By: Krystal Yee
Cell phone bills can be hard to decipher, and often we end up paying much more each month than we have to. According to one report, we spend over $570 a year on average for a cell phone, so its no wonder we are always looking at ways to cut costs.
Here are six ways you can save:
Get a prepaid phone: For years, I had a prepaid “pay-as-you-go” cell phone. I used my cell phone for the occasional quick call and emergencies, so I only ended up spending between $10 to $15 per month on minutes. Going prepaid is a great option for light cellular users, or for those who want to cut back. There are plenty of “pay-as-you-go” options for you, with Rogers, Telus and Bell all offering prepaid services. Not to mention Solo Mobile, Mobilicity, Virgin Mobile, Fido, 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless, Petro-Canada Mobility, and President’s Choice Mobile, among others.
Make free calls with smart phone apps: There are plenty of apps out there that allow you to call locally or long distance for free, or at least for a fraction of the price of long distance. These apps include, but are not limited to Skype and netTALK.
Check your voicemail from a landline: Checking your voicemail on your cell phone can cost you valuable minutes or data.
Make sure your plan suits you: Last summer, I sat down and evaluated a few months of my wireless usage. I noticed that I never went over my monthly allotment of 200 minutes, yet I was paying extra each month to have my Early Evenings start at 6pm instead of 9pm. By opting out of that charge, I saved myself $7/month.
If you never go over your minutes, consider dropping down to a price plan more suited to your usage. The same goes for if you are paying for features that you aren’t utilizing (like Early Evenings), or if you are consistently going over your minutes. Remember that you don’t have to wait until your contract is over to switch your rate plan. Most wireless companies allow you to change plans while still within your contract, without penalty to you.
Buy the right phone for you: Do you really need a smart phone? Yes, they are great for keeping connected with your friends, but unless you need one for work, is it worth it to pay all that extra money just to check Facebook and Twitter 24/7? Just a few years ago, smart phones were virtually non-existent.
For most of us, a smart phone is a luxury that we may want, but don’t really need. So consider saving yourself some money by ditching that expensive data plan and downgrading to a “regular” phone.
Shop around: If you think you’re paying too much for your cell phone, start shopping around. Take a look at what is being offered with competing companies, and ask your friends what their wireless plans look like. With a bit of negotiating, most wireless companies will work with you in order to keep your business. I found that out first-hand when I used Twitter to help me win my fight with Rogers.
A great resource for those who are interested in purchasing different cell phones and rate plans is cellphones.ca. It is a free website that offers an amazing amount of opinions, reviews, buying advice and news articles.
Another interesting and unique resource to help you shop around isMyCellMyTerms.com. I was first introduced to this website when I saw them pitch on Dragon’s Den in 2009. It’s a free service where you create your dream wireless cell phone plan – with your ideal monthly fee, features and other requirements – and MyCellMyTerms.com shops your plan around to all the wireless companies in Canada who then aim to meet or exceed your expectations. Once you receive an offer, you get notified by e-mail, where you can review the offer online.