A phone is hard to do without - but it can be a big expense, too. Follow these tips to keep the cost down...
If you travel a lot it’s worth finding out about the ‘roaming’ rates charged by your network, and whether any international minutes and texts are included in your package. You should also ask about ‘international’ rates if you plan on using your phone to call or text friends and family abroad.
Most importantly, research how good network coverage is in the area you’ll use your phone most. Some networks offer much better signal in particular regions than others. It’s worth noting that different companies may use the same network – for instance, Tesco Mobile and giffgaff both use the O2 network – but charge different rates for the same reception. If you're on a contract, it's normally easier to ‘upgrade’ a more expensive tariff than ‘downgrade’ to a cheaper one. Ask a package provider if either option is possible before signing a contract. If it is and you’re not sure which tariff to go for, pick the cheaper option. You might find that you use your phone less than you’d anticipated, and by keeping a close eye on your usage you’ll be able to know whether to ‘upgrade’ or ‘downgrade’ your package in future months.
Last but not least, always make sure that you compare deals across different providers. Some providers may offer cheaper deals than others, give you a different amount of calls, texts and data, or offer a rewarding loyalty scheme. It’s always worth shopping around. If after shopping around you decide you want to stay with your network provider, try haggling for a better deal when your contract’s up for renewal. If your family or friends are on a particular network, it’s also worth exploring if communication between you all will be cheaper if you join that network. For instance, some networks will let you call or text other numbers on that network for free.
- Keep an eye on your usage: you can end up spending a lot of money if you run out of minutes, texts or data, and are charged for going over your allowance. This is especially important for mobile internet, since it can be hard to tell how much data an app is using unless you monitor it. Most providers will let you set up data usage alerts and check how much data is being used by each app running. Ask your provider about the best way to keep track of your allowance to avoid being charged for exceeding it.
- Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts, can help you to avoid going over your monthly calls and texts allowance. However, making voice or video calls using mobile internet can use up a lot of your phone data, so only use these apps when you’re using WiFi or you’re sure you won’t need that data later on..
- If you need to call a business, check that the number is included in your calls allowance: some numbers, such as 0845 numbers, might not be. Services like SayNoTo0870 can help you to find cheaper ways to call the same number.