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In these lean times, it helps to save a penny or two, never more so than on a cell phone plan. With the popularity of smartphones reaching an all-time high, the prices of plans are also going up and up, as the companies recognize a cash-cow when they see one.

So we need to find some ways to trim the fat, and make our bills look a bit more attractive Keep Your Cellphone Bill Under Control With DroidStats [Android 1.6+] Keep Your Cellphone Bill Under Control With DroidStats [Android 1.6+] Read More . And who better to advise you than a tight-fisted Scotsman allergic to spending money?

Call Them Up & Ask For a Better Deal

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So here’s the first strategy. Call up your cell phone company and ask them outright for a better deal. I often find that begging helps, and if that doesn’t work, getting mean is a good second option. At first they are going to refuse your request for a discount, which is where you say one of the two following statements (or both, if necessary) :

  • I have been a loyal customer of yours for a very long time so I would like to see how grateful you are.
  • Well then, I guess I will have to start shopping around your competitors for a better offer.

Once you bring up number two, there is a good possibility that they may throw you a bone to stay. But if not, it’s time to move onto the second option.

Be Prepared To Change Providers & Look For Better Deals

I know, it’s a hassle, and in all likelihood, you will lose your phone number as it was issued by the company you have vowed to leave. Plus, if you have your number on business cards 13 Creative Business Card Ideas to Help You Stand Out 13 Creative Business Card Ideas to Help You Stand Out In the rough-and-tumble world of business, nothing helps you stand out more than a memorable business card. Here are a few ideas to help make yours stand out. Read More , flyers, the side of your van, etc, then having to get all that redone would be enough to make a tight-fisted Scotsman weep.

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But if your current company really is shafting you with your trousers on, it may be a good option to shop around. There are lots of cell phone companies these days, each vying for your custom by offering all kinds of bribes and incentives to cross to the Dark Side. One company offered me 50 Euros for every person I persuaded to sign up for a plan. Now that’s what I call temptation.

No Luck?

frustrated

Assuming you either failed to get a better deal or you need to stay with the current company (say due to the number issue), let’s start looking at some wallet-friendly options to get that bill down.

Use Skype For All Calls (Especially International Calls)

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Skype 10 Tips To Make You a More Efficient Skype User 10 Tips To Make You a More Efficient Skype User Skype can do more than you think. With this article, you'll learn all about its best hidden and advanced features. It's the Skype productivity manual. Read More . The name that has become a standard curse word for all cell phone executives everywhere. It was Skype that forced the cell phone companies to lower their pricing, as everyone was hopping on the VOIP Goodbye, Skype: 4 Alternative VOIP Services You Can Record Calls With Goodbye, Skype: 4 Alternative VOIP Services You Can Record Calls With Can't record calls with Skype anymore? Recent changes that break support of third-party apps have left many users frustrated. Could now be the time to try an alternative VoIP call recording service? Read More client to get extremely cheap or free calls. And who could blame them? One cent to call the other side of the world!

Download Skype on your phone, and encourage your callers with Skype ID’s to call you through the app. For those without a Skype ID, it would be a good investment to pay the $50 a year for a Skype number How To Get A Skype-In Phone Number For Free How To Get A Skype-In Phone Number For Free Read More . This would be especially good if you have friends and family in another country, as you can get a Skype number in many countries around the world. When someone in that country calls you, you and they only pay the local rate, regardless of where you are in the world.

Try and Get Your Family & Friends On The Same Network For Free Calls

Did you know that you can quite often phone people for free, if they are on the same network as you? Your small print may vary, but there’s a good chance your company does this.

For example, I am with O2, and when I found out that I could make free calls to any other number on the O2 network, I got everybody switched over so fast their heads were spinning. I thought I was clever getting unlimited free calls, but now my wife has realized she can nag me all day while she is at work. Major fail.

Consider Using a Pre-Paid Phone, Instead Of a Contract-Based One

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This likely won’t work if you are after a smartphone, as I haven’t heard of a single company that offers pre-paid smartphones. In my expensive experience, smartphones come with a contract handcuffed to it.

