How to conduct a 15-minute review of your mobile contract and save hundreds

July 27th, 2010

Recent reports have suggested that Brits are wasting £800m every year by paying too much for their mobile contract. Here’s our guide to how to conduct a review of your mobile contract and possibly save hundreds every year with a phone call to customer services.

A recent survey by pollsters Opinium for Top10 found that Brits waste £800million every year by paying for a contract with too many or too few minutes. The survey found that 55% of people have mobile contracts with too many minutes whilst 8% regularly exceed the airtime allowances on their contracts – typically paying an additional £10/month to cover the extra minutes used.

At Ken’s Tech Tips, we’ve been dedicated to the cause of showing you how to cut your phone bill. In this article, we focus on cutting your monthly bill. We’ll outline how most people could save between £60 and £240 per year on their monthly bill by completing a 15-minute review of their mobile contracts.

The exact method you need to use depends on whether you’re still in the term of a contact (i.e. if you signed a 24-month contact and you’ve not reached month 25 yet then you’re still within the term of your original contract). If you’re still within the course of your original contract, most operators provide a little known clause that you can take advantage of to switch to a cheaper contract. If you’ve completed the course of your original contact then the savings can be even bigger with a SIM-only contract – most people save about £180 per year.

Find out exactly what you use

The first step is to find out exactly how many minutes and texts you use each month. This information will help you to determine whether your current contract is suitable and, if necessary, to find a more suitable one. You can find this information on your monthly bill or by logging in to the customer area of your network:

You are still within the course of your original contract

Most mobile operators have a little-known clause which allows you to upgrade or downgrade your existing contract even if you’ve not completed it. If you never use your full airtime allowance you can switch to a tariff with a smaller monthly allowance and hence lower monthly price; whereas if you regularly exceed your airtime allowance you can switch to a tariff with more airtime (the difference in the monthly price is usually less than the cost for the calls and texts outside your allowance).

  • 3 customers can upgrade to a more expensive tariff at any time
  • O2 customers can upgrade to a more expensive tariff at any time and also downgrade to a cheaper tariff (providing you’ve had the contract for 9 months or more)
  • Orange customers can upgrade to a more expensive tariff at any time and also downgrade to a cheaper tariff (providing you’ve had the contract for 9 months or more)
  • Vodafone customers can upgrade to a more expensive tariff at any time and also downgrade to a cheaper tariff (providing you’ve had the contract for 9 months or more)

Best of all… upgrading or downgrading an existing contract doesn’t extend your contract as it’s simply a modification to the existing contract. It can save you hundreds if your contract isn’t right for you. We’re just surprised that so few people know about this clause.

Unfortunately T-Mobile doesn’t allow the upgrading or downgrading of existing contracts. However, you can change the Flexible Booster and/or buy new Flexible Boosters for £5/month. This may achieve the same result.

For more information on upgrading or downgrading your existing contract, we have a detailed guide which includes full details of what changes you can make to your existing contract and links to the relevant parts of the airtime contract.

You have completed the course of your original contract

If you’ve completed the course of your original contract, you should switch to a SIM-only tariff. A SIM-only tariff is similar to your current tariff but without the monthly surcharge you pay for the phone. You can normally find a SIM-only version of your current tariff – your airtime allowance will stay exactly the same but your monthly price will drop by about £15/month (a saving of £180 per year). You can usually save an extra £5/month by signing a new 12-month contract giving a total saving of £20 per month or £240 per year.

Before switching to a SIM-only tariff on your network, we recommend you shop around and find the best value tariff for you. For example if you don’t use up your full monthly airtime allowance, you could switch to an even cheaper SIM-only tariff. We outlined the best value SIM-only tariff for smartphones such as iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones last week.

For more information on SIM-only contract, we have a detailed guide which outlines the reasons for SIM-only tariffs being cheaper and some of the possible cost savings you can make.

Other money saving tips…

In this article, we’ve outlined some simple changes you can make to your tariff to save between £60 and £240 per year on your monthly bill. From my experience I’ve found that most people don’t know about upgrading/downgrading existing contracts and switching to SIM-only tariffs and are often surprised at the savings that they can find.

Once you’ve reviewed your own mobile tariff, please do share this information with friends and family too. Multiplying the same cost savings across your household can really make a difference to your bottom line. And drop us a comment below and let us know whether it worked for you; I’d love to hear from you.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

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