Money Wellness
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calendar icon21 May 2024

Stop overpaying on your broadband and phone bills with these tips

Mobile and broadband prices went up in April, meaning you could be out of pocket.

The recent price hikes mean you’re likely to be paying an additional £182.40 a year for your broadband and an extra £94.80 for your mobile, according to comparison service Uswitch.

Read on to find out if you’re overpaying for your broadband and mobile, and what you can do to keep rising prices at bay.

Loyalty counts though, right?

It seems like loyalty doesn’t pay, as those who have been with their current broadband provider for between seven and eight years were being hit with bigger price increases in April than those who have switched more recently.

Those who haven’t switched recently typically saw their bills increase by £22.10 – 45% more than the national average price rise of £15.20.

And it’s a similar picture for loyal mobile customers too – both pay-monthly and SIM-only contracts saw the biggest hikes when they’d stayed with a provider for eight to nine years.

Last month, loyal mobile customers paid an extra £13.20 on their bill compared to the national average price increase of £7.90.

In both instances, those who switched provider in the last 12 months were better off, so if you’ve been with your provider for several years, it could be worth shopping around for a better deal.

Mobile users who switched less than a year ago saw an average increase of £6.70 while broadband customers saw an increase of £11.75.

Tighter regulations

More than half of Brits (57%) said they weren’t expecting mid-contract price increases, despite new regulations which came in last year.

The Advertising Standards Agency ruled providers need to make sure information on mid-contract price rises is “up front and prominent” rather than hidden in the small print – which 46% of people said they didn’t read.

And almost half of people (44%) are at risk of overpaying as they don’t know when their current contract ends.

If you’re out of contract, you won’t face penalties for leaving so it’s possible you could be overpaying.

Almost a third (28%) said they relied on reminders from their providers to pay bills or renew contracts, with 18% saying they aren’t good at keeping track of dates.

Additionally, Ofcom has announced a consultation outlining plans to ban inflation-linked price rises, a move welcomed by Uswitch.

Once in effect, customers taking new contracts will be offered protection from uncertain price increases for the duration of the contract.

But the original terms and conditions will still apply to contracts taken out before the change.

Check your contract end dates

If you’re out of contract, it’s worth shopping around to see if you can land yourself a better deal.

If you’re still within contract, there’s still plenty you can do to put money back in your pocket. Most contracts range from 12 to 24 months, and your provider will let you know when yours is coming to an end.

If you want to switch provider and you’re under contract, you’ll normally pay an early exit fee – this is generally the amount left to pay on your contract.

But if you don’t have long left, it can work out cheaper in the long run to pay the fee and switch provider. If it isn’t, set reminders to check again nearer to your contract end date.

Get more from your deal

Package deals where you get several services for one provider offer better value these days than they did a few years ago. So, if you haven’t switched or upgraded recently, you might not be getting good value for money.

Get in touch with your provider and see if you can get a better package for the same price.

Use a comparison site and ask your provider for a better offer

If you’ve decided to look for a new deal, using a comparison site could bag you a better offer in just a few minutes – while also taking away some of the legwork involved.

There are a few different ones to choose from, so we’d recommend checking them all to make sure you don’t miss out on the best offers.

Ofcom has accredited seven price comparison websites, which you can find here.

Your current provider might also have some better offers available so give them a call too and see what they can do to keep you as a customer. They might match a competing offer.

Check your broadband speed

You might be able to get faster service on a cheaper package than the one you currently have, so find out what speed you need before you switch.

If you work from home and need the internet, use streaming services and make video calls, you’ll need a faster speed than someone who logs just checks their personal emails.

But don’t pay for the fastest speeds unnecessarily. Lightening fast fibre broadband might sound impressive but cheaper options are generally more than adequate for the average user.

If your broadband speeds are proving problematic though, it’s worth knowing you might be eligible to switch providers if you’re not getting what you were originally promised.

If your speeds are sluggish, get in touch with your provider. If they’re not providing the speeds they said they would and the problem is on their end, they have to fix the issue within 30 days. If they can’t, they have to let you leave your contract without penalty fees. 

I’m struggling to pay the contract I’m on and can’t switch – what can I do?

If you’re struggling to pay your bills and you can’t change contract or get a better deal, talk to your provider as soon as possible.

Some of them have options in place to help people with financial problems, such as giving you more time to pay, agreeing a suitable payment arrangement or providing information about specialist free debt advice where you can go for additional support.

Receiving benefits? Ask about social tariffs

If you receive benefits, ask your provider about social tariffs - cheaper broadband and phone packages which range from £10 to £23 per month.

Social tariffs are cheaper than regular packages and offer fast, unlimited broadband. You’ll also pay next-to-nothing for setup, if anything at all, but your provider will tell you before signing up.

You can switch to a social tariff at any time for free, and the price won’t increase mid-contract. If your provider doesn’t offer social tariffs, they might let you switch