Verizon Wireless recently debuted the details of its new Share Everything Plan this week, and users are already speculating on the cost advantages and disadvantages of this much-anticipated plan. Casual voice, text and data users will likely see an uptick in their monthly costs while families with shared plans may finally see some relief.
If you find yourself in the category of seeing increased monthly costs, consider the following 10 ways to cut down on your mobile bill without cutting communication with friends and family.
1. Try Pay-As-You-Go Plans
Get this: 1GB of data and unlimited talk and text costs $90 per month with the Share Everything Plan, but Verizon’s prepaid smartphone plan is $80 for the same service on select devices. Save yourself $10 per month and avoid the hassle of a contract if this plan works for you. Otherwise, check out providers like Boost Mobile, NET10 and Virgin that offer prepaid plans for as low as $45 per month.
2. Text for Free
In addition to apps like Textfree with Voice (iPhone) and chompSMPS (Android), you can sign up for a Google Voice number to text for free. This requires that your friends and family avoid texting to your regular phone number, but will ultimately save you a minimum $10 per month, depending on your plan and carrier.
3. Buy Used Devices
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon frequently offer promotions on the latest smartphone in order to stick you with the real money-maker: the plan. However, you can still end up spending over $200 for the latest gadget, so consider purchasing an unlocked device from an electronics retailer. Be sure to search Freeshipping.org for online offers from Tiger Direct and other providers to save even more.
4. Ask About Eligible Discounts
Does your employer have a corporate plan? If so, you may be eligible for a discount as an employee. Most carriers require you provide your corporate email address, but you can also check with the person who manages your company’s cell phone plan. Students from select schools may also have access to exclusive discounts, so ask before signing the agreement
5. Buddy Up to Family Plan
This one requires trust and communication, but consider signing up for a family plan with close friends and neighbors. Carriers don’t require that family plan holders be related, so see if you can cut costs by pitching in on a collective monthly bill. Just be sure everyone’s on the same page about when the bill is due and what should happen when overages occur.
6. Visit Mobile Websites
Mobile versions of websites are not only easier to navigate, they require less data to browse. Ditch the “www” URL prefix and opt for “m” instead. Not all websites are optimized for mobile browsing, so avoid the ones that aren’t as you mindlessly browse the Internet at the doctor’s office.
7. Read the Fine Print
Automatic bill pay is a convenient method for paying your bill on time, but it also ensures you don’t catch erroneous charges. Last year, Verizon was dinged with a class-action lawsuit for “mystery data fees” charged to non-data using customers, resulting in a $52.8 million fine. Obviously, it pays to review your statement on a monthly basis.
8. Track Your Usage
The fees associated with overages on texts, minutes and data usage are enough to scare you into a higher plan. However, you might be paying more than necessary, so tracking your usage is paramount in finding the optimal plan. The Onavo Count app tracks usage for Android users, and iPhone users can check out this video tutorial from Business Insider to check their usage.
9. Stream on Wifi
Streaming music and movies on wireless broadband will instantly eat up your data, so save these diversions for when you have access to Wifi networks.
10. Download Apps at Home
While it’s convenient to download apps and music on-the-go, you can save as much as 10 percent in data usage by holding out for home. Download apps and music from your home computer and save your precious data for more important things, like email and the last episode of “The Bachelorette.”