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Are You Getting a Bad Deal on Cellphone Service? See How Much You Can Save in 2024

A smiling person sitting on their couch and looking at the phone in their hand.

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Smartphones have become the center of most people’s everyday lives, but you know what’s not so smart? Paying too much money for cellphone service! If you want to save money in 2024, cutting back on your cellphone bill could be a great place to start.

Cellphone service can be shockingly expensive. Research from WhistleOut found that the average American spends $160 per month on cellphone service from major carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. This is too much! If you’re spending that much on cellphone service, you really should stop. Better deals are out there.

Let’s take a look at how you can save surprisingly big money by cutting your cellphone bills in 2024.

Get smart about your smartphone’s cellular data

You might be surprised at how much you’re spending on cellular data that you don’t actually use. If you have home internet service, work from home, or spend a lot of time in places with public wifi, you might only be using a small percentage of the high-priced cellular data that you’re paying for each month.

Do you have more cellular data than you need? Think about it: when was the last time you ran out of cellular data, or had to pay an excess data charge? Unless you have an especially active, outdoorsy, on-the-go lifestyle where you’re never in range of wifi, you probably aren’t using your cellular data every minute of the day.

Especially now that most cellular service providers offer unlimited talk and text, cellphone service is no longer a scarce, precious, expensive resource like it was in the 1990s. (Remember the days of “free talk and text after 9 p.m.”? Sigh. I’m so old.)

But the point is: your cellphone plan might be causing unnecessary damage to your personal finances. The WhistleOut study found that:

  • 83% of Americans have an unlimited cellular data plan, but 72% of Americans use under 15GB of data per month.
  • Only 13% of Americans use cellular data at home (most use home internet wifi)
  • 18% of Americans don’t know how to check their cellular data usage (On an iPhone, go to: Settings > Cellular > Usage)

The lesson: consider cutting back on your data plan. Instead of unlimited data, see if you can switch to a lower-cost plan with a fixed amount of data per month. Stop sending all that money to a mobile phone company, and keep more money in your bank account.

Switch to a lower-cost MVNO cellphone provider

If you can’t get a good enough deal from a major carrier, you can reduce your cellphone bill by switching to a lower-cost option. There are several low-cost mobile phone companies called “mobile virtual network operators,” or MVNOs, that offer the same network coverage as the big carriers, but at a much lower price.

Here are a few prominent MVNO cellphone companies, and the networks they offer:

  • Boost Infinite (AT&T and T-Mobile networks)
  • Cricket Wireless (AT&T network)
  • Mint Mobile (T-Mobile network)
  • Tello (T-Mobile network)
  • US Mobile (Verizon and T-Mobile networks)
  • Visible by Verizon (Verizon network)

If you want to switch to a low-cost MVNO service provider, start by looking for coverage. For example, if you are currently a T-Mobile customer, see which MVNOs offer coverage on the T-Mobile network. Mint Mobile, for example, offers plans starting at $15 per month for three months (with 5GB of data per month).

Drawbacks of a low-cost MVNO cellphone plan

Low-cost MVNO cellphone plans like Mint Mobile can help save big money on your monthly bills. But depending on how you use your phone, there might be a few downsides.

Data deprioritization

This is a technical term that means “your data might be slower during busy times on the network.” Because your MVNO cellphone plan is cheaper, prepaid, and bought in bulk, you might get second-class access to the cellular data network during peak times. MVNO cellphone service is like a “basic economy” airline ticket: You’re still on the plane, but you don’t get VIP frequent flyer treatment.

Fewer “free phone” offers

Do you love getting special deals on a new smartphone every few years from your cellular service provider? If so, a cheaper MVNO plan might not be right for you. These low-cost plans tend to offer fewer (if any) special phone deals.

Fewer perks

Some major cellphone companies offer free perks like international coverage, free streaming video subscriptions, free in-flight wifi, and other benefits. You won’t get all the freebies with a low-cost MVNO cellphone plan. (But with the money you save, maybe you can afford to pay for your own streaming subscriptions.)

How much you can save with low-cost cellphone service

Assuming you spend $160 per month on your current cellphone plan, let’s see how much you could save by switching to a lower-cost MVNO cellphone service.

Boost Infinite Mint Mobile Visible
Unlimited talk, text and data (monthly price) $25 per month $30 per month $35 per month (premium data)
Monthly savings (vs. $160 per month) $135 $130 $125
Annual savings $1,620 $1,560 $1,500
Data source: Author’s calculations. All prices accurate as of Jan. 30, 2024.

Bottom line: It’s not the 1990s anymore. Switching to a lower-cost cellphone service, even with unlimited data, could save you over $1,500 per year! Your savings might be a lot less; not everyone is paying $160 a month for cellphone service. For example, my current (major carrier) cellphone plan is $75 per month. But I could save $480 per year (or more) by switching to one of these lower-cost services. Before you switch, check the carrier’s network coverage where you live.

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