I’m Struggling To Pay My Mobile Phone Bill – What Should I Do?

Firstly, don’t panic. In today’s financial climate, you’re definitely not alone. Mobile phone bills can be a huge drain on a monthly income, and if you signed up for a contract and suddenly find yourself out of work, for example, then mobile bills aren’t exactly your priority. On the other hand, you can’t ignore the problem, so you’ve already taken a great first step by recognising the problem and asking for advice.

We don’t want to paint a bleak picture, but it’s important that you know what the theoretical consequences of not paying your mobile bill are (we’ll get to how to solve the problem in a second). If you miss a monthly payment then next month you’ll get a bill for two month’s payment plus a penalty fee for missing the first month. That situation will repeat the next month and the next, until you end up owing a very healthy amount. And if you’re paying by direct debit and the payment bounces you could end up owing an additional penalty fee to your bank too.

All of this can add up exceptionally quickly and spiral out of control. Your operator may cut off service to your phone (though if you’re on a contract you’ll still need to pay a monthly payment even if you don’t have service). You end up with debt collectors knocking on your door, facing legal action, and with a black mark on your credit record (which could make getting another mobile contract in the future tough).

Right, let’s take a deep breath. That is what could happen, but if you handle the situation correctly, it won’t. Mobile operators are generally relatively reasonable about negotiating payment plans, after all it’s better for them to get some money than no money, so here’s what you need to do.

Your first step should be to take a close look at your finances. You missed one payment. Is that because you’ve had an especially tough month? If so, can you feasibly pay the bill next month? If you can, then you may want to consider sitting on the problem and just paying both bills next month. But be very careful in making this decision- you have to be absolutely certain that you can make both payments in the next month.

Assuming that this is a more constant problem, and that it’s a true struggle to pay the monthly payment that you’ve signed up for, then you need to again look at your finances and work out how much you can reasonably pay per month for your mobile services. Again, be realistic!

Once you know how much you can afford, take a second to have a quick look at the terms and conditions of your contract to find out what your operator’s policy is about late payment. It’s best to know where you stand before contacting your operator, after all.

Now, you’re going to call your operator’s customer service line (or billing number, if they have one) and start explaining the problem. Showing that you’re proactive will make your operator more likely to negotiate with you (better to make a good first impression, right?) and once you address the problem, your operator is obliged to discuss things and try to work things out with you. Trust us, it’s in everyone’s best interests to get the matter resolved.

Most probably you will be given a repayment plan. You need to discuss with your operator how much you can reasonably afford each week or each month to pay back your debt (again, again, be realistic, don’t commit to more than you can afford). You may or may not get your mobile service switched back on again if you’ve been cut off.

If you’re on a contract, you’re technically obliged to keep paying until that contract has ended. But you can ask your operator to downgrade your contract to a smaller one (which will be more affordable). Some operators don’t allow this, some will charge you a fee for changing your contract, and others will be happy to help you. There’s no harm in asking though!

In terms of the future, you might want to consider a switch to pay as you go or SIM Only on a 30 day rolling contract. That way you won’t be stuck in a contract that you might not be able to afford every month. You’ll have the phone service you need, and no monthly bill, which could be a good thing if your finances are a little wobbly at the moment. You might also want to consider selling your existing phone and using that to fund the contractual payments.

Getting stuck in a debt sink with your mobile contract is in no one’s best interests. These situations happen, but if you stand up and start dealing with the problem instead of burying your head in the sand, you’ll probably find that your mobile operator is more than happy to help you out and come to an arrangement that suits everyone.


How Can I Save Money On My Cell Phone Bill? Here’s The Truth!

How much is a phone bill

In a world where cell phones have become as indispensable as the toothbrush (OK, almost as indispensable), they’ve also become a major expense in our lives—especially for families. With monthly plans running into the hundreds, that’s thousands of dollars a year coming out of the family budget. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I promise—you can save money on your cell phone bill.

My first-hand experience working with wireless providers, cell phone plans, and real customers at the Apple Store gave me a new perspective about how much money people throw away because they don’t know what they really need to pay for. In this article, I’ll let you in on the absolute best way to save money on your cell phone bill and get new iPhones (yes, it’s possible) and explain how to fine-tune your plan with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, or any another carrier.

The Hands-Down Best Way To Save Money On Your Cell Phone Bill

Now is a great time to be a consumer, because wireless companies are willing to shell out big bucks to get you to switch. They want you, and they want you bad.

Even if you’re currently in a contract, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will all buy you out. They’ll also offer you promotional pricing on new phones, lower rate plans, and in some cases, a gift card just for switching. Just like the corporate world, sometimes the best way to get ahead is to leave and come back.

That’s right: A lot of the time, you can save money and get a new iPhone by switching to another carrier. You’ll usually be eligible for promotional pricing, and sometimes you’ll can get an additional bill credit if you trade in the phone you have now. If you’re happy with your current phone or you just got a new one, sometimes you can “bring your own phone” too.

