Need Help Paying Your Cell Phone Bill? DoNotPay's Got You Covered

iEditorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help.

Need Help Paying Your Cell Phone Bill? Waive Your Late Fee or Extend Payment Due Date With DoNotPay

Due to the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have suddenly found themselves out of work. 43% of U.S. adults said that they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a cut in pay due to the coronavirus outbreak, which was up from 33% in the latter half of March 2020, according to a recent analysis conducted by Pew Center. The ramifications of the economic crisis are wide-spread and consequential, with the federal and state institutions now launching various initiatives designed to stimulate the economy and assist all affected citizens.

If you're struggling to cover your mortgage payment, pay your bills, or repay your credit card debt in these difficult times, know that you're not alone. If you're struggling to make ends meet and aren't sure if you'll be able to settle your cell phone bill this month, there's no need to panic. There are multiple solutions that will help you get out of this predicament, and we'll introduce you to each one in this article.

Staying Connected During a Time of Crisis—Even if You Can’t Afford To Pay Your Cell Phone Bill Right Now

During this time of isolation, it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with our loved ones. This call for American unity and solidarity has been recognized by 750 companies that have signed the Federal Communications Commission's "Keep Americans Connected" pledge. By signing the pledge, they have agreed to not terminate their services to residential or small business customers who are unable to pay their phone bills. This commitment that is valid until June 30.

One of the wireless network carrier giants, AT&T, announced on its website that it won’t end service and will waive late payment fees of any wireless, home phone, or broadband residential or small business customers if they are unable to pay their bill as a result of the pandemic. Similarly, Verizon promised to waive late fees and overage charges until June 30 for customers and small businesses who cannot afford to pay as a result of economic hardship caused by COVID-19.

Most other providers are offering the same above-mentioned perks as well as many additional ones, such as free bonus data and free plans for selected essential workers. Check your phone service provider's website to learn about how they’re doing their part during this pandemic—you may be eligible for certain benefits that they’re offering.

Understanding Your Cell Phone Bill

The format and contents of your phone bill will vary depending on your mobile service provider and the type of plan you’re on, but there are three main components that you can always expect to find on your cell phone bill. Your total outstanding balance will comprise these three basic items.

Name of component What it is
One-time chargesSpecific one-off charges that are not part of your plan, such as purchased ringtones, devices, etc.
Plan/account chargeRegular, fixed-amount charges included in your monthly account plan
Surcharges, taxes, and government feesIncludes federally mandated charges, state and local taxes, and surcharges imposed by the carrier

Does Your Cell Phone Bill Have Any Errors?

Bill errors are so common that it’s always a good idea to thoroughly verify the accuracy of every bill you receive. Most frequently, users get wrongly charged overage fees for exceeding their monthly data allowance, or international roaming fees when their phones have been in airplane mode the entire time.

Keep an eye out for scams, too. Cramming is the most commonplace phone billing scam, estimated to have harmed tens of millions of American households to date. As defined by the FCC, cramming is the illegal act of placing unauthorized charges on your wireline, wireless, or bundled services telephone bill. Essentially, you’re getting charged for a service you never requested, even if it’s a seemingly meager daily horoscope fee or a special ringtone charge. If you don’t recognize or understand a charge on your phone bill, you should immediately ask your wireless carrier about it.

To be on the safe side, find out how you can prevent such charges from happening in the first place. Ask your provider whether they offer services that block potentially risky third-party charges.

Have You Considered Negotiating Your Cell Phone Bill?

Once you’ve chosen your cell phone plan, chances are you were too busy to check if the price you’re paying for matches your actual usage. For example, your plan may include “unlimited everything,” but you’re really just sending about a hundred messages and using around two to three gigabytes of data a month. That’s a lot of extra dollars in your unlimited plan you’re handing over unnecessarily.

The secret that your cell phone network provider doesn’t want you to know is thisit’s much cheaper for them to retain an existing customer (that is, you) than to find a new one. This is why they are adamant about keeping you on board, come what may. You have the upper hand here, so follow these steps and start negotiating for a better deal:

  1. “Shop around” on competitors’ websites and find out which of their plans compare to your plan with the current provider
  2. Calculate how much you’d be saving, or getting more of, if you were to switch to a competitive carrierwhether it’s Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, or someone else. Calculate your cancelation fee, if there is one, into the overall cost
  3. Call your provider’s customer service
  4. Ask the customer service rep if they can offer you a better plan than your existing one. Since they are not authorized to offer you deals or discounts, they will transfer you to someone in Customer Retention
  5. Ask open-ended questions about available deals and promotions (such as, “what kind of discounts do you offer to long-standing and loyal customers such as myself?”)
  6. Remind them about their competitors’ offers (which, incidentally, happen to be much more favorable than what they are currently putting forward)
  7. If the Customer Retention rep doesn’t want to budge, pretend that you would like to cancel your plan. This tactic ought to give you more bargaining power
  8. At this point, you’re likely to be offered some savings or additional features on your plan, or both
  9. Remember, if you’re actually ready to walk away, you’ll, in all likelihood, secure a better deal. And if your provider still doesn’t want to meet you halfway, perhaps you are better off with someone else

If You Need Assistance With Paying Your Cell Phone Bill, Help Is Out There

You may be feeling reluctant to ask for a helping hand with paying for your cell phone bill. In all probability, there is at least one non-profit organization in your community that can provide a much-needed financial aid right now. The table below lists some major initiatives and organizations that can help you get back on your feet by providing discounted service or assistance with your bills (including your cell phone bill).

