Like most mobile carriers, AT&T increases its rates seemingly out of nowhere.
Expired discounts, inflation adjustments, and fee add-ons increased the price for a single AT&T phone line by $6 in the last year alone.1
In this article, we’ll talk about six ways that you can lower your bill — including lesser-known hacks that take advantage of their automated retention and discount systems.
How to Lower Your AT&T Mobile Bill
There are six effective tactics that currently work well for lowering AT&T Mobile bills:
Why did my AT&T phone bill increase?
When you experience a bill increase, it’s usually because of one or several of the following:
- Various surcharges, taxes, and fees: AT&T has listed the ten types of taxes, surcharges, and fees seen on your bill. See AT&T’s detailed information on that here. The cause behind one or more of these rates increase is due to state and federal regulations. AT&T doesn’t want to cover the rate increase for you, so you’ll see the adjustment as an increase on your bill.
- Overage charges: Understanding your data usage plays a significant role in controlling bill fluctuations. Data overage charges do not always only apply to those who pay by the gig. Even if your plan name says it’s “unlimited,” you may want to check the details of your contract. You may be surprised to find some instances where you could be charged overage use.
Check for Vocational Discount Programs
We’ve found AT&T’s pricing to be among the highest on the market for single and family unlimited mobile plans.
…However, they have by far the most generous and wide-reaching vocational discount programs.
These discounts are essentially based on rewarding particular demographics (students, seniors) for a mixture of corporate PR and customer retention. They’re currently the only major mobile carrier on the market that offers deals for Union members.
AT&T offers AARP members 10% off on the AT&T Unlimited Premium plan. This deal includes 5G access included at no extra charge. There is also a 50% savings offering for activation and upgrade fees. AARP members who are customers of AT&T will also enjoy a 15% discount on accessories.
Military and Veterans
Active duty military personnel, their spouses, people in the military reserves as well as veterans qualify for exclusive savings and discounts. Unlimited plans with four or more lines will receive a price of $27 per month per line.
Union members will receive $10/month per line with the AT&T Unlimited Premium plan. There is also a 50% savings offering for activation and upgrade fees. Periodically, special new member credits are offered for union members who switch to AT&T as well.
First responders and the extended public safety community get special access to FirstNet wireless network. This is an exclusive non-commercialized network that was specifically designed for the first responder community.
Families of first responders and other public safety personnel save 25% on the regular AT&T network.
Teachers and their families qualify for special pricing on unlimited plans. This deal is for plans with four or more lines at $27 per month per line when the plan consists of 4 lines.
Nurses and Physicians
Nurses, physicians, and their families qualify for special pricing on unlimited plans. This deal is for plans with four or more lines at $27 per month per line when the plan consists of 4 lines.
AT&T offers students 10% off on the AT&T Unlimited Premium plan. This deal includes 5G access included at no extra charge. There are other benefits available to students depending on their school or university.
Some employers have an agreement between themselves and AT&T to offer discounts to their employees. Check out AT&T’s database of qualifying employers to see if you qualify.
Employ a Bill Management Service
Bill management or “negotiation” services like Trim and Billshark are popular for customers who want savings but don’t want to invest time.
I’m leading with this tip because it’s the easiest approach by far. However, it only makes sense if your time is worth more than $50/hour. All these services take a percent of your savings as their fee, which can easily add up to $120 or more over the course of a year.
Here is a list of the top negotiation services that can help you negotiate a lower AT&T bill:
Billshark claims they can lower your AT&T bill by 25% in just 2 minutes. They’ve been the longest in the industry, however, they also charge the highest rates. (the percentage charges if for two years of savings, not one like the other services.)
The price for this service is a one-time fee of 40% of your savings plus $9 for each subscription Billshark cancels. Billshark also offers a $25 reward bonus that can be used in over 500,000 ways, including retailers such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Nike, and Ray-Ban.
Billsmart is another excellent option for AT&T customers. Like Billshark, BillSmart will only charge you if they can lower your bill. The fee for this service is 25% of the first year’s savings. Their strategy is to reduce your overall bill and negotiate one-time credits to be added to your account.
With Billslasher, you don’t need your bill to sign up. They offer negotiation services that guarantee savings, or you don’t pay them. Their rate is 40% of a year’s worth of successful savings made in 3 monthly installments.
Like the others, Rocket Money is committed to producing savings results, or you don’t pay them. Their rate is a one-time fee of 40% of your savings. Rocket Money also offers other helpful financial tools such as budgeting and credit score monitoring.
Here is a brief comparison of the negotiation services mentioned above:
|Billshark||One-time 40% fee||No charge for failed calls.|
|BillSmart||25% of first year's savings||No charge for failed calls.|
|Billslasher||40% of first year's savings||No charge for failed calls.|
|Rocket Money||One-time 40% fee||No charge for failed calls.|
Reduce data fees by off-loading to Wi-Fi
If you’re not on an unlimited data plan and pay by the gig, there are a couple of steps you could take to be more proactive about your data usage.
1. Use Wi-Fi as often as you can.
Not only will you avoid using your full monthly data allowance, but you may realize you can downgrade to a plan with fewer data. Several MVNO plans offer a “pay as you use” data plan, so you never waste money on data you don’t use.
2. Limit your background usage.
If you have dozens of apps on your phone, chances are they’re using your data even when you’re not in them. You can control this by switching the background usage off so that it only runs when you want to use the app.
