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What Is The Average Cell Phone Bill? (2024 Guide For Single & Group Plans)

Last updated 04/10/2024 by

Benjamin Locke

Edited by

The average cell phone bill in the U.S. stands at about $144 monthly, influenced by factors like data usage and overseas calling. This cost varies by state, with additional charges such as the 911 Fee and Universal Service Fund contributing to the bill. Major carriers offer different plans and fees, while alternative providers like Google Fi and Ting present options for those seeking flexibility or lower costs. Strategies to reduce your bill include opting for autopay, switching to prepaid plans, and more.
You probably think your cell phone bill is expensive, at least much higher than your average human being walking down the street. With all the overseas calls you make to Indonesia and the fact that you have an expensive carrier probably results in a higher bill than most. Or does it? How much does your average person spend on a cell phone bill? Brace yourself, you are about to find out.

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What is the average cell phone bill for one person?

Recent surveys, including those by JD Power, indicate that cell phone bills can vary widely, with an overall average of $144 monthly, or $1728 annually. However, this figure includes upper-tier plans with extensive data usage and additional features like international calling. On average, most users can get a lower monthly payment with careful plan selection and usage monitoring.
The cost of your cell phone bill will depend significantly on factors such as the amount of data you use, whether you make international calls, and the specific terms of your plan, which may include additional fees not immediately apparent in advertised prices..

How a cell phone bill breaks down

The average cost of a cell phone plan in the U.S. is around $144 per month. This figure can vary significantly based on several factors, including the number of devices on the plan, the choice of device, and the local taxes and fees applicable in your state or city. For instance, the average bill when you have a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is nearly $77 (nearly half the overall average).
Here’s a closer look at how a $144 cell phone bill might typically break down, including considerations for all-inclusive data plans:
Number of Devices on the PlanAdding more lines to your plan increases the cost.Additional lines can cost between $30-$60 each. A plan for four might cost around $190, while a plan for five could exceed $220, assuming unlimited data.
Device ChoiceOpting for the latest smartphone models can increase your monthly bill.Higher device payments are spread over your contract term.
Wireless Taxes and Local FeesThese vary by state and can significantly affect the final price of your plan.Illinois has the highest total tax rate at 34.89%, while Idaho has the lowest at 15.04%.

Advertised Prices vs. Actual Costs

The advertised monthly price often does not include various fees and taxes that can be added on, such as:
  • Early termination fees ($150-$300)
  • Roaming and international fees (varies)
  • New phone activation fees ($20-$40 per device, sometimes waived)
Some of the other charges you might find on your cell phone bill are listed below.
911 FeeThis fee funds emergency services in your area.
Universal Service Fund (USF)A government-mandated fee that supports telecommunications services in rural and low-income areas. Carriers often pass this cost to consumers.
State Telecommunications Excise SurchargeAlso known as the Gross Receipts Tax Surcharge, this fee helps carriers recover state and local taxes they owe.
Regulatory ChargeThis is not mandated by the government but is charged by providers to cover the costs of complying with regulations.
Administrative ChargeThis fee covers various administrative costs, including maintenance and interconnection fees.
State and Local TaxesTaxes imposed by state, county, and city governments on wireless services.

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Major carries in the US and their charges

Not all major carriers in the US are the same and some offer different packages. Some will attest to Verizon being better at something than T-Mobile. This includes charges and fees as well.

Verizon Wireless

Charges include the Universal Service Fund fee, Regulatory Charge, and Administrative Charge. Verizon also offers a tax and fee estimator tool.


Similar to Verizon, AT&T charges the Universal Service Fund fee, Regulatory Charge, Administrative Charge, and other unspecified surcharges.


T-Mobile’s plans include all fees and taxes in the advertised price, provided you opt-in and enroll in auto-pay. Otherwise, you might see charges like the 911 Surcharge, Regulatory Programs Fee, Telco Recovery Fee, and Universal Service Fund Fee.


Fees include the Regulatory Charge, Administrative Charge, Gross Receipts Recovery, 911 Charges, Universal Service Fund, State and Local Taxes, and an E-Waste Recycling Fee in California.
This table illustrates the range of fees depending on the carrier you choose. Plan prices can change at any moment and although these were accurate at the time of publishing, they may have changed.
CarrierBasic Plan Cost per MonthData LimitInternational FeaturesNetwork Coverage (%)
Verizon$70Unlimited$10/day international roaming99%
AT&T$65UnlimitedIncluded in higher-tier plans98%
T-Mobile$60UnlimitedFree texting and data in 210+ countries97%
Sprint$50Unlimited$5/month for basic international texting and data95%

Mobile phone bills are different by state

Not every state is the same, some states are higher or lower as explained below
StateMonthly AmountAverage Annual Amount*% of Households w/ Bill
West Virginia$143$1,42483%

Pro Tip

The crux of mobile expenses lies in the interplay of carrier competition, service plans intricacies, and the value-added services that subtly nudge the cost of cell phone bills upward. Carriers strategically structure their pricing to balance competitive offerings with profitability, creating a varied landscape of plans where consumers often pay for more than they need.” – Daniel Gorlovetsky, CEO of TLVTech.