But if you don’t want or need a smartphone, then avoid contracts like the plague How Google is Trying to Free You From Your Cell Phone Plan How Google is Trying to Free You From Your Cell Phone Plan In April, Google unveiled Project Fi — a new wireless service the company claims will deliver faster speeds and better coverage with a unique, economical approach to pricing. Read More and get onto a pre-paid plan The Best Prepaid Cell Phones On The US Market The Best Prepaid Cell Phones On The US Market Mobile phone contracts suck. Everyone knows it, but we accept them because often we don’t seem to have much choice. The selection of pre-paid phones is poor and off-contract phones are expensive. But perhaps you... Read More . True, it’s annoying that you constantly have to watch you don’t run out of credit, but think of all the money you would save not being tied down and whipped senseless by a smartphone contract? Looking at it that way, I would check my credit every hour on the hour.

Use Wi-Fi, Not Cell Phone Company’s Network Internet

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The phone company is going to charge you extra for your data plan. That’s a given. My company cheekily put my data plan to 4GB and started charging me 15 Euros a month ($16.40). When I got angry and told them to put it down to 2GB, suddenly my data plan bill went down to 8 Euros a month ($8.75).

The point being, the phone company’s prices for their Internet connection are not cheap, and some enterprising employees (such as the one who raised my plan, and was given a third nostril) are going to try it on with you. So constantly make sure your data plan hasn’t changed, and if it has (and it’s O2 Germany), tell them the third nostril ripper sent you.

Always use Wi-Fi Understanding the Most Common Wi-Fi Standards Understanding the Most Common Wi-Fi Standards Wi-Fi can be a bit confusing because there are a handful of different standards being used. Here's what you need to know. Read More whenever you can. There are many places where you can find free Wi-Fi How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere Public wireless networks are becoming more and more popular as a means of attracting people to a particular business or service, and this is just one of the many ways in which free (or almost... Read More (or use your own Wi-Fi router in your home). Grab an over-priced coffee from Starbucks and use their free Wi-Fi. Just be mindful of the risks of using public Wi-Fi 3 Dangers Of Logging On To Public Wi-Fi 3 Dangers Of Logging On To Public Wi-Fi You've heard that you shouldn't open PayPal, your bank account and possibly even your email while using public WiFi. But what are the actual risks? Read More .

Install an Internet Browser Which Doesn’t Chew Up Your Bandwidth

Your data plan is always going to have limits (even if it claims not to). So you need to find ways to stay within your data plan allocation for the whole month.

The best way I’ve found is simply to use a browser, which reduces the amount of data downloaded, when you visit a webpage. The two browsers which I know of, that does this, are Google Chrome Google Chrome 32 Brings Data Compress To Mobiles, Website Shortcuts to Android Google Chrome 32 Brings Data Compress To Mobiles, Website Shortcuts to Android Chrome 32 for mobile has the ability to automatically reduce your data consumption. Additionally, Android users can create shortcuts to websites on the homescreen and iOS users get a taste of the Translate feature. Read More , and Opera 4 Ways To Reduce Your Mobile Internet Data Usage With Android Apps 4 Ways To Reduce Your Mobile Internet Data Usage With Android Apps You can reduce your mobile data usage without doing anything differently on your Android device. Read More .

Simply visit your phone’s settings to switch it on. It will take a while for it to really get going, but over time you will start to see some pretty big savings.

Use WhatsApp, Skype, iMessage, or Facebook Messenger, Instead Of Regular SMS

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When everybody started using Skype for calls, the phone companies turned to SMS The Best Ways To Send A Free SMS Online The Best Ways To Send A Free SMS Online In an era where smartphone ownership is becoming the majority, it’s hard to imagine someone who can’t (or won’t) send out text messages. When was the last time you knew someone who didn’t have a... Read More as their financial saviour. But then some upstarts came along to rain on that parade.

If you have a data plan, you should not be using normal SMS via your phone company. Why pay for texting when you can send messages through your data plan? Some may argue that it isn’t really SMS, more like instant messaging. But it doesn’t really matter what you call it. You send a message, the other person gets it, they send a reply back. Sounds enough like SMS to me.

