Confused about mobile phone options?

image
Print Friendly

Here are some top tips to help you find your way through the mobile phone jungle

Choosing the right mobile phone and phone package for you is not an easy task, thanks to the myriad deals on offer at any time, but there are a few things to look out for that might help you cut through the jargon.

If you already have a phone that you are happy with and do not intend to change, you would probably be looking for a ‘SIM only’ deal, where you are sent a new SIM card and it will include a certain amount of calls and data which you pay for each month. Alternatively, if you wanted to only pay for any time you used your phone, then a pay-as-you-go contract might suit you better. But here is a further rundown of what to look for:

1. Don’t be fooled by free minutes – Mobile phone companies like to tell you about the ‘free’ minutes they are giving you as part of your package. But since you are paying for that package of ‘free’ minutes, they are hardly free. So see through this marketing trick and get to the bottom of what is on offer.

2. Compare contracts and prices – This is easier said than done, as there are so many packages available that it will make your head spin. There are sites out there that can help you compare more effectively, but very few of these are Ofcom – the telecoms regulator – approved. Having Ofcom approval means the comparison services in question have gone through what Ofcom itself describes as “a rigorous independent audit” which checks that information is “accessible, accurate, transparent, comprehensive and up-to-date”. You can access an Ofcom approved site here.

3. Look at how you use your phone – Before you look to get another deal, or another phone, take a look at exactly what you use your phone for by checking previous bills and looking at how many minutes you used on calls, and how much data you have used for web browsing. If you also use your phone for texting, then the good news is that most pay monthly contracts now include unlimited texts, because the advent of free apps such as WhatsApp have enabled people to keep in touch by text without fees anyway.

It is worth remembering that if you are abroad and want to keep in touch with those at home, WhatsApp allows you to text for free, which could give you some big savings over the cost of traditional texting with your provider. If you want to talk, then you can also use Skype or WhatsApp if you have a wifi connection, which will not cost anything for the call either.

If you are not able to tell how you have used your phone just from your bill, then you can call your provider for a breakdown to help you make a decision about what to do next.

4. Decide exactly what you want to do – If you do not need a new phone, then you may decide to go for a SIM-only deal, which is a rolling monthly contract giving you a certain amount of minutes and data. They can cost as little as £5 a month, so if you are on a budget or simply don’t want to spend more than necessary and you are happy with your phone, this might be a good option.

Alternatively, if you do want to get a new phone, then you may find it is cheaper to get a contract for 12 or 24 months and have the cost of the purchase of the phone included. One thing to bear in mind is how much the phone will cost you over that period, and whether buying it outright at the start – if you have enough spare money to do so – would work out cheaper in the long run. By buying it outright you may be able to get a cheaper deal for your minutes and web browsing, but it would all depend on what you want to use the phone for.

If you want to be able to use the phone with any network, you need to have a phone that is ‘unlocked’ so it does not matter which network’s SIM you end up putting into it. These are known as ‘SIM free’ deals.

5. Speak to your existing provider – Before you start talking to other providers about deals that might be available to you, it is worth speaking to your own provider first. They will usually have a raft of deals and offers that their customer retentions team will have access to, which are designed to encourage you to stay with them.

If you decide that you do want to leave your existing mobile provider, you will need something called your Porting Authority Code (PAC) if you want to take your existing number with you. Providers are not allowed to dally when it comes to giving you this, it must come through to you in one working day by email, text or post, but in most cases it will be issued immediately over the phone or via text message, according to Ofcom.

 

Written by Alison Steed

The following two tabs change content below.

Alison Steed

Alison is a highly-respected commentator on personal finance issues and an accomplished writer, editor and broadcaster, having worked on The Daily Telegraph’s personal finance desk for nearly seven years from 2000 to late 2006, becoming the deputy personal finance editor in 2004. After going freelance in late 2006, she has continued to maintain a notable presence in the national press and on both television and radio, writing for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily and Sunday Express and The Sun. She has also made a number of appearances on TV and radio, including numerous appearances on Sky News, the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, and was the financial journalist behind the hit Channel 4 personal finance show Superscrimpers for the first five series. She has won eight awards for her writing, including Personal Finance Journalist of the Year from the Association of British Insurers four times in a row, which is still a record. She has also received the Living Legend award from Help the Aged in recognition of the campaigning work she has done on the issue of the mis-treatment of older people who need long-term care.

Not a member?

Join the silversurfers community today! It's free, easy to do, and is packed full of features and amazing offers!

Join the community!
Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!

More Mobile Devices

iPhone features you didn't know about Social Media Icons On Screen Of Iphone
Apple's iPhone is now the bestselling smartphone in the world - the company has sold over 700...
Apps to help you get organised Person At Breakfast Looking At To Do List On Mobile Phone
If staying more organised is high on your list of resolutions for 2016, then technology is here to...
iPad ... My view! Ipad isolated
The ubiquitous iPad has now been with us for four years and has evolved from the original version...
The best apps to help you monitor your spending Smartphone with finance and market icons and symbols concept
There is really an app for everything these days and managing your finances is no different...
Over 55s are rapidly catching up with smartphones and apps Lead image for Silversurfers article
It is true that smartphone penetration and mobile apps usage among older age groups is lowest...
Has the Apple Watch’s time come? Apple Watch Close-up Details
Another year and another new Apple product. As its new wrist appliance hits the market, we wonder...
Apps for your grandkids Happy boy playing with touchpad in the car
Keeping your Grandkids entertained is not always the easiest task especially if they’re cooped...
The best apps for travel Preparation for travel, cell phone, money, passport, road map on
Unless you were born after the mid-90s, it won’t seem all that long ago when the little phone...
Ditch the contract: is pay-as-you-go cheaper? is pay-as-you-go cheaper
Before the rise of smartphones, pay-as-you-go plans (often abbreviated as PAYG) were aimed at the...
The new iPhone: is it worth the price tag? iPhone 6
Apple's newest iPhone has launched with much fanfare from the tech community, but with a starting...
Tile Be There For You tile
Fed up with losing your keys/wallet/phone/everything? Well, you'll probably fancy a clever new app...
Reducing the divide of Smart Phone ownership switched off
It has been predicted that 2014 will see an influx in smartphone ownership in our over 55’s age...