Easy ways to cut phone bills
If you’re looking at new phone and internet plans for a new house, getting a new mobile plan, or maybe you’ve already signed up, got the bill, then freaked out when you can’t pay (yep, been there, done that), there are things you can do to cut your phone bills. And they’re not hard to do.
Check out these simple ways to either keep your phone costs lower from the start, or cut phone bills that are too high to handle.
Starting a plan from scratch?
The cheapest option with phones is a landline phone (set to local calls only) and/or a pre-paid mobile, so you only spend what you have.
You can use the free wifi at your local library, place of study, Maccas or other takeaway food store with freebie wifi.
Or you could just pay as you go at an internet café, so you don’t rack up a massive wifi bill until you figure out how much extra cash you’ll have to spend.
Think twice before rushing into a long phone contract.
Paying month-to-month or prepaying your mobile gives you flexibility, plus won’t cost more than you can afford.
If you have more to spend
More cash means more choices, but you’ll need to know which services you want and the way you plan to use them to find the best plan.
Work out what you can actually afford to spend.
Write a list of each service you want (like home phone, mobile, broadband or whatever).
Then think about what you are going to mainly use them for and write that down too.
List stuff like:
- Will the home phone be mainly local or calls to mobiles?
- Will your mobile be mainly calls or texts?
- What internet connection do you want and what will you mostly use it for?
- Do you want pay tv or anything else packaged in?
Next, check out some phone and internet comparison websites to compare bundled options.
Be picky and compare a few sites, as comparison plan sites often work with retailers so mightn’t actually choose the best value plan for you.
New sites are springing up all the time, so try searching for phone comparison plans in your area.
Some places to start?
www.youcompare.com.au or www.phonechoice.com.au for help comparing phone and internet plans and packages, or www.ozcompare.com.au or www.phonesandplans.com.au for mobile phones and plans.
US-based site www.whistleout.com (this also has links to sites for other countries).
Don’t sign what you don’t understand!
Once you’ve found a plan you’re interested in, ask the company for a Critical Information Summary (CIS), which can help you understand (in fairly simple terms) what you’re actually signing up for.
This is a free document and has to be provided to you on request by service providers.
Ask someone with more experience to help you read the contract before you sign up. Don’t sign up until you understand it.
Check the cooling off period in the contract. This is how long you get to change your mind.
Watch for extra charges on things like internet download limits or movies-on-demand, and stick to the amounts you’ve signed up for, or you’ll get a nasty shock at bill time.
Going overseas? Plan ahead!
Turn off anything that regularly updates, like game apps.
Be super careful if you plan to use your phone overseas (you might actually be better to get a cheap pre-paid one when you get there), otherwise your next bill could cost a mint.
Taking calls from other people when you’re out of the country, or even listening to other people’s voicemails, can cost you a fortune.
Chop your mobile bill
Go paperless with your bills as it’s sometimes cheaper.
Check your bill for extra charges – sometimes what you thought was a one-off may recur.
Text instead of call where possible, and watch any internet charges (try to use free internet available in some public places).
Delete your voicemails straight away as you usually have to pay to listen to them.
Got a complaint?
Phone and internet service providers need to provide a minimum level of service, or you don’t have to continue with the contract.
So if you have regular problems, like bad mobile reception, for example, you can ask to terminate your plan.
In most places, you can contact a government official, like your state or territory’s telecommunications industry ombudsman in Australia, for problems with phone and/or internet services.