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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.
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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.

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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 4 found this helpful
October 30, 2009

You can get a cell phone for absolutely nothing. Go to to SafeLink Wireless 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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Source: A friend

By sherry from Onset, MA

Editor's Note: Not available in all states yet.

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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. Just put your sim card in it, and charge it. It will be good to go.

If you have a plan with AT&T, buy a AT&T Go phone, same with Verizon and so on. My cell phone broke this morning, I did this and it worked.

By Michele from Bangor, PA

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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.

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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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Questions

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.

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.

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By Comcast Hater

Answers

September 1, 20110 found this helpful

Do not get a trac phone if you can help it. I have had bad experiences with those. You will be happy you have a cell phone, you can fill them up with cards as you go or get a reasonable plan. They have them at most stores, all kinds of phones, and there are phones with cameras, etc. I love them. We stopped with the regular land lines a long time ago and have never once looked back.

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September 1, 20110 found this helpful

Depending on where you're at try MetroPCS. I've been using them for a few years now with no issues at all.

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September 1, 20110 found this helpful

www.cellreception.com/.../ (put in your state)
where are you located? Some systems work better in certain parts of the country than others! I have t-mobile; had them since 1998 back then they were voicestream. I have been off contract for several years and price has stayed the same!

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Cricket is a cell service out here that works pretty good and they are month - month and I don't think any contract!

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September 1, 20110 found this helpful

Verizon has a plan to add a house phone to your cell phone plan for $10. It's part of the "add a line" deal. You can add another cell user or a house phone. But you need to get decent service in your area of course. It's basically another cell phone but you can keep your land line number and the phones are like regular land line phones.

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September 1, 20110 found this helpful

Depends upon what services are near you. Straight Talk ($45/mo unlimited) is fairly basic and it does include everything, just in case at some point in the future you do text or do internet...but you should really look at the coverage maps, because ST works in my daughter's area, but not in mine.

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September 3, 20110 found this helpful

I can totally recommend Consumer Cellular! Their phones are extremely reasonable (or even free). My plan is 700 anywhere anytime minutes for around $35 a month complete with taxes, etc. Their customer service - either phone or e-mail is the best I've ever seen. And the best part - absolutely NO contracts!

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October 4, 20110 found this helpful

The first thing you need to do is make sure there is adequate reception in your area. I say this because we want to do the same thing but where we live reception is hit or miss, mostly miss. So we are waiting till we move (which we have been planning for several years now anyway).

Also, there may be only one company that has good reception in your area. Check that out with your neighbors.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you have good reception I'd say go for it. I know people (that dont' live in my area) that have done that and are very happy with it.

Good luck.

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October 4, 20110 found this helpful

I'm probably one of the few people who doesn't have a cell phone. We used Vonage for awhile through our computer but quickly realized if we lost power we also lost our phone.

For one week after April 27th, 2011 all of Alabama had no power for 5 days.
All my neighbors cell phones were useless because of all the cell towers were damaged.

They also had no way to recharge their Cell Phones and the lines at all the gas stations, if they were even opened were very, very long. In many cases it was hard to even recharge their phones while they wasted gas, running their cars.

Our house line was still working and basically our house became the call center for the entire neighborhood.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 18, 2011

Where can I get a free or cheap cellphone?

By debrn56

Answers

September 19, 20110 found this helpful

A trac phone would be the cheapest. Availabe at Radio Shack or other electronic dept stores. You buy the phone and then just buy a card to program the phone. When the minutes are used up buy another card. Same as buying a phone card.

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September 19, 20110 found this helpful

SafeLink Wireless provides a free cell phone and a limited number of voice minutes each month for low-income-eligible families (one per family). There is also a plan called Straight Talk that provides plans for as low as $30.00 a month.

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September 19, 20110 found this helpful

Nothing is for free honey, but I would get just a simple basic plan from a cell phone provider. Trac phones are a good thought, but they can add up to be more than a cell phone with a plan. Buying those cards all the time to put time on them gets to be ridiculous. By the time you drive to the store to get some more minutes, you've wasted a bunch of gas.

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September 20, 20110 found this helpful

I have a track phone because I really just need it for emergencies. I got it on sale to begin with and have hardly used any minutes so it works for me. It used to be with a tracphone that you had to use up your minutes by a certain time or you would lose them but not so now.

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Anonymous
September 20, 20110 found this helpful

Because I am very low income and disabled I was approved for a free Safelink phone and free minutes per month. I use it for emergencies or if I am away from home and need to call someone. I chose the 125 minutes a month plan because those minutes roll over so I have been able to collect some extra minutes to have on hand for when I am emergency hospitalized and would need to make long distance calls to family and friends.

You can choose 250 minutes but they do not roll over if you don't use them all during the month. If you need more minutes than the 250 you can purchase more for a very reasonable price. Go to this link and apply. If you aren't accepted for the free phone and service they still have a really good deal for a phone and for minutes. There are different rules for free phone and service approval so you might qualify. It's a completely secure site so don't be afraid to give them the personal info they will ask you.
www.safelinkwireless.com/.../

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September 25, 20110 found this helpful

My hubby's had a SafeLink phone for a couple of years now. I applied online, & since we're on Social Security (disability for me, retirement for him,) we qualified. 60 minutes have been more than enough for us. The down side? It's not blind-accessible. I had to ask him to paint the "talk" and "end" buttons with my tactile marker just so I could turn it off when he forgets.
There's a second provider now, Assurance Wireless, through Virgin Mobile rather than Tracphone. Here's a link to their FAQ page.

www.assurancewireless.com/.../FAQs.aspx

I'm debating whether to switch. We don't need more minutes, but what if something happened to our power and my hubby at the same time? I'm hoping the Virgin Mobile phones would be more accessible.

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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.

Change Your Habits

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 freetxt.com or freetxt.ca. 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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