To do this, go into your phone’s settings and check each app under “Cellular.” Turn off any apps that you don’t want to be using data. Don’t worry about not being able to use the apps later; you can opt to turn them on when you need to use them.
Switch to a Cheaper MVNO Plan
For those who are not familiar, there are mobile providers called MVNOs who can offer lower prices. This is possible because they do not own the networks they run on. They lease their access from the big name brands like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.
There are around fifteen MVNOs that are associated with AT&T. The most popular and competitive in value are Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, TracFone, and Straight Talk. Here is a list of some of the most popular MVNO carriers on AT&T’s network:
The cheapest plan that Boost Mobile offers is an unlimited data plan for $25. This deal is only available for new customers and comes with unlimited talk and text. You may also be able to find periodic specials on plans when you sign up online.
Currently, Boost Mobile is offering a $10 per month plan with unlimited talk and text when you sign up online. This exclusive deal is for new customers only and comes with 1 GB of data per month.
Check Boost Mobile’s deals to see if there is a special that interests you.
The cheapest plan that Cricket Wireless offers is a 5 GB data plan for $30. This deal is only for one line and increases in price for each line you add.
Red Pocket offers a basic unlimited plan starting at $20. While the plan is called “Unlimited,” it comes with 3GB of data per month and is not truly unlimited. However, this plan includes unlimited talk and text.
If you don’t need unlimited talk/text, Red Pocket offers a plan for $10 per month. This plan includes 500 minutes, 500 texts, and 500MB of data.
TracFone offers an unlimited talk and text plan with 4GB of data for $30 per month. Their cheapest deal is a $15 monthly plan with unlimited talk and text. You can get a discount of $5 per month for enrolling in automatic “refills,” but this only applies to the first two months of use.
The least expensive plan that Straight Talk offers includes unlimited talk, text, and calls to Canada and Mexico. This plan is priced at $35 per month and offers 10GB of data.
Check out this quick comparison of the cheapest monthly (30-day) mobile plan prices by MVNO per amount of data on the plan:
|MVNO Provider||Basic "Tier"||2nd "Tier"||3rd "Tier"||4th "Tier"|
|Boost Mobile (unlimited talk/text)||$10/mo. 1GB (new customer only)||$15/mo. 3GB (new customer only)||$25/mo. 5GB (new customer only)||$35/mo. 10GB|
|Cricket Wireless 5GB Plan||$30/mo. 5 GB||$40/mo. 10 GB||$55/mo. Unlimited Data||$55/mo. Unlimited Data Plus 15GB mobile Hotspot|
|Red Pocket (Unlimited talk/text)||$20.mo. 3 GB||$30/mo. 10GB||$40/mo. 25 GB||$50/mo. 100 GB|
|TracFone (Unlimited talk/text)||$20/30 days. 2 GB ($15 w/auto refill)||$25/30 days. 3 GB ($20 w/auto refill)||$30/30 days. 4 GB ($25 w/auto refill)||$40/30 days. 8 GB ($35 w/auto refill)|
|Straight Talk plan includes 10GB of data||$35 ($34 per month with auto-refill)||$45 with unlimited data + 5GB hotspot data||$55 with unlimited data + 15GB hotspot data||$65 with unlimited data + 20GB hotspot data|
Review Your Plan with a Representative (in person)
Taking to time to review your AT&T bill with a representative can help you discover areas where you can cut expenses and reduce your bill. You have two options for reviewing your plan.
1. Go to an AT&T store.
Talking to an AT&T specialist in person can help position you as someone who truly cares about your bill. The specialist will be more engaged with a face-to-face discussion which will help your chances of lowering your bill during your visit.
Use this time to discuss various charges, fees, and features of your bill. Specifically, talk about any items that you may not need or that seem to be going up in price. Mentioning your interest in looking for a better deal with a different provider could also help you. However, you should only express this interest if you’re serious about doing so.
2. Call and negotiate
If you decide to call customer support and discuss your bill, make sure you’re prepared to negotiate. It’s pointless to call and complain about the price in hopes that they will decrease your bill. Be prepared with examples of how your bill has gone up. Ask what your options are to lower the cost.
There are a few things you can do to call with some confidence:
- Reference AT&T competitor rates that are similar to your current plan. If the AT&T representative knows you’ve done your research, they may be more willing to find a way to lower your bill. At the very least, you can ask for a price match.
- Be clear about the rate you think you should be paying. You can do this by referring to the rate you used to pay or the rate you think you should be paying once certain items are eliminated. You can pay off devices, cancel unnecessary lines or ask for a loyalty discount.
Opt for Automatic Payments
Setting up automatic payments and paperless billing is an easy step you can take to save a little on your monthly bill. You can save anywhere from $5 - $100 depending on your plan and the number of lines. Be aware that you have to sign up for both automatic payments and paperless billing to receive the discount.
To do this, log into your AT&T account, go into “Settings,” and enroll in automatic payments and paperless billing there. You may also add the bank account and credit/debit card information you would like to use for automatic payments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are AT&T mobile bills so high?
AT&T is one of the most expensive mobile providers in the US since they provide primary data access as a tower owner, not simply leased access like that offered via MVNOs like Mint or Cricket. Customer bills tend to increase over time due to inflation, fee changes, and plan tier adjustments.
Does AT&T offer loyalty discounts?
AT&T has a loyalty program for some customer tiers including Gold and Platinum. However, the rewards are typically third-party discounts or gifts such as movie tickets or discounts on new hardware. The loyalty program is not designed to reduce the bill dollar amount for long-time customers.