Whether you love them or hate them, mobile phones are almost a necessity these days. They’ve become a permanent part of our lives but there are not cheap and there is a very good chance you on the wrong contract and overpaying by hundreds of pounds a year. So how can you coexist happily with your mobile phone…and the payments that go with it?
BillMonitor, an online bill comparison site, analysed more than 28,000 mobile phone bills and found that 76% of users are on the wrong contract and are overpaying on average £200 a year. In other words, 76% of UK mobile subscribers waste £4.899 billion on the wrong mobile contracts, an unbelievable amount but also a great opportunity to save!
Now imagine having a mobile phone that you love and a contract that you can afford. What would you give to know you got the best deal on your precious handset and that you were saving an up to an amazing £600 during your contract on it? That’s what you’ll get here! Follow this guide and learn how to save the most with your mobile.
Let’s get started, shall we?
- 1 Strategy - What is the best phone and tariff for you?
- 2 Buying Guide
- 3 More ways to save
Strategy - What is the best phone and tariff for you?
As with everything you do, you have to have a plan of attack. And this is yours. Follow the steps below and make your mobile phone bill a manageable monthly payment – as it should be. Whether you’re spending on a phone for yourself or on phones for the whole family, these purchases impact you bottom line each month. Saving every month on your phone will make a difference in your wallet. So be smart. Shop smart. Buy smart.
How will you use your phone?
Understand your goals for your phone before you shop for phones and plans.
Knowing what you’re going to use your mobile for is the first step in your strategy. Buying a phone that offers unlimited Internet when you don’t need it means you are paying for services you don’t use. Money out the window.
Determine how you will use your phone. Do you need text messaging? If you do, how many messages do you need to sign up for? Will you need a lot of minutes instead of texts? Are you planning on using a great deal of data with your phone? How often will you have to use it? Will you need to use the internet everyday for everything? Or can reserve your usage to your laptop or PC?
Plans with unlimited data, text, and minutes can range anywhere from £40 – £50 a month. But, if you know you’re not going to use the internet, opt for a plan that offers less of what you don’t need.
And if you know where to buy, you could lower your bill to as little as £6 a month!
To show you what we mean, take a look at the information for the latest smartphone: iPhone 5
|24 Month Contract||SIM Only Contract||Provider||Mins / Texts / Data|
|£47||£26||Vodafone||unlimited / unlimited / 1gb|
|£41||£20||O2||unlimited / unlimited / 1gb|
|£41||£26||T-mobile||unlimited / unlimited / unlimited|
|£51||£31||Orange||1200 / unlimited / 1gb|
If you don’t need a smartphone, why pay for one? Compare those iPhone 5 prices above to the cheaper Nokia price plans below.
|24 Month Contract||SIM Only Contract||Provider||Mins / Texts / Data|
|£13||£10.50||Vodafone||100 / unlimited / 100mb|
|£18.50||£10.50||O2||250 / unlimited / 100mb|
|£10.50||£8.50||T-mobile||50 / unlimited / 0mb|
|£20.50||£15.50||Orange||200 / unlimited / 500mb|
Sim-only plans varied somewhat from the 24 month contracts in the mins/texts/data details, but the prices displayed are as close as possible to the 24 month contract requirements.
As you can see, opting for more phone or more usage plans than you need can end up costing you as much as £1224 if you opt for iPhone with Unlimited usage from the most expensive provider.
Many people opt for the unlimited plans or plans with hundreds of minutes, and spend an average of £36 per month when they needed a much smaller package.
The study revealed that in a typical month a UK resident sends around 300 texts and talking much less.
So determining what you need before you start researching can save you as much as £600 over the course of your contract.
Pay-as-you-go or contract?
Pay-As-You-Go has become as competitive as the contract prices in recent times. Once you consider that you have no credit check and no contract, and if you’re a once-in-a-while user, you may want to consider this a viable option.
But choosing the right plan for you isn’t any easier than choosing a 24 month contract with all the options out there. Take a look at the saving differences between Pay-As-You-Go plans and Pay-As-You-Go phones.
|Pay-as-you-go plans||Payg phone costs||Provider||Mins / Texts / Data|
|£10||free||Vodafone||100 / 300 / 50mb|
|£10||free||O2||75 / 300 / 500mb|
|£10||£50||T-mobile||100 / unlimited / 500mb|
|£10||£36||Orange||100 / 100 / 0mb|
When you pay as you go, you may you’re saving money each month because you’ll watch your usage more.
All the major providers like GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile, T-Mobile, O2, Orange and even Virgin Mobile offer great Pay-As-You-Go tariffs that are worth checking out if you don’t use your mobile as much as your coworker who is always attached to his smartphone in the cubicle beside you. But, O2 and Vodafone don’t offer Pay-As-You-Go phone deals like Orange and T-Mobile. You’ll need to have a handset or purchase one outright from them to activate Pay-As-You-Go.
Once you’ve done your research on which plan is the best for you (whether you choose a contract or a pay-as-you-go plan), then you’ll need to check the coverage for your chosen plans.
Which network has the best coverage in your area?
You don’t want to worry about where you’re standing in your office to get the best, if any, coverage. You want a plan that’s going to deliver a strong signal when you’re at work, at home, or at the pub with your mates. Without it, your chosen plan won’t be of any money saving use to you if you can’t get good coverage in the areas you need it most.
This is what a strong coverage map may look like at first glance:
Check your map well, however, because as you see in the map below, when you zone in on your area, you may be surprised to find you can’t use the service you’ve chosen.
So be sure to check all the postcodes that are important in your day-to-day life.
