Phone bills, like other flexible monthly bills, can increase dramatically without notice. If you find yourself unable to pay your home or cell phone bill, you can find help before the phone company counts the bill as unpaid and reports you to a credit reporting agency. Then, you can safeguard yourself against similar situations in the future.
Why It Matters
Paying a phone bill late can mean losing phone service, but it can also mean losing points on your credit score since your phone company may report a late payment to credit reporting agencies. When your credit score drops, your credit card company may increase the interest rate on your account, according to the DebtSmart debt management website. Depending on how low your credit score drops, you may have difficulty getting loans at low interest rates, or at all. Contact your phone company to find out whether it reports late payments.
Contacting the Phone Company
While your phone company can report you to credit reporting agencies, it's more interested in getting its money. The company may be more willing to help you pay your bill than it is to report you. Call the company using the number listed on your bill and ask whether you can set up a payment plan -- you might pay half the bill today and the other half when you receive your next paycheck, for example. Also ask whether the company will waive any late fees on your bill. The company may be more lenient than you expect.
If you can't work out a payment plan, borrow money from friends and relatives to lessen the inconvenience to any one person. If your bill is $75, for example, and you borrow from three people, you only owe each $25. Set up a repayment plan with each person from whom you borrow, put the plan in writing and have yourself and the other person sign the plan. Uphold your end of the plan, both for the sake of the other person's finances and the sake of your relationship.
There are three ways you can avoid difficulties paying your phone bill in the future. The first is to contact your phone company to remove features from your service plan, thereby lowering your bill. The second is to sign up for a service such as Ooma, magicJack or Skype that lowers your phone bill by allowing you to send and receive phone calls through the Internet. These require a reliable, high-speed Internet connection. Your third option, if you qualify, is to apply for aid through the Federal Communications Commission. Programs such as Lifeline Assistance, Link-Up America and Toll Limitation Service provide phone service to people with low income.
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