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 comparison website uSwitch revealed that 69 per cent, of the people it asked, hadn’t switched mobile phone contracts in the past three years?
That means over 2/3’s of us are paying too much and could get better deals. In fact, you could save an average of £176 by switching. And it’s even worse for the customers of EE, Vodafone and Three. They are reportedly paying, on average, £22 too much each month. That’s £264 every year!
And it won’t take you too much effort to save money on your mobile contract. 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 back anywhere between £200-£700. So £35 for 24 months means you are paying £840. Not bad, especially if your phone is worth over £500.
The problem starts when your contract “finishes” (usually) after two years. I say “finishes” as this is when you can leave your contract penalty-free. But unless you tell them, they will keep charging you as if you have a brand new phone.
You have two choices. The easiest (but probably not the best value) is to call your phone company. They will either send you a new phone and you can start your contract all over again, or they will reduce the amount you pay for your bundle.
But if you’re happy with your phone and want to reduce your costs further, look 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.
How to save money on your mobile phone
First of all, you need to find a SIM suitable for your needs. If you have them to hand, have a look through some previous bills.
Minutes – Do you chat much on your phone? If not, look for a SIM that offers fewer minutes. 250 minutes each month is more than enough for me.
Text messages – Many contracts offer unlimited texts, mainly due to the fact you can now send messages through apps or for free on iMessage if you own an iPhone.
Data – Most of us use the internet on our phone. Whether it’s a case of browsing the internet, watching videos or updating apps, you could use far more than you expect. Again, having an old bill should help you figure out how much you use. I browse the internet from my phone quite often but don’t watch many videos. My monthly usage is often between 1-2GB.
Try and find a happy medium when choosing your SIM. You don’t want to pay extra every month for a service you don’t use or need.
Equally, don’t underestimate the amount you use. Going over your monthly allowance could prove very costly.
Where to look for your new SIM
The major networks that we all know (such as Vodafone, o2 and EE) won’t always offer you the best SIM-only deals. For the best prices, take a look at some of the smaller companies:
Giffgaff. Their SIM cards (also known as goodybags) cost between £5-£20. The advantage of using Giffgaff is that you can change your goodybag each month. So if you find you’re not using all your minutes and data, you can reduce your monthly spend. Another advantage to Giffgaff is that you are only tied into a one month contract.
iD Mobile. Like Giffgaff, iD Mobile offer monthly contracts. Although prices are similar, iD Mobile gives you far more in the way of 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 some of the price comparison websites 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 that are exclusive to existing customers. Check their websites to see if the prices are competitive.
Before you order your new SIM, remember to 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 a £60 from a cheap SIM – which reduces the cost by £5 per month for a year’s contract.
Find out more about cashback sites.
Will I get a decent signal?
You may be signing up to a company that you know very little about, but that doesn’t mean that the coverage will be poor. Smaller phone companies are also known as MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) and they use something called ‘virtual networks’. Basically, this means that a company like Giffgaff use the o2 network to bring you their service. So Giffgaff customers will have exactly 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 the fastest data service. However, unless you download a lot from your phone, this shouldn’t really be an issue.
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 something called a PAC code. You then pass this code on to your new provider and your phone number will be moved across to your new SIM.
So how much should I aim to pay?
For the average user, you should be looking to pay less than £10. There are some good SIM cards around that price, but the cost will be even lower when combined with cashback. If you’ve decided not to save money on your mobile phone and opted for a brand new one instead, find out how to make some money from selling your old phone.