Americans spend a fortune on their phones. They pay hundreds of dollars every year to get the latest models and then they fork out cash to cover phone bills, which take into account everything from data charges to texts and actual phone calls. They are essential in this day and age, but they are also expensive and if you’re on a tight budget then your phone bill could be sending you into the red every month.

There are ways to stop this from happening though, and in this guide we’ll look at the best ways to reduce your cell phone bill.

Ways to Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill

1. Go Prepaid

Mobile phone contracts can seem like the cheapest and easiest way to get the latest phones, but over the long-run you’re actually spending a lot more money and you’re also putting yourself at risk for seriously damaging charges if you use your phone abroad. With a prepaid phone you don't have these issues and you don’t run the risk of getting a phone bill that is more than you can afford.

You will need to pay outright for the phone itself, and this can be a big expense, but if you opt for the previous year’s model instead of the brand new one then you can save yourself a lot of money. These days each new generation of phone isn’t that much different than the one that went before, so it’s rarely worth the extra zeros.

2. Get a Shared Plan

If you have a large family and everyone has their one contract then it could be time to bundle everyone onto the same plan and give them separate lines. This will give you a larger single contract, but the overall cost will be much less. If everyone pays their dues at the end of the month then everyone can save up to 30% on what they would usually pay.

3. Use Your Landline

If you still have a landline, then why not use it? The calls are cheaper, often considerably so, and there are few (if any) hidden charges to worry about. You never need to worry about roaming charges or premium phone numbers and you can also get cheaper international calls.

It may seem like an outdated technology at this point, but most homes still have them, they are still the preferred method of contact for many, and if you’re at home anyway then you might as well use them.

Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill

4. Try Free Messaging Services

There are a number of VoIP services out there that let you make phone calls for free. Some of these also charge fees if you want to contact landlines and premium numbers, but if you are contacting a friend then you can make calls free of charge. If you do so using a phone that is connected to Wi-Fi then you can even make video calls without spending a single cent.

The most obvious one is Skype, which has led the way in this field for many years, but FaceTime is also great if you have an Apple phone and there is even a service built into Facebook now that does the same thing. Facebook’s version didn’t have the best start and contained all kinds of glitches and issues, but they seem to have ironed these out and it works in a similar way to Skype now, with just as few issues.

5. Try Free Conference Tools

If you work from your computer and/or your phone and you find yourself making a lot of phone calls then there are conferencing tools that can help you cut costs. One of our personal favourites right now is Uber Conference, which lets you connect with anyone around the world, regardless of how they are connecting or where they are.

You can use your computer, or you can dial a number using your phone. It’s free, it’s clear, it’s convenient and you can even get your own conference room so that people can drop in and out when they want to chat.

It’s not the only one out there, but there are some that charge and there are also ones that charge for additional services, so keep an eye out for these to make sure you don’t get stung.

6. Check Your Insurance

Cell phone plans nearly always include insurance as standard, but the amount that you pay will differ greatly and it doesn’t always give you what you need. Some plans could be charging you as much as $300 a year, even though you might have the same insurance for free elsewhere. Did you know, for instance, that many rewards credit cards (see a list of the best here) give you free cell phone insurance?

You can also get free cell phone insurance with certain life insurance plans, and if you have a comprehensive contents insurance plan then it may also be included as part of that. In other words, what’s the point in spending $300 a year to cover something that is already covered 2 or 3 times elsewhere? You can’t get 3 replacements for 1 damaged phone, so there’s no use in having these extras.

Even if you don’t have that insurance elsewhere there may still be something you can do that is preferable to spending up to $300 extra a year. For instance, if your phone is old and pretty worthless, then it’s better to scrap the insurance and if your phone breaks you can simply buy a used model, spending much less in the process.

Reduce Your Phone Bill

7. Make Sure You Autopay

Most creditors offer some kind of reduction when you agree to pay them automatically every month. Such is the case with many of the student loan companies we have covered and many of the private loan ones as well, and it’s also true with most cell phone companies.

If you select the “autopay” option then not only will you be saving yourself some time and hassle every month, but you could also be saving yourself up to $10. In some cases the discounts are applied per line, which means that large families with shared plans can save considerably more.