We’re addicted to our smartphone these days. According to Statista, 95% of people between the age of 16 and 24 have a smartphone, and it’s not just the youngest generation that loves their devices either.
The trouble is, as phones become more intelligent and intuitive, they also grow increasingly expensive. You could end up paying over £1,000 for a top-of-the-line phone today. It’s no wonder that people try to cut the costs with a mobile contract.
The right contract means that you only have to pay a small monthly fee for your gadget, rather than dealing with a huge up-front expense. However, according to research from Citizen’s Advice, you might not be able to trust your contract provider either. About 4 million people in the UK have been charged again for a phone they already own on contract!
Rebekah Carter, a Contributor at BroadbandGenie.co.uk takes us through how to save money on your next deal.
Step 1: Negotiate
If you’re more or less happy with the service that you get from your current contract provider, you can always try haggling. There’s a lot of competition out there for mobile vendors today. That means that if you threaten to leave your current provider, they’ll probably jump through hoops to keep you around.
Phone the company you’re currently with and ask them if you can get a better deal. To give yourself, even more, negotiating power, compare your options online first. If you can provide a list of better prices that you can get elsewhere, it’ll be tougher for your provider to argue with you. If your vendor refuses to change the price they’re giving you, ask to be put through to the disconnections department.
Step 2: Consider a SIM Only deal
Usually, a traditional mobile phone contract won’t be the cheapest way to own your new device. Remember that these contracts usually bundle the cost of your handset in with the value of the service. That means that you’ll probably pay more for the phone itself overall. If you can afford to pay for the handset up front, then that might be a cheaper option.
Figure out how much you’d pay for the real cost of the phone, and the average cost of your services per month throughout your contract (usually 12/24 months). If you’re going to being paying more overall for a traditional contract, then see if you can afford a SIM only deal.
According to some studies, it’s cheaper to get a 30% APR loan than a handset on some contracts. Don’t be tricked into paying more than you need to.
Pros of a contract phone:
- Latest gadgets
- One monthly payment instead of a huge up-front cost
- Option to upgrade your phone
Cons of a contract phone:
- More expensive overall
- Difficult to get out of a deal if you run out of cash
Pros of a SIM only deal:
- Cheaper overall
- Own your phone outright
- Switch to a new mobile service provider easily
Cons of a SIM only deal:
Step 3: Consider Buying a Handset Second-Hand
If you know that a SIM only deal might be better for you, but you can’t afford a brand-new version of the latest phone, you could always try looking at second-hand options.
Countless high-street and online companies now offer refurbished handsets for a discount price. These phones have been polished up and checked out, so they’re ready to be sold onto a new customer. Usually, refurbished handsets don’t come with their original packaging, but they should have been tested, and typically include a warranty.
There are 3 different grades of refurbished handsets:
- A: Appears New
- B: Light scratches or minor cosmetic damage
- C: Signs of wear and deeper damage
When choosing a refurbished or pre-owned handset, make sure that you always check for details on the seller before handing over your cash. If you’re buying a device in person, check it out thoroughly first, and make sure that you’re getting the quality that you think you’re getting. If you’re purchasing a phone online, use a protected payment system (like PayPal), and stick to established marketplaces that you know you can trust.
Step 4: Know What You Really Need
Another way to reduce the cost of your smartphone contract is to make sure that you’re not paying for things you don’t really need. One common expense that people consider is phone insurance. Although it might seem like a good idea to have some extra protection in case you drop your smartphone – phone insurance isn’t always as valuable as it appears.
Ask yourself whether you can save more money in the long-term by putting the same amount you’d spend on insurance into a savings account. That way, if something goes wrong with your phone, you’ll probably be able to pay to have it fixed yourself.
If you have a premium bank account or certain types of home insurance, it’s worth seeing whether your phone is covered by those policies too. You’d be surprised how much coverage you already have.
Remember that you don’t necessarily need to have the latest device on the market either. You might be able to find something with similar features for a much lower price by changing to a different brand or shopping around online.
Step 5: Always Compare your Options Carefully
Often, mobile phone tariffs can be very difficult to compare. There are so many different monthly and upfront costs to consider, along with different minute and data allowances and a host of handsets to choose from. However, that doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to just take the first deal you see.
Make sure you do your research online first. Usually, the easiest option is to check out a comparison website. There are plenty of available options that specialise in smartphones today. If you have time, check multiple sites to ensure you’re getting the most accurate information.
A mobile phone contract can be an essential investment; make sure you make the right choice.