The enormous range of mobile phone contracts available can make it seem difficult to find the right one. However, this also means that you have a lot more choice – and that’s a good thing. Make sure that you’re getting the most from your mobile deal so that you pay less and have access to more. Even with the big mobile providers it’s not that difficult to do – sometimes it’s just a case of if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Read the small print
Some phone contracts can seem very appealing on the surface but it’s the small print where everything goes awry. For example, you might have free calls and minutes but if you go over your monthly allowance the charges go through the roof. Make sure you read all the limits, allowances and penalties. If you don’t like any of them, or you think that they might cause you problems, ask to have them lifted or changed. If the mobile phone provider won’t do this for free they might offer you the opportunity to add on some extra usage space for a reduced cost.
Mention any mid contract price rises
If you signed up after 23 Jan 2014 and your mobile phone provider announces price rises across the board half way through a contract you are in a strong position. Ofcom has changed the rules so that consumers can now leave a contract penalty free if this happens. Use that as a bargaining chip and see if they can come up with reasons to make you stay.
Find a competitor doing it better
Even those companies that don’t officially offer to match the prices of any competitors will consider doing it if you ask. So, if you see a fantastic phone contract with a free top of the range phone for a third less than your current provider is offering, just ask them if they will match it. The worst that will happen is that your current provider says no. Then, you have the option of moving to a better deal with another provider. Best-case scenario, your current provider agrees to match everything the other deal includes.
Avoid the auto-renew
When your phone contract comes to an end it will automatically renew and another contract period starts on the same terms as the old one. Take advantage of the fact that your provider wants to keep your custom and don’t auto renew. Instead, take a list of ‘improvements’ that you’d need to stay loyal to your mobile provider and see how many they are willing to agree to in order to keep you with them.
Look at a SIM only deal
It may feel like Christmas Day when your phone provider tells you that you can upgrade and have any phone you like ‘for free.’ But the reality is that you’re paying for the phone in increments in your monthly bill. Inevitably, you will end up paying more for the handset over the length of a contract than you would if you had just bought it outright. So, if you really want to squeeze the best value from your next contract, try a SIM only deal. You won’t get the latest fancy free handset but you’ll see your monthly contract price drop pretty significantly.
Insist on genuinely unlimited data
Some mobile providers advertise unlimited data that isn’t unlimited at all. Often, the true wording should really read ‘unlimited up to the limits that we have set.’ Be wary of the ‘fair usage policies’ that some providers apply to unlimited bundles. Most are pretty reasonable but some may still apply limits to any usage that they consider to me more than fair use. Once you go over those limits costs soar and that can be extremely expensive, particularly if you’re not aware of it. To get the most out of your contract make sure that anything unlimited really is unlimited in terms of the amount that you’re likely to use it.
If you’ve had issues, talk about them
Be polite but firm about problems you’ve had in the past and make it clear that this has left you with a negative view of the service. Any customer service operative worth their salt will want to try and preserve the company’s reputation and that normally means offering discounts to make you stay.
Haggle with commitment
Don’t accept the first offer you’re given, ask for exactly what you want and then ask for something more. It’s very unlikely that the result of asking for extras will be the provider refusing to allow you to be a customer. So, push the haggling as far as you can, don’t fill empty silences, don’t compromise and don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley