Seven things to check before you sign a new mobile phone contract

Setting up a mobile phone contract is not as simple as it used to be.

If you’re tempted by one of the many discounts and the lure of a shiny new smartphone, check out our tips before you sign up on the dotted line.


Check out our guide to the best mobile phones and only Sim offers, or go to Who? Turn on Mobile to see the best only Sim and contract phone deals.


1. Previous costs and data subsidy

While you may see a temptingly low monthly fee advertised for a striking new cell phone, a previous cost could reach hundreds of pounds for advanced phones.

Basically this means that you buy part of the mobile phone in advance and spread the rest through the contract – so the title monthly cost could be misleading.

Also beware of high data permissions – these are often sold as “big deals”, and may include offers such as duplicating the data. Consider how much data you really need so you don’t end up paying for something you won’t use.

Add the previous cost and your typical data allowance into ours mobile phone cost calculator to see if you are better off buying on a contract or without a Sim.

2. Possible prices are rising

Check out those T&Cs. Many mobile networks have recently introduced annual super-inflation prices in their contracts, which means that you will see an annual increase of about 5 – 7% in your contract. Although not much in isolation (7% on £ 50 would be an additional £ 3.50 a month), these costs can add up, especially depending on when you take out your contract.

Therefore, if you want to make sure that the price you are paying for is consistent, you’d better find a provider that doesn’t bake prices and ideally has a 30-day airtime contract to give you the flexibility to change if price. rises are brought. Browse the best deals for Sim only to see what is on offer.

3. Mobile phone coverage

If you think you’ve found the right deal with the right provider, don’t forget that it’s important to know that you’ll get good coverage, not only at home, but also at your workplaces and other areas you like to go to regularly. .

Nia 3G, 4G and 5G coverage map has information on coverage at the zip code level and can tell you how good the coverage is in that area.

If you are moving to a provider on the same network as the one you are currently using, you will already know if reception is good or needs improvement. Check the table below to find out which signal your provider is using.

If you want to be sure that a receipt is good before you sign a long-term contract, try to get a low-cost Sim from the network in question and try it out first.


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4. Length of contract

With phones getting more expensive, many people are turning to longer contracts to lower the monthly price. It’s important to carefully monitor the duration of the contract, as what might look like a low monthly fee may not be as appealing if you’re tied to it for 36 months instead of 24 – you may end up paying more money in the long run.

For example, at the time of writing, Virgin Mobile is offering an iPhone 12 Pro with a 12GB plan for £ 55 a month on a 24-month contract, which results in a total of £ 1,320. The same phone and 36-month contract agreement would cost £ 40 a month, resulting in a total of £ 1,440 – £ 120 more.

Also, be sure to pay attention to the end date of the contract and whether you are receiving notice of termination of the contract that can help you. Avoid overloading your mobile phone.

5. Roaming costs

With both Vodafone and EE Recently announcing the return of mobile phone roaming costs in the EU, it is worth checking what your provider’s roaming plans are, and in general how much it costs to use your phone in the country you are traveling to.

Outside the EU, costs can be much higher – you can pay up to £ 42 just to stream one song on your favorite streaming app. If roaming is important to you, consider choosing a monthly contract for Sim only with a roaming friendly provider.

At present, no other mobile providers have made plans to start paying for roaming in the EU. But with two major vendors announcing changes, others could follow suit.

Find out more about mobile wandering and how to prepare your phone for holidays abroad.

6. Flexible contracts

Some mobile providers, like Vodafone with its new EVO proposal and O2 with Refresh, introduced flexible contract lengths from 12 to 36 months.

While this flexibility may be appealing to some, you can actually pay more by limiting your choice to these providers.

Ultimately, you need to decide whether price or flexibility is the most important factor in choosing your next mobile contract, and how important it is that you always have the latest mobile phone.

7. Price is not everything when it comes to a good mobile phone deal

While having a cheap deal is certainly one of the most important factors in choosing a contract, it should not be the only one.

Are you someone who likes to talk to people when you have a problem? Then Giffgaff is not for you.

Do you want extra incentives and rewards like movie tickets or food and beverage discounts? You may want to check with the larger name providers.

Our annual mobile network analysis considers all of these factors and more, including price, to determine which are the best and worst mobile networks. Be sure to check out our guide to the best and worst mobile providers to see where your potential new provider is in the rankings.

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