Where to find the best deals
Once you know what you’re looking for, you can start actively searching for a phone and a plan that fits both your needs and your budget.
There are loads of choices out there. But which one will serve you best?
With BillMonitor, you can have your mobile phone bill analysed and the right plan suggested for you, or you can use the calculator to find out which deals are right for your needs.
On Tesco, you can get the information on their best monthly deals on handsets or SIMs. And if you spend more than a minute on it, they’ll pop up with a chat with customer service to help you decide what plan and deal is the best for you.
All of the sites offer a “Best Deals” comparison and have customer service available to help you find the right plan for your needs. But don’t just check one, check them all.
And be sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
Comparing iPhone fees for T-Mobile plans on BillMonitor to Nokia plans on Three on Omio will give you wonky results that can throw your money saving agenda offtrack.
When we researched the cheapest unlimited iPhone plans out there, we found a £10/month difference for the same plan through BillMonitor for the O2 network.
|£26.92||£20.58||£29||Samsung Galaxy S2|
|£217.92||£610.08||£192||2 year saving|
Looking at this chart, you can see how much you’ll save if you choose a very recent, yet not quite top of the line phone over the latest craze. But more importantly, you can also see how comparison shopping between sites that “compare” for you can save you in the end.
Always follow the path to the cheapest phone and plan:
1. Decide on a phone that suits your needs
2. Know your package needs
3. Check all the sites for the same information
To insure or not to insure
Now that you’ve found your perfect plan and perfect phone, you may want to consider insurance on it.
We know, we’re talking about saving money here, not spending more of it!
But here’s the thing, if it turns out that a smartphone like the Blackberry or iPhone is an ideal phones for your needs, you may want to consider the possible £600 you’ll spend in replacing it if it becomes damaged.
You can expect to pay around £12.99 a month for insurance with just about any carrier. And that’s £12.99 that may or may not cover your precious handheld fortune as there are many, many exclusions that apply.
Outside your chosen company, be it Vodafone, O2, Orange, or Three, there’s a company that insures gadgets and it seems to have the best policies and prices…if you have an account with them. It’s Barclays.
With a rate of £6.50 (at the time of this writing) and fewer exclusions, as well as international travel coverage, if you carry that type of policy with them. So you may consider that an option to help protect your mobile investment.
Consider the cost for the whole family
All the prices and figures we looked at earlier were based on one phone. But if you’re paying monthly for a house full of phones, shopping around isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. First consider the cost saving for one phone, e.g. £47 per month for an iPhone 5 vs £27 for a Samsung S2. Now, multiply that saving by four (or whatever size of family you have), then multiple by the 24 months. You’ll see that choosing the recent Samsung Galaxy S 2 instead of a top-shelf brand new Apple, you will save an average of almost £2500 over the course of your contract! Wow!
|Phone||Plan||Single Phone||Family of four cost|
|Samsung Galaxy S2||unlimited||£21||£84|
|Saving per month||£26||£104|
|Saving over 24 months||£624||£2496|
And the Deal of Deals we found is at Affordable Mobiles.
Cashback – no brainer
Don’t forget to check for cashback and freebie deals like what Affordable Mobiles offers. With the deal above, you can save up to an additional £370 during the course of your contract by taking advantage of offers on your mobile.
But Affordable Mobiles is just one.
Omio, MobilePhoneChecker.co.uk, and BillMonitor all give you information on the cashback and freebie deals available with the phone and plans you choose on their sites, but TopCashBack.co.uk lists cash you can earn from all the major providers.
They also advertise up to £60 on O2 services on the Deal of Deals that can put your whole family on Samsung Galaxy S2’s and save you almost £2500!
They’re not the only offers out there, though. Orange offers 2 for 1 cinema tickets – a nice perk considering cinema prices and how much you love them. Lastly, O2 offers Priority Moments that offers you special deals on different products like entertainment and hotel stays.
Earning cashback and freebies isn’t the only way to save and earn.
More ways to save
Cash in your old handset
If you’re opting for a new phone, why let your old one sit around and collect dust? Visit Envirofone.com and find out what you can get for it. And with the constant changing of prices on phones, you’ll have 14 days to turn it and get the amount displayed on your screen.
And while newer handsets will benefit more from this site, older handsets can still reap a small reward – and every GBP counts, right?
Say no to expensive call charges
Visit www.saynoto0870.com and download their smartphone app that will change 0870 numbers to 01 or 02 so you don’t pay the outrageous fees attached to it when you have to call a customer service line that uses the 0870 prefix.
Ditch international calling via your mobile
No, we don’t mean to stop calling your mates across the globe. We mean to use your smartphone for what it’s worth. Skype allows you to call internationally for free. Why pay for international calling again?
Drop your text plan
That’s right. Stop paying for a text package when you can download Windows Live Messenger for free. And if you have Skype on your phone for international calls, you’re already able to send messages for free. What’s App is another free app that allows you to send messages, photos, and videos for free across the globe. Your Grandmother never has to hear the excuse that you couldn’t afford to send her more pictures again!
Get apps for free
Free App Alert is a service that lets you know of paid iPhone apps that have gone free. And when you consider how much that free app is saving you every time you use it, you will smile every time you click on it.
Employee discounts can add up to more than your meal at the pub once a week when you take advantage of them. Always ask your carrier if you qualify for yours and check your bill to make sure it’s being applied.
Ask for a better price
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a better price. Just because it’s labeled with a price doesn’t mean it’s the last price and a no from the sales person is no hurt to your wallet, but a yes will surely make in impact.
Now that you know how to save the most and get more out of your phone, you’ll never look at it the same way again. Shop smart. Be smart.
Ultimate Guide to Cheap Mobile Phone Deals,