The one I can’t recommend highly enough is WhatsApp How to Use WhatsApp on Your PC and Sync With Your Phone How to Use WhatsApp on Your PC and Sync With Your Phone Here is the best way to use Whatsapp on your desktop and have it sync with Whatsapp on your Android phone or tablet. Read More . It is absolutely brilliant WhatsApp Encryption: It's Now the Most Secure Instant Messenger (Or is it?) WhatsApp Encryption: It's Now the Most Secure Instant Messenger (Or is it?) Since being acquired by Facebook, WhatsApp has been forced to clean up its approach to security and privacy, which resulted in the news last year that it has introduced new encryption measures. Read More and I do 98% of my messaging through the app. The remaining 2% is split between Skype, iMessage Bye Bye iChat: Getting Started With The New OS X Messages App [Mountain Lion] Bye Bye iChat: Getting Started With The New OS X Messages App [Mountain Lion] As the dust surrounding Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion release settles, it’s time to evaluate whether those killer features announced earlier this year are really that good. For me the most exciting addition when I... Read More (only for Mac and iOS users), and Facebook Messenger Facebook Messenger For iOS Updated With Groups, Photo Sharing, And More Facebook Messenger For iOS Updated With Groups, Photo Sharing, And More Facebook Messenger for iOS has been updated to version 5.0, and with that comes the ability to share videos, the ability to take photos within the app, and improved search, among other things. Read More . All great and solid apps. But WhatsApp is the King for me.

Don’t Accept Needless Extras Such as Voicemail & Roadside Assistance

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When I owned a cell phone back in the UK 15 years ago, I had free voicemail, and it was great. So when I moved here to Germany, I was shocked when I was asked to pay for voicemail. I promptly had it switched off (after I recovered from the heart attack). I also had a wide range of other features switched off, which I didn’t need, but they tried to push on me. A “special number” to call Roadside Assistance? Er no, we’ll use the normal members number, if we have to.

Look at your bill and see what pork is being added to your balance. Then get rid of it. Remember, you are strong, you are the consumer warrior. If all else fails, crying always helps.

Say No To Buying Insurance

When I was reading an article somewhere, a sentence jumped out at me. It simply stated:

“If you feel you need insurance for your phone, then it means you don’t have the money to replace the phone if anything should go wrong with it. Therefore you are living outside your means, which means you shouldn’t buy it”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So, My Fearless Price Gougers, How Did You Do?

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After writing this whole article, I am now expecting you to go out there, declare war on the cell phone companies, and demand you get a fair deal. Tell me how you got on in the comments below.

  1. Mark O'Neill
    August 12, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Then you should do all your calls through Skype, and your texts through WhatsApp (assuming you have a smartphone of course).

  2. Shawn Rosvold
    August 11, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    If you're in the US, you are a sucker if you don't use Republic Wireless. I have the second most expensive plan, $20 a month for unlimited data, text, and long distance. No contract. You can change your plan at any time for no charge. You buy the phone. I have the first gen Moto X, the best phone I have ever had. That's it. My wife and I pay $40 a month, period. I've been with them for almost two years after ditching Verizon at $200 a month when my contract finally ended. I will not switch providers again.

  3. Pravin S
    August 11, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Mark,

    We have something called MNP - Mobile Number Portability. We can port our number to other service providers. Bad service providers are no longer keep us in their leash because they have our numbers. Either they should improve the service or charge appropriately. If not, they would lose the subscribers to their competitors.

    The whole process takes less than a week, but once your SIM card stops showing the signal reception, you should swap the SIM card with the one you received during the MNP application. You can start using the new network right after swapping. Simple, isn't it?

    In India, We can port without any porting charges. Things have changed greatly since the MNP was brought to service in 2010 by TRAI. I thought all other nations also had MNP service.

