Smartphones are ubiquitous, but most of us are overpaying for our contracts. By shopping around and following a few easy steps, you could save more than a hundred pounds per year, leaving you a little more in your pocket, whether you want to save that money for a rainy day or splurge it on some great new headphones or even a tablet.
Look beyond the big four networks
Most people only ever look at EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone for their phone contract, and whilst they can offer good deals, there are many other options to choose from in the form of MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators). These networks do not operate their own towers, but instead lease capacity from the big four networks in bulk and pass on those savings to you. Some target particular groups like students, others give discounts for helping out with their help forums, and others will give you money back for unused data or let it roll over into the next month. As these virtual networks have low overheads, they can be more agile in their offerings, and with the competition in the market more fierce than ever, you can often save a lot of money if you look around.
Think about buying your phone outright
Some smartphones cost over £1000 (*ahem* Apple), which can be a daunting upfront cost, but if you examine the total cost of contracts you will find that you could save quite a lot of money in the long term by buying your phone outright and then getting a SIM-only contract. Networks traditionally like to tie you into a 24 or 36 month contract and spread the cost of your new phone over that time – but rarely does this save you any money and you end up still paying the fees for your phone even when it is two or three years old.
If you can afford to pay for your phone outright, then you could save yourself an average of £92 per year, according to research by HandsetExpert. Moreover, the cost of great phones has come down rapidly in recent years, with devices from the likes of OnePlus and Xiaomi, and so if you pair one of these with a monthly or yearly SIM-only contract, then there are some serious savings to be had.
Flexibility for a better deal
If you are tied into a 24 or 36 month contract, then despite the costs of your contract coming down, you will be locked into paying the same price every month for years – and some contracts even go up with inflation! If you have bought your phone outright, then you can choose a monthly or yearly SIM-only contract, which means you have much more flexibility to move to a better deal as soon as you find it. The average contract price today may be £3-4 per GB of 4G data, but by 2020 that is likely to have fallen to more like £2-3 or even less – you do not want to be locked into a contract paying last year’s fees!
Don’t pay for what you don’t need
According to Which, Brits are on average paying for 3.4GB of data that they are not using every month. Data remains one of the more expensive parts of a modern contract, but if you run out then you can no longer use WhatsApp to contact your friends or maps to get home, so most people give themselves some headroom with the amount of data in their contract. However, the MVNO SMARTY has an innovative solution to the issue, where they give you money back for the data you don’t use. So if you are on their £15/mo 8GB contract and only use 2GB in the month, then you could get as much as 50% of your contract repaid.
What’s the best way you’ve found to save money on your contract? Let us know in the comments.
Photograph by JESHOOTS