Will the T-Mobile & Sprint merger blow up your phone bill?

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Will the T-Mobile & Sprint merger blow up your phone bill?

T-Mobile and Sprint are finally merging together.

The Department of Justice approved the merger between the No. 3 and No. 4 cell carriers in the country last week. The move is an attempt to compete with top carriers AT&T and Verizon.

As part of the deal, Sprint agreed to sell its prepaid business, which includes Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, to Dish Network, so the television provider can create a fourth wireless carrier.

The merger “will create a bigger and bolder competitor than ever before – one that will deliver the most transformative 5G network in the country, lower prices, better quality, unmatched value and thousands of jobs,” said T-Mobile CEO and New T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a statement.

Not everyone agrees it’s a good move.

“We’re unhappy they approved the merger,” said Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “We think reducing the number of carriers is not a good thing.”

How will the merger affect me?

Once the merger is completed, Sprint customers will become T-Mobile customers. Users of Sprint’s prepaid brands will become Dish Network users.

Rheingold believes cell phone costs will go up after the merger. Customers will have less choice in where they get their cell phone service. He said it’s unclear if cell phone service will get better or worse.

“Companies will be less willing to compete for consumers, as there’s less competition,” he said.

How to save on your cell phone plan

A group of state attorneys general have sued to block the move, which may slow down the merger. In the meantime, there are simple steps cell phone users can take to lower their monthly bill.

  • Upgrade to unlimited. Constantly go over the data limit each month? Those extra fees can add up. It may be more advantageous to upgrade to an unlimited data plan.
  • Or downgrade. Conversely, if you have an unlimited plan but don’t use much data, it may be cheaper to stick to a plan with data limits.
  • Hop on the Wi-Fi. This will lower overall data usage. Avoid streaming movies or music if you’re not connected.
  • Manage cellular data usage. Adjust your settings so apps aren’t sucking data when they’re not in use.
  • Nix the cell phone insurance. Your renters insurance policy may already have you covered.
  • Negotiate your plan. Cell phone bills are often negotiable. Here’s how.
  • Switch carriers. If all else fails, consider switching to a different cell phone service company. Most offer promotional deals to people who switch.

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Image: Nastia Kobzarenko