    Pravin

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 12, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Well, as I said to Mike, there are companies that allow you to move your number, and others that give you the complete run-around. When I was trying to move from Vodafone a few years back, they were giving me crap about the number not being able to be transferred. So they were slowing down my leaving process by keeping me in limbo about the number. It wasn't until I got a lawyer friend to call them, that they suddenly and radically changed their tune, and let me keep my number.

      So some companies do try it on, all in the name of retaining customers. The cellphone industry is becoming increasingly cut-throat.

      • Pravin S
        August 12, 2015 at 11:37 am

        True, 3 years ago some companies did those cheap tactics of delaying or rejecting the port request without reasons. Then, TRAI had to step into the issues and brought strict policies and penalties for malpractices. Now the MNP is a smooth process in India.

        I do agree the current scenario in Telcom Industry. In India, Calls and Data are not as cheap as people vaguely think, compared to the US and Europe. People who call it cheap should consider the GDP PC, Average Individual Income, PP, Number of subscribers, Spectrum Auction Charges, and Spectrum Allocations.

        I am with Airtel for 11 years. During mid 2011, I got frustrated with the services, frequent increase in charges, and lethargic customer service. I said I wanted to port. Someone called from Airtel and offered me some discount rates for 6 months like some kind of service evaluation period. Their service improved really. As I use a Dual SIM phone I took an additional SIM from Aircel, a competitor of Airtel. Monthly I pay 8-10$ (Rupee Equivalent) to Aircel and 3-4$ to Airtel.

        Telcom companies in India should change a lot.

  4. Mike Vertx
    August 11, 2015 at 3:40 am

    this article reads like it was written in 1990.

    none of these tips are valid and the information is wrong point blank in 2015.

    You do not have to give up your number when changing providers
    You will not get a discount by asking for one
    Asking a random customer service rep "how grateful they are" will leave you with a dialtone.
    Threatening to leave is called "Customer Retention" start your inquiry by requesting the customer retention department. They will review your service history both length or plan and determine what new plans are available (which you can also just do online or at a store).

    If you want the best plan here's the real scoop.

    Verizon = $300 credit to change to them
    AT&T = $300 credit to change to them
    Sprint = 1/2 of what your other carrier bill is
    T Mobile = get 3 friends to also sign up and it'll be $30 a month for each of you

    • ukdirector
      August 11, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Sounds like you are truly getting ripped off compared to the UK

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 12, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Reads like it is 1990? Well, thanks for the compliment.

      A lot of providers do offer the opportunity to transfer your number, but not all of them, and there are a lot of phone companies in the world.

      Yes, you CAN get a discount by asking for one. Case in point - my wife was getting increasingly higher and higher charges, so she called the company, complained, and said she was a long-time customer, so what could they do for her? A supervisor IMMEDIATELY put her on a tariff which slashed her monthly bill by A THIRD. Now would she have got that if she hadn't asked. Very unlikely. But she did ask, she stressed her long-term loyalty to the company, and they rewarded that with a discount.

      So no, it is not 1990. It is 2015. Clearly things work differently in the US, compared to Europe. But the basic underlying facts are pretty much the same, and they ARE valid.

  5. Computers make your life easier
    August 10, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Re: "This likely won’t work if you are after a smartphone, as I haven’t heard of a single company that offers pre-paid smartphones."

    Take a look at Net10wireless.com. They list 24 smartphones for sale on their site, plus you can bring your own. Personally I've been running 2 Nexus 4's on net10 for a couple of years. Plug in a free sim card, and either 30 day plans with a PIN card bought at local retailers, or sign up for monthly billing at almost exactly the same rate with a credit card

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 12, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Thanks for telling me about Net10wireless. I hadn't heard of them up to now, but it is reassuring to know that there is at least one company out there, that offers pre-paid smartphone plans. I'll have to see if they operate in Europe.

      The only drawback I can foresee is your data plan sucking up the credit pretty fast.

  6. m-p {3}
    August 10, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    I'd like to deal a better price, but the current plan I have doesn't exist anymore, and all the other carriers followed with price increase. The Canadian Telecom market is awful.

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 12, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Then you should do all your calls through Skype, and your texts through WhatsApp (assuming you have a smartphone of course).

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