The UK’s mobile phone industry is the largest in Europe, with official government data confirming that the market is worth around £14 billion with 80 million mobile subscribers. Many of us spend hundreds of pounds a year buying new handsets with better specs and paying for mobile contracts so that we can gab away to our friends and play mobile games as much as we’d like.
However, while many of us do spend hundreds on mobile technology, we may not have to. You could save money on your phone by making a few changes and without losing out on phone quality or the number of minutes and gigabytes of mobile data available to you.
If you pay £50 a month for your mobile phone contract across two years, that adds up to £2,000. Think of all the things that that amount of money could buy. You could buy a new car, put a deposit down on some property, or buy something hilariously expensive such as a carbon fibre toilet seat.
There are a few ways of doing this, with the first being to pay for a SIM-only contract. A SIM-only contract can largely cut the cost of your monthly phone bill as you’ll only be paying for your minutes, texts, and data, and not the phone. If you purchased your phone outright for £500 and you pay £10 a for your contract, that is £740 over two years which is far less than that £2,000.
You can also try to get a SIM and phone contract deal with the network, by explaining that you are a loyal customer who has used their network for a number of years. They may offer you an exclusive package, not wanting to lose your money if you say that you’re going to look at other networks.
Another way is to just move contracts when your minimum term has ended. Mobile networks make a good amount of money by not reminding you to switch when your contract has finished. You may be paying £50 for a contract that, with the phone all paid off, is only worth £20. So when your minimum term has ended, make sure that you switch.
An Ofcom report about how much people spend on mobile and telecommunications services in the UK reveals just how much mobile networks inflate their prices. The pricing trends report explains that mobile users who pay for a 24-month contract “could pay a premium of up to 34% for a handset, compared to purchasing it separately and using it with a comparable SIMO service.”
It can seem much easier to just pay for a mobile phone and a mobile contract in one bundle. If you have been happy with the service provided by that network, then you may not feel that you have any reason to doubt them. However, you are likely paying hundreds of pounds more than you could be by doing this. Buying a phone outright, from a third-party retailer or from the manufacturer that made the phone can help you make sure that you only pay what the phone is worth.
The smartest money savers don’t just buy outright or get SIM only deals, they buy refurbished phones. A refurbished phone is a second-hand or pre-owned phone which has been sold or given to a retailer to be tested, cleaned, repaired, and sold again. As refurbished phones may not come with their original packaging and may have some light scuffs and marks, they can’t be sold as brand new or at full price, but that’s brilliant if you want to save some money.
Prices of refurbished phones can vary, but you can typically save £100 or more over brand new. The Big Phone Store, a retailer that sells refurbished phones and tablets, sells a refurbished iPhone XS Max for £849.99 which is £150 cheaper than buying brand new. It also offers a refurbished iPhone 8 for £362.99 which is cheaper than the £599 that Apple sells the device when you buy brand new. Refurbished phones also come with a warranty, meaning that it would be possible to get your money back or get a replacement.
Getting a good quality phone is still going to cost you a few hundred pounds and over two years, your SIM only contract may cost a couple of hundred of pounds too. However, this is still a huge saving compared to the thousands of pounds you could spend on a SIM and phone contract.