Why do Canadians pay more for their monthly cell phone bill & 5 tips how to save money.
If you are located in Canada, like us, then you are facing some of the highest wireless plans in the Western World. Our US neighbours to the south, save about 20% across the board, on average, and have a lot more options when picking a cell phone provider. We want to take a quick look at why we pay more, but our main focus will be on providing a few quick and easy tips that can help you save money.
Why do we pay more?
As the second largest country in the world, there is a lot of ground to cover, literally and figuratively! To provide coverage across the vast expanse we call home, much equipment is needed, namely: cell phone towers. Given the sheer cost of building and maintaining these towers, combined with needing to service many small populations spread out over a very large region, we have just identified a few of the main reasons why it is much more expensive to run a mobile network in Canada.
On top of that, our network system is set up to revolve around the 3 main carriers, which in 2016, accounted for over 90% of total revenue. The way current regulation is set up, makes it near impossible to allow major competitors to enter the Canadian market, leading to this sort of oligopoly that we see today.
If we can’t change the system, how then can we save money on our monthly bill?
It’s not all bad news! Recently, the main providers have spawned smaller subsidiaries (Bell → Koodo) that provide more affordable deals and better rates on average, and, depending on where in the country you live, you may have seen a few small, new players to the market.
Now, as promised, here are 5 easy steps to show you what you need to do to save money!
Step 1: Needs Analysis
We, as consumers, often get sold on services we do not need. The first tip to lowering your bill is basically a self-reflective exercise. You need to ask yourself:
- How much data do I need per month?
- Can I access wifi easily in the area where I work and live, instead of unnecessarily paying for data?
- Do I need a lot of voice minutes?
- Do I need voicemail or voice to text services?
- Do I need insurance or other premium add-ons?
- Do I go over my data or voice limits every month?
→ The main question you should be asking yourself is: How will I be using this cell phone?
Step 2: Device Options
‘Secondly, do you need the newest most expensive phone on the market? The main question to ask yourself in this case is (again): How will I be using this smartphone?
You are typically presented with choices from the top 3 providers (Apple, Samsung, Google), and then a few other manufacturers. But, do you really need a brand new phone?
eMobile has shared examples of why certified pre-owned phones are a smart choice. The hardware in a majority of older phones is still more than enough for most needs of the general public. Read more here.
Step 3: BYO: Bring your own device
Are you paying monthly for a device you could not pay for upfront? If the answer is yes, you are like most of us Canadians currently tied to a contract.
If you have a device you are already happy with, or you have purchased a certified pre-owned phone, you can claim a BYO discount. Every major telecom provider offers this. Depending on whether you are entering a new plan or simply undergoing a plan change, you stand to save between $20–40 per month, on average, just by bringing your own device. That adds up fast!
Step 4: Math: Pure and Simple
Sometimes doing a little bit of math can truly show you how much you spend and how you can save in a year.
Gather up your past few bills and add them up on paper, or in a spreadsheet online. Make sure that you break down the major details of your bill:
- Monthly device payback
- Data overages
- Voice and sms overages
- Roaming charges
- Premium voice to text
- Device insurance
Then, estimate how much time there is left on your contract, or just divide the total by the number of months the bills cover, and multiply by 12 to get your annual spending.
Using the same method you went about calculating this annual cost, you can now calculate how much you would save by discontinuing some of the services you used in your calculation. By limiting your unused data, eliminating unnecessary premium features, or by just bringing your own device, you can save a lot of money in a year.
Step 5: Mix it all up and shop around!
Now that you know what your needs and costs truly are, and what options you have when it comes to devices, you can make an informed call to your provider, or just shop around.
Regardless whether you decide to stick to your current provider or want to shop around to see what other providers have on offer, you need to find some online tools and do some research before holding these conversations or walking into a store. There are a few great tools available online that can help you do just that. One such tool is ‘WhistleOut’. They compare plans and prices and have options to toggle BYO device, or just buying the device out right. They can show estimates for both the major service suppliers and for the smaller ones as well.
Keep in mind that sometimes it is worth it to buy out the remaining part of your agreement, just to be able to get on a cheaper plan with a different provider. But you need to go back to the ‘math’ part and calculate how much the penalty would be to cancel it, and compare that to how much you stand to save by switching.
Just by being armed with these 5 steps, you are now much more informed and have tools at your disposal to make changes to your plan and save mucho dinero! By doing some of your own research first, you put yourself in a great position to leverage that new knowledge to get better deals and to not be taken for a ride by charismatic sales people.
Know before you shop!
We’ve got a great selection of certified pre-owned devices at eMobile. Come check us out at www.emobilehub.com. By buying used from us, you are not only saving money, but you are lowering your carbon footprint and you are planting a tree with each purchased phone. Find out more about our ethical and ecological approach.