O2 and Virgin Mobile to hike bills by as much as £48 from April – how to avoid it

O2 AND Virgin Mobile are hiking bills by as much as £48 a year from April.

The mobile operators will raise prices for some pay monthly customers by up to 11.7% amid the cost of living crisis.

O2 mobile bills are set to rise from April 1 this year

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O2 mobile bills are set to rise from April 1 this yearCredit: Alamy

Both networks, which are part of the same company, use the retail price index (RPI) rate announced in February plus 3.9% to work out bill increases.

It was announced this morning that RPI is 7.8% – so the total rise will be 11.7%.

RPI is a measure of inflation that tracks the cost of a fixed basket of goods over time, to see how prices have fallen or increased.

But it’s different to the consumer price index, which is the official measure used by the Bank of England.

The bill increases will come into effect from April 1, 2022.

The telecoms giants use a loophole in contracts which allows them to raise prices annually.

Both firms acknowledged that price hikes are “never welcome” when apologizing for the increases.

The jump comes as Brits are struggling with the soaring cost of living, with energy, food and tax bills all increasing this year.

How much more you’ll have to pay will depend on which network you’re with, what type of contract you have and when you signed up.

We explain how much your bills are set to rise this year.

O2

O2 customers are facing hikes of up to 11.7%, but it could be less if you’ve been with the network for more than a year.

If you joined before March 25 last year you don’t have to pay the extra 3.9% – so the rise will be capped at 7.8%.

If you’re an O2 Refresh customer, the rise will only be applied to the “airtime” portion of your bill, not the device.

The majority of O2’s customers are on Refresh deals, the network said.

For example, an iPhone Pro Max 5G with unlimited data on a 24-month contract currently costs £89.75 a month.

Of that, £35 is the airtime portion, which is affected by the 11.7% rise.

That means it will increase by £4.01 a month – rising £48.12 a year.

In comparison, last year’s rise was just 1.4%, with a maximum of £5.88 added throughout the year.

The network also increased prices in August last year, raising the cost of texts and calls made outside of your contract.

O2 customers can’t cancel their contracts as the price change is outlined in the terms and conditions.

But if you’re coming to the end of your agreement, you should look around to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

An O2 spokesperson said: “We recognize price changes are never welcome, and always balance keeping our prices competitive with the need to continue investing in the services that our customers use and love.

“For most customers the price increase only applies to the airtime part of their bill and with our most popular tariffs costing from as little as 33p per day for superfast data with unlimited minutes and texts, our customers receive incredible value as well as extra perks such as Priority.”

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile contracts are also split into airtime and device plans.

But all Virgin customers will get the full 11.7% rise, no matter when they sign up.

You should have been informed of this rise in January, and you were able to exit without paying a fee due to the change in the terms and conditions.

Virgin Media O2 is writing to customers again to remind them of the new rate, but you might have missed the window to switch.

Customers were given 30 days from receipt of the first letter to exit their contract penalty free – it could be worth double checking if you’re still within that time frame.

The most popular Virgin Mobile airtime tariff is £7 a month for 5GB of data.

A 11.7% increase on that would be an additional 82p per month – or £9.84 annually.

To work out how much your bills will increase, check how much your airtime tariff is.

You will be able to find this by logging into your online account.

Then multiply this number by 1.117 – this will give you your new monthly tariff.

Last year, Virgin Mobile increased prices by 1.5% for millions of customers.

How can I cut my phone and broadband bills?

You might be able to reduce the amount you spend on phone and broadband bills.

It might be worth giving your provider a call to see if they can offer you a better deal.

For example, we spoke to an O2 customer who saved £268 a year by haggling with the network.

She chopped her monthly mobile bill down from almost £35 to just £7.20 for three months and then £14.40 thereafter. It adds up to a saving of £268 a year.

Another consumer managed to get £180 a year off her family’s Sky TV package, and a free upgrade.

You could also think about switching to a different deal when your contract is up for renewal.

If you’re planning to switch, use comparison sites like Uswitch, Broadbandchoices and ComparetheMarket to find the best contract for you.

But if you leave before the end of your contract, you could be hit with a fee.

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Make sure you check the terms and conditions before switching.

Some internet firms including BT and Virgin Media offer social tariffs, allowing customers on Universal Credit to access cheaper broadband.

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