Is a Cell Phone Bill Considered a Utility Bill?

A utility bill is a monthly payment for essential services that provide the infrastructure to run a household. Traditional utilities include electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, trash removal, and recycling services. As technology evolves and becomes more integrated into daily life, people debate whether newer services like cell phones, cable, and internet should be considered utility bills. This article examines the arguments on both sides to answer the question, “Is a cell phone bill a utility bill?”

What is a Utility Bill?

A utility bill typically contains:

  • Customer name, address, account number
  • Service period dates
  • Usage amount
  • Service charges
  • Total amount due
  • Due date
  • Payment options

Traditional utility services that are widely accepted as essential include:

  • Electricity
  • Natural gas
  • Water and sewer
  • Trash and recycling

Over time, the definition of “utility” has expanded to include other home services:

  • Landline phone
  • Cable TV
  • Internet
  • Cell phone

The Case for Cell Phones as a Utility

There are several reasons why many people consider cell phone service a monthly utility:

Near Universal Adoption

  • Over 90% of American adults own a cell phone.
  • 77% own a smartphone as of 2021.
  • Cell phones are deeply integrated into everyday life.

Critical Communication Device

  • Primary phone service for most households.
  • Critical for emergency/health/safety needs.
  • Essential for work, school, social connections.

Consistent Monthly Bill

  • Billed monthly like traditional utilities.
  • Ongoing service, not one-time purchase.
  • Viewed by many as a fixed monthly expense.

Internet Access Point

  • Primary way many access the internet.
  • Internet is considered by some as a utility.
  • Cell phone is bundled with this “new” utility.

The Case Against Cell Phones as Utilities

However, some argue cell phone bills should not be classified as utilities:

Not an Essential Service

  • Cell phones are convenient but not absolutely necessary to live.
  • Unlike electricity/water, it is possible to live without a cell phone.

Not Tied to the Home

  • Cell phones are portable – not a home service.
  • Utilities are traditionally home-based infrastructure.

Purchase of a Product

  • Cell phones are a consumer product you purchase.
  • Not an ongoing home service like traditional utilities.

Not a Natural Monopoly

  • Utilities evolved as government-regulated monopolies.
  • Cell service is provided competitively by private companies.

Tax Status

  • Utilities can be taxed by local governments but cell plans cannot.

Key Differences from Traditional Utilities

While cell phone bills share some characteristics with utility bills, there are also key differences:

  • Not location-based like home utilities.
  • Not a natural monopoly – many competing providers.
  • More like purchasing a consumer product.
  • Government regulated as general telecom service.
  • Taxed differently than public utilities.


There are reasonable arguments on both sides of this debate. How an individual defines “utility” seems tied to how essential cell phone service is perceived to be in their daily life. For most American households today, cell phone service is considered a basic necessity rather than a discretionary purchase. From this viewpoint, classifying cell phone bills as a modern utility makes sense. However, cell phone service differs in some important ways from traditional home infrastructure utilities. Ultimately, it is a matter of perspective and definition whether this very common monthly bill should be called a utility or not.


Is cell phone bill a utility expense?


Utilities are the basic services your home, apartment, or business needs to keep it comfortable and functioning properly. Common utilities include water, sewer, electric, gas, trash, and recycling. Technology subscriptions like cable TV, internet, security, and phone service can also be considered utilities.

Does WIFI count as a utility bill?


Internet bills are considered a utility bill, just like telephone bills, because they provide services to the home or business that are considered necessary for daily activity.

What is the utility bill?


Utility bills are monthly costs for essential services like electricity, natural gas to heat your home, sewer, and water, as well as nice-to-have services like cable television or streaming services, such as Netflix or Hulu, and your cell phone.

Does a credit card bill count as a utility bill?


A credit card bill typically cannot be used as a utility bill. Utility bills are documents that show proof of payment for essential services such as electricity, water, gas, or internet. Credit card bills, on the other hand, show the transactions made using a credit card and the amount owed to the credit card company.

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Do phone bills count as utility bill?
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