The world of mobile phone contracts is akin to a minefield, with deals and promises popping up all over the place. But how can you get the best price possible, and keep it that way?
With so many different networks available, and all offering deals that may seem great at first but result in small print fees and upgrade costs, we want to help you navigate the minefield and save money the easy way. I can’t promise you’ll cut hundreds off your bill every month, but I can show you how to keep your mobile bill as low as possible in the long run, with a few top tips. With that money you save it can go towards a holiday, help pay off student loans or just be kept for a rainy day!
Go SIM Only
SIM-only deals often advertise the best prices, enabling you to keep your old handset – or buy yourself a brand new one – and simply pay for the minutes, texts and data you require.
SIM-only contracts range from 30 days to a full year, and allow you the flexibility that long-term contracts don’t offer.
By reusing your handset and not attaching yourself to a contracted new phone with periodic upgrades, your monthly cost is kept considerably lower. GiffGaff, for example, offer a generous number of minutes, texts and data allowance for just £12. In fact, opting for a prepaid PAYG SIM is one of my top tips. The word pay as you go might sound old fashioned and make you think of top-ups, but most deals now come with pre-paid bundles and are well suited to all types of customers. This blog post has reviewed most of the PAYG SIM offers in depth and Asda is definitely one to take a look at if you’re a light user.
Of course, if you are looking for a new handset at the same time as changing your contract, it may seem attractive to sign up to those long-term deals instead of forking out for a new phone in one big hit. But trust me, SIM-only is worth it in the long run.
Think Small – in terms of budget and companies
In the world of mobile network, there are four different players: O2, EE, Three and Vodafone. All those other networks are just extensions of “The Big Four”, offering the same reception as someone on the host network. The difference comes with the price and added extras.
Often, SIM-only contracts are much cheaper through these small extension brands. To give you an idea of what we mean, these are the networks and the hosts they extend from:
- O2 also provides Tesco Mobile and GiffGaff.
- EE hosts Asda Mobile, Virgin, BT, Post Office Mobile and the People’s Operator.
- Vodafone hosts Sainsbury’s Mobile and Talk Talk.
- Three provides ID Mobile.
By checking out the Ofcom Mobile Coverage Checker online, you can see exactly how the signal will perform in your area, on each of the different networks – a really handy tool to ensure you pick the right network for you.
Buy only what you need
Upselling is where we get caught out, whether it’s in a shop, online shopping or buying a mobile contract. When signing up, the operator will try and sell you deals such as “£3 a month more will get you the double the amount of data!” – but think. Do you really need double the amount of data?
Check out your bill and use the network calculator to work out exactly how many minutes, texts and data you are using. You probably don’t need double, so don’t pay for it!
Price and Cashback comparison
Don’t pigeonhole yourself to one network. Loyalty won’t gain you any discounts, and it’s important to keep an eye on what other networks are offering in terms of prices and also cashback.
Use Moneysupermarket or BillMonitor to have a look at different offerings, or even try retailers such as Carphone Warehouse to find some good deals.
Chances are if you don’t shop around, you won’t get the best deal.
Another thing to look out for is extras and freebies. Basing your entire decision on a few freebies probably isn’t the best idea, but it’s always worth checking out the options. O2 priority moments offers some great offers and prize giveaways, and GiffGaff lets you use your data abroad. Depending on your needs, some of these can be really great offers.
Try your negotiation skills
It’s always worth calling your network and laying your cards on the table, asking them if they will match the better price that you may have found elsewhere.
They aren’t guaranteed to honour it, but it’s worth a try and you may end up getting more for your money.
Top Tip: Pitch your negotiation to a member of the termination team, as they have the best chance to offer you what you want before you take your contract elsewhere.
Take action NOW!
Don’t sit on your existing contract until it runs out. Chances are once your contract is near to an end, the network will call you up about your upgrade and, before you know it, you’ll be starting off the next contract.
Do everything you can now to cut costs, by moving to a SIM-only tariff for the last month or so of your contract. Keep the handset, refuse their upgrade, and take control of your own mobile phone spending.
You won’t regret it!