The impending merger of Three and O2 has given telecom analysts in the UK cause for concern. But it should also worry consumers, in general. The merger of two of the UK’s primary mobile phone networks is likely to result in higher bills for customers throughout the country. With a reduction in competition, analysts expect network costs to rise, leading to an overall increase in the cost of mobile phone contracts. While the merger is yet to be approved, it does raise the perennial question of how to lower the cost of your mobile phone contract. So, before a mega merger leads to higher phone bills for you and your family, let’s look at some simple tips to save money on your mobile phone contract.
Phone Costs – Up Front or On Contract
As expensive as smartphones have become, it is still cheaper to buy your handset outright than to pay for it over the life of your contract. Buying your phone on contract can nearly double the cost of the handset itself. That being said, the cost of a premium handset can be a problem for many customers, and purchasing a phone on contract may be the only option. If this is the case, look for a contract which allows you to pay some of the cost of the phone up front in exchange for a lower monthly tariff. The more you can pay up front, the lower the actual cost of your phone and the more manageable your monthly bill. Also, if you are buying your phone on contract, choosing a budget handset will help to reduce your monthly bill, as well as the overall cost of your contract.
Data Plans – Pay for What You Need
A recent survey by Ofcom found that most UK smartphone owners use less than 2GB of data per month. Yet many of us routinely pay a premium price each month on unlimited data plans. When choosing a new mobile phone contract, consider your data usage patterns. Unless you are addicted to uploading and downloading online content, chances are you will rarely exceed 4GB, or even 2GB, of data per month. Avoiding those unlimited data plans can reduce the cost of your contract significantly.
Capacity – How Much is Too Much?
Again, if you are buying your phone on contract carefully consider the storage capacity of the handset you choose. We’ve all been taught that more is better, but think about how much data storage you really need. Remember, the larger the capacity the more you will be paying. For example, on an average 24 month contract a 48GB handset will cost you nearly £300 more than a 16GB model. That’s a significant amount of money. Moreover, most smartphones automatically back up via Wi-Fi to the cloud, so you can access all of your files through a quick a download. There’s no need to keep everything stored on the handset itself.
Happy With Your Current Phone? Keep It
One of the surest ways to keep the cost of a mobile phone contract down is to avoid the temptation of moving to the latest model smartphone or phablet. If you are happy with your current phone, keep it and negotiate a cheaper contract with your network carrier. Ultimately, if when you do want to upgrade to a newer model handset you can take the money you’ve saved and buy your new phone outright.
Renegotiate Your Expiring Contract
If you are in the final months of an existing contract, you have the leverage you need to haggle with your operator to secure a better deal. Make it clear that you are prepared to move to another operator if they can’t give you the best available deal. To keep your custom, your operator may well offer you a cheaper contract, or a phone upgrade, in order to keep you on the books. Use that leverage to your advantage.
The proposed merger of Three and O2, if approved, will likely lead to higher phone bills across the UK. While the merger won’t be ruled on until later this year, industry watchdogs are already stepping in to protect consumers. But even if Ofcom and Which? are successful, it makes good sense to take a moment to think about how you might reduce the cost of your mobile phone contract.