If You Are Buying an iPhone 14, Some Ways to Save on Your Wireless Bill


The iPhone 14 Pro


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unveiled Wednesday can run well over $1,000, but it might cost some buyers almost nothing to upgrade, given many trade-in offers and subsidies from wireless carriers. These deals often come with a catch, of course, such as multiyear commitments to stay with a carrier (with penalties for quitting early) or a higher-priced data plan that can cost you hundreds of dollars more a year, per line. 

All of this makes it tough to calculate the actual long-term costs of upgrading to a new phone. When looking for ways to save on a new phone, it is important to focus on how to manage your wireless bill and the cumulative cost of these offers.

In general, the cost of your monthly service plan consumes more of your budget than the expense of a new phone, said Ted Rossman, a consumer-spending analyst at The average phone bill in the U.S. is $151 a month, according to J.D. Power.

If you currently own an iPhone 12 Pro and want to upgrade to the $999 model 14 Pro, Apple offers $430 for the trade in, bringing your cost to $569. If you traded in the same phone to


the carrier will credit you up to $1,000 of the cost of the new phone, so long as you agree to a three-year commitment to one of its unlimited-data plans.


offers a similar deal, a credit of up to $1,000 toward the purchase of a new phone with a two-year commitment on its premium plan.


customers can get up to $800 off a new iPhone 14 and access to a bundle of services with some trade-ins and some unlimited plans, with a three-year commitment. You are also on the hook for sales tax and other fees.

Since there is little haggling over the price of an iPhone itself, the best strategy to keep costs in check is to find ways to reduce your monthly wireless bill. 

Shop around and welcome more people into your ‘family’

Check if you’re eligible for discounts through your employer, professional associations or status as a student. 

Last year, Rorik Larson wished to add his 13-year-old son to his phone plan. At the time, his individual plan cost about $89 a month with his military veteran discount. 

He shopped around and switched to T-Mobile, which gave the then-57-year-old a senior discount, ultimately trimming his bill to $35 per line. He added a parental-control app for $10 a month and the purchase plan for his son’s starter phone. He now pays $91.75 a month for himself and his son.  

You can also share a family plan with friends, a practice the wireless carriers allow. Alvin Carlos, 48, pays $22 a month for service by sharing a family plan with three friends. Mr. Carlos, in Washington, D.C., pays the T-Mobile bill each month and his friends then pay their share to him via Venmo.

“You need to trust the people on your plan or you could get stuck with the entire bill,” he said.

If you have a data limit, it is often shared, so one person’s heavy usage could leave others with less available data and/or responsible for overage fees, said Mr. Rossman.

While a share plan can be a good way to save money, things can get messy if a friendship or romantic relationship breaks off. Some people want more privacy too and wouldn’t want others to see their call or text logs, said Mr. Rossman.

Apple has four new iPhone 14 models. WSJ’s Joanna Stern breaks down the differences between the Pro and non-Pro models and shares her first impressions. She also takes a quick look at the huge new Apple Watch Ultra. Photo Illustration: Adele Morgan/The Wall Street Journal
Consider prepaid data plans, and use autopay 

Paying upfront for your data is one way to potentially trim costs. 

Maggie Klokkenga and her husband, both iPhone users, recently switched to individual unlimited prepaid data plans with Visible, an all-digital wireless carrier owned by Verizon. Each pays $30 a month. They previously paid $166.15 a month for a shared unlimited plan on one of the major carriers.


What are your best tips for lowering your wireless bill? Join the conversation below.

Certain prepaid plans come with slower data speeds and might not include international roaming.

Enrolling in automatic payments can lead to a discount with some carriers (you might get $5 a month per line at T-Mobile, for instance), said Bankrate’s Mr. Rossman. Review your autopayments to make sure there weren’t any surprise charges, such as roaming or data overage fees, he said.

Do you really need an unlimited plan? Check

Some of the biggest incentives on new phones might require you to sign up for plans that include unlimited data, mobile hot spots and other features. Those plans are priced at a premium and typically require a long-term contract, but often people end up paying for features and data they don’t use.

A basic unlimited data plan might cost $30 a month per line, whereas a premium plan might be $55. A premium plan usually includes the ability to use your phone as a mobile hot spot, said Toni Toikka, chief executive of Alekstra, a research company that analyzes the wireless industry. They might also include subscriptions to streaming services you might already have, he said.

A family with four premium unlimited lines could wind up spending an extra $1,200 more a year along with taxes and fees, said Mr. Toikka.

Most customers can live without a premium plan, especially if they don’t need to use their phone as a hot spot, he said. But if you have teens who are always on TikTok or other data-heavy apps, the premium plan might be a better bet, he said. You can check your data usage on your wireless bill or by selecting Settings then Cellular on your iPhone. Most people tend to overestimate how much data they consume, he said. The average U.S. smartphone user consumes about 10GB of data a month, said Mr. Toikka. For most, a service that includes some or no premium data is equally good as the more expensive plan, he said.

Write to Veronica Dagher at [email protected]

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