Ask the Readers: How Do you Save on Your Phone Bill?

By Ashley Jacobs on 29 October 2013 76 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Jen, Elena, and Lynda for winning this week's contest!

For many of us, the phone bill is a regular expense that can easily climb, climb, climb if we're not careful. We need to be proactive if we want to keep it at a manageable amount, whether by bundling services, switching carriers, or downgrading to a plan without all the bells and whistles.

How do save on your phone bill? What phone features have you tossed, and which ones are must-haves? Do you think you can live without a phone line altogether?

Tell us how you save on your phone bill and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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76 discussions

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Guest's picture

No land line at all, and just a cheap $35 a month cell plan with Virgin Mobile. That gets 300 minutes and "unlimited" data. I almost never use up the 300 minutes, but if I need to make a long call, I use my Google Voice number with the Talkatone app for unlimited free calls in the U.S. I could actually do that without the Virgin Mobile plan at all as long as I was willing to only be able to access the internet when on wifi - always an option if I need to cut out the $35 expense.

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

I save on my phone bill by doing Skype video calls for free from my laptop.

Guest's picture
lani c

We dropped our landline phone a few years ago and we're sticking with basic phones (just voice and text). We get made fun of a lot. :)

Guest's picture

We use Ooma to cut the house phone bill down. For us, it was important to keep the number from the old land line and to have a phone that everyone can access. However, since we did not use it much, the change was worth it. For cell phones, we switched to a prepaid plan. The bells and whistles are not necessary on the small phone. We use the wifi where we can to save on data usage (though the caps are more than enough). The change in the landline phone has allowed us to get faster Internet service, which is necessary (it also runs the Roku instead of cable or satellite TV - another source of big savings). The cell phone change has saved us over $50 a month.

Guest's picture

I have a bundled plan, and it's cheaper to keep the phone. I don't ever use my landline, but when I called to cancel, it would come to $5 more per month. They have their pricing very well thought out!

Guest's picture

We save by having the most basic plan that we can while still getting what we need for our household. Other than that, it seems difficult to save more!

Guest's picture

I recently switched from a contract plan to a prepaid plan T-mobile. Initially, I was concerned about the service and benefits I might lose doing this, but I haven't had any problems in 4 months and I know that my monthly bill for $50 is set and not constantly fluctuating. Overall I am happy, but I do have to warn that you have to understand the limits on data plans (Free wifi "everywhere" in my area helps with this).

Guest's picture

flip phone. :)

Guest's picture

We use Pioneer Telephone out of Maine.

Guest's picture

I have gotten rid of my home phone and use a prepaid cellphone.

Guest's picture

I save money by using cheap prepaid phone without data.

Guest's picture

We have voice minutes only on our cell phones, which are "dumb." We use our iPods to text free and to surf the net since our internet is wireless. If we need internet access when away from home, we easily find free hot spots at many restaurants and coffee shops.

Guest's picture

We switched to Virgin Mobile over a year ago. $35 a month for a 300 minute smart phone plan. The phones aren't subsidized, but are often on sale (1/2 price on Cyber Monday).

Guest's picture
Amanda Sakovitz

I save by using a family plan!

Guest's picture
sherry butcher

I have only 1 phone, no land line, no other phone but mine.

Guest's picture

We changed over to prepaid StraightTalk phones about a year ago. With T-Mobile, for myself and my wife's unlimited lines, and my father in law's minutes/texts/web line, we were paying upwards of $180 a month and we had an added home phone at $30/month with cable package. We switch to two "Bring your own device" lines at $45 a month and one with the StraightTalk phone at $35 a month. That put us right at about $130 a month after taxes. We then cut our home phone line (and cable, just kept Internet) which dropped that price off, and we use Skype/Google Voice to allow family the ability to contact us at the house. Because of the "BYOD" plan, we've been able to get cheaper smartphones by finding a used one we like.

Guest's picture

Now my employer pays for my phone, but before I had a flip phone and paid $30/mo, for lots of talk time and text, through Virgin Mobile-the same is available though T-Mobile. My husband just switched to Republic Wireless and he only pays $20/mo. for unlimited everything!

Guest's picture

I haven't had a landline for about 4 years now, and I don't miss it at all. My husband's cell phone is completely paid for by his company, and I use a Virgin Mobile prepaid phone on one of their cheapest plans. So we don't have a lot of phone costs. It works well for us.

Guest's picture
prathee chandar

I used to have "pay as you go" phone and paid less than $10 a month. Due to job change , I needed a smart phone and I upgraded mine to the least expensive data plan. I pay around $50 a month. But I use apps like Wrapp and Shopkick earn money every time I visit stores.

