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7 ways to lower your cell phone bill

By Mint Fox

Originally published December 12, 2022


Last Updated January 5, 2024

Mint Fox pointing at the words 7 ways to lower your cell phone bill

It’s a tale as old as time…or at least as old as the concept of recurring monthly charges. There are things you need, like food, shelter and now, reliable wireless service. But you also want to keep more of your money. We get it, that’s why saving people money is kind of our main thing. So switch to Mint and you’ll save a ton. End of blog, right? Not exactly. There are several things you can do beyond just changing carriers that will save you a hefty chunk of change each month. (But you should also consider switching to Mint…just sayin’.) 

In this article

Stop overpaying for data you don’t use

With many carriers including unlimited talk and text in all their plans, the monthly payments mainly go up based on your data usage. Overages can be frustrating, so many wireless customers opt for unlimited data plans, so they never have to worry about them. This may seem like a safe bet, but if you’re willing to keep an eye on your usage and follow a few simple steps to minimize the data you use, only buying the data you need can save you a boatload over time. 

Keep track of your data usage

Did you know the average American only uses about 5-6 GB of data each month? Of course not, because the big wireless company trying to sell you an unlimited plan doesn’t want you to know that. Basically, there’s a good chance you’re using less data than you think, and you can see for yourself right on your phone.

Checking data usage on iPhone

  • Go into your Settings and select “Cellular”
  • Scroll down and select “Mobile Data”
  • Scroll down to view your data usage per app
    • These steps may vary slightly depending on your iOS version

Checking data usage on Android

  • Go into your Settings and select “Connections”
  • Select “Data Usage” to view your up-to-date data usage
    •  These steps may vary depending on your Android OS version
Mint Fox sitting on top of the Wi-Fi sign and his phone is displaying a picture of a piggy bank.

Use Wi-Fi whenever possible

Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to stay connected to Wi-Fi while at home or at the office. When it comes to Wi-Fi vs cellular data, Wi-Fi is using another provider’s internet connection and thus not eating into your mobile data. This is the number one absolute best way to minimize your data usage each day (besides, of course, just turning your phone off and leaving it off, but we’d never ask you to do that). Additionally, many restaurants, stores and other locations you may visit have free secure Wi-Fi for their customers, so be sure to take advantage of this whenever it’s available. 

If you know you’re going to be watching Netflix or listening to Spotify somewhere without Wi-Fi in the near future, whether it’s at a DMV appointment or a dentist appointment, you can avoid the need for mobile data by downloading content ahead of time via Wi-Fi at home. Netflix allows you to download movies and shows to watch later, and Spotify lets you do the same with your favorite music and podcasts so you can bring your tunes along for your daily commute without eating into your GB.

Change settings in your phone and streaming apps  

If you find yourself without Wi-Fi but absolutely must watch the hottest new movie trailer that just dropped before you get out of the car, no worries. There are things you can do within apps like Netflix and YouTube that will reduce their data usage, like disabling autoplay. The same goes for your music streaming apps too. Sure, Spotify may not use as much data as HD video streaming apps, but it can still use less if you turn off the looping videos that play with each song, or disable video for podcasts. Our separate blog all about lowering your Spotify data usage really digs into it.

A lot of these apps also download updates even when you’re not using them. This feature is known as “background app refresh” and it uses data too. You can modify the settings in your phone to have all app updates wait until you’re connected to Wi-Fi to go through, just for good measure. It’s as easy as checking the data usage on iPhone or the data usage on Android.

Change data settings on iPhone

  • Go into your Settings and select “General”
  • Scroll down and select “Background App Refresh”
  • Scroll through the list and select which apps you don’t want using data in the background by toggling the switch from green to gray
    • These steps may vary slightly depending on your iOS version

Checking data usage on Android

  • Go into your Settings and select “Connections”
  • Select “Data Usage” then turn your “Data saver” on
    • This will prevent all of your apps from using your mobile data in the background. If there are some apps you would like to be exempt from Data saver, you can select “Allowed to use data while Data saver is on” and choose these apps from the list 
    • These steps may vary slightly depending on your Android OS version

Only upgrade your phone when you really need to

We know it can be very, very tempting to get the latest and greatest each year, but wireless phones are meant to last a little while. Think about what features you use, what features you need, and ask yourself if you absolutely need to upgrade now or if you can push another year or so.

If you’re still stuck with big wireless, doing this can keep you from adding another phone payment onto your monthly phone bill (they love more monthly payments), and in many cases it will also keep you from having to sign another long-term contract (big wireless loves contracts too). Plus, if you do the math, you often end up paying your big wireless carrier more for the phone over time than you would if you just purchased it outright. So just…wait it out a bit longer. The next, even later-est and greater-est phone will be here before you know it. 

Take advantage of a senior phone plan

We’re all pretty familiar with family plans, but many still don’t know about cell phone plans for seniors. Many wireless carriers offer special deals for customers of a certain age, you just have to ask (or check their website). We call our cell phone plan for seniors Mint55+ because it’s available exclusively for people ages 55 & up. 

Physical SIM card next to a phone with Mint Fox on the screen.

Lower your cell phone bill by switching to Mint Mobile

Let’s be honest, you can do all the things in this blog, but some wireless carriers are still going to charge you way too much for your phone service. It may be time to switch to a carrier that provides premium wireless on the nation’s largest 5G network for as little as $15 a month.

If you’re still locked in a contract, it may take a bit of math to determine whether it’s worth paying the early termination fee to bail now or wait a bit. Either way, we think it’s safe to say that switching to a wireless carrier that charges significantly less than the one you’re currently on is one of the easiest ways to lower your monthly phone bill. See for yourself why Mint Mobile has the best phone plans for people looking to lower their monthly bills.

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