Want to Pay Less for Your Cell Phone Plan? Now’s the Time to Shop Around

We probably all use similar words to describe our mobile phones.

“Convenient.” “Fun.” Probably “essential.” Maybe something like “I hate that I love this thing so much.”

“Cheap?” Nah. Cell phones have never been cheap.

But that might be changing.

Long gone are the days when you’d wait until 7 p.m.  — or worse, 9 p.m. — to flip open your phone, because that’s when it got dramatically less expensive to call your friends.

Now, smartphones with unlimited calls and texts paired with generous data plans are a must-have for many. And many of us are willing to pay whatever it costs.

But cellular providers are in stiff competition to win your business, and prices are going down. Way down.

Cellular Competition is Getting Crazy

Verizon brought back its unlimited data plan to compete with similar plans from Sprint and T-Mobile. AT&T offered a buy one, get one deal on iPhones. And the commercials for these megabrands? They make big promises and don’t mince words when calling out one another’s shortcomings.

But there’s a catch to all this competition. The Wall Street Journal explains cell phone service is “one of the nation’s most concentrated industries,” with just four major carriers and a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile looking more likely than ever.

Carriers are struggling to keep up with customer demands, and they’re losing profits. So once everyone’s done switching their cellular service to whoever gives them the best deal, and if the possible merger goes through, the discounts are probably going to slow down.

The best time to negotiate your bill or consider switching carriers? It’s right about now.

How to Get the Best Deal on Your Phone Bill

We have a list of phrases and questions you can use to make the process of negotiating your bills a lot easier.

Want to stick with your carrier but save on phone costs? Amazon offers exclusive unlocked phones at a discount, if you’re willing to see its screen ads on a regular basis.

If you can’t stand to be a part of the race to the bottom, there are always discount carriers like Republic Wireless and Twigby, and workarounds like Google’s Project Fi.

In this buyer’s market, you’re in control.

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. She is pretty sure her father has never forgiven her for a certain $900 cell phone bill she ran up when she was in college.