How much do we spend?
As our 24/7 reliance on technology has increased, so have the costs. According to the communications regulator, Ofcom, the average household spend on home phones, broadband and mobiles now stands at ?85.25 per month. According to Broadbandchoices.co.uk, customers switching broadband suppliers could save up to ?336 a year by getting the best deal, while Citizens Advice suggests mobile phone firms are selling customers contracts that cost on average 130% more than they need to.
Three simple must-dos
1 Try asking your current provider for a better deal If you don’t want the hassle of switching mobile phone or broadband providers, simply ask for a better deal. To succeed, you’ll need to be out of your minimum contract and preferably armed with information about cheaper deals from rival providers. Your aim should be to either get your existing package for a better price, or to get a better tariff for the same money. If your provider doesn’t budge, threaten to leave. More often than not you’ll be transferred to its cancellations – aka retentions – department. Here, staff have the power to offer better, unpublicised deals.
2 Don’t languish on old contracts Mobile phone and broadband contracts both tend to be for 12, 18 or 24 months. When you reach the end of your contract, obviously it may well pay to shop around for a better deal.
Broadbandchoices.co.uk has a service that reminds you when your contract is up. Providers typically reserve their best deals for new customers – so shopping around will allow you to access the better prices and perks on offer, says Vix Leyton from the site.
3 Don’t overpay It may sound obvious, but don’t pay for more than you actually use on any contract. Billmonitor has a tool that analyses your mobile phone usage and matches you to a better new contract. Light users might even find that a contract is not for them and they’d be better off on pay-as-you-go. The same goes for broadband deals, especially if you bundle in a TV service too. Do you really need 200-plus TV channels? Probably not.
Five easy ways to save
1 Question the need for speed Fibre optic broadband offers faster speeds than old-style ADSL but consider whether you really need a super-speedy connection. Virgin Media offers fibre optic up to 200MB – but you’ll only really need this if the whole household piles onto broadband at the same time, downloading films and gaming online. A 17MB connection will be adequate for most people – and cheaper.
To speed up a sluggish connection, upgrade your router and connect your desktop to the router via an ethernet cable rather than wifi.
2 Use your mobile for all calls Most mobile phone contracts include hundreds of minutes of calls, or unlimited calls, to other UK mobiles and landlines. Using your mobile for all your calls can negate the need to pay for calls on your landline.
3 Split handset and tariff According to HandsetExpert.com, customers are wasting an average of ?92 a year on smartphone contracts when they’d be better off buying a handset outright and pairing it with a sim-only tariff. If your phone’s working fine, try and resist the urge to upgrade it every time a new model comes out. There are some pretty cheap sim-only deals available – TPO has a rolling one-month contact offering 1GB data, 500 minutes and unlimited texts for ?3.99 a month.
4 Bundle vs unbundle Sky, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk all offer bundles where you pay a monthly price for a phone line, broadband and a selection of TV channels (sometimes you can add a mobile too). But although it might be convenient, it might not be your cheapest option. MoneySavingExpert compares bundle prices with “unbundled” deals where you take different services from multiple providers. It also takes into account sign-up bonuses from providers to give a total cost for the first year of the contract. For instance, pairing a Sky, EE or Plusnet line rental and broadband deal with a Now TV pass is cheaper than any triple-play bundle on the market.
5 Use a cashback website If you decide to switch either mobile or broadband suppliers, it’s worth doing so via a cashback site. Topcashback and Quidco pay a reward when you click through from them to buy goods or financial products.
In general, the more pricey the contract, the more cashback you’ll get. To give you an idea, Topcashback is offering up to ?175 if you take out a BT quad-play bundle of broadband, calls, BT TV, and a sim-only mobile deal. But even just taking out a ?12 a month sim-only deal with Three can net you ?60 cashback – almost halving the cost for the year.
Advanced money-saving tip
Recommend a friend Virgin Media will knock ?50 off your bill if you’re a cable customer and refer a friend who signs up – they get ?50 off their bill too. You can make up to 25 referrals in any 30-day period. Sky’s deal is similar. Plusnet’s scheme gives customers a monthly discount for every person who joins following their recommendation. It varies on the product, but is normally 50p or 75p off their bill for each month the friend stays on as a customer.