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Lower Your Phone Bill

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Rotary Phone

Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Are you paying more for phone service then you’d like to be? Then, see if one of these seven strategies could help to lower your bill:

Switch to VoIP

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a relatively new technology that allows you to make and receive calls over a broadband Internet connection. Providers include Vonage, SunRocket and a host of others, including many phone and cable companies.

Cost: Plans offering unlimited local and long distance range from $15-25 a month. Smaller, minute-based plans are also available; and start at $9.95 a month. To get started, you may also need to purchase a VoIP router, though many service providers offer a free router with sign-up.

Potential savings: Varies by person. To estimate your savings, subtract the monthly cost for VoIP from your current monthly phone charges.

Pros:

  • Calls to the United States and Canada included in the pricing
  • International call rates as low as 3-cents per minute

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work during a power outage unless you have a back-up battery system
  • VoIP may not be compatible with your local 911 system
  • Call quality may not be as good as it is on a traditional phone line

Bundle Your Services

Do you have cable, high-speed Internet and a landline or cellphone? If so, bundling all of your services with one provider could be your biggest source of savings.

Potential savings: $20 or more a month.

Pros:

  • Only one bill to pay
  • New customer rebates and introductory offers may make the deal even better

Cons:

  • You’ll probably be required to sign a contract
  • Many bundle offers include a low introductory rate, and a much higher rate thereafter
  • Taxes and other hidden fees may apply

Ditch Your Landline

Use your cell phone for all of your calls, and cancel your traditional phone service.

Potential savings: The cost of your current landline plan: local and long-distance.

Pros:

  • One less bill to pay
  • The ability to answer all of your calls on the go

Cons:

  • If your cell plan doesn’t include unlimited minutes, you could accrue overage charges
  • 911 service for cell phones isn’t available in all areas
  • Forget to charge your battery, and you’re temporarily off the grid
  • Call quality may not be as good as it is on a traditional phone line

Cancel the Extras

If your phone service comes packaged with a bunch of features – call waiting, caller ID, etc. – you may save money by unbundling your services and shopping a la carte. Contact your service provider to find out how much a basic, no-frills phone line costs. Then, add on just the features that you need (generally about $5 each).

Potential savings: Varies, but a basic phone line usually runs around $22 a month (taxes and fees included).

Pros:

  • You only pay for what you want
  • You get to customize your phone services

Cons:

  • Less bells and whistles

Comparison Shop

Not satisfied with the deal your current provider is giving you? Then, shop around for a better rate. When it comes to phone service, there are more options than ever.

Potential savings: Varies by customer and locale.

Pros:

  • You don’t have to wonder if you’re getting the best rate possible

Cons:

  • Requires a bit of effort

Unlimited Long Distance

Do you make a lot of long distance calls? If so, signing up for an unlimited long distance plan could make a lot of sense.

Potential savings: Varies by person. To estimate your savings, subtract the monthly cost for unlimited calling from your current monthly long distance bill.

Pros:

  • The same bill every month
  • The freedom to make as many long distance calls as you want

Cons:

  • Terms and exclusions may apply

Use a Phone Card

If you only make occasional long distance calls, a phone card may be cheaper than paying for traditional long distance service.

Potential savings: The cost of long distance service in your area.

Pros:

  • You only pay for the calls that you make
  • Your long distance service is portable – just take the card with you when you travel
  • Since you pay up front, there are no surprise bills

Cons:

  • Most cards have expiration dates
  • Connection fees often apply
  • Lose the card, and you’ve lost the minutes
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