Ways To Lower Your Phone Bill

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••• Rotary phone. PM Images/DigitalVision/Getty Images 

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

Switch to VoIP

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, allows you to make and receive calls over your internet connection. Providers include Vonage, Ooma, 1-VoIP and a host of others, including many phone and cable companies.

Cost: Nothing, if you go with Ooma. Just pay $99.99 for the phone system, and after that, you won't have any monthly costs, other than the government-mandated taxes.

Potential savings: 100%

Pros:

  • Calls to the United States and Canada included in the pricing
  • International call plans from VoIP companies starting at $9.99/month

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, especially if you have a slow Internet connection

Bundle Your Services

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.

Pros:

  • One less bill to pay
  • The ability to answer all of your calls on the go
  • You won't pay extra for long distance calls

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 $40 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
  • You're likely to receive a promotional offer that will expire after a certain period of time
  • You may have to agree to a long contract

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. Another option: drop long distance service, and use your cellphone to make all of your long distance calls.

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