How to Lower Your AT&T Wireless Monthly Bill

Apple iPhone 6s Plus on the AT&T NetworkI recently took a look at all my bills and realized that my monthly AT&T bill is one of the highest.  Annualized, I was paying as much for cell phone service as I was for my electric bill.  I also noticed that my AT&T bill was higher than the monthly Cablevision bill for internet, phone and television.  This had gotten out of hand and I needed to lower the price, even if it meant leaving AT&T.  I’m going to detail how I cut my AT&T bill by $30 monthly.  I’m going to jump around a bit, so stay with me.

Fortunately I wasn’t in a contract and this gave me a lot more freedom to shop and negotiate versus someone who is into a multi-year contract.  My current usage based plan included unlimited minutes and text plus 15GB of data for three smartphones.  Two phones were paid for and owned and a third had four $25 monthly payments left as part of the AT&T Next Plan.  In terms of usage, two of the phones are reasonably active in terms of messages, minutes and data.  The third phone is an emergency phone used by my mother.  She turns it on once a month to make a 5 minute call.  Each phone costs $15 per month plus taxes and fees to make it $20 monthly per phone.  My data plan which I dive into below costs $100 monthly plus more tax.  The monthly damage is $100 for data, $60 for three phones, $25 AT&T Next.

So I’m watching TV and see this terrific offer by Sprint to cut AT&T’s rates by 50%.  That’s significant.  Off to Spring I went.  It was jammed.  I decided to do this over the internet and sure enough, it was for real.  I could line up an Apple iPhone 6s Plus, Apple iPhone 6s and a flip phone for my mom plus unlimited voice and messaging plus 5GB of data for $105 including taxes and fees.  Compared to my current plan that was a $65 monthly savings.

Why the giant reduction in data?  One of the most obvious ways to reduce your monthly bill is to align the plan with your usage.  I was contracted for 15GB of data for $100 monthly.  AT&T permits their customers to easily look at the prior several months of data usage.  I was using roughly 3 GB per month.  Not even close to 15GB.  An obvious way to reduce my bill was to decrease the data plan to 5GB which is why I asked Sprint for the lower data plan.

Anyway, the monthly savings was enough to entertain the switch so I called Sprint’s Customer Service line for a few questions (this sounded too good to be true).  Their customer service is not based in North America and the person on the phone was unable to answer my simple questions.  She escalated me to a different department.  Also not in North America.  He couldn’t answer my questions either.  I asked him to escalate this to someone who was knowledgeable with their plans and process for activation.  Off I went to a higher level.  Surely this third person would be able to answer my questions.  Nope.  Also offshore and had no answers for me but said he would get me answers in the next day or two and get back to me.  No thanks.  So much for Sprint.

My experience with AT&T’s network has been good and I heard a few Sprint horror stories so realizing that I could potentially score a lower rate with a smaller data plan, I called AT&T.  I explained to him that I was entertaining a Sprint offer.  I left the part about my customer service experience out.  He was able to offer me a lower data plan that wasn’t published on their site for a $20 savings.  So now I’m signed up for 10GB at $80 monthly.  That’s a $20 monthly savings.  As a side note, the 5GB plan actually was more than the 10GB as the monthly phone fee is raised to $25 versus the current $15.  Still a $20 monthly savings turns into $240 yearly.  Not bad.

Next up was my mom’s phone.  Seems silly to keep paying the AT&T rates for a phone that’s turned on once per month.  I found a great service called Ting which I wrote about here.  Ting charges $6 per month plus $3 for up to 100 minutes.  I could use her current smartphone on their GSM network which is the T-Mobile network. So we are taking about $9 per month versus the fully loaded $20 monthly bill from AT&T which includes all the taxes and fees.  Had Ting for a few months.  Need great.  By the way, I called their customer service and they were very knowledgeable.  Answered my questions on the first call.  Total monthly savings on mom’s phone is $10 monthly for $120 per year.

This leads me to the last but potentially most significant way to save money on your bill which I was already taking advantage of.  Those working for large corporations are potentially eligible for an employee (or retired employee) discount.  These are substantial discounts and in the case of AT&T I received a substantial discount off the monthly data charge.  I know from experience that Verizon and Sprint also provide these types of discounts.  You need to show the carrier your employee or retiree ID to have the discount applied.  Ask for it and hopefully you’re eligible.  Applying the discount doesn’t affect the terms of your current contract length nor anything else that I am aware.

What about my AT&T Next Plan and the remaining payment on my phone?  I paid it off and got an iPhone 6s Plus for $25 month for 24 months.  That’s what’s in the photo that accompanies the article.  Same rate as before and better phone.  I sold my iPhone 5s on eBay for more than the remaining payments and because I unlocked the phone with AT&T prior to the sale, I was able to get a small premium versus one that’s strictly AT&T.

So there you have it.  $20 discount on the data.  $10 savings on moving mom’s phone to Ting.  Total savings $30 monthly or $360 yearly.

Hopefully you can cut your bill using some of these tips.  After saving some money, spend some of it on a good phone mount for your car.  You can read a good article on that topic here.