It’s hard to avoid rising costs. Between gas, groceries, interest rates on borrowing money and shelter, everyone is feeling the impact of inflation. Individuals and families are looking at ways to save money on everyday expenses, and your cell phone bill is not a bad place to look. Plenty of carriers offer competitive packages. This article reviews the average cell phone bill per month to help you better understand if you’re overpaying for your current service or if you have a good deal.
How Much Should My 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, whether you’re leasing or financing your phones, your international calling options, whether you carry insurance on your cell phones and many other factors.
Do you want the latest and greatest iPhone? Do you actually need unlimited data? How many people need to be on your plan? Are you someone who worries 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, reducing the amount of data your plan provides per month, 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. You can reduce your cell phone bill, without always getting the cheapest cell phone service, but any reduction in cost may come with a trade-off.
Cheapest Cell Phone Service
The cheapest cell phone service may come with a trade-off you’re not willing to make, such as horrible coverage or incredibly slow data. Cheap is not always better, but there are solid economic options with well-known and high-quality nationwide carriers.
How Much is a Typical Phone Bill?
The three major U.S. carriers all have similar phone plans and coverage. The following table shows different pricing for these carriers for one line.
For each carrier, the least expensive 5G plan was selected. Keep in mind, the cost represented below does not include taxes and fees. Nor does the cost reflect the cost of financing a phone, insuring the phone or any additional add-ons you may elect to include on your plan.
|Carrier||Plan||Average Cost Per One Line|
|AT&T||AT&T Value Plus Plan||$50 per month|
|Verizon||5G Start||$70 per month|
|T Mobile||Essentials||$60 per month|
What can make your cell phone bill go up?
The average monthly bill for cell phone plans increases every year. In 2012, it was only $71, in 2015 $110, and today it’s around $127.27. The average cell phone bill is for more than one line, which is why the numbers in the table above are less than what the actual average cell phone bill is. Carriers typically discount the cost per line when you add more lines to a plan or when you go with a family plan option.
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 people sign up for and are the main plans that carriers advertise on their websites. 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 NPD Connected Intelligence 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 GB to 5 GB per month. A good portion of increased data usage is the result of using 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.
You do not use data when you are connected to Wi-Fi. You should set your phone to automatically connect to your home’s Wi-Fi, or the Wi-Fi in your office, to reduce the amount of data you use. If you can limit how much data you use, you can select a plan that restricts your high-speed data and rely on Wi-Fi to browse the internet, engage on social media and enjoy the apps you love to spend time on.
Number of devices
If you visit any of the main three carriers’ websites and look at their plans, you’ll notice they usually put the price point of a plan that includes four lines at the forefront.
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 correlates to how much money you spend.
Your Device Model
New models for your phone are released yearly or at least every other year. It is common for consumers to choose to finance their phones, which typically cost $30 to $40 per month. For example, Verizon charges $33.33 per month for 36 months to finance the iPhone 14. Whenever a new phone is released, consumers are eager to upgrade their phone to have the latest features, the best camera or more storage.
But because of the frequency in which new phones are released, consumers typically don’t pay off their current phones in full before they upgrade their model. Because of this continuous upgrade mentality, consumers are stuck in a continuous payment loop financing a phone they never actually own.
This payment loop keeps your cell phone bill inflated. If you’re looking to save money on your cell phone bill, you may need to refrain from upgrading your phone every year or two.
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 you are able to claim.
If you are someone who frequently needs repairs or has a history of losing or breaking your phone, insurance can definitely pay off. Otherwise, it might make sense to just invest in a really good phone case. A water- and shatter-resistant case can cost you $40 to $100. But that’s a one-time fee, and if you do not constantly upgrade your phone, as mentioned above, the investment made into a phone case will last you a long time.
The cost of your insurance, and the deductible you may need to pay if you ever filed a claim, may not be worth it.
Most people use the expensive services of the big three carriers, but there are a plethora of other low-cost carriers that actually use the bigger carriers’ networks for their wireless coverage.
It is possible to use a more economical carrier and save money each month when compared to partnering with T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T. An economic carrier may not have as many cell towers as one of the big three giants, which could ultimately result in less coverage.
In addition, not all low-cost carriers will provide you with service or coverage in rural areas. One feature you’d probably want to evaluate before moving to a cheaper carrier is the quality of its customer service.
It might be a good idea to ask friends and family members in your area which service they use to get a first-hand perspective on a carrier’s customer service, reliability and network.
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 they can forgo insurance and get an amazing phone case for protection. All of those variables influence the cost of your cell phone bill.
Plenty of cell phone plans and carriers are out there. You should take some time to figure out exactly what you need (how many lines, how much data per month and what phone you want), and find the carrier that will provide you with the best coverage at the lowest cost. You may be able to save a meaningful amount of money annually if you can cut your bill in half.
How much is an average iPhone bill per month?
An iPhone is part of your cell phone bill, but it’s not the bill as it doesn’t include any service. If you’d like to finance an iPhone with AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon, expect to pay $30 to 50 per month for the newest iPhone.
Why do cell phone bills fluctuate?
Cell phone bills vary because of all the add-ons people choose to have on their plans. For example, someone may choose to have unlimited data, while someone else may choose to limit their data usage to 5 GB per month. Another variable that can influence your monthly cost is whether you choose to have an international calling or roaming on your bill.
How much is too high for a phone bill?
It comes down to the cost per line. On average, if you’re paying $90 per line, you likely have an opportunity to reduce your cost.