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Smart phones have become such an integral part of our routine, it’s hard to remember what life was like before them. Because of that, people shell out a ton of cash for their phone service without even questioning it. And if you’re not careful, you could be wasting a lot of money.
Here are 5 ways to get your phone bills in check.
1. Your phone purchase plays a factor
A lot of phone carriers now offer “leasing” plans, where the cost of a phone is split into monthly payments with yearly upgrades. This option can make or break your budget, depending on your buying habits.
Take AT&T’s “Next” plan for example. At about $30–40/mo., you can get the iPhone X with an annual upgrade. Since the X starts at $1k, who knows what future models from Apple will be priced at? So if you love having new gadgets, $360–480/yr. for the latest and greatest is a pretty sweet deal.
But if you don’t mind waiting to upgrade, buying a phone out-of-contract could be cheaper. Say you bought an iPhone 7 for $650 in 2016, and today you wanted to buy a new phone. You sell the 6 on eBay for ~$350 and come out paying $300 for 2-ish years of use.
2. Use Capital One Shopping for coupon codes and cash back
Did you know that Capital One Shopping works on most phone carriers? Get coupon codes and Shopping Credit at stores like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and more.
3. Make it part of your travel plans
Going abroad this year? Check the fine print on your plan to make sure the specific country you’re going to is covered (some places could be left out of an otherwise “international” phone plan).
Do your research. Limit your data, talk and text. Use Wi-Fi as much as possible, and maximize your phone’s offline capabilities.
4. Get or “fake” a family plan
Most carriers offer discounted multi-line deals. If you’re not on a family plan, get on it now. Paypal and Venmo make it easier than ever to split the bill with everyone. Recruit your family, friends or maybe even that dude on Craigslist.
5. Monitor your cellular usage
If you’re guilty of going over your data limit, keep tabs of your cellular usage. For iOS, go to settings > cellular, then you’ll see a full breakdown, including which apps use the most data. (Tip: make sure you refresh for your billing cycle). For Android, go to settings > data usage, then select your date range.
Do your homework, and really look at what you’re spending. If you’re not careful, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.