The vast majority of Americans — around 96 percent — now own a cell phone, reports the Pew Research Center.
If you're one of the growing numbers of people who have ditched their landline, you're probably looking to save money on your cell phone bill. Really, who isn't? The good news is that wireless service is getting a lot less costly. You could even say cheap. But if you're not feeling the discount just yet, get ready to.
Did you know that some cities are cheaper than others for cell phone plans? It could be part of your decision-making process if you're looking to relocate, on the job market and looking for a new apartment.
Today, the average monthly cell phone bill runs in the $180 range for a family plan. But if you want to spend $10 or less a month, it's plausible if you switch from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon to one of the smaller carriers that run on the bigger carriers networks.
These smaller carriers might cap their internet speeds but could be perfect as an emergency phone or starter phone for kids.
If you're looking for other ways to cut your cell phone costs, consider these 10 tips.
Look into the Root Metrics coverage map. Plug in your zip code to see which carrier has the best network technologies (essentially, the strongest signal) where you live, work and play. And, always remember to check the strength of your cell service while you're apartment hunting.
Network coverage could help you decide which carrier to choose with the best cost-savings plan. It could also help you determine which apartment to choose based on testing your cell signal inside.
But if the signal is not ideal, you could always use signal boosters and microcells. Or, alternatively, you could hang on to your landline. It's crucial if you're in a bad location and have trouble getting service indoors.
Concerns about gigabytes or the lack thereof are no joke. But seriously, do you really need unlimited data? If the answer is "no," then do your research. Get into a less expensive plan.
It's a smart move if your expectation is to use less than 2-3GB monthly. The average smartphone owner uses 2GB to 5GB of data each month, according to Nerdwallet.
Are you worried about contracts? Don't be. Most carriers have done away with them, anyway. And don't worry about an early termination fee, either. Your carrier will likely help by paying it for you.
You can also budget your cell phone bill for the long term with a prepaid plan. That lets you wipe out unexpected costs. With prepaid plans, your charges reflect a specific amount at the start of the month. This amount is for your agreed-upon volume of talk, text and data.
AT&T has basic prepaid plans. They run between $35 and $85 a month. Autopay and you can save even more. You could be looking at cutting between $5 and $15 monthly. Cheaper plans offer 1GB and 8GB of data. They roll over and include a mobile hot spot.
There's always lots of attention when a new phone iteration comes to market. You want to be a part of the elite club. Some sage advice: Keep your phone longer. It will save you money.
There's no need to upgrade every year or two, writes TJ McCue on Forbes.com. Stay with what you've got, especially if it still works.
Consider smaller and prepaid carriers. Look at Cricket, Boost and Metro PCS, for example, as options that save bucks.
Carriers list their plans in plain sight. See how they stack up to what you're paying now, suggests CNBC. And, don't forget to ask your employer if there's a company-wide discount for a wireless carrier, too.
Stop it by going to your App Settings on Facebook and choose Never Autoplay Videos. Or, simply connect to Wi-Fi to save data.
Your email is background data in cell phone lingo. Save on your data allowance to save money.
Restrict background data usage in your network settings menu. Only check email when you're on Wi-Fi. Consider this when you near the limit of your monthly data allowance.
Data hungry content can cost you. Avoid using mobile data to stream music and videos and high-quality images. Instead, store music and videos in your storage or download when connected to Wi-Fi.
Do you have a family or a sibling you could share a plan with? Sharing data allowance is less of an issue if you're using Wi-Fi when possible.
And, if you've used your data allowance wisely, savings will add up. Anywhere from $15 to $25 per month over a comparable individual plan.
The deals are definitely out there. You might have to act fast to take advantage of them. Since no one wants to pay more than they have to for decent cell service, consider an unlimited data plan for $25 a month from a carrier like Sprint.
For a limited time only means, well, just that. With a plan that's less, you might have to buy a new phone upfront or bring in a compatible one.
It's possible to save money on your cell phone bill when you follow these tips. Just think, even if you cut $20 a month from your bill, that's an extra $240 a year that you'll have in your pocket. Even if you have to make a few compromises with coverage, the savings might be worth it.