Type of ServiceFeatures
  • A government program aimed at low-income individuals and families
  • Provides help with a discounted landline or cell phone service for qualifying low-income consumers
  • Eligible recipients may also qualify for a free phone
  • A non-profit organization that provides direct assistance to individuals and families in need
  • Financial support is issued in prepaid credit cards and gift vouchers up to $200
  • A free helpline and website that provides help with finding assistance services and resources in communities, from local non-profits and faith-based organizations
  • A non-profit organization that issues self-sufficiency grants to individuals, including those who have suddenly found themselves unable to pay a bill
  • Ability to submit the grant application online

Should You Take a Loan To Cover Your Cell Phone Bill?

You’ve exhausted all other options, yet your cell phone bill has remained unpaid, and the debt is mounting up swiftly. Borrowing some money to settle the phone bill might be tempting, but it's not the best solution. You should only consider this option under very strict conditions that it won’t plunge you deeper into debt or damage your credit score. The rule of thumb is simple—paying bills with your credit card is acceptable, but make sure you cover your balance in full each month.

Your best bet may be a new credit card that offers 0% APR during the initial promo period if you’re certain that you will be able to pay off your cell phone bill debt within this time. Some credit cards even include phone insurance coverage, as long as you use them to pay your monthly cell phone bill.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your Cell Phone Bill on Time?

When you find yourself unable to pay your cell phone bill, you can expect the following to take place:

  1. Your account will go into arrears—a legal term that signifies you’ve missed one or more payments
  2. After a while, the phone company might cut you off, i.e. prevent you from receiving or making phone calls
  3. If you still haven’t paid, your cell phone contract will probably get canceled, and the wireless carrier may disconnect your cell phone entirely
  4. The debt might then get passed on to a debt collection agency that will chase you for the outstanding balance owed

What’s important to consider is that if your cell phone account becomes delinquent, missing payments or making late payments can seriously hurt your credit score.

If a Debt Collection Agency Has Contacted You About Unpaid Bills, This Is What You Should Know

While undoubtedly high, if the amount of your cell phone bill is still within the realms of manageable, try to pay it off as soon as you can to get the debt collectors off your back. If that’s still not an option for you at the moment, it’s of utmost importance to know what to do when a debt collection agency calls you.

  1. Stay calm and level-headed. The law prohibits collectors from harassing the debtors, but it’s likely they will try to make you feel uncomfortable
  2. Don’t agree to any payments on the spot
  3. Investigate the credibility of the caller, because you may be the victim of a fraudulent attempt by an illegitimate collection agency. Ask for the name of the debt collector and their agency, their business address, and phone number. Use this information to verify that they are a legitimate company
  4. Record other details of the call: the date and time of the phone call, the amount of debt they claim you owe, as well as any other details related to the debt that you discussed with them
  5. Don’t give away any of your personal or financial information, including your bank account details, or your other bills and debts
  6. Verify the validity of the debt. If your unpaid phone bill is two years old or older, your debt is past the statute of limitations, meaning that you are no longer legally required to pay it
  7. If the debt is valid and the collection agency legitimate, consider making a settlement offer and propose paying a lump sum/partial repayment. Get the Settlement Agreement in writing

If nothing works and the collection agency sues you, the court may issue an order for wage garnishment. Your employer will be legally obliged to withhold a portion of your paycheck and send it directly to the creditor or in this case, the collection agency.

Ask for an Extension Date for Your Cell Phone Bill

Most network providers have lent a sympathetic ear to the financial struggles many Americans are currently facing, so if you cannot afford to pay your cell phone bill, make sure to let them know. Be frank with them about your inability to cover the bill, and submit an extension date request explaining your circumstances by:

  • Calling customer service
  • Writing a letter
  • Writing an email
  • Making a request in person
  • Making a request through a lawyer or financial advisor

If you would like to avoid making personal contact with your provider, you can and have the app contact customer service for you. Choose the Corona Relief option on the DoNotPay app homepage and have a short chat with our clever chatbot. You will be prompted to provide us with some necessary information, such as your name and your physical and email address, that we need in order to submit the written request on your behalf. Now, how quick and effortless is that?

Request a Waiver on Late Fees for Your Cell Phone Bill

If you’ve fallen behind with your cell phone bill payments, the first thing you should do is some damage control. Most wireless carriers have pledged to waive late fees in an effort to provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. Explain your new circumstances to your network provider and kindly request a fee waiver through one of the following:

  • Email
  • Letter
  • Phone call
  • In-person visit
  • Lawyer request
  • DoNotPay

Out of the six options above, DoNotPay is by far the easiest and quickest solution.

DoNotPay Lends a Hand With Managing Your Cell Phone Bill

Think of DoNotPay as a AI Consumer Champion that offers assistance with a variety of bureaucratic tasks, including help with paying bills. Relying on artificial intelligence technology, we are able to help you with your cell phone bill in just a few steps:

  1. in your web browser
  2. Scroll down and select the option Corona Relief by clicking on “Get protected”
  3. Tell us what you need help with (in this case, select Other bills)
  4. Choose between waiving your late fee or extending your payment due date
  5. Answer a few questions by our chatbot

In order to be able to help as much as possible, the DoNotPay chatbot is going to ask you the following:

  • Your name
  • Your residential address
  • Your email address
  • The reason why you’re currently unable to pay your cell phone bill

Once it has all the necessary details, DoNotPay will promptly analyze all gathered information and generate the optimal solution to your request. Now, that’s one less thing to worry about!

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