PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) – The coronavirus pandemic is forcing families across Arizona to pinch pennies, and many are trying to find ways to reduce their cellphone bills.

The first thing you want to look at is your mobile data usage because you might be able to change your plan.

Andrew Moore-Crispin, the director of content at Ting Mobile, says surveys show most of us are using significantly less mobile data right now because we're home more often and connected to Wi-Fi.

"If you look at your cellphone bill, invariably, the most expensive thing on that bill is going to be mobile data," he said. "This could be a real opportunity to look at how much you're using. Maybe that $80, $90 or $100 unlimited phone bill doesn't look so good at a time like this."

Save on your cellphone bill

Moore-Crispin says many consumers have found savings using low-cost cellphone options through MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) carriers. Those wireless companies use the big four carriers' networks, and often have more flexibility with plans.

"It really drives a lot of competition that you've seen in the wireless industry in the past couple years," Moore-Crispin said.

According to financial website ValuePenguin, there are several potential benefits to switching to an MVNO. But there are also possible drawbacks, including fewer phone purchase options and no brick-and-mortar stores for customer service issues.

If you don't want to switch networks, there are still easy ways to slash your cellphone bill. Kelsey Sheehy, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet, offered three suggestions.

• Switch to autopay. According to Sheehy, most carriers will reduce your bill by $5 to $10 a month if you're on an autopayment plan.

• Consider changing or even dropping cellphone insurance. Sheehy says switching from a premium protection plan to standard insurance will save a little bit each month, while still providing coverage.

• Skip the phone upgrade. Using the phone you already have could save you hundreds and won't lock you into a new contract.

You can also ask your carrier to switch to a less expensive plan.

"It's always a good idea to look at your usage every few months and make sure you're on the best plan. This is especially true right now," Sheehy told 3 On Your Side. "If your usage has changed dramatically, ask your provider if there is a less expensive plan available. Just make sure you'll still have the option to change back when your usage returns to normal."


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