What is the average cell phone bill per month?

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Average cell phone bill per month

Are you wondering what the main drivers that determine the cost of your monthly cell phone bill are? 

According to CNBC the average cell phone bill per month for the typical American is $127.37. There can be many different features of a plan that factor into the price, and determining what you need can sometimes be complicated.

However, being aware of the key factors can help you bring costs down by eliminating unnecessary services or features. Wireless plans are bundled in a way that makes it easy for you to have all the latest and greatest at a reasonable price, but is it actually what you need?

How much should my cell phone bill be?

The cost of your cell phone bill can vary depending on how much coverage you need, the number of lines you have, the type of cell phone you have, and many other factors. 

Do you want the latest and great iPhone? Do you actually need unlimited data? How many people need to be on your plan? Are you someone that is worried about breaking your phone screen often? These are all questions that factor into what your cell phone bill should be.

It’s possible to cut cell phone costs by doing things like using a smaller carrier, limiting the amount of data, holding off on upgrading your phone, and even using a credit card with rewards for paying monthly phone bills. 

All in all, your cell phone bill should reflect your everyday lifestyle and needs, as well as the needs of your family.

How much is a typical phone bill?

The four major carriers in the US all have similar phone plans and coverage. The following table shows different pricing for these carriers for one individual line. 

For each carrier, the least expensive unlimited data plan was chosen.

CarrierPlanAverage Cost
AT&TAT&T Unlimited Starter$65/month
SprintSprint Essentials$65/month
T-MobileEssentials$60/month
VerizonVerizon Play More Unlimited pricing plan$80/month

What can make your cell phone bill go up?

The average monthly bill for cell phone plans is increasing each and every year. In 2012, it was only $71, in 2015 $110, and today it’s around $127.27.

Multiple factors contribute to your cell phone bill. In order to avoid unnecessary fees, it’s important to know what you are actually paying for.

Unlimited data plans

Unlimited data plans are the most popular plans that people sign up for and these are the main plans that carriers advertise on their websites. And because of this, as well as the emergence of 5G, more data is traveling across networks than ever before.

The covid 19 pandemic has only amplified this. In fact, a report done by the NPD, showed that cellular data usage increased 75% year over year. The rate of mobile hotspot usage also increased to a record high of 30%. 

To figure out how much data you actually need, you can start by checking out how much data you are currently using. The typical cell phone consumer is said to use about 3-5 GB per month. A good portion of increased data usage is due to the use of social media apps, video conferencing, and mobile gaming.

Ask yourself: do you really need to use all of that data on a daily basis? The average person has around 40 apps installed on their phone, and this number can be much higher for teenagers and children. In fact, adding kids to the family plan is a new tech milestone that Americans as a society have achieved in the last decade.

Number of devices 

If you visit any of the main four carriers’ websites and take a look at their plans, you’ll notice that they usually put the price point of a plan that includes four lines at the forefront. 

Indeed, it can be hard to find pricing for individual plans. This sometimes leaves people wondering why their plan seems to be so expensive when the one advertised was so much less. This is because the number of devices, or lines, that your plan has directly correlated to how much money you spend.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the number of devices affects every additional service that you add to your plan – including things like insurance. If someone on the plan needs unlimited data, that means that everyone needs unlimited data.

Device type

Rolling your upgraded phone into monthly payments can add anywhere from $30 to $40 on top of your monthly bill, and oftentimes the upgrade plan also includes an activation fee of around $30. 

With new phones coming out every year (or every other year), it is very common for someone to never actually even pay off their phone. Because of this, consumers can sometimes find themselves in an endless loop.

Many phone upgrade plans also offer a trade-in option, which can determine how much money you are eligible to save depending on the device that you will be trading in. Sometimes these savings amounts can be quite dramatic.

For example, as of February 18th, 2022,  AT&T offers $350 in bill credits with a smartphone trade-in value of $35 to $94, but $800 in bill credits with a smartphone trade-in value of $95 or higher.

Insurance

Insurance for your phone is another product that many find necessary – but insurance can add around $10 to $15 per line per month. 

Keep in mind that there is a limit to the number of times you can file a claim per year and it’s usually much less than one time per month. This limit can also be determined by how many lines you have on your insurance plan.

A deductible is also paid when you file a claim for when you have a broken screen or you need to completely replace your phone. The deductible price is dependent on your device type, location, and plan and each carrier has a maximum value that you are able to claim.

If you are someone that frequently needs repairs, or has a history of losing or breaking your phone, then insurance can definitely pay off. Otherwise, it might make sense to just invest in a really good phone case.

Carrier

Most people use the expensive services of the big four carriers, but there are a plethora of other low-cost carriers that actually use the bigger carriers’ networks for their wireless coverage.

What that means is that it is absolutely possible to pay as low as $7.50 a month using one of these carriers, and it’s possible that the carrier has the same coverage as a giant like T-Mobile. There are trade offs, however, and when the data is throttled service can be really slow.

In addition, not all of them will get you coverage in rural areas, or have the same perks when it comes to financing new phones. One feature you’d probably want to evaluate before moving to a cheaper carrier is whether or not the company has solid enough customer service in order to make the plan work for you.

Choose the plan that’s best for you

How much are phone bills? Everyone has a unique situation. 

Some people like the security that an unlimited data plan brings. It’s nice to know that when the unexpected happens, perhaps in an unexpected place, they have the best possible cell phone coverage.

Some people don’t use a large number of apps each day and don’t need as much data. Maybe that same person is confident that they can forgo insurance and get an amazing phone case for protection?

There are tons of plans and options out there. A little bit of creativity can save you a lot of money.

FAQ

How much is an average iPhone bill per month?

The average monthly cell phone bill for Americans in 2022 is $114 per month.

Why do cell phone bills fluctuate?

Cell phone bills can fluctuate for several reasons including the amount of data usage, roaming fees, activation fees, and the number of lines added. Credits and adjustments, like trade-in value adjustments, can also make your bill fluctuate.

How much is too high for a phone bill?

If you’re spending much more than $114 a month, which is the average monthly bill for residents in the US, then you are probably overpaying. If you have insurance, or a purchase phone plan rolled into your plan your monthly bill will be higher.

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