Are you paying too much in cell phone taxes? And other tips to save on that smartphone bill

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CNBC’s Acorn site recently ran a month-long series on how to save money called “Easy Money Makeover.”  I contributed a piece on how to lower your cell phone bill. Below, you can read a taste of the piece, along with a couple of bonus tips. But please head over to CNBC/Grow to read the whole project.

Are you overpaying taxes? Local and federal taxes make up a shocking percent of your cell phone bill – on average, about 19%, and in some cases, as high as 27%.  The state and local portion of that tax bill can vary wildly, however. Oregon residents pay about 2%; Illinois residents, 21%. This first suggestion might sound obvious, but it’s not: Make sure your service address (not just your billing address!) is correct, so you aren’t overpaying on local taxes. Americans move frequently now, so many are paying the wrong cell phone tax.  In some cases — say, you move from Washington (19%) to Idaho (3%) — the difference could be hundreds of dollars annually.

Are you in a high or a low cell phone tax state? Check the Tax Foundation to find out.

Check your insurance: Plenty of money-saving suggestions involve dropping insurance on your smartphone. Given that new replacements can cost up to $900, that may or may not be a good risk to take. But everyone should shop around for smartphone insurance. You don’t have to buy it from your carrier. Third-party plans can be half the price. Also, some carriers have different tiers that are worth considering. Don’t forget: most phones come with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty, so your main concern should be theft or accidental damage coverage during that first year.

Don’t have the latest gadget – buy a portable battery instead. Once upon a time, consumers paid very little for new phones in exchange for agreeing to long-term contracts. Today, subsidized phones are out and installment payment plans are in. For a new-ish phone, like the Galaxy s10+, that adds $40 a month to your bill. But a Galaxy S9 costs only $25 a month, and an iPhone 7 costs $19. It’s easy to save by accepting last year’s model. Better yet, keep your old phone for an extra year or two after you’ve paid it off and you won’t have any monthly payment.  Since phone enhancements have become less and less dramatic with each model, but smartphone batteries tend to lose their oomph after a year or two, the main reason many users update phones for increased battery life.  If that’s you, consider buying a portable battery instead. That technology has come a long way in recent years.

Go to Acorns/Grow to read the original story.

About Bob Sullivan 1452 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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