How to lower your cell phone bill

Lowering your cell phone bill isn’t impossible, but if you want to lower your cell phone bill without switching providers, then below are some things to consider. Please note, that not all providers will offer the same opportunites to save cost on a cell phone bill.

Tips to lower your cell phone bill

  1. Opt for Autopay: Many carriers offer a discount, usually between $5 to $10, for setting up automatic payments.
  2. Switch to Prepaid: Prepaid plans can be significantly cheaper, with options starting around $30 to $40 for a limited amount of data.
  3. Change or Remove Your Cell Phone Insurance: Consider adjusting your insurance plan to a lower tier or removing it entirely, especially if your phone is older.
  4. Skip the Phone Upgrade: Holding onto your smartphone even a year longer than the typical two-year upgrade cycle can save you hundreds.
  5. Cash in on Discounts: Many carriers offer discounts to students, government employees, service members, and employees of certain companies.
  6. Add Lines: While adding lines increases your bill, sharing the cost with family members or friends can reduce the amount each person pays.
  7. Update Your Service Address: Taxes and fees on your bill are based on your service address. Updating your service address could lead to savings.
Here are some additional valuable tips shared by Lyle Solomon, Principal Attorney at Oak View Law Group, on how to lower your cell phone bill prices. By following these strategies, you can optimize your cell phone plan to better suit your needs and potentially save money each month
  • Check your current plan to ensure it matches real usage. Reducing unused data saves a lot. Prepaid no-contract options work too.
  • Bundling multiple devices onto one family plan or combining business and personal lines qualifies for discounts. Drop lines are not helping.
  • Consider carriers using major networks’ signals and compare retailers every 6 months for cheaper deals than annual carrier increases.
  • Pause streaming apps, travel or tethering access until carriers don’t charge for these to use less data.

Alternate providers other than the big carriers

Google Fi

Plans: Offers a plan for $20 per line + $10 per GB of data, with unlimited plans for $50 and $65. Discounts apply for multiple lines.
Features: Uses T-Mobile and US Cellular networks, includes international data in some plans, and offers a flexible plan that adjusts to your data usage.
Phone Compatibility: Most phones work with Fi, but only select models fully support its network-switching feature for optimal coverage.


Plans: Ting’s plans start at $10 for the Flex plan, which includes unlimited talk and text but charges $5 per GB of data used. Other plans include 5 GB for $25 and 12 GB for $35, with two unlimited plans priced at $45 and $55.
Features: All plans come with 5G and 4G LTE access, unlimited talk and text, and mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities. The Flex plan is ideal for minimal data users.
Data: The unlimited plans offer 22 and 35 GB of high-speed data, respectively, before throttling to 2G speeds.


Can I keep my phone number if I switch to an alternative provider?

Yes, in most cases, you can keep your existing phone number when switching to an alternative cell phone provider. This process, known as “porting,” requires you to provide your new carrier with your current account information. It’s important to not cancel your current service before the transfer is complete to ensure a smooth transition.

Are there any fees associated with switching cell phone providers?

While many carriers offer to cover switching fees or offer incentives to switch, there may be costs involved, such as paying off the remaining balance on your current device or early termination fees if you’re under contract. It’s best to check with both your current and prospective carriers for any potential fees.

How do data speeds compare between major carriers and alternative providers?

Alternative providers, or MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), often use the same networks as major carriers, which means data speeds can be comparable. However, during times of high network traffic, major carriers may prioritize their own customers over MVNO users, potentially leading to slower speeds for those on alternative plans.

What should I consider when choosing a cell phone plan from an alternative provider?

Consider your data usage, call and text needs, network coverage in your area, and whether international calls or travel are important to you. Also, review the terms for any potential additional fees, the process for upgrading or changing plans, and customer service reviews to ensure the provider meets your needs.

What is data throttling, and how does it affect my cell phone usage?

Data throttling occurs when your mobile carrier slows down your internet speed after you’ve used a certain amount of data within a billing cycle. This can affect streaming quality, download speeds, and overall internet browsing. Understanding your plan’s data policies can help you manage your usage or choose a plan that better fits your needs.

How do mobile carriers handle my privacy and personal data?

Mobile carriers collect and use personal data for various purposes, including billing, network optimization, and marketing. Privacy policies vary by carrier, but they are required to comply with laws regulating data protection and consumer privacy. Reviewing your carrier’s privacy policy can provide insights into how your data is used and protected.

What are the benefits of 5G networks?

5G networks offer significantly faster data speeds, reduced latency, and the capacity to connect more devices simultaneously compared to 4G LTE networks. These improvements enhance mobile internet experiences, support the development of new applications, and enable advancements in smart city technology, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Average Bill: The average monthly cell phone bill is approximately $144, or $1728 annually, which can vary based on data usage and additional services like overseas calls.
  • Bill Breakdown: Factors such as the number of devices, device choice, and local taxes significantly affect the final bill amount, with potential hidden fees.
  • Provider Differences: Major carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint offer various plans and fees, including all-inclusive options and specific charges like the Universal Service Fund fee.
  • Alternative Providers: Google Fi and Ting offer competitive plans outside the big carriers, with unique features like network-switching and flexible data plans.

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