Children are expensive. I know, I have three of them. William has his own mobile phone now, and in the not too distant future, there will be another two to pay for. OK so his is not on contract, it’s pay as you go and heavily controlled by me. Becoming a mother can change your priorities, you may go back to work part time or not at all, so your budget is going to change big time. Soon you’ll be looking for ways to cut costs. I’ve been there! Getting a new phone can be very expensive – especially if you have your eye on the latest model (yep), but there are a few things you can do to keep your costs low.
Do your research. Is it cheaper to buy the phone you want outright or as part of a contract? Use comparison sites to shop around and help you find the best deal for you.
Only pay for what you need. Don’t use much data? Then don’t sign up to an expensive unlimited data plan. Don’t phone out much? Then you don’t need so many minutes. Match your deal to your needs.
Haggle with your current supplier. If your contract is ending, they’ll be desperate to keep you and might offer you some cheap deals. I’ve done this several times and it’s why I’ve stayed loyal. My contract deal is so cheap I’m horrified when I look elsewhere.
Happy with your current phone? Stick with it. A Sim-only deal is much cheaper than a contract that comes with a phone. Do you really need the latest model? Jazz it up with a glam phone case instead.
Check you’re on the right deal
There are two main things you need to do to make sure you’re on the best mobile phone deal:
- Check you’re not paying for calls, texts and data you’re not using, or regularly going over your allowance and getting hit with expensive bills.
- Shop around using different comparison sites. It’s always a good idea to use more than one comparison site to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Billmonitor: Will analyse your online bills, or allow you to enter your regular or required limits manually. It will then find the most suitable offers on the market and direct you to the relevant retailer.
HandsetExpert: Select the handset you want and then enter your calls, text and data requirements. The website will then display the best offers available and you can go directly to the retailers website.
TigerMobiles.com: Allows you to search the most popular deals on big-name handsets and compare monthly and SIM only contracts. This can be used to help you find a better deal.
Avoid unexpected phone charges
Calling numbers that start with 09, 0871, 0872, 0873 and 118 will be more expensive than regular phone calls. Texting mobile short codes costs more as well. Use your landline if you have one, depending on what deal you’re on. A lot of landlines have free weekend calls so check your allowance.
If you get an unexpected phone charge you can read how to dispute it on the Phonepay Plus website.
Don’t let your children run up your bills
Lots of apps and games are ‘free-to-play’, but contain ‘in-app’ purchases.This means that downloading the game might not cost any money, but you might be asked to pay for features once you start using it. To avoid being hit by a huge bill, keep an eye on what your children are playing and read the small print around in-game purchases. Don’t let your children use your phone, period! My 3 year old got hold of my phone and somehow managed to run a Facebook ad – good job I stopped it when I did but it did cost me around £5!
Mobile phone contract ending – should you stick or switch?
When your contract is ending you hold all the cards. Your current supplier knows it, and they’ll usually try hard to keep you. Your first step is to give your network operator a call. Ask them about the best package they can offer you and then follow up by asking about your typical usage (minutes / texts / data downloads).
Getting this information will work in two different ways: It will help you compare deals on the price comparison sites. It also warns your supplier that you might switch – which will almost certainly get you transferred to the retention department. Their job is to convince you to stay, and they’ll usually offer deals and discounts you wouldn’t see otherwise. If you’re offered a good deal you might want to stay where you are, but before you do, see what else you can get based on your current usage. This is something I plan on putting into practice when I upgrade this year. I know, I said you don’t need to upgrade, but I’d like a better phone camera. Doesn’t everyone?
Pay-as-you-go or pay monthly?
With mobile phones you either pay for exactly what you use in minutes, texts and data – pay-as-you-go – or a set fee that includes a range of services – pay monthly, also known as contract. The best option for you depends on how much you use your phone and what you use it for. On a pay-as-you-go tariff, you pay for every call, text or chunk of data you use. If you rarely use your phone, or use it mainly from Wi-Fi, this is probably the cheaper option. However, if you use your phone more regularly, it might work out cheaper to pay a monthly fee, which includes a certain number of call minutes, texts and data. I started off on pay as you go, but as a blogger I use the internet a lot out and about so I need to make sure I have data minutes to spare. Having said that, with more and more Wi-Fi hotspots, I don’t use as much data as I used to, and often find my usage is rolled over, so I’ll be taking that into consideration next time.
Check coverage in your area
If you decide to switch, don’t forget to check if the new supplier has good coverage where you need it. The Ofcom website has links to coverage checkers for all the main suppliers. Check mobile phone coverage for your area on the Ofcom website.
What if my provider raises prices?
If you have a contract and your provider decides to raise their prices there are some rules for your protection: They have to give you 30 days’ notice of any price hikes, and if your contract started after 23 January 2014, you can switch without having to pay a penalty. If you took out your contract before 23 January 2014, you might still be able to switch free of charge. Contact your supplier. Again, they want to keep you, so they may offer you a reduction or an alternative.
Should you insure your phone?
Whether or not you should insure your phone generally comes down to these three things:
- The value of your phone (if you own it outright)
- The contract repayments if you have a mobile contract
- The inconvenience of replacing a lost or damaged phone
If you do decide to take insurance out, remember that mobile phone insurance doesn’t have to be taken out with your phone provider – many third party insurers can provide cheaper protection. Compare prices and protection on comparison websites. Cover can sometimes be provided with your bank account, so check before you buy. Be sure to check exactly what your phone is covered for before signing up. I had mobile phone insurance, but when I had a cracked screen that stopped my phone from working, the excess was about £100 and it was cheaper to fix it myself.
If you are Struggling to pay your phone bills
If you find yourself unable to pay your phone bills your first step is to talk to your supplier. They might be able to help by moving you to a cheaper tariff, or propose changes to make your contract more affordable.
So there you have it, all you need to know to save money on your phone contract or deal. I hope you’ve found it helpful, if you have why not share it?
Disclosure: collaborative post. All opinions are my own.
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