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How to Save Money on Your Mobile Phone Bill

Date Published:  April 6th, 2022Date Updated:  March 30, 2023

Summary: If saving money is on your mind, you’re in good company. But when it comes to recurring bills, it can feel impossible. We’ve got the hottest tips on how to save money on your monthly cell phone bill — from choosing the right device to looking for a new provider, here’s how to make that dollar stretch.

We’re all trying to save money where we can. And while the most popular advice seems to be “skip the daily $5 coffee,” plenty of us have already cut that out. If you’re looking for ways to save money on the things you truly can’t do without, we’re here to help. You already have our best tips on how to get free or affordable internet — but it’s nearly impossible to get by without some sort of cell phone now, too.

Here are the best ways to save money on your phone — from the bill to the device, and everything in between.

What Cheap Cell Phone is the Best?

Let’s start with the more obvious: traditional flip phones (not the fancy smartphones) are a more affordable option, particularly if you’re looking for a phone simply to make calls or send texts with. These phones also tend to have a longer battery life, making them perfect for users who forget to plug their phone in at night or don’t have reliable access to charging.

Can’t imagine life without a smartphone? You’re not alone. According to reviews.org, the average American checks their phone 344 times each day — or once every four minutes. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t save money.

Graphic of a calculator figuring out how to save money on a phone bill next to a phone with a dollar sign on it. The phone has many app graphics and emojis coming from it.

Most major manufacturers offer a budget-friendly option alongside their flagship offering (think the iPhone SE from Apple or the Google Pixel 5a). Although these options generally have less features and smaller screens than the main phones, you’ll still be able to use your favorite apps and enjoy a reliable camera. Bonus: smaller screens mean you can hold your phone in one hand without dropping it every time.

Need more features or power? Opt for last year’s flagship phones. They’re typically discounted, and you hardly lose any functionality. You could also go for a refurbished phone. Shopping refurbished requires a bit of research but it literally pays off. Refurbished phones are a great way to bridge the gap between a budget and the desired model. Most phone manufacturers offer certified refurbished phones, as do major retailers such as Best Buy. Look into warranties, fine print, and consider the age of the device you’re going for. If that model will only be supported for another year, it may make more sense to go for a newer phone that will last longer.

Lastly, you can wait for sales. Some carriers offer occasional discounts or deals when you trade in your old phone. If you don’t need your current device moving forward, trading it in could save you money and help out the earth through recycling or reselling the device. It’s one way to hack planned obsolescence.

What Cell Phone Carrier is the Best?

That depends on what you’re looking for — and where you live. Coverage varies from carrier to carrier, which is why your phone may work great when you’re home but become a glorified wristwatch while on a road trip.

Start by finding out what carrier has the best coverage near you. Some areas may have tons of options while others only have one. Once you’ve figured out coverage, look for:

  • Plan options: is there one to fit your lifestyle? Will you have to be on a plan that offers more data than you need — and costs more than you want to pay?
  • Contracts: too many mobile providers require you to sign into contracts that are difficult to get out of. We understand that things change, so EarthLink Mobile is contract-free.
  • Mandatory credit checks: does this provider require a credit check? They’re especially common with contracts. But even if you have a high enough credit score that you’re not worried, any check decreases your score, which could make it more difficult to get approved for a loan, buy a house or a car, or lower your interest rates any time soon.
  • 5G network: Although 5G isn’t everywhere yet, it will be. Choose a mobile provider who is already on the nation’s largest 5G network and you never have to worry about being left behind.

There might be other things you’re specifically looking for in a mobile provider, but these questions are a great place to start your search.

What Cell Phone Carrier is the Most Affordable?

So you’ve answered the most important questions, but what mobile provider is the most affordable? Again, this might depend on what your plan needs are, but we suggest looking into an MVNO. MVNOs, or mobile virtual network operators, use the existing mobile networks from the major three providers to offer you access. Bonus: you’ll usually be able to save money or find a plan that fits your needs better.

Most MVNOs also offer the option to buy a cell phone or bring your own device. So if you’re planning to use all those savings tricks you just learned, an MVNO could be a better fit for you. Bringing your own device also means you don’t have to worry about contracts to pay off your device or added fees on your bill. Worried about making the switch? Switching mobile providers is easier than you might think.

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But if you recently replaced your phone and you’re happy with your carrier, are there other ways to make more room in your budget?

We’re glad you asked.

How to Make Your Cell Phone Last Longer

Getting a new phone can be fun — if for the unboxing alone. But having to upgrade every year or two can keep you stuck in a loop of constantly paying a contract. Instead, making your phone last longer can save you money.

Use a Case

This one might sound obvious, but plenty of people don’t have a case on their cell phone — even if the phone cost them $1,000. Or maybe you have a case, but it’s the bare minimum. A lot of us may feel taken aback at how much top-of-the-line protection (like OtterBox and LifeProof) costs. But $80 to protect a device that costs hundreds (or more) seems like a good investment.

When shopping, choose a case that protects all of your phone. Get one that will prevent it from shattering when dropped and a screen protector to avoid scratches (which can leave microglass in your thumb. Ouch.).

Have your eye on a case that doesn’t include a screen protector? You can buy tempered glass from any major retailer. It fits cleanly over your phone screen without leaving air bubbles like plastic does, but still helps protect against scratches or cracks.

Repair Your Phone

Leaning towards buying a new device simply because your battery doesn’t last? Or does your screen have a crack through the middle that makes it hard to stream clearly? You can typically get that repaired, either through the manufacturer or a trusted third party.

Repairing, not replacing, helps your phone last longer, saves you money, and helps the planet, too.

Keep Your Software Up to Date

Making sure your software stays up to date is more than a top cyber security tip. It also clears up space on your device and can help everything run more smoothly. Plus, if you regularly install these updates, they won’t take as long the next time.

Guilty of hitting “remind me later” or ignoring those notifications? We get it. Opt in to automatic updates so you can forget about it.

And do you know what pairs great with affordable cell phone plans? Affordable internet. Switch to EarthLink Home Internet and enjoy predictable billing and transparent pricing on all of our plans.

Michelle Ricker

Michelle Ricker

Michelle Ricker is the Content Marketing Manager for EarthLink. She's an internet expert who loves to break down why connectivity topics are relevant to everyday life. With more than five years of writing experience, she thrives on storytelling and well-placed punctuation. She graduated with her M.A. from the University of Cincinnati but currently lives and works in Atlanta.

See all posts from Michelle Ricker.