calls are you making when you are away from home?

  • Do you get good reception with a cell phone at home or on the road?

  • Land lines are not with your electric service so electric outages many times do not affect land lines.

  • Compare services of phones because you may only need basic service.

Here is one link that has some phone services described:

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By 13 found this helpful
July 13, 2010

If you are out on the water, particularly in smaller vessels such as jet skis, canoes, kayaks, etc., take note of the following tip. Place your cell phone inside a drink cozy and then place inside a plastic zip top bag.

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By 4 found this helpful
October 30, 2009

You can get a cell phone for absolutely nothing. It is for low income people, every month you get 80 free minutes.There is no catch, no hidden charges.


If you lose the phone, they will send you another one for free. I just got my replacement phone.

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By 5 found this helpful
January 19, 2010

Did you ever notice that a cell phone plan/contract is 2 years and the phone only works for a year? Instead of spending a ton of money to buy a new phone, buy a Go phone (prepaid phone) for $15-$20. DO NOT have it activated.

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By 3 found this helpful
January 3, 2013

I dropped my monthly cellphone charges by getting a 20 dollar cellphone.

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September 12, 20080 found this helpful

Tips for saving money on cellphones as suggested by the ThriftyFun community. The main thing you have to be careful of with a cellphone company is whether or not you'll have good coverage.

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By 2 found this helpful
March 26, 2013

I recently noticed an ad for a free Verizon smart phone and was about to upgrade two of my family's older technology smart phones when my son pointed out to me that in doing so, I was giving up my unlimited data plan.

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By 2 found this helpful
March 21, 2011

Looking for ways to lower cell phone bills? I have a generous Data Plan but my kids kept going over the megabytes allowed and increasing my payments. Since the text message plan we have is unlimited, my kids now mostly text message instead of BBM, lowering my costs.

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By 2 found this helpful
April 26, 2010

If you are on a cell phone plan that offers Family and Friends calls, update your list before taking a trip. Family and Friends phone numbers are the same as mobile to mobile and there is not a charge for the call.


This list updates within 24 hours.

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By 2 found this helpful
December 18, 2009

I have a cell phone that I use for business purposes and have an unlimited plan that is very expensive. I have found out through my service provider (Verizon) that they offer a favorite five like another company.

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September 16, 2008

I left my cell phone in my car for 2 hours with the heat index down here in the Rio Grande Valley being 110. When I picked it up, it was DEAD. No way to turn it on, or to charge it.

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By 1 found this helpful
September 24, 2008

To save cell phone minutes, do as much online as you can. You can pay bills, contact companies, and email.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 22, 2007

I receive 19% off my cellphone bill, each month, for being an educator. My husband and I also switched to the family plan. Contact your provider and they will give any information you need.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
April 24, 2010

What is the most economical cell phone plan for a light user with no texting?

By Sally from Chewelah, WA



April 24, 20100 found this helpful

I have a Tracfone and I'm not committed to a contract of any kind. I prepay for minutes using my credit card. Once in a while I receive a text message, but won't answer them. The text messages are just nonsense from people who I don't know. So I just delete all text messages.

I forgot to mention that Tracfone will give you free minutes. If I buy 400 minutes, Tracfone will give me 400 free minutes for a total of 800 minutes. How many carriers will give you free minutes?

Check out

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April 24, 20100 found this helpful

Net10 is 10 cents a minute and phones start at $10. You can buy them at Walmart, 7-11, Kroger, Dollar General. I just bought one for my 66 year old mom. She loves it. $30 gives her 300 minutes to use over two months.


Hope this helps.

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April 25, 20100 found this helpful

I use tracfone also. If you look you can find a model that will give you double minutes for the life of the phone, an important feature for some. I have been as high as 350 minutes of time because if you renew on time your minutes roll over. They also have great coverage. Text message take 1/3 of a minute off the phone, I only get them from my daughter and tracfone and the trac phone messages don't take anytime off.

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April 26, 20100 found this helpful

I have used several carriers, but I like Consumer Cellular. It's only $10.00 a month and you only get chargedfor the minutes you talk. If you decide to go that route, let me know, please. OK? (oh, and I contract!)

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April 26, 20100 found this helpful

I looked at the Concumer Cell offers.
Tracfone is still the best, least expensive way to go for someone like me who uses it only accasionally, but wants to have it available if needed.
I have had my Tracfone for 5 years.
You should check out before deciding.

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April 26, 20100 found this helpful

Dear Sally, I wanted to say, Thank you for continuing the work your sister started. I know there are others doing their share also. To the family of Susan and to the ThriftyFun staff/ family, Thanks is not enough. But Thank You. Great Granny Hugs,Vi

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April 27, 20100 found this helpful

I love my Tracfone. It came with a charger for the house and I purchased one to go in the car. I've had it for 3 years and have had no problems.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 25, 2011

I need a cell phone with minimum features and a low monthly service fee. I just want to make and receive calls, maybe a couple of times daily. Please recommend a phone model and service provider.