And let’s bust a common misconception right now. The truth is that the easiest and cheapest way to get new phones is to buy them online. Carriers offer extra savings to people who sign up for new phones online or over the phone. Buying new phones over the phone can mean long hold times, not being exactly sure about what you’re ordering, and getting talked into unnecessary features by carrier representatives.

People go to the AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint stores because they’re looking for advice about the best phones and plans. Carrier representatives make commissions on the phones and extra features they sell. (Apple employees don’t.)

Carrier insurance is a great example of an upsell that often turns out to be a huge waste of money for most people—almost no one I’ve met understands how it really works or does the math on how much they end up paying over the course of two years. And that’s not the only example—the lost phone tracking and family communication apps are features that are built-in features that carriers repackage with a couple extra features that usually aren’t worth the monthly fees.

It’s my goal to give you all the information you need to pick the best phones and plan for you. All you’ll need to do is go to the carrier website, choose the options you want, and wait a day for the phones to arrive in your mailbox. (Sometimes you can buy the plan online and pick up the phones in store—just beware of the upsells when you’re there.)

Back in the days of the iPhone 4S, I once spoke with a carrier representative who said he would routinely send customers to the Apple Store to have their power buttons fixed. When I told him they could only replace the entire phone, he insisted that I was wrong. I told him that I was a technician who currently worked in the store, and that I was quite sure of the policy. I think he believed me.

How Do I Trade In My Phone If I Buy A New Phone Online?

It’s easy. Usually, the carrier sends you a prepaid label along with the box your new phone comes in. This is another advantage of buying your new phones online: You have enough time to make sure you got all your photos, contacts, and other personal information off your old phone before you trade it in. When you’re ready, you put your old phone in the box and drop it in the mail.

Tips And Thoughts For AT&T, Verizon, And Sprint Customers

New AT&T users should be aware that Verizon has recently lowered its prices significantly, my article that compares family plans side-by-side shows how a family of four with a large data plan could save over $50 a month by switching to Verizon, or more than $80 a month by switching to Sprint.

Even though some of AT&T’s plans are more expensive than Verizon’s, Verizon customers may want to consider switching to AT&T if they don’t use a lot of data, and they’re sick of their current phones and want to trade up.

Sprint is pulling out all the stops and offering $725 in promotional pricing for people who switch, which includes up to $650 to buy you out of your current contract and a $75 gift card. They’ll also cut your current rate plan in half, so you’re not only getting a new phone and gift card, you’ll save a lot of money on your plan as well.

In my experience—and this has been changing in recent years—AT&T and Verizon have top-notch service and coverage, and Sprint is spotty in some areas. If you’re really looking to save a lot of money, look at Sprint, but I’d encourage AT&T customers to look at Verizon and Verizon customers to look at AT&T before going anywhere else.

Visit AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon‘s websites to learn more about their current plans—you could end up saving a lot of money. If you’re pressed for time, check out the Payette Forward Cell Phone Savings Calculator to learn how much money you could save in less than a minute.

Tips For Lowering Your Cell Phone Bill With Your Current Wireless Carrier

In this section, I’ll share some tips that will help you save money whether you decide to switch to a new carrier or stay with the plan you have now. The best way to save money is to do both: Switch carriers and follow the tips in this section. If you’re not ready to switch, these tips can help you save money too.

One of the most common misconceptions about iPhones – and sometimes what carrier representatives tell customers – is that you need cell phone insurance because if you smash your iPhone or drop it in the toilet, you have to buy a new one at full retail price, which is at least $649. This is 100% not true.

I strongly encourage you to read my upcoming article about the truth about carrier insurance, which includes a calculator to find out whether it’s worth it for you to ditch carrier insurance, whether you should buy AppleCare+, or choose not to pay for any insurance plan at all.

My parents recently started saving $50 a month by upgrading their old plan to the new “Verizon Plan”. Doing the research doesn’t have to be difficult. I simply went on Verizon’s website, started a live chat session, and asked the representative if my parents could save money by switching to a new plan. 15 minutes later, my parents were saving $50 a month.

Even if you’re in a two-year contract, the details of the plan can usually be changed. Take a look at your data usage, and if you’re consistently under the amount of data you’re paying for, you could save a significant amount of money by stepping down to a lower plan.

On the other hand, if you’re consistently going over your monthly allowance, you could probably save money by stepping up to a higher data plan, because data overage charges are often much higher than what you’d pay by purchasing a more expensive data plan upfront.

If you’re having trouble staying under your monthly data allowance, my article called What Uses Data On iPhone? contains some great tips that will help you cut down on your data usage.

In this article, we covered the best ways to lower your cell phone bill from my experience working with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. The money-saving tips in this article apply to many other carriers as well. As we’ve discussed, the best way to save money is to switch to another carrier—at least until your current carrier offers an even better deal to get you back. I’d love to hear about how much money you’ve saved in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading, and remember to Payette Forward,