Money is tight these days, and cell phone bills aren’t cheap. Many people are finding themselves in a tough situation when their cell phone bill comes due during these challenging times. The good news is, you might be able to work things out with your carrier.
In March, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai announced the Keep Americans Connected Pledge to make it so people would be able to keep their internet and phone service during the pandemic.
700+ companies have already signed the pledge, which means the following for 60 days from signing:
- The company won’t terminate residential or small business customers’ service if they can’t their bills due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The company will waive any late fees because of their financial circumstances relating to the pandemic.
- The company will open its wifi hotspots “to any American who needs them.”
In addition to this pledge, many carriers are offering additional accommodations during these difficult times.
Here’s a look at what the Big 4 carriers are doing for their customers and how you can get help if you’re struggling to pay your bill on time.
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AT&T is increasing mobile hotspot data by 15GB per month for each line on an unlimited plan that includes a tethering allotment. That increase is good through May 13. If you purchase or upgrade your service online, you’ll get free express shipping and waived activation or upgrade fees.
You can request a waiver of an overage or late payment fee by using this form (you’ll need your username and ID to log in). The waiver is valid for charges from March 13 through May 13. You can also use the form to request assistance if you need extra time to pay your bill.
Sprint is giving customers 60 days of unlimited data for accounts with metered data plans as of March 18. Customers with hotspot-capable devices will get 20 GB of free mobile hotspot. International calls from the U.S. to CDC level 3 countries (just about everywhere right now) are free as of March 17.
If you need to buy a phone or sign up for a plan, Sprint is waiving activation fees and offering free next-day shipping for all online orders.
If you’re having a hard time paying your bill, you can set up a payment arrangement in your online account.
Every T-Mobile customer with a data plan gets unlimited smartphone data for 60 days, as of March 13.
If you have a plan with a mobile hotspot, you can add 10GB of data per month for two months. To do so, you must log into your account and add the “COVID-19 Response High Speed Smartphone Mobile HotSpot” feature for each voice line.
Customers can make international calls for free to a long list of countries that is being updated here.
All online orders that include a device get free two-day shipping through May 13.
If you need more time to pay your bill, you can set up a payment arrangement by logging into your account.
Verizon is giving wireless customers an extra 15GB of monthly data toward their billing statement ending April 30 May 31. Fios and DSL broadband internet customers will have unlimited data.
If you have a postpaid account, you’ll have unlimited minutes for calls to a variety of countries through April 30. If you’re on a prepaid plan, you’ll get 300 minutes through April 30 to use on international calls to those same countries. The list can be found here.
Activation and upgrade feels are waived as of March 18.
Verizon will waive late fees and overage charges from March 16 to May 13 if you inform the company you can’t pay your bill due to the coronavirus. You can request a payment arrangement in your online account.
If you use a company beyond the “big four,” you may find additional benefits as well. MVNO carriers like Cricket and Ting are offering new reduced-cost plans during the pandemic, while U.S. Cellular is providing extra hotspot data.
You can see some of the offerings in an FCC directory, but it’s also worth logging into your carrier’s online portal to see what options are available to you. Even if you’re able to pay your bill, you may be able to adjust your plan to make it more affordable or to meet your needs better.