Struggling to Pay Your Phone Bill on Time? Here’s How to Get an Extension

Have you ever found yourself short on cash when your phone bill comes due? You’re not alone. Over 60 million Americans have reported difficulty paying an on-time phone bill in the past year.

When money is tight, paying a $100+ phone bill can be stressful. Fortunately, most major wireless carriers offer bill extensions, also called payment arrangements.

Getting an extension on your wireless bill gives you extra time to pay what you owe. This guide will explain everything you need to know, including:

  • What are payment arrangements?
  • Who’s eligible for a phone bill extension?
  • How to set up a payment plan with AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon
  • Potential fees to be aware of
  • Steps for deleting a payment arrangement
  • Other tips for lowering your cell phone bill

What Are Payment Arrangements?

A payment arrangement allows you to pay your overdue phone bill in installments. You’ll split up the past due amount into smaller, more manageable payments over a period of time.

For example, if your bill is $120 and you can only afford $60 this month, you may be able to schedule a payment arrangement to pay the remaining $60 over the next 1-2 billing cycles.

Payment arrangements give you an extension on paying the full balance while keeping your service active. They help avoid costly late fees, service suspension or sent to collections.

Who’s Eligible for a Payment Extension?

Eligibility for payment arrangements varies slightly by carrier. But in general, here are the requirements:

  • Postpaid customers only – Prepaid accounts don’t qualify for extensions.

  • Account status – Your account can’t be too far past due, usually 60 days max.

  • Credit history – Customers with a solid on-time payment history are more likely to get approved.

  • Type of phone – Customers financing a device may have stricter requirements.

As long as you meet the criteria above, you should be able to get a bill extension with proper documentation of financial hardship.

How to Set Up a Payment Plan with Major Carriers

Here are step-by-step instructions for getting a payment extension with the three biggest wireless providers in the US.

AT&T Payment Arrangements

To set up a payment plan with AT&T:

  1. Log in to your AT&T account online or via the myAT&T app.

  2. Under the Billing section, choose Payment Arrangement.

  3. Select the amount you want to pay now.

  4. Choose a date for your remaining balance to be paid.

  5. Review and submit the arrangement.

AT&T bills can be split into up to 3 installments within 90 days. Payment dates are limited to 6 preset options.

T-Mobile Payment Arrangements

Follow these steps for a T-Mobile bill extension:

  1. Download the T-Mobile app and log in.

  2. Tap Account > Make payment arrangement.

  3. Enter the amount you want to pay today.

  4. Select a date for remaining payments.

  5. Review and confirm the arrangement.

T-Mobile offers more flexible installment plans, with up to 12 payment dates over 120 days.

Verizon Payment Arrangements

To set up monthly installments with Verizon:

  1. Use the My Verizon app or website.

  2. Go to Billing > Payment Arrangement.

  3. Choose the amount to pay now.

  4. Pick dates for future payments.

  5. Verify and submit the arrangement.

Verizon caps arrangements at 6 installments over 180 days for bills under $1000.

Be Aware of Potential Fees

While payment plans allow you to extend your due date, carriers may charge fees such as:

  • Late fee – If the arrangement starts after your original bill due date, a late fee of $5-10 may apply.

  • Convenience fee – Making or changing an arrangement over the phone or online chat sometimes incurs a fee around $5.

  • Reactivation fee – If your service gets suspended despite the arrangement, expect a $15-40 reactivation fee.

  • Lost bill credits – Customers enrolled in autopay may lose their monthly discount of $5-10 per line.

Read the fine print carefully so you know the potential costs. Fees vary between wireless providers.

Steps for Deleting a Payment Arrangement

Once you pay off the full past due amount, you can remove an existing payment arrangement:

  1. Log into your carrier account.

  2. Locate the payment arrangement section.

  3. Select the option to delete, remove or cancel the arrangement.

  4. Confirm deletion of the payment plan.

Be sure to pay the total past due balance before deleting an installment plan. Otherwise, your account becomes overdue again.

Tips for Lowering Your Overall Cell Phone Bill

In addition to buying yourself more time to pay with a bill extension, here are some other ways to reduce your monthly cell phone costs:

  • Review usage – Check your monthly minutes, texts and data usage. Look for ways to cut back on extras.

  • Downgrade plans – Switch to a cheaper carrier plan with fewer features you can live without.

  • Use WiFi – Connect devices to WiFi whenever possible to reduce cellular data usage.

  • Negotiate discounts – Ask about any student, military, senior or employer discounts you may qualify for.

  • Suspend lines – Temporarily pause service on lines not being used, if permitted.

  • Buy used – Consider getting a used, refurbished or hand-me-down phone rather than the latest model.

  • Compare carriers – Shop around for the best deals on new customer plans when your contract ends.

With some minor usage adjustments and clever negotiating, you could potentially trim $30 or more off your monthly wireless bill. That makes paying the bill on time much easier, even when money’s tight.

The Bottom Line

Payment arrangements offer temporary financial relief when you can’t afford your entire phone bill. Set up an installment plan through your wireless carrier’s website or app to avoid service interruptions.

Carefully review the terms so you know the exact payment dates and any fees. Once caught up, be sure to remove the arrangement right away.

With a combination of an extension from your provider and adjusting your usage, you can take control of cell phone costs. Reach out for help so you can pay your bill on time, keep connected and avoid unnecessary fees.


Can you get an extension on your T-Mobile phone bill?


Available to postpaid customers who need extra time paying their bill. Your account must be less than 30 days past the due date to initiate a payment arrangement. You must pay any balance that is 31 or more days past due before you can set up a payment arrangement.

Can I get an extension on my phone bill Verizon?


If your account is eligible, you can schedule a Payment Arrangement to protect your services from possible interruption if your payment won’t reach us by the due date on your bill. When you schedule a Payment Arrangement, you’ll be allowed extra time to pay the balance due.

How long can you go without paying your phone bill?


Yes, eventually services are suspended due to non-payment. Typically, services could suspend within two to three weeks, with a late fee being charged. We highly recommend setting up a payment arrangement to avoid service suspension.

Does AT&T give extensions on phone bills?


ATT does not grant extensions once you are past due. You needed to set up a late payment arrangement online before you were past due. Just pay when you can but your service may be suspended at any time.

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