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Mobile phone deals - how to make sure you’re not overpaying

Posted 07 September 2015

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How to debunk the world of mobile phone deals and find the best one for you.

The expense of a mobile phone has become part of everyday life – in fact a lot of people would say it’s an essential cost! However, before we make any decisions, it’s really important that we have a good look at the deals out there, so that we don’t end up paying for things that we don’t understand, want or need.

Pay-as-you-go or Contract?

There are two main ways that you can use a mobile. Either get pay-as-you-go, where you top-up on credit so that you can make calls, send texts and use the internet. Or get a contract phone, where you pay a set amount each month for a pre-arranged package.

If you have pay-as-you-go, you’ll only pay for what you use, then again having a contract gives you the freedom of never having to top up.

Data

Whether or not you should have data on your phone just depends on how and when you use the internet. Smart phones come with the capability to connect to the internet, which, in this modern age, can be a real life saver. There are two ways of getting a data connection on your phone – via WIFI which is often free, or via your mobile network using your phone’s mobile data connection, which you usually have to pay for.

Have a think about whether you need to be paying for a lot of data, as if you’re happy to just connect to WIFI at home and wherever there happens to be a free connection, then this could save you a little on the payments.

Having said that, it might not be necessary to have a smart phone at all. You could go for an old-school option and get a basic mobile without touch screen and internet features, especially if you just want to use the device for calls and texts.

Roaming

Another cost you should really watch out for is the dreaded roaming charge. This is incurred when you go abroad and use your phone.

From 2017, Europe is set to get rid of roaming charges altogether, which is good news for all of us. Until then, there are things you can do to stop being charged loads, just because you took your phone abroad.

First of all, if you have a smart phone, it will be connected to the internet (check whether this feature is switched on) so you may be charged for data roaming without realising it. You are able to turn this off on the device itself by going to the setting options on the phone and choosing to turn data roaming off. If you’re not sure how to do this or you’re having problems, contact your provider or have a look on their website.

Choose the right contract

According to Which, collectively we’re losing out on a total of 5.4billion a year because we’re on the wrong mobile contract.

It really pays to think about your usage needs before you go into the shop. When you know what you want, it’s easier to avoid being talked into taking out a more expensive deal that you probably won’t benefit from.

If you’re sometimes a little confused about what you can actually do with a certain amount of data then use Confused.com’s handy calculator. It will tell you, in emails and videos, how much data you have to use and will need to complete certain actions.

Once you have an idea of what your needs are, you can use comparison sites such as Uswitch to find the right one.

Haggle

 

Haggling can really pay-off sometimes, and it’s no different for mobile deals. So see whether you can negotiate the price down from what they’ve quoted you. If your current provider is more expensive than another deal you’ve found (and you’re out of your contract) then mention this to them, and if they can’t match the price you’ve found, leave and save some money. We hope we’ve encouraged you to put some thought into which mobile deal you choose. It may take a little looking into, but it’s definitely worth making sure that you’re not overspending on this essential cost. 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.