AUS: 1300 630 488    NZ: 0800 1477 6287

6 ways to lower your monthly mobile bills

Ever received a monthly mobile phone bill and been shocked at the total cost? There are a few possible reasons for this, and most of them are easy to solve.

In this article, we’ll share a few tips that you can keep in mind to ensure your mobile phone bill doesn’t drain the budget any more than it needs to.

1. Know your usage 

One of the biggest barriers to getting a cheaper phone bill is the fact that most of us simply don’t actually pay attention to how much we use.

Things were a lot easier in the days before smartphones when we received an itemised list of every call and text we made that month.

Now, however, we are using our smartphone’s data on the internet constantly. Apps running in the background even use our data when we’re not actually using our phone. 

Most phone plans these days allow unlimited calls and texts, so data is where the money can be saved. Find out how much data you’re using each month by logging on to your phone carrier’s smartphone app or, if you don’t have the app, by calling them on the phone (the old-fashioned way!). They’ll be able to tell you how much data you’re using each month.

And here's the thing: let’s say you’re on a 30GB a month plan and you find out you’re only using about 6GB a month? If that’s the case, you may be able to drop down to a plan with less data, and that will come with inevitable cost savings.

But you won’t know if you don’t know your usage!

2. Hold on to old phones 

One of the biggest ways phone carriers make money these days is by attracting customers with shiny new smartphones every time their 24-month contract is up.

The new phone is paid off over the course of the 24 months, and these costs are added to the plan – so a $69 phone plan might become $99 when you add the $30 monthly phone repayments. In fact, some customers don’t even realise that they can get the plan without the phone.

If your current phone is doing the job just fine, hold on to it and, when the time comes to get a new plan, let your phone carrier know that you’re not interested in a shiny new smartphone with your plan. The savings will be significant.

3. Go monthly

Further to the above point, if you’re not interested in a 24-month plan that comes with a shiny new smartphone, then perhaps you don’t need to go with a contract at all. Instead, you can choose a month-to-month plan, otherwise known as a SIM-only plan.

Generally speaking, these plans are more value. Even better, you’re not locked into a 24-month contract, so if your phone use changes – or if, say, you go overseas for an extended period of time and don’t need your local phone for the time being – then you can update or cancel the plan at any time. 

4. Data sharing plans (tablet, USB, smartphone)

Many of us don’t just have data plans for our smartphones – we also have home internet and even tablets that require data use. In some cases, we might have a smartphone data plan with one provider, a tablet data plan with another provider, and a home internet plan with another provider still.

Most of the big telcos offer discounts for bundling all of your internet needs into the one package, so consider moving everything into the one provider – there may be savings to be made.

5. Use Wi-Fi wherever possible

Aside from having the wrong type of plan, one of the most common ways that we lose money on our mobile phone bills is by exceeding the data we’re allowed. Usually, data plans are free up to a certain point – say, 30GB of data – and everything you use above that point is charged at a higher (often much higher) rate. It means that if you suddenly go above your data limit, costs can skyrocket.

To save yourself from using unnecessary data, try to connect to Wi-Fi networks wherever possible, and particularly when you’re performing data-heavy online activities such as streaming videos, listening to podcasts or music or downloading software. There will usually be a Wi-Fi network available at home and at your office, and often you can even connect to Wi-Fi in public places like airports, cafes, restaurants, etc.

Check out our explainer on the difference between Wi-Fi networks and mobile networks

6. Beware of international calling

Of course, aside from the local data-related improvements that we’ve already discussed, the more traditional culprits in high mobile phone bills still apply.

If you need to call internationally regularly, make sure that your plan allows for this – if it doesn’t, the costs will run up quite quickly.

The same applies for sending texts internationally ­– not all plans cover this, so make sure you know what your plan allows for.

If you have friends and family overseas whom you like to stay in touch with regularly, consider using apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to send messages and phone calls. These apps allow you to send messages and make calls over the internet, as opposed to via long-distance telephone networks.

It means that you can call or text internationally using your local mobile internet data, or that of your Wi-Fi network.

In this way, a call to a family member in England would cost no more than a call to a family member who lives in the next suburb over.

Be aware, though, that data costs still apply, so keep an eye on your data usage if you’re making lots of calls – especially video calls.