MOBILE phone companies are fighting for your business with a price war on deals for new customers.
You could slash your bills to less than £5 a month with some of the latest offers that don’t include handsets.
But weighing up the cost of new phones against different contracts can feel like a minefield.
Here, Harriet Cooke helps you make a call on which deals are best.
HOLD ON TO YOUR HANDSET
IF you’re happy with your handset, you can save a fortune by keeping it once your contract ends.
But don’t linger on high monthly payments for any longer than necessary.
You’ll get a message from your supplier when your deal is nearly finished, meaning it’s time to shop around.
Or text “INFO” to 85075 at any time to check how long you’ve got left.
Pay monthly customers can save an average of £321 by keeping their handset and switching to the cheapest SIM-only deal, according to Uswitch.
Check the amount of data, minutes and texts you regularly use by looking at your monthly phone bill.
The average person gets through 5.6GB every month, according to Ofcom.
If you only use your phone to check emails, you’ll probably be fine with 1 or 2GB monthly.
But if you often stream music or videos, then you might need 10GB, 20GB or an unlimited data package.
Armed with this knowledge, haggle with your provider.
Say that you are planning to leave and ask if they will match the top deals for new customers or the tariffs of rival firms. If not, it’s super easy to switch.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
IF you’re holding on to your handset, search for the cheapest SIM-only deals.
Use several comparison sites such as MoneySavingExpert, Uswitch and Go Compare as offers vary slightly.
Filter deals depending on how much data you need, contract length and other factors.
MoneySavingExpert has a tool to check the signal for different providers in your area.
PORT YOUR NUMBER
ONCE you’ve found a deal you’re happy with, it’s easy to keep your number.
Just text “PAC” to 65075, and you’ll get a code straight away, valid for 30 days.
When signing up to a new contract, give the supplier this PAC code to transfer your number and cancel your old deal.
NEED A NEW PHONE?
TOP-of-the-range models like the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra can cost more than £1,000, while simple phones for making calls can be picked up for £20.
For basic smartphone features, mid-range options include the Samsung A53 or iPhone 12, or try a lesser-known brand such as Oppo, OnePlus or Honor.
You could opt for a cheaper refurbished phone from a major seller such as eBay, Amazon, O2 Like New, Music Magpie or Mobiles.co.uk, but check reviews.
TO BUNDLE OR NOT TO BUNDLE?
FOR new phones, you can either buy one outright and then take out a cheap SIM-only deal, or get a bundled contract where you pay off the handset monthly.
You’ll need to check which is cheapest as it varies, but we’ve got some examples, above.
There’s a nifty tool to compare all the options at moneysavingexpert.com/cheap-mobile-finder.
NAB A BONUS
ONCE you’ve found the cheapest bundled or SIM-only tariff that suits, sign up to quidco.com and topcashback.co.uk to see if the provider is offering a bonus.
You could earn up to £140 at the moment on some monthly contracts.
Then just click through from the link on the cashback site to the provider and sign up to the new tariff.
Some comparison sites like Uswitch also pay bonuses if you click through from a cashback website and switch your deal.
Accountant Hayley Wartnaby, 32, made £110 last month by using Topcashback to switch deals for herself and her boyfriend.
Before using the cashback site, she compared deals on handsets, settling on contracts for £56 and £68 per month.
She said: “It’s basically free money. “I’ll put it towards Christmas gifts at the end of the year.”
HOLIDAY BILL SHOCK
MANY firms have brought back roaming fees in Europe post-Brexit, with EE, Vodafone and Three all charging up to £2 a day for those on a contract.
Other providers like Asda Mobile, BT Mobile and O2 don’t currently charge extra.
Consider providers that offer free roaming, but beware, they may change their policy.
To prevent shock bills, ask your provider to cap your costs, then keep your mobile data off and use wifi when possible.
PREPARE FOR PRICE HIKES
FIRMS such as BT, EE, O2, TalkTalk and Vodafone hike bills every year at the end of March or beginning of April for many customers who are mid-contract.
They typically increase by either the consumer price index or the retail price index measure of inflation, plus around four percent.
Based on the most recent inflation figures, some bills could jump by as much as 18 percent — or an extra £5 a month on a £30 bill.
Up-to-date inflation figures are out this week.
Other firms including Giffgaff, Sky and Tesco Mobile don’t have inflation-linked increases.
If they raise prices, you can leave the contract penalty-free.
Super options on the market right now
Apple iPhone 14: A NEW iPhone 14 with 128GB storage is £789 from mozillion.com.
For £15 a month, get 12 months’ SIM-only from fonehouse.co.uk with 100GB data, unlimited minutes and texts, plus £55 cashback.
Over two years, that would be £1,094.
Or get an iPhone 14 with 100GB per month for a bundled contract costing £9 upfront and then £36 a month from Affordable Mobiles via MoneySavingExpert.com. £221 over two years.
VERDICT: Save £221 with the bundled deal.
Budget smartphones: A MID-RANGE Samsung A53 costs £347 at mozillion.com.
Talkmobile has one-month contracts with 4GB data, unlimited texts and minutes for £4.95 a month.
Over two years that would be £118.80 – or £465.80 for handset and SIM together.
A two-year bundled contract with 4GB data is £16 a month plus £39 upfront from Samsung via Mone SavingExpert. That’s £423 over 24 months.
VERDICT: Bundle saves you £42.80.
Old-school mobile: AN old-school Nokia 105, £19.99 at mobiledirectonline.co.uk, does the job for just calls and texts.
With 1pmobile.com, you pay 1p a minute for calls and 1p per text.
You just need to top up by £10 every four months. Many people’s plans include unlimited calls and texts, so if you are on pay-as-you-go, get others to call you.
Or Asda Mobile does unlimited texts and calls for £4 a month, with no data.
VERDICT: Just pay as you go.