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
BT CPI+3.9% 31st March
EE CPI+3.9% 31st March
giffgaff No automatic price rises
(no contract)
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)
O2 RPI+3.9% April
Plusnet CPI+3.9% March
Shell Energy CPI+3% 1st April
SMARTY No automatic price rises
(no contract)
Sky No automatic price rises
(see notes†)
Talkmobile CPI+3.9% April
TalkTalk CPI+3.7% April
Tesco Mobile Fixed price during contract
Three 4.5% April
Virgin Media No automatic price rises
(30 day cancellation applies for price change)
Vodafone CPI+3.9% April
VOXI No automatic price rises
(no contract)

† Sky doesn’t have any automatic price rises built in to their plan. However, they reserve the right to increase your Sky TV bill by up to 10% per year without offering penalty-free cancellation. For Sky Talk and Sky Broadband price rises, you’ll have 30 days to cancel without penalty.

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).

Discounted Plans

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.

Legislation

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.

More Information

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.

The BBC News website has some further information about how inflation is calculated. You can also see the latest inflation-related news and predictions.

Your Comments 29 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 29 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Michael Flynn said:

    I was about to take out a broadband contract with BT when I spotted at the last minute the price would rise in March giving me barely a month at the agreed price followed by two years at an increased price. This is downright dishonest, My business has gone elsewhere.

  • So I take it that its best to buy in April (or March for some suppliers) & only go for 12 month contract because of this mid contract increase.

    The UK is a mockery of justice & fairness.

  • Ken, would you be able to add a table near the top of this page summarising the position of each operator?

    Include a column for the exact date (or month if the date isn’t stated) that it is said the increase will occur and an explanation of what it is, RPI, CPI, percentage etc. I like your tables which summarise the information, such as plans/bundles by price and by data allowance and so on, and I think a similar one here could help.

    In terms of my observations and thoughts on mid-contract price rises, those renewing their contract or changing provider just after the increase will have almost a full year at the advertised price. Conversely, those renewing or signing up just before will have to pay the increased amount for pretty much all of the term. The former being on a 12 month contract will pay almost no increased price and will be free to go elsewhere once/shortly after the increase has occurred.

    Anyone just out of contract and looking to renew or change provider now (December) may prefer to move to a pay as you go service with a bundle until the increase in April, should they not wish to stay with what they have now.

    There is the (rhetorical) question of what will happen to the price of the offerings for new customers/contracts, or at least what tends to happen in practice, even if we can’t say with any certainty? The prices for plans, barring odd exception, are all set to the nearest whole pound. Will it be the case that they won’t go up but existing customers, tied into contracts, will have their monthly charge increased?

    I think that as the providers have the customers locked in for a period they should not be allowed to increase prices mid-term. This is to have one’s cake and eat it. The customer agreed not to leave early (or else pay early termination fee), meaning if a better deal where to come along he/she would be unlikely to go for it (during the term). For fairness, the provider should have to set the price at the beginning of the term such that it hedges its bets in it being high enough to cover its costs and generate a profit.

    As a result of the allowance by the regulator of mid-term price increases are we seeing more 24 month contracts? I know that EE has only 24-month contracts openly displayed on its website, while the 12-month contracts are hidden, leaving the savvy to seek them out. I suggest if this is not uncommon in the market then it is a reaction to price increases being permitted during contract. I submit, if they could offer 36 month contracts, they would! Forgive my cynicism there. It is food for thought, though, in terms of what the knock-on effects on the market are of providers being allowed to do this.

    The Three Price Guide for Advanced Plans says that the annual increase is 4.5% – it’s a set percentage, not related to RPI or CPI.

    Perhaps you might like to bring up-to-date anything else on this page which has changed.

    P.S. Is it just me or is the Three website unsecure http? I see your hyperlinks to it are http, not https.

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, things have changed quite a lot since I published this guide in 2019! It’s definitely on my list of things to review & update when I get a chance, and will definitely take the suggestion to add a table onboard as well.
      In terms of your observations, you’re absolutely right. The price increase normally only applies to existing customers, whereas they’ll often keep the new customer price exactly the same (if anything, the prices might even go down, given the pricing trends & competition in this area). You also make a really good observation in that it’s disadvantageous to sign up just before an annual price increase as you’re pretty much on the increased rate straight away. Some providers even market this in pretty disingenuous ways (e.g. with 3 months free or 6 months half price, followed by an advertised price – knowing that the price will have gone up by some ~8% by the time that offer ends)!
      And yes, you’re right… the Three website is still using non-secure http!
      Ken

      • Hi Dave,
        Thanks again for your suggestion above – I’ve just updated this guide and added a comparison table as you suggested. Sadly, it looks like many people are going to see a price increase of around 8% next year, due to the recent spike in inflation and the CPI+3.9% policies 🙁
        Ken

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