By Ed from DC

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August 31, 20110 found this helpful

I want to have a cell phone for my home, no texting, just a basic cell phone. Any ideas? I had Triple Play with Comcast and after my contract expired my monthly rate went up about 70% so I dropped phone service. Now I'm trying to find a very basic, cheap cell phone plan to replace my land line.

By Comcast Hater

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By 0 found this helpful
September 18, 2011

Where can I get a free or cheap cellphone?

By debrn56

Read More Answers


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

April 24, 20100 found this helpful

My husband has started a new job. I need to pick him up everyday from the job sites so he needs a cell phone to call when ready. I got on a couple of sites and all the plans started at like 39.99, can anyone recommend a company that has cheap, basic plans for less? Would it be better to go with a plan or a prepaid? I also have tons of old cell phones just laying around, so if I could use one of them it would be great.

Natalie from Utah


Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

Get a tracfone. You get 800 minutes a year for $100. (07/24/2008)

By Lisa

Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

We have Verizon and get our home phone with unlimited long distance and a cell with (I think) about 400 minutes (we use usually 18 min/mo.) and they cost us $31.00 all together. You can go to and find out all the plans. Also, we have free (no minutes used) when we use our cell to call other Verizon people. Good for kids who are away and mother wants to check often. (07/24/2008)

By Judi

Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

I second the comment about the Tracfone. I just bought a phone for $40 and it has a promotion that doubles all the minutes for the life of the phone. You can also do a search for Tracfone codes that give you bonus minutes when you add minutes to your phone. For less than $20, I added 200 minutes that will last until December, and will carry over as long as I add minutes before then. (07/25/2008)

By Stacy Emberson

Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

I use Net10. It's the sister company to Tracfone. It's all prepaid minutes and so easy to use. If your minutes get low, buy another card, go online to add minutes or add them from your Net10 phone.

You can get the phones at places like Walmart, Dollar stores, or on the Net10 website.

I add minutes every 60 days and it costs me $30. So I'm using their basic prepaid plan = 300 minutes, 60 days, $30. 10 cents a minute.

It couldn't be any easier and it's great area coverage and I can talk anytime, anywhere to anyone. (07/25/2008)

By Sherry

Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

I agree Tracfone is a good option for what you described, but ask around about which company is their carrier in your locality. I used one for years with great results, until they changed carriers and I had nothing, but dropped calls and had to quit using them. (07/26/2008)

By ChloeA

Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

I'm using a T-mobile prepaid phone. The minutes are cheaper than the tracphone, you can get as many minutes as you need. I buy a 1,000 minutes for $100.00 and it is good for
1 year. Otherwise, your minutes will be deleted every three months if you don't use them. I don't use many minutes, but this way I have lots of time to use them up. I have been able to use it most anywhere.


Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

I have had an STi phone for several years and have used it all over America including Hawaii. It costs .10 a day plus .10 a minute. Since I only use it when needed to change a meeting, etc, or on vacation, it costs me $3 to $5 a month. I got the phone with a total rebate, but now you have to pay a little for the phone. You can buy them at Staples or at

You can buy the cards to add minutes at, there is a 3% discount and no tax. You can buy $10, $25, or $50 at a time.

On TMobile you have to buy $100 worth to get the .10 a minute rate. I know some others have .10 a minute, but on most the minutes expire and you really can't use the phone for less than $9 a month. I've never seen anything cheaper than this STi. (07/26/2008)

By Estella

Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

I saw a print ad for a phone called the Jitterbug. They claim to have plans for as low as 10.00 per month. (08/03/2008)

By Tammy

Finding An Inexpensive, Basic Cell Phone Plan

I recommend Net-10. You can get a basic phone starting as low as $19.99 and it comes with 300 minutes and 60 days of service upon activation. Also, super simple to buy additional minutes on-line. (07/16/2009)

By Kay09

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By 0 found this helpful
March 29, 2010

I remember when cellphones came out. My dad had one in his car but most people didn't have one. I would walk down the street in the city I lived in at the time and saw these business people with them, they were the size of a walkie-talkie and very ugly-looking. I thought people looked ridiculous walking and talking and I swore I'd never get one.

Not a decade later, I found myself in a cellphone store (late nineties) and purchasing one with a plan. Even then, not everyone had a cellphone so our costs were really low. We used them mostly to contact each other (my partner and I) if we were meeting up somewhere or plans changed. It was very convenient but we didn't live by them. I think sometimes we forgot we even had one. And text messaging wasn't what it is now, most people didn't text back then.

Then fast-forward another decade. I don't know anyone who doesn't own a cellphone. Even friends of mine who swore 5 years ago that they'd never get one, have one. It has become commonplace. Many of my friends who live in apartments don't have a LAN line and just use their cell as their home phone.

