Mobile Phone Contracts
In the UK, phone contracts are still the most popular method of getting mobile phone deals. We’re here to let you know what they’re all about.
What are mobile contracts?
Phone contracts are a type of mobile deal where you pay a fixed monthly fee over an extended period, usually 12 or 24 months. In return, you get both a brand-new handset and a tariff of your choice, which is a monthly allowance of minutes, calls and data.
New phones are expensive to buy outright, but with mobile contracts this cost is spread over instalments. It’s a form of loan, and the phone becomes yours once the contract is paid off.
Pros of Mobile Phone Contracts
We’ve listed some of the major advantages of mobile contracts:
- Mobiles are expensive to buy upfront and simply not an option for many of us. With phone contracts, you can get the latest models more affordably by spreading the cost over a prolonged period of time.
- You can sometimes upgrade early, meaning you can stay ahead of the tech curve.
- Often you can get insurance included as a minimal extra. Which is good, because if you lose your handset you don’t want to continue paying for a contract for a phone you no longer have – trust us!
- You can tap into great bundle deals which could save you money overall, for example: getting a family package of mobile and broadband.
- Most networks offer great perks, such as cashback, gifts and rewards schemes.
- Payment is by direct debit, so as long as you don’t go over your allowance it’s easy to budget.
Cons of Mobile Phone Contracts
And of course, to offer a fair and balanced view, here are some of the disadvantages of mobile phone contracts:
- A mobile contract will, in the long run, invariably cost you more than if you bought the phone outright. Essentially, you pay a price for the convenience of spreading the cost out into more affordable chunks. If you already have a phone, or can afford to buy one upfront, read our guide on SIM Only deals as an alternative.
- You’re locked in for the full term of your contract. Mobile contracts are far less flexible, but if you do want to switch deals we’ll outline your options later on.
- Usually, there’s a ‘use it or lose it’ policy, meaning any minutes, texts or data you don’t use cannot be rolled over to the next month.
- You’ll need to pass a credit check. Mobile contracts are essentially a debt, so make sure you can keep on top of payments.
When can I switch mobile contracts?
Should you want to switch mobile contracts, the process will depend on your circumstances.
- You already have a contract with your network provider but want to take out a better deal with them: If you stick with your provider, you’re usually allowed to upgrade to a new deal free of charge a few months before your contract officially ends. Some providers even offer the perk of switching sooner than that.
- You want to switch networks: If you’ve found a better deal with another carrier, you’ll usually have to see out the end of your contract with your current provider – no treats if you’re ditching them! But don’t worry, you can keep your number when you switch networks by a method called porting, the intricacies of which you can read all about here.
- You can’t stand your contract any longer and/or want a new phone now: If you find yourself desperate for a better mobile deal, then you’ll have to pay off the remainder of your current contract – you can’t just up and leave for free. Depending how many payments you have left, this could cost you a fair wack.
- You’ve just got a new phone contract but you don’t like it: If you’re not a fan or your handset or have spotted a cheaper deal elsewhere, you have 14 days to return your phone and cancel your contract free of charge.
How to Choose a Mobile Contract
There are a few essential nuggets to bear in mind when looking for a new phone deal. Mobile contracts typically last 12 or 24 months, so be sure you bear this in mind when you select your deal – if you know you’re moving abroad in a year, don’t take out a two-year contract!
Ensure you choose a network you like. While the majority of the UK gets good coverage, in more rural areas some carriers are better than others. Choosing a network where you’ll get good coverage is therefore important, but each provider also has their own perks and benefits – so be sure to bear this in mind when you compare mobile contracts.
And finally, let’s not forget the primary reason for choosing a new phone contract: the handset! Perhaps you have your heart set on the latest release, or you’re simply looking for a firm and favourite model. Whatever your reason to look for a new mobile contract, our tip is to be slightly flexible when it comes to duration, networks and handsets to be sure you find the best mobile deal on the market.
Compare Mobile Phone Contracts
It’s easy as pie to compare mobile contracts here at usave. Simply use our mobile comparison engine and click Pay Monthly at the top. Then, use the side bar to input your preferences – network, contract term, price and the like – and then you’ll see what deals or handsets are available. Once you’re ready, select and we’ll do the rest.
Last reviewed: 24 December 2021
Next review: 24 January 2022