Looking to save money on your mobile? Swapping providers could save you a lot of money. In fact, the majority of us shouldn’t be paying more than £10 every month. And it’s easier to do than you think.
Did you know that recent research from the comparison website uSwitch revealed that 69 per cent of the people asked hadn’t switched mobile phone contracts in the past three years?
That means over two-thirds of us are paying too much and could get better deals. You could save an average of £176 by switching. And it’s even worse for EE, Vodafone and Three customers. They are reportedly paying, on average, £22 too much each month. That’s £264 every year!
And saving money on your mobile contract won’t take too much effort.
Often when you take out a new mobile phone contract, the cost of the phone and your usage plan are all lumped together. That £35 per month you pay not only goes towards your minutes, text and data (also known as a bundle) but also towards the cost of your phone.
After all, a brand-new smartphone can set you anywhere between £200-£1,200. So £35 for 24 months means you are paying £840. Not bad, especially if your phone is worth over £500.
But why continue paying all that money once the 24 months finish? The good news is, you don’t have to. Let’s see what options you have.
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How to save money on your mobile phone
Once your contract finishes, your phone company will notify you immediately. Ha, if only. There’s a good chance they won’t, so you will need to check. If you cannot find out when you received your new phone, give your provider a ring to find out.
If your contract has finished, you have three choices.
- Start a new contract. You’ll receive a brand-new phone and usually pay the same monthly or, possibly, slightly more. This is not what we want.
- Give your contract provider a call and negotiate a better deal. They will usually be happy to reduce your monthly payment… but you still might not get a great deal. Remember, many companies only give their best deals to new customers.
- Start shopping around for a SIM-only deal. For those that don’t know, the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) is the small card that goes into the back of your phone. You’re bound to find a great deal with so many providers around.
Which SIM should you choose?
The trick to saving money with your mobile is finding a SIM that suits your needs. A SIM is divided into three main sections – minutes, texts and data. The higher your allowance for each of these, the more it will cost. But, over the years, the importance of minutes and texts has decreased, with many SIMs offering unlimited allowances. That means the bulk of the cost comes from your data allowance.
How much you need depends on your usage. If you use your phone for internet browsing, sending messages and little else, you won’t need a high data allowance. But you’ll need far more if you’re constantly using social media and streaming from video providers.
You should be able to get an idea of how much data you use by looking through old bills or by checking your online account. If not, you could always call your provider to find out.
Try and find a happy medium when choosing your SIM. Although you might be tempted to buy just enough for your needs, your monthly usage can change. It can become incredibly expensive if you find that you have to add extra to your allowance each month.
Where to look for your new SIM
When you know the type of SIM you need, it’s time to visit some providers.
The major networks such as Vodafone, o2 and EE won’t always offer you the best SIM-only deals. They know that customers will check their sites first, so they don’t need to be quite so competitive. For the best prices, take a look at some of the smaller companies. Two that are certainly worth checking out are:
Their SIM cards (goodybags) cost between £5-£20. The advantage of using giffgaff is that you can change your goodybag each month. So, you can reduce your monthly spending if you’re not using all your minutes and data. Another advantage to giffgaff is that you are only tied into a one-month contract.
Find out how you can get £5 worth of free credit from giffgaff.
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Like giffgaff, iD Mobile offers monthly contracts. Although prices between the companies are similar, iD Mobile gives you far more data and calls for your money. iD Mobile also gives you an option of a 12-month contract. Although the value isn’t any better than the monthly contract, you can use your phone in 29 countries at no extra cost.
Take a look at a price comparison website like uSwitch too. They cover most of the major companies and often have exclusive deals Also, check with your utility providers to see if they have any exclusive offers. Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin and BT all offer SIM-only deals exclusive to existing customers. Check their websites to see if the prices are competitive.
Before ordering your new SIM, check cashback sites for any deals. Going through TopCashback and Quidco can save money on your mobile phone contract. You can sometimes earn as much as £60 from a cheap SIM – which reduces the cost by £5 per month for a year’s contract.
Why not take a look at the best UK cashback sites?
Will I get a decent signal?
People are often put-off by joining a smaller network provider because they’re not sure how good the phone signal will be.
But smaller phone companies, also known as MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), use something called ‘virtual networks’. This means that a company like giffgaff uses the O2 network to bring you their service. So Giffgaff customers will have the same coverage as if they were on O2.
Take a look at the uSwitch site to see which MVNO uses which network.
There is one potential downside to a company that uses a virtual network. They will not always offer 5G, which is the fastest data service. However, this is slowly changing and shouldn’t be an issue for most users.
Can I keep my phone number?
Yes, and it’s far easier than you might think. You will need to contact your current provider and request a PAC code, which can even be done by text. You then pass this code on to your new provider and your phone number will be moved to your new SIM.
So how much should you aim to pay?
The average customer should be looking to pay between £6 and £10 per month. There are some excellent SIM cards around that price and you may be able to find one even cheaper if you’re a light user.