In addition to that, I use chat apps such as Whatsapp and viber to talk to friends and family which saves TON of money on phone bills.

We got rid of land line and that saves at least $20 a month.

We also use Google Voice religiously for calling unknown numbers and texting to people. So, I don't need any texting plan. My plan doesn't allow free messages.

Guest's picture
Karen L. @love2lovemykids

I save on my phone bill by bundling services. I get cable, internet and phone services all through one company.

Guest's picture

I use TMobile Pay-As-You-Go and don't spend $100 a YEAR on cell service.

Guest's picture

We're going to drop our landline next year.

Guest's picture

I just have my cell phone bill. I no longer need a landline!

Guest's picture

Straighttalk - basically same as AT&T

Guest's picture

We share a family plan! We also have never had a landline either.

Guest's picture
Susan D.

I seldom use my phone, so several years ago I dropped my landline and ported the number to a pay-as-you go plan. I pay $100 once a year for minutes, and I've yet to use them all. I used to pay about $35 dollars a month--for something I hardly ever used!

Guest's picture
Dan Cain

We don't have a home phone and my wife and I split the cell phone bill with my parents. Also, we have smart phones but shut off the data plan through the cell towers and only use wifi to run all our apps so we don't have to pay for any data package.

Guest's picture
megan a

We moved to a prepaid plan. We have magic jack for a home phone. We also have 1 prepaid cell phone our children share when necessary. A phone is a tool not a toy.

Guest's picture

I have only a cell phone, no landline. Most cell phone companies have discounts for almost any major employer, and my company discount gives me 21% off. I also switched from an unlimited text plan to a 100 texts for $2.99 one and asked everyone to send me free messages through Facebook Messenger.

Guest's picture

My husband I share the same plan we've had for years so we're grandfathered into a great rate. I save by making my son pay for his own phone bill once he graduated from high school.

Guest's picture

Tracfone--$11.18 for 60 minutes

Guest's picture

I bundle my phone and DSL service for a cheaper rate.

Guest's picture

I do not have a smartphone in order to save money. I have a $32 bill every month for 1500 minutes of talk and text, which I never get close to using anyway.

Guest's picture

We make very few calls so decided to dispense with our land line and use pay as you go phones. The ironic part is that because we still have internet through our telephone company, we can still receive incoming calls on our old number.

Guest's picture
Melissa Hansson


Guest's picture

I got rid of our landline and got rid of Cox Cable High Speed Internet. Replaced Cox cable internet with Virgin Mobile's Broadband2Go which is $35 per month. We use Google Voice and the GVoice Android for free VOIP calls and SMS messaging. Broadband2Go includes a portable hotspot which I can take with me wherever I go. Cost of phone service: free. Cost of monthly broadband: $35 per month.

Donna Freedman's picture

Finally dropped my cell plan in favor of a pay-as-you-go. Since I work at home I rarely use it anyway. If I don't use it at all then I'll save approximately $75 a month. (Had a family plan before.)
We do have a land line, for personal and work-related reasons, but it's not terribly expensive since I get it through my Internet service provider.

Guest's picture

I don't have a smart phone or even web access - if I have a laptop, why would I need constant wifi? :)

Guest's picture

When I finally decided to make a change, I switched to Virgin Mobile, which offers really reasonable monthly no-contract rates and relatively inexpensive smart phones. I don't talk a lot on the phone, so the 300 minute limit has never affected me. I also make longer calls to family on my free Google Voice line.

Guest's picture
J. Pario

My husband and I share one cell phone, which is a flip phone. No data package!

Guest's picture
Frederick Nelson

I have concluded that the contract method that carriers use (Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T) is a rip off. I was on contract with Sprint paying close to 100 bucks a month. I started getting interested in finance and how to budget etc (I was never taught those types of things) and started to look in ways I could cut expenses.

I decided to go with prepaid phone service, and there are a MAJOR perks.

The main reason is that with prepaid, you avoid all the wild surcharges and hidden fees that come along with traditional cell service. My monthly payment is literally $30 plus PA sales tax -- no 911 fee, no "service charge," or "regulatory charge," and no "administrative charge. Which runs me around $33.00 a month, I think it's less actually.

I have 100 minutes a month, unlimited data and text. This works great for me because I don't talk on the phone much but if I do want to add additional minutes I can. 10 bucks gets me 100 extra minutes. I don't need to change plans and possibly be locked into another two year agreement.

Speaking of two year contracts, I love the freedom that comes with prepaid. If I don't like the service I can try something else next month. All I need to do is pop in a new sim card and keep it moving.

My plan is obviously not ideal for everyone but prepaid service has a many options T-Mobile offers $50-a-month prepaid plan with unlimited talk, text, and Web. Straight Talk has a $45-a-month month plan; and it uses the same name network (Tmobile or AT&T). Rick mentioned Virgin Mobile (which uses Sprints Network, the data is 2.5GB at 3G-level speeds then unlimted at 2G speeds) for 35 a month, which includes 300 minutes and unlimited data. I don't have children just annoying kid brothers so I do understand that kids talk and text a lot so look into those options.

Also you can setup a free land line phone by creating a Google Voice number and using a device called an Obi100 which you connect to your Internet Router and the device connects to your normal home phone (corded, cordless, whatever you have) and it works just like a normal house phone.

I actually learned about this from being a nerd and being subscribed to technology blogs, here are some links that can give you more information.

How to setup a free house phone (It really is FREE, I know how that sounds but as another person posted here, it is using Google Voice which is free. It's basically a VIOP line.)

Prepaid Vs. Contract (At least run the numbers and see what you come up with). I'm saving well over 600 a year.

Guest's picture

Ditch the landline and use FaceTime when you can! Much more fun.

Guest's picture
Rea Liz

I save on my phone bill by looking at the bill each month to make sure I know exactly what I am paying for!

Guest's picture

This is one of those areas where we just have to shrug and say, "It's worth it to have an unlimited data plan." It allows us to not own a car (and instead use buses and ridesharing services and whatever), so that saves a lot in the end.

Guest's picture

1. I ditched the landline years ago.
2. I've stayed with the same carrier for years and have a plan that's been grandfathered in all this time. I can't find anything close in price with any other carrier for a similar plan.
3. I don't have a smartphone. No internet, just texting, which I finally caved in on about a year ago thanks to my friends bugging me about it.
4. I only get a new phone when my last one dies. I only get a free phone as a replacement.

Guest's picture

I use Ooma,,,3.83 per month after you buy the box.

Guest's picture

no more land line. and for cell phone i use my employee discount

Guest's picture

Well, I don't have a land line. I also have a 15% union discount for my cell phone.

Guest's picture

We have a no frills plan and block texting and internet so my kids don't accidently create charges.

Guest's picture

We travel quite a bit and have had to be creative to find cheap ways to stay in touch from wherever we are. What works for us currently where we live in Montana (where some of the cheap plans such as Cricket, Ting, T-Mobile, etc. are not available):
1) When we are in the USA- Straighttalk -- we pay $30/month for 1,000 minutes and 1,000 texts which is enough for our needs (4 kids, grandchildren, parents).
2) We don't have a landline so we have a Tracfone for our second phone so we can call each other. For this phone we charge it up once a year at $80-$85 (online from e-bay) for a year long tracfone airtime card of 400 minutes (which is doubled to 800 minutes because we paid an extra $5 when we bought the phone initially). These minutes roll over at the end of the year.
3) When we are outside of the USA we have cheap phones we bought in 2008 in the Philippines which can take a SIM card from whatever country we are currently living in. This allows us to take advantage of cheap local rates and surprisingly enough sometimes it is quite cheap to call the States. Currently here in Nairobi, Kenya the local airtel service allows called to the USA for about 3.5 cents/minute.
4) Skype fills in the gaps and sometimes allows us to make free skype to skype calls if the internet connection is strong enough.

Guest's picture

We have a family plan with unlimited voice & data with Sprint and have 4 phones (including my 2 sons') on one plan. Because we use our phones for business & need internet access when traveling, the company pays for the plan, but we are the company! I would love to get rid of the land line, but we still need the fax line at times, so we keep it for now.

Guest's picture

We do not have landlines. My husband and I have our cell phone service through straighttalk. We pay 45 per month which includes unlimited talk, text, and data.

Guest's picture

We use Vonage, internet provider and pay $9.99 a month

Guest's picture

No landline, a family plan, and Google Voice for texts. :)

Guest's picture

No land line and going on a family plan!

Guest's picture
Matthew Elloso

I enrolled in an AIO wireless prepaid service. For only $55 a month I get unlimited calls, texts and data (2 GB speeds at 4G LTE then gets throttled after that). And since it's an AT&T company the coverage is really good.

Guest's picture

My wife and I were spending almost $185 a month for two verizon iphones on a family share plan but use very little talk time and data since we either use the land line when at home and are mostly on wifi either home or work, i waited till both were out of contract and switched to Page Plus Cellular, they use the same towers as verizon, i got to keep the same phones and my monthly bill is now $60 for both phones, on $29.99/phone plan that works perfect for both of us and we dont go over the minutes or the data.


Guest's picture

I don't have a smart phone. I have a Sanyo Katana (think Razr, but not really). Since I am an employee of my state, I get a $5 discount. I work during the day, and I rarely use my alotted 450 monthly minutes. I ask my family and friends to call me after 7:00 p.m. or on the week-ends, when I have my free minutes. I also don't text.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

Since my husband is sadly a Walmart employee (with a Master's degree, yes, the rescession kicked our financial butt), we use the Walmart family mobile cell phone plan. It has unlimited text, talk, and web for $50 a month total for two phones.

Guest's picture
Lee Klein

Instead of having a data limit, I just forward all my emails to my phone number. They come in as a text message and if they are really important I know to go look it up on the computer. Since I have unlimited texting this is a good fit. Most of the time, the content can wait.

Guest's picture

I skip the land line and use the Boost Mobile cellphone plan with Shrinkage, which means that I get $5 off my monthly phone bill every 6 months!

Guest's picture

Pay as you go........25 bucks every 3 months

Guest's picture

We dumped our verizon plan for Smart Talk from Walmart and got unlimited text, talk and data for less than text and talk from verizon.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

We have a land line that is bundled with our cable internet. For a cell phone, I have a Tracfone with "double-minutes for life" for which I purchase one prepaid one-year card every other year with one added year of activation. I always use a promo code when I buy the prepaid card for extra minutes. The cell phone works out to about $7 per month that way.

Guest's picture

1. No landline; we use Google Voice for our home phone.
2. In June 2012, we had 5 feature phones on Sprint for $150/month. We now have 4 smartphones on Ting w/Google Voice/Groove IP, one feature phone on Ting, and one smartphone on Republic Wireless.
3. We have one iPod that uses FaceTime and TextFree.
4. We have the $3.99/month 500 mb hotspot from Freedom Pop.

Our home phone is our Google Voice number; my main cellphone number is also the Google Voice number, and my original cell phone number forwards to the Google Voice number. The smartphone users on the Ting plan are around wifi most of the day (one works from home, two are high school students, one is a college student) and all use Google Voice/Groove IP; the Ting feature phone user has a flip phone and does not want to venture into the smartphone world. The Republic Wireless user is also a college student, but did not want to bother with Google Voice/Groove IP. We use the Freedom Spot hotspot as a backup at home when the internet goes out, and on the road away from wifi so that we don't go over the 500 mb level on Ting, and for the iPod when not connected to wifi.

In place of a landline, we've used Google Voice for several years. Our Sprint bill for five feature phones was $150. Our total bill for five smartphones, one feature phone, and one "back-up" hotspot is now right around $80. We are in a metropolitan area with great Sprint coverage, but do travel fairly often and have not had any significant issues. We also are not heavy data users since we spend most of our time near wifi. We encourage our kids to communicate face-to-face and to not use their cellphones when they are with their friends or family.

There are so many alternatives available now that we didn't have just two years ago. It does take some time to determine the right set-up, and it's an ongoing process, but the results can be impressive.

Guest's picture
karen medlin

We have a bundle plan, unused minutes roll over to the next month. We try not to use it often and only use for emergencies.

Guest's picture
Laura J

I save on my phone bill by first bundling my internet, tv and landline phone. When I am at home, I do not use my cellphone to save minutes. It can add up so fast.

Guest's picture

Right now our landline is bundled with internet service, but I want to try Ooma since we hardly use our phone.

Guest's picture

Depressingly enough I'm the only one in my house willing to forgo a smart phone so I don't save much.

Guest's picture
Brenda Faulkner

I bundled my phone and cable services into one bill!

Guest's picture

We got rid of my husband's personal cell phone when he was given a work phone that he was allowed to use for personal reasons. When he was laid off in June, we were trying to cut expenses, and we realized that we could save money and add a landline if I switched my phone from a contract to pre-pay plan. And it even moved my plan to unlimited minutes. We share the phone now so we can still get in touch with each other if one of us is at home while the other is out.

Guest's picture

Cheapest cellphone plan whn limited data and texts, no landline. Planning to cut wifi and buy a hotspot that I can use in the go since it is only me at home and I go on trips often

Guest's picture

I use my google phone for daytime calls and long distance calls - it is free!

Guest's picture
Tabathia B

I keep my home phone for emergencies, school related phone calls and for my kids so that if anything happens that they can call 911 and the phone call can be heard clearly and traced, but I save because I have a bundled plan with my internet and get a discount and have the minimum on my phone but because of telemarketing I have had to add caller id but it's worth it

Guest's picture

I have young kids at home, so going without a landline is not an option. So, I switched to Ooma a couple of years ago from Comcast's triple play. It costs me about $4 per month. Well worth it! I then downgraded my Comcast to further save money.

As for cellphone - mine is paid for by my employer.

Guest's picture
Thomas Murphy

I don't have a land line I just have a cheap pre paid cell phone.