You will probably have read and seen advertised on various consumer sites the different ways in which you can save money on your mobile phone – and no, I don’t mean to just stop using it altogether, although this would certainly do the trick!
Rather than minutes and texts, the main cost of mobile bills in 2019 is mobile data. This is due to the rise of apps that allow you to keep in contact with your loved ones and friends while without needing to use any calling minutes or SMS.
The most widely known of these is WhatsApp, which enables users to place calls and send messages to other users free of charge – though this does require a good internet or data signal as WhatsApp activity is all online based.
Likewise, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites are gradually increasing the means by which we can communicate and connect instantly, all relying on the big D word – ‘data’. So how do you make savings?
Pay As You Go – It Can be Good For Data Too
Pay-As-You-Go does what it says on the tin to a certain extent. Users of a pay-as-you-go SIM are tied down to no more than what they have paid for, typically buying a certain amount of data that lasts 30 days.
Many of us will remember Pay-As-You-Go from the early mobile phones we had, where you would buy your phone and SIM and then call a certain number to add more minutes and texts as needed. Essentially, you won’t find yourself overspending, purely because you can’t. You get what you pay for and nothing more.
Pay as you go is a great option if you are looking to keep a tight belt on your mobile spending and is often the option chosen by parents when giving their children a first mobile phone. It teaches young people the idea of budgeting and responsibility, taking control of their own allowance and finding a way to stick to it.
Many blog posts will tell you pay as you go isn’t great for customers who use mobile data often but the landscape is changing and all the networks in the UK offer competitive bundling nowadays that has plenty data included.
These bundles last 30 days and popular offerings like giffgaff do a £10/month goody bag, where you get 3GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts. You can research some of the recommended pay as you go sim card offers in this guide and they give you a pretty good breakdown of the pros and cons of each whether you’re a light user or a smartphone addict.
Put simply if you are paying over £15 a month, you can probably get a better deal. The giffgaff one in particular fits most people’s requirements as 3GB of data does go a long way.
Traditional Phone Contracts – Try To Avoid Them
Signing up to a mobile phone contract is typically a long-term arrangement, by which you will agree to a monthly fee which will be paid for up to 24 months as a minimum term. Not only does this monthly fee cover your minutes texts and data usage, but it also includes the cost of the phone itself which, instead of buying outright, you will pay off gradually over the course of your contract.
That being said, there is definite truth in the feeling that mobile phone contract bills are a lot heftier than they need to be. Though it may seem attractive to spread the cost of the phone over multiple months, you may find that you end up paying a lot more overall than you would have done otherwise. The long-term contract also makes it more difficult to pull out early.
There is also the chance with a contract that you could go over your monthly allowance, and more notably there is nothing to stop you doing so. Whereas with the pay-as-you-go you simply cannot surpass what you have paid for, a contract arrangement will see you charged excess for anything above your allowance.
SIM Only – The Best Choice
A SIM-only mobile phone deal is essentially a combination of the above two options. Offering a package that consists of minutes, texts and data, the SIM-only requires you to own a phone outright and then simply match it to the contract you want. Of course, the downside with this option is that you are faced with the initial outlay of a mobile phone handset, which (depending on the model you opt for) can place quite a hefty fee onto your initial bill.
However, if you already have a decent handset, or you have the funds by which to buy one, opting for a SIM-only contract can be a good way to get the allowance you need without wasting extra money on the phone itself.
If you do need to buy a new phone, then look into some of the cheaper Chinese brands that are now on the UK shelves. Honor, Huawei and Xiaomi all offer quality devices that rival the main brands we are used to like Apple and Samsung, often for a fraction of the cost.
In terms of the jargon associated with the SIM-only option, the clue is really in the title. Picture your mobile phone as two separate elements – the device itself, and the little card inside it that determines what it does. This third and final option separates them out, charging you only for the little card (or “the brain” of the phone).
In the long run, this is a much cheaper option than the traditional contract and I recommend either SIM only or pay as you go for those who want to make the wisest financial decision.