Most college students have cell phones as opposed to landlines. But some students have both. Either way, those phone lines don’t come free. Many college students have enormous monthly cell phone bills.
According to a study conducted recently by Cowen and Company, American consumers pay more for wireless phone service than consumers in any other country in the world.
Among the four major mobile carriers in the United States, Verizon is the most expensive of the bunch, with bills averaging $148 per month including taxes and fees.
Sprint has the second most expensive service at an average monthly cost of $144. AT&T is the third priciest among wireless providers, with an average monthly charge of $141. And T-Mobile has the cheapest service, averaging $120 per month.
Those figures include both single users and family plan customers. The report didn’t break out the average cost for an individual cell phone customer. But other studies have put that cost at about $70 monthly.
It may come as no surprise, but most college students aren’t footing those hefty bills.
Citigroup’s college spending survey showed that 60% of students say their parents pay their cell phone bills; only 35% of students paid for their own cell phone accounts.
Regardless of who’s paying the tab, here are three unique ways for students to slash their cell phone bills, based on ideas I shared in College Secrets.
End Wireless Waste
A mobile phone analytics company called Validas is on a mission to eliminate so-called “wireless waste” — unused minutes, data and texts.
Validas makes its money by performing analysis of cell phone usage for large corporations. But it recently launched an initiative called SaveLoveGive.com to provide the same service for free to individuals.
Validas says that 80% of Americans overspend by an average of $200 annually. By seeing where you may be wasting cell phone usage, you can switch to a plan that better fits your actual needs, saving you money.
Claim Your Phone Discount
Many people are eligible for phone discounts either when they sign up for new service or later when they’re ongoing customers. But most consumers don’t know about these benefits or they forget to take advantage of them.
You may qualify for a reduction in your phone bill if your employer or your parent’s employer has negotiated a discount with a cell phone provider.
Tens of thousands of corporations have such agreements in place. Teachers, government employees, AAA members, credit union members and students can qualify as well — netting 10% to 25% off their phone bills.
In February 2014, T-Mobile ended its Advantage discount program for new customers. The program had offered consumers 15% price breaks based on an individual’s affiliation with various associations.
T-Mobile customers with accounts that predate the early 2014 switch continue to enjoy their discounts. Those current T-Mobile customers can check the T-Mobile Advantage Program page for businesses to see if they qualify for a discount through their employer.
Dispute Questionable Fees and Hidden Phone Surcharges
If you check your phone bill regularly, and scrutinize all the charges, you’ll likely see a lot of little charges, some of which you don’t need and probably don’t have to pay each month.
Examples include charges for roadside assistance, 411 phone service, or other random fees like horoscope texts and questionable toll-numbers that you don’t recognize. Whenever you see such fees, dispute them immediately. Otherwise, you’ll get billed for them month after month, which is a waste of money.
By using these three strategies, students can cut their monthly cell phone bills, save money, and reduce their college costs.