In 2022, the average monthly cell phone bill was $166. Cellular plan costs go up for a variety of reasons, including inflation and increased demand for products. Some mobile phone carriers even raise their prices mid-contract, so it’s best to shop around to know exactly what you are getting.
In this post, we go over how much your phone bill should cost, what impacts the price you pay and how you can lower the cost of your cellular plan.
The nationwide average phone bill totals around $166 per month, so you probably shouldn’t be spending more than that. If your phone bill is too high, evaluate all of your options to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Before changing plans or carriers, the following information will help you think about how you use your phone and how you can potentially cut costs.
Monthly cell phone costs can vary significantly depending on the plan and the provider. We’ve compiled the least expensive phone plans by carrier as of April 2023, but don’t just look at the price. Each plan’s details may differ, so compare what each plan offers, keeping in mind what features are important to you. Consider factors you use regularly, such as how much data you need, what kind of speed you require and whether you prefer to stream in standard definition or need something snappier like 4K, to determine the best plan for your needs.
Below are the most inexpensive phone plans by carrier. Prices as of April 2023. Prices are subject to change so check each carrier for current plans and pricing.
|RedPocket||Unlimited Talk, Text & Data 3GB||$10/month for 1 GB at 5G (First month may be discounted)|
|Mint Mobile||Unlimited||$15/month for 3 months for new customers|
|US Mobile||Unlimited Basic||$35|
|Xfinity Mobile||Unlimited Intro||$45|
|AT&T||Unlimited Starter® Plan||$65|
A number of factors influence the cost of a phone bill. The total amount you pay per month can depend on the carrier, phone model, how much data you plan to use, plan options and contract type, among other variables.
The factors below often contribute to the price of your monthly cell phone bill.
While it may take a little effort, setting aside some time to evaluate your mobile options can help you lower your plan costs.
If you want to save money on your monthly bill, start by looking into lower-cost carriers like RedPocket, Mint Mobile and US Mobile. Make sure to consider potential trade-offs. While some low-cost plans include unlimited texts and talk time, they may not have the same coverage area as the major carriers or offer the same amount of mobile hotspot data as your current plan. Before you jump ship, don’t forget to review your current phone contract to make sure you can get out of it.
One of the easiest ways to lower your monthly phone bill without making major sacrifices is to use wi-fi whenever possible. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, make sure you hop on a wireless network when online browsing at a cafe or video streaming at a friend’s house. Just remember that you put your information at risk when using a public wireless network.
Since most carriers offer plans at varying price points, you can save money by selecting the least expensive plan to meet your needs. You may opt for a basic or essentials-only plan, or even pay by the minute or text if that’s all you need. Before making a decision, take inventory of how you use your phone and the amount of data you typically need so you’re not paying for what you don’t want.
Family plans and other shared-data options allow you to split costs among multiple users. Some offer a set cost for a certain number of lines, while others charge for each line you add. You may be able to lower your cell phone costs by joining the existing plan of a friend or family member already, since you will only have to pay them for your portion of the bill. If you do join with a group plan, make sure you have a good relationship and have worked out the details for regular payments because someone will be responsible for collecting all the money to pay the bill each month.
While you may be tempted by the newest smartphone, it will likely raise your monthly bill if you don’t pay the full cost up front. When you finance a cell phone, the price is usually spread out over the length of your contract. To keep your monthly costs low, you may be better off keeping your current phone and choosing a lower-cost carrier or plan. If you do decide to buy a new phone, make sure to ask about any available promotions and trade-in offers for your old phone.
While insurance can sometimes pay off — especially if you purchase a pricey phone or buy a device for a child — it doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes a service you already have may offer coverage, such as your credit card or homeowners insurance. In the long run, it may be smartest to invest in a sturdy phone case and then put money away into an emergency fund, which you can use to repair/replace your phone if needed. Finally, remember that if you can’t afford to replace the phone you buy, it probably makes sense to choose a less expensive model.
When you are ready to buy a new phone or change your carrier, talk to the salesperson (or manager) to see if they can give you a price break. They may be able to waive the activation fee or offer a price match if you show them a lower price deal with a competitor.
Unlocked phones — those that are not tied to a specific carrier — make it easier to switch plans when you find a better deal or your needs change. While unlocked phones may cost more up front, they allow you the flexibility to seek out lower plan prices, better international options or upgraded perks (like free Netflix or other streaming services)., 
A number of strategies can help you lower your phone bill, from changing carriers to joining a group plan. When evaluating new options, try adding up the potential phone costs for the year and comparing it to what you pay with your current plan. Successfully managing your cell phone account can even help you build credit if you sign up for services that add bill payments to your credit report.
Ana Gonzalez-Ribeiro, MBA, AFC® is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and a Bilingual Personal Finance Writer and Educator dedicated to helping populations that need financial literacy and counseling. Her informative articles have been published in various news outlets and websites including Huffington Post, Fidelity, Fox Business News, MSN and Yahoo Finance. She also founded the personal financial and motivational site www.AcetheJourney.com and translated into Spanish the book, Financial Advice for Blue Collar America by Kathryn B. Hauer, CFP. Ana teaches Spanish or English personal finance courses on behalf of the W!SE (Working In Support of Education) program has taught workshops for nonprofits in NYC.
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