Devices & Sim Only - Our guide to saving money on your mobile phone contract. Part 1

Updated: Aug 3, 2018

Welcome to the first part of our blog about how you can save money on your next mobile phone contract. If you're interested in saving money then this should be invaluable.

If you want to read parts two, three and four, follow these links: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

The average UK consumer spends around £21 per month on their mobile phone contract. All told we spend almost £14bn a year. Lots of people are going out, doing the research and grabbing themselves some excellent deals.

However many aren’t.

Some don’t have time to devote to researching the best deals, some find the whole industry pretty confusing and some, despite their best intentions, end up on contracts that just don’t suit them.

All is not lost though!

In this blog we’ll demonstrate where you might end up spending more and give you our top 10 tips on how you can spend less.

Tip 1: Move from a device contract to purchasing your sim and phone separately

The trend towards buying sim-only contracts and your device outright has really gained traction over the past few years (much to the frustration of the main networks).

In the past things were easy:

  • pick the device you wanted

  • find someone with a tariff that matched your monthly budget

  • sign up for 24 months

It was all in one transaction and therefore really easy to get done.

Nowadays, if you can afford it, it makes sense to purchase both elements separately. You can get some really good prices on devices if you shop around and if your timing’s right, there are usually some great sim only promotions.

Have a look at these examples of how much you could save buy buying a device and contract separately.

Amount you can save by going sim-only with a separate device

Pay close attention to those effective interest rate (APR column) you are being charged for the device. For some devices they are quite reasonable (particularly the iPhone 8 and Samsung S9 - the iPhone 8 is soon to be replaced by this years model and the S9 hasn't sold well so far this year). For some however - the iPhone X and Samsung J6 - the equivalent APRs are pretty high due being new (the J6) or high value, high demand (iPhone X) devices.

The downside to doing things this way is that sim only contracts only last for 12 months so you have no guarantee that you’ll be able get the same sim only deal at the end of your first twelve months.

You also have to watch for discounts on sim only deals that expire at the end of the 12 month contract period and are quite poor value for money thereafter.

Tip 2: Don’t necessarily jump straight into changing contract. If you can wait a bit you could end up saving money.

The networks have some key dates in their diaries. There is a for example, a wave of people around October and November who move from iPhone to iPhone and follow the same cycle every two years. As a result you may not have that many good offers on the iPhone around this time as demand and hype is so high.

If you can afford to wait (a bit but not too long) prices tend to settle a little as the market adjusts. Don’t hang on too long though as every day beyond your upgrade date means you’ll be paying a lot more on your old contract than you need to without the benefit of a new device.

Try a 30 day sim only contract if this is the case, these can be quite cost effective while waiting for a new device to launch (but see tip XX below - don’t buy latest device).

Here’s a good example of why waiting a bit can pay off:

A Samsung Galaxy S9 at release in May would have cost £1282 for a 24 month contract. By July, that same contract would have cost £1082, a saving of £200.

Assuming your old plan was around £43 per month, waiting for a couple of months would have saved around £120. If you’d been really canny, you could have got a 30 day sim from O2, giving you 10GB for £28, saving you a further £30.

It really can pay to wait and time your purchase right. Incidentally, the S9 is a great deal on EE now.

Click here for part 2

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