So you’re just finishing your current mobile phone contract and want to know whether to switch operators for a new deal or just stay and upgrade? Perhaps you’re looking to move from Pay As You Go to Pay Monthly? Maybe you’ve seen a stylish new mobile phone advertised and you’ve just got to have it?
Whatever your reason, it’s important to make sure you get the best possible deal, one that perfectly matches your individual needs. Signing up to a mobile phone contract is a big financial commitment. For example, an 18 month contract at £30 per month costs you £540!
Following our 5 Steps to a Perfect Fit Mobile Phone Deal could save you hundreds of pounds and help you find the best phone and tariff for your own unique lifestyle.
As with any sizeable purchase, you need to do a little research. In this case the aim is to figure out how many inclusive minutes and texts you need in your new mobile phone tariff.
If you currently have a pay monthly mobile phone contract you can simply study your last couple of bills.
- How many minutes of calls and how many text messages do you actually use?
- Perhaps you don’t use half of the inclusive minutes and texts you currently pay for, or maybe you regularly exceed your inclusive allowance?
Either way you’ll be spending more on your phone bill than you need to.
After looking through your last couple of mobile phone bills calculate the average number of texts and calls you use and add a buffer of around 20% to cover the busier months. Going out of bundle can be very expensive.
These two figures are now the minimum number of inclusive minutes and texts that you’ll need in your new mobile phone tariff.
If you access the internet on your mobile to check the football scores, access Facebook or perhaps to download music you should make sure you have a large data download allowance included in your contract. Most operators charge several £ per MB you download outside of any inclusive allowance and the first you’ll here about exceeding our allowance will be a huge phone bill at the end of the month.
Have a look at your bill or call your mobile phone operator to find out how much data you currently download. Add another 50% as you’ll probably use more when you get a new wizzy phone with a good internet browser and transfer your Facebook addiction to your mobile phone. Most operators offer a small amount of data for free and then have small bolts for a few quid or unlimited data downloads for £7.50 to £10.
Step 2 – Identify what you really need from your new phone
Whilst a minimum number of minutes and texts is a straightforward task to complete, deciding what you need in a phone is more fun, but a whole lot more complicated. It’s easy to get carried away, signing up for a flashy phone on an expensive tariff. Mobile phones seem to be bigger status symbol than cars these days.
If you want a mobile phone that has a range of high-end features you will generally end up paying more money to your operator. Whether it’s because you need to pay a portion of the phone cost upfront, or you have to sign-up to a higher contract in order to get the phone for ‘free’. Keep in mind that the phone isn’t really free, you’re simply buying it on credit via your monthly bill. A mobile phone like the Nokia N95 will cost the operator somewhere between £200 and £250 so they simply build that cost into your monthly bill.
Don’t pay more to buy an expensive mobile phone if you aren’t going to use the features. You should identify what you really need for day to day life with your phone, things like a good battery life, a big easy to read screen, or perhaps good reception because of where you work or live. Figure out what other features are important but perhaps not essential too.
Most importantl, make sure that you read plenty of expert and real user mobile phone reviews to ensure that you find a good phone you can live with for 18 months or more.
Step 3 – Pick a promotion
Many retailers offer an extra incentive when you sign up for a new mobile phone deal online. You can get free gifts like a Nintendo Wii or GHD hair straighteners, discounted line rental or cash back offers.
The operators offer discounted line rental or special, extra value tariffs if you order via their online store. You’ll often get a lot of extra minutes and texts when compared to the high street.
Independent mobile phone retailers such as Carphone Warehouse focus on free gifts, from LCD TVs to Sony PlayStations, there’s something to interest everyone.
Cash back deals have fallen out of favour recently. The high value ones, often worth hundreds of pounds, are redemption based. You have to send in vouchers and copies of your mobile phone bill to the retailer at intervals throughout the term of your contract to gradually claim your cash over the 12 or 18 months.
The terms and conditions for making your claims are usually very tight, so you have to be very organised. For instance, you may have to send your bill and voucher for month 4 to the retailer within 10 days of receiving the bill.Several retailers who offered cash backs have gone bust in the last 24 months leaving their customers unable to claim the cash they expected. Our advice would be to avoid these deals altogether and stick with a promotion where you receive the benefit upfront.
If you shop on the high street you tend to get less valuable incentives, such as a free Bluetooth headset or other cheap accessory. This is because it’s cheaper for the mobile phone retailers and operators to serve customers online leaving more budget to spend on acquiring new customers. Another rule of thumb is that the more expensive or exclusive the phone you want to buy, the lower the value of the incentive you are likely to be offered.
Have a think about what type of promotion has the most appeal to you.
Step 4 – Ask a mate for recommendations
Get recommendations from friends and family about their experiences with both operators and mobile phones.
If you’re thinking about switching providers, ask your neighbours or work colleagues about the mobile phone coverage they get in your area. Is a mobile phone operator’s Customer Service any good? This instantly becomes a crucial issue as soon as you have a problem such as a stolen phone.
You’ll also want to check whether that sexy, new mobile phone you’re about to commit 18 months of your life to is going to last more than 5 minutes before bits start falling off. Is it easy to use? Does the camera live up to the promises in the advert? Does the battery last for more than three phone calls to your other half?
Step 5 – Time to shop around
You’re now armed with a list of requirements that should make it easier to find a deal that will work for you.
As with most shopping, the best deals are found online. Be wary of wandering into a High Street store and falling prey to the salesmans patter. At the very least be clear of exactly what you want or need and stick to your guns.
- Minimum number of inclusive minutes
- Minimum number of inclusive texts
- Data usage in MB
- Main mobile phone features important to you
- Free gifts, discounted line rental or better value tariffs
Having these key requirements clear before shopping around will make it much easier for you to make a good decision, one that saves you money!
At this point you should call your operator to find out what they will offer you as an incentive to stay with them. Find out what they have to offer – but don’t accept it yet! This offer is a benchmark against which you can compare the offers for switching to another mobile phone network.
How can GadgetStylist.com help?
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