In the UK, mobile networks and broadband providers often increase the cost of your plan each year. Find out more about mid-contract price rises.
In the UK, most mobile networks and home broadband providers now increase the cost of your plan each year. This means your monthly bill will go up every year, sometimes by as much as 3.9% above the rate of inflation (CPI+3.9%).
These annual price rises can add substantially to your bill. In 2022, we’re currently forecasting an annual price rise of around 8% on many major providers. This is equivalent to an extra 80p/month on a £10/month bill, an extra £1.60/month on a £20/month bill, or an extra £4/month on a £50/month bill.
In this article, we’ll look at mid-contract price rises on UK mobile networks and broadband providers. We’ll also look at top providers that don’t have a price increase every year.
Annual Price Rise: By Provider
In the UK, most mobile phone and home broadband plans now have an annual price increase built-in.
Most commonly, annual price rises are linked to CPI inflation (the Consumer Prices Index). However, it can also be linked to RPI inflation (the Retail Prices Index). Alternatively, a fixed percentage increase may apply to the cost of your plan each year.
If you’re still tied in to a contract when prices go up, you may not be able to cancel it without paying a penalty. However, if you’re out of contract or on a contract-free plan, you can switch mobile networks or change broadband providers to save some money.
The following table shows a summary of the annual price rise you can expect on each UK provider:
|Provider||Annual Price Increase||Effective Date|
|giffgaff|| No automatic price rises
|Honest Mobile|| No automatic price rises
(5% yearly reduction with loyalty discount)
|John Lewis Broadband||CPI+3.9%||1st March|
|Hyperoptic||Fixed price during contract|
|iD Mobile||RPI||1st April|
|Lebara Mobile||Fixed price during contract|
|NOW|| No automatic price rises
(30 day cancellation applies for price change)
|Shell Energy||CPI+3%||1st April|
|SMARTY|| No automatic price rises
|Sky|| No automatic price rises
|Tesco Mobile||Fixed price during contract|
|Virgin Media|| No automatic price rises
(30 day cancellation applies for price change)
|VOXI|| No automatic price rises
At the time of writing (November 2021), the rate of CPI inflation is 5.1% and the rate of RPI inflation is 7.1%. This means you can probably expect an annual price rise of about 8% in 2022 (this is based on the CPI+3.9% increase applied by many major providers).
- If you’re currently paying £10 per month, an 8% increase will see your bill going up to £10.80 per month.
- If you’re currently paying £20 per month, an 8% increase will see your bill going up to £21.60 per month.
- If you’re currently paying £30 per month, an 8% increase will see your bill going up to £32.40 per month.
- If you’re currently paying £40 per month, an 8% increase will see your bill going up to £43.20 per month.
- If you’re currently paying £50 per month, an 8% increase will see your bill going up to £54 per month.
If you pay for a device on a separate repayment plan from your airtime tariff (e.g. on O2 Refresh and Vodafone EVO plans), the annual price increase will only apply to the airtime element of your plan. There are no changes to the cost of your device plan as this is structured as a loan repayment.
Fixed Price Providers
If you’re looking a mobile network provider where the price is frozen for the length of your contract, we’d recommend getting a plan from Tesco Mobile or one of Lebara Mobile’s 12-month SIM-only deals.
It’s also possible to consider a flexible no-contract provider such as giffgaff. Although there’s no guarantee they won’t increase their prices, they’ve tended to do the opposite in the past by increasing data allowances over time. On giffgaff, you’ll also have the flexibility to leave or to change your plan at anytime (e.g. in case they change their prices).
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a broadband provider that with a fixed monthly price, there are currently very few options to choose from. You can consider Hyperoptic’s full fibre broadband if it’s available where you live. Alternatively, your best bet would probably be to choose a provider such as NOW Broadband. They offer 12-month plans without any automatic price rises (giving you the flexibility to cancel without penalty if they choose to increase their prices).
One area to watch out for very closely is the issue of discounts that are applied to your plan. This is because the underlying cost of your plan will increase every year, whereas the discounts applied to it typically won’t increase.
To give an example, a £10/month plan could be structured as a £20 plan with a £10 discount. The price increase will then be applied to the £20 figure, whereas the £10 discount may remain the same. Assuming an 8% price rise, the underlying plan will go up to £21.60 per month. With the £10 discount, this is reduced to £11.60 per month. In this case, your monthly bill has actually gone up by 16% (twice the expected increase of 8%).
These larger-than-expected price rises are often seen on discounted contracts that are offered through customer retentions or those that are purchased during a sale. It may also occur when you add a student discount or staff discount to your plan.
Ofcom (the UK’s regulator for telecommunication services) legislated in January 2014 to protect consumers against “unexpected mid-contract price rises”. At the time, many people had expected this to mean the end of mid-contract price rises. However, Ofcom’s legislation left the door open for mid-contract price rises providing they are notified to customers in advance before they sign up.
In October 2018, Ofcom made it a legal obligation for all mobile networks to offer a spend cap on their contracts. This spend cap only applies to out-of-allowance charges and does not stop the monthly cost of your plan from going up.
For more information about the price rises that apply on your provider, please refer to their official website and their terms detailed in your contract.