How to save money on your mobile phone

Looking to buy a new mobile phone? Coming to the end of your contract? Take a few minutes to see if you should stay or switch to reduce the cost of your upgrade and phone bills. Plus, find out about hidden costs, whether you should insure your mobile phone, and the help available if you miss a payment. 

Looking for a new mobile phone?

Getting a new phone can be expensive – especially if you want the latest model. 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.
  • Only pay for what you need. Don’t use much data? Then don’t sign up to an expensive unlimited data plan. Match your deal to your needs.
  • Haggle with your current supplier. If your contract is ending, they’ll want to keep you and might offer you some cheap deals.
  • Happy with your current phone? Then stick with it. A Sim-only deal is much cheaper than a contract that comes with a phone.

For more tips on cutting the cost of your mobile, visit MoneySavingExpert

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:

  1. Check you’re not paying for calls, texts and data you’re not using, or regularly going over your allowance and getting expensive bills.
  2. 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.

The following comparison sites are accredited by Ofcom.

  • Billmonitor – they’ll analyse your online bills, or allow you to enter your regular or required limits manually. They’ll then find the most suitable offers and tell you which retailer you can use.
  • HandsetExpert – you choose the handset you want and then enter your calls, text and data requirements. They’ll hen show you the best offers available, and you can then go to the retailer’s website.
  • mobile-phones – you can search by phone or Sim 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.

If you get an unexpected phone charge, find out how to dispute it on the Phone-paid Services Authority 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 when you start using it.

To avoid getting a big bill, keep an eye on what your children are playing and read the small print around in-game purchases.

You can find out more on the Phone-paid Services Authority website

Mobile phone contract ending – should you stay or switch?

When your contract is ending, your current supplier will usually try hard to keep you.

Your first step is to give your network operator a call.

Ask 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:

  • help you compare deals on price comparison sites
  • warn 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.

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 you get a set fee that includes a range of services – pay monthly.

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, 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.

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, they must:

  • give you one month’s notice, and
  • allow you to switch to another provider without paying a penalty.

Read more about your consumer rights on Ofcom’s website

Should you insure your phone?

Whether you should insure your phone generally comes down to 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, be aware that:

  • mobile phone insurance doesn’t have to be taken out with your phone provider – many third party insurers can provide cheaper protection
  • cover can sometimes be provided with your bank account, so check before you buy.

Make sure you check exactly what your phone is covered for before signing up.

Find out more about mobile phone insurance on the MoneySavingExpert website

Struggling to pay your phone bills?

If you don’t have a landline, your mobile phone is a vital connection to other services. So it’s important to keep it if you can.

If you need help, contact your provider as soon as possible to explain the situation.

This might be your first experience of debt. Remember that it’s important to keep up with your payments. This isn’t just so you don’t lose your connection, but also because it could affect your credit score if you don’t.

Many providers have support in place to help you, including:

  • changing your bill date
  • setting up an affordable repayment plan
  • moving to a different tariff
  • lowering your spending cap
  • not charging you penalties such as late payment fees.

It’s best to only use your phone when you need to.

If you’re struggling to pay your bill your provider also shouldn’t disconnect you. This is unless it’s an absolute last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

What should I do if I miss a payment?

Have you already missed more than one payment and are not able to come to an agreement with your provider? Then it’s best to get advice as soon you can, especially if you’ve got other debts as well.

See our guide on how to prioritise your debts to help you work out which ones to pay off first. 

Was this information useful?
Thank you for your feedback.
We’re always trying to improve our website and services, and your feedback helps us understand how we’re doing.
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Talk to us live for…
Talk to us live for…
Talk to us live for pensions guidance using…
Talk to us live for money guidance using…
0800 011 3797* Hours
  • Mon – Fri:9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Sat, Sun and bank holidays:Closed

* Calls are free. We’re committed to providing you with a quality service, so calls may be recorded or monitored for training purposes and to help us develop our services.

Talk to us live for money guidance using the telephone
0800 138 7777* Hours
  • Mon – Fri:8.00am – 6.00pm
  • Sat, Sun and bank holidays:Closed

* Calls are free. We’re committed to providing you with a quality service, so calls may be recorded or monitored for training purposes and to help us develop our services.

Talk to us live for pensions guidance using web chat
Hours
  • Mon – Fri:9.00am – 6.00pm
  • Sat, Sun and bank holidays:Closed
Talk to us live for money guidance using web chat
Hours
  • Mon – Fri:8.00am – 6.00pm
  • Sat:8.00am – 3.00pm
  • Sun and bank holidays:Closed
Talk to us for pensions guidance using our web form

We aim to respond within 5 working days

Talk to us for money guidance using our web form

We aim to respond within 2 working days

Talk to us live for money guidance using WhatsApp
+44 77 0134 2744

Download app: WhatsApp

For help sorting out your debts, credit questions or pensions guidance. For everything else please contact us via Webchat or Telephone.