Smartphones are a way of life for many people, but all this functionality can prove costly. Our latest article looks at ways to cut the cost of your mobile phone bill, whether you are a seasoned smartphone user, or an occasional talker and texter.
Really need that smartphone?
A mobile with all the bells and whistles may look impressive, but all this functionality commands a hefty price tag. To save money on your mobile bill, consider whether you actually need a smartphone in the first place. Having instant access to the Internet, weather, apps and the latest camera is one thing, but if you rarely use these features, it’s time to consider a cheaper option.
Pay as you go
Buying a SIM card and signing up to a ‘pay as you go’ (PAYG) deal is one way to keep a tight reign on phone finances, but the benefits largely depend on your intended usage. If you only use your phone occasionally, PAYG can be an affordable solution. No contracts are involved and providers can be switched as and when you see fit.
Some deals include additional perks, such as free calls and texts to friends on the same network, or cut-price cinema tickets. However, if you intend to use mobile data, bolt-ons may be required – something that can push costs up further. That said, many PAYG smartphone users rely on wireless Internet rather than data, so bear this in mind when browsing the various PAYG plans available. For low usage, it still can’t be beaten!
If PAYG is too restrictive and you require the flexibility of a rolling, monthly contract, a SIM only deal could be just the ticket. Unlike long-term deals that tie you in for lengthy periods, with a SIM only plan, you just pay for the SIM card and sign up to a 1 month or (more rarely) 12 month contract. The plans are often much more affordable than long-term contracts, largely due to the fact you are not footing the cost for a new handset.
The major benefit is you can usually cancel within 1 month’s notice (or within the length of time determined by your contract). However, things can begin to get pricey if you want a top-of-the-range handset. Since the phone is not included as part of the deal, you are left to supply the handset yourself. In some cases, you could be paying up to £550 for the latest iPhones/Androids. Still, for basic and mid-range devices, SIM only plans can be a real money saver, especially if you consider the cost over the length of a year.
Check your plan
When taking out a new phone plan, all those free minutes and texts may sound appealing, but consider how much you’ll actually use. You may be more suited to a cheaper contract with less allowances. Reviewing your usage on a regular basis will highlight if you’re getting the full benefit. Remember: Don’t immediately upgrade without weighing up all the options. If you’re speaking to a salesperson, ask them about additional tariffs or more flexible plans. Don’t always take the first deal recommended to you. In many cases the retailer will be able to offer a discount (especially the case if you telephone the network’s main sales call centre).
Many PAYG mobile plans come with a variety of bundles or ‘freebies’ when you top-up on a monthly basis. The bundles available vary from provider to provider, but usually include additional free calls or an increased data allowance. While the majority of bundle deals are available on PAYG tariffs, some contracted services use them, too. Taking full advantage of any offers can help you save money throughout the month, but we recommend checking your usage before committing to monthly top-ups. If the amount you spend is more than what you’ll save, move on.
While large networks like Vodafone, EE and O2 dominate the UK marketplace, a number of smaller networks exist that offer their own take on services. Some of these specialise in international calls, others specialise in ‘pay as you go’ deals. Whatever your requirement, take a look at: GiffGaff, Lyca Mobile, Lebara Mobile, The People’s Operator, Vectone, and the various supermarket mobile deals, Tesco Mobile, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, etc.
Network to network
A number of operators let you call and text people on the same network free of charge. This can be a great benefit if you are able to get all your contacts on the same provider. Having said that, this privilege often forms part of a top-up PAYG deal, and in most cases, you’ll need to top up at least £5 per month. Therefore, it is important to ensure the plan is right for you. Despite this, free network to network calls can save a lot of money over time, but don’t pay over the odds for it.
A generous data allowance is essential if you want to explore all the mobile Internet has to offer. But all this information at your fingertips comes at a price. If your data allowance is far too big for your current usage, it’s time to cut back. Reducing the data allowance by changing tariff is a quick and easy way to reduce costs. It’s also worth using Wi-Fi wherever possible to save as much data as possible. This way, you’ll get more for less.
Negotiate a discount
A tip largely aimed at people with contract phones. When it is time to upgrade, don’t automatically accept without giving it a second thought. Get in touch with your provider and negotiate the best deal possible. If you have been a loyal customer for a number of years, this will stand you in good stead to negotiate a discount. Remember: Companies want to keep you as a customer and will sooner offer discounts than see you fall into the hands of a competitor. The longer you have been a customer, the better chance you have of securing a deal.