On one hand, I like the convenience but on the other hand I really hate them. I don't spend a lot of money on mine but many of my younger friends are constantly glued to their phones, especially since Blackberries and IPhones came out. It seems as though I can't have a coffee, dinner or even a nice day out with someone without them having to text or call someone or even taking a call.

Please consider shutting your phone off when spending time with friends and/or family. I love going to Holland since many restaurants there have a no-cell usage sign on their door. I am then guaranteed quality time with whoever I am with as I know their cellphone won't be dining with us.

All this being said, we are obviously using our cell a lot more than before which means our costs are probably a lot higher as well. So how do we cut costs? Have you ever received a ridiculously high cellphone bill? Are you on a budget and still spending $100 a month on it? Here are a few things you can do. We lived without cellphones before, we can still do it now. It's OK to have a cellphone but it's not OK to deal with its usage like we'd deal with a drug addiction. Do you find yourself texting, facebooking and calling people constantly? Try turning your phone off during peak hours. Tell friends only to text or call you if it is truly needed or else just tell them to use email and you can check it when you get home. Send emails on your computer, text only when it's absolutely necessary. If you must pay for incoming text messages, tell people not to text you but to call you instead (at times where it's free for you to receive calls)

Change Your Plan As Your Life Changes

Cellphone companies have plans depending on our usage. Sometimes one plan is good for a while but then life changes and that plan no longer works. I used to have a 5-faves plan when my friends lived in the city. These are people I would call on a regular basis and I didn't call others as much. So I could text, call and receive calls from these people constantly and it wouldn't cost me a dime. Everyone moved away so I had no use for this anymore. I changed my plan and am now saving $20 a month.

Look at your bill, figure out when and who you call and pick a plan that is appropriate for your life. Believe it or not, some companies have plans that they don't advertise so it's a good idea to call, tell them what your needs are and find out if they have any suggestions. They are trained to do this and will look at your bill for you to determine what's best for you. Don't let them talk you into something you don't need though. Make a point of saying that you want to stay with that company but that you need to reduce your costs.

Get Pay As You Go

A lot of people won't like me for suggesting this, but it's the only way to closely monitor your usage. I knew a lady who bought a $15 card monthly for her phone. Once it ran out, she didn't buy another one till the month was up. This was her way of monitoring her costs. She then realized when she really needed it and when she just wanted to use it.

The nice thing about Pay as You Go is that all services are included and you won't run up a bill. It's like being on a cellphone diet. Some people I know hated it because it limited their usage but that's the whole point. Do you really need to text your friend to say that there is a good sale on at the clothing store or that you ran into an old friend?

Don't Bring Your Cell When Traveling Overseas.

Unless you are there for work and your cell is paid for, leave it at home! The roaming costs are ridiculous overseas. When we visit my partners parents in Holland, we have a Dutch Pay as you Go (we have a used one his mom gave us) and get a card for it.

My mother does the same thing when she goes to Spain for a month every year. She has a Spanish pay as you go and just gets a card when she arrives. The nice thing about European cellphones is that all incoming calls are free, so even if we have run out of minutes on our card, his parents can still call us on it. It might cost you 30 euros to get a cheap phone and card but that's a lot cheaper than paying roaming charges. If I am only going out of the country for a few days, I just turn off my cellphone and don't use it at all and use payphones or my laptop to send emails.

Get Work To Pay Part Of Your Bill

If you have a personal cell but find that you are using it for work sometimes, talk to your employer and find out if you can expense some of your usage. I know a friend who used to do this and part of his bill was paid for by his company. If they refuse to pay, tell them that you can no longer afford to take work calls on your cellphone, they might change their minds.

Get A Basic Phone With No Bells And Whistles.

Most of my friends are serious tech geeks so telling them to get rid of their Iphones or Blackberries is nearly impossible. Myself, I have a basic phone with no data plan, I can just call and text, that's it. It's not very exciting looking but it does the job. I can text easily and it works perfectly. There is no need to get the latest gadget to keep up with the Jones'. I got my cell company to block the internet portion of it so I wouldn't use it. My bill is less than $30 a month right now and believe it or not I am still trying to find ways to reduce it.

Send Text Messages Online.

There are a number of free text messaging services online such as or You can also text message from the cell providers website. I have done this before when I didn't have a text plan way back when. Texting your friend's cell from your computer will save you money. Some people have their cellphones set up with MSN so you can text someone's cellphone if they are not online and it goes right to their cellphone.

Cellphone usage has become a scary addiction, I really wish most people I knew would go on a cellphone diet because it has not enhanced my friendships at all, if anything I feel as if it has made them less personal. I always feel less important than their cellphone. We have this obsessive need to be connected to everything and everyone at all times. I don't think it's healthy. Although I do find them useful, I do think it's time for most people to reevaluate their usage. Not only to save money but to enhance personal connections.

Good luck!

Source: Written by me and taken from my blog:

By Lisa from Halifax, NS

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