How To Save Money On Your Mobile Phone Contract

Traditional mobile phone contracts see customers happily sign up to a two year deal to get their hands on the latest iPhone for ‘free’ and end up paying more than £50 each month for the privilege.

Yet some people, me included, spend much less on their mobile phone bill and that got me thinking about sharing my knowledge with you, especially when an estimated four million people have been charged £490 million for handsets they already own!

Obviously, I can’t promise you’ll cut your bills dramatically, but follow these tips and there’s no reason you should be paying more than £15 a month.

Go SIM only

The cheapest deals are ones that don’t come with a smartphone included and they’re SIM only deals. With a SIM only deal you either keep your old smartphone or buy a new one outright and pay just for your minutes, texts and data.

As well as the lower prices, the good thing about SIM only deals is that they give you a lot of flexibility. You can get contracts that run from as little as 30 days and most only last 12months, rather than the 24 month deals you’re tied in to on a phone contract.

Because you are no longer paying for a shiny new smartphone, the monthly costs are also a lot lower.

Some networks also offer discounts for family plans where if you take out one sim only contract, then you receive discounts on any others you take out on your plan for other family members. This is worth considering if you have teenagers and BT Mobile offer the best value family plan at the moment with 20% off every additional sim and they’re only 30 day plans too.

Should I avoid a contract phone altogether?

I’m a total convert to the SIM Only contract but there are some deals that can make sense, especially on less popular phones. Some older devices that have been out for over a year can be picked up on cheap deals that will match SIM only or only put you out by a few pounds over 24 months.

Don’t just look at prices on the main networks

You are probably familiar with the main networks in the UK: O2, EE, Three and Vodafone. But there are lots of others called MVNO’s that “piggyback” on the main networks signal.

You can get exactly the same reception as someone on O2 if you use giffgaff for example. If you look at the prices, you will usually find the prices on these smaller providers far cheaper than the main brands. For reference here’s a list of ones you should consider: 

Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile who use O2
Asda Mobile, Virgin, BT, Post Office Mobile use EE
Voxi use Vodafone
ID Mobile and Smarty uses Three

Make sure you check the coverage of each network before you part with your money, the Ofcom Mobile Coverage checker will show you reception across the four main companies.

It’s also easy to move your number to a new network if you switch so don’t be afraid to move providers. All you need is your PAC code which your existing network must issue if you request it.

Don’t pay for more minutes/ text/ data than you’ll actually use

One of the biggest ways you can waste money on your phone bill by paying for data you don’t use. This is often done via clever upselling.

You will often see deals that are just £2 more for double the data which sounds great. Except you don’t always need more data.

You should be able to get an idea of how many minutes and texts you use each month and there are some useful data usage apps and calculators for working out how much data you need. As a rule, unless you are constantly streaming video you’ll not need more than 1GB or 2GB.

Compare prices and cashback

Just like you would with your household bills, it’s important to compare the entire market. There are so many price comparison sites now so use them all and see if they have different deals available.

Factor in the extras and freebies

I wouldn’t choose a deal based purely on extras, but if prices are similar it’s worth seeing what you can get. For example if you use your phone abroad, Three might be the best choice because they have a lot of inclusive roaming destinations.

Call your network to see if they’ll negotiate

If you are on an existing deal it’s worth calling your network to see if they can do you a better deal. Ask to speak with the ‘disconnection’ team as they have access to cheaper deals to try and convince you to stay.

Don’t wait for your contract to end to start finding deals

Whatever you do, don’t let your existing contract run over at the higher monthly price. Plan ahead and look at deals the month before it ends, that way you’re ready to switch as soon as the contract ends.

*Collaborative post


  1. I need to check when my contract ends. I really should look for deals in advance normally forget and renew a year or so later, ops.

    1. Always worth scoping out the deals in advance if you want to save money.

  2. I'm the same - I have a SIM only contact and I really like that I don't have to fork out a considerable payment each month. The only downside is that upgrades don't exist!

    1. You are probably getting a good deal on a SIM only contract though.

  3. I agree with calling your provider to see if they will negotiate! Often they will offer you alternatives to stay with them, making you a big saving or a good bonus in your contract. :) x

  4. When my contract is up next year I am thinking about trying to buy my phone out right and then get a sim only contract as I think it will work out much cheaper x

  5. We switched to sim only deals last year, and have saved so much for doing so.

  6. I'm so bad for just renewing my contract, I've been with 02 for 10 years now and I know there is definitely better deals out there!

    1. I would never renew anything without shopping around first :)

  7. This is a brilliant post. I almost always try to go SIM only, unless I actually need a phone and a new contract at the same time. If you buy your phones off close friends and family that are always upgrading to the newest ones you'll get a steal!

  8. I have just renewed my contract but have got the kids on cheap sim only deals

  9. Love these tips, I get a discount on my phone bill through work which helps me to save 20% per month x

    1. Now that's a great idea, is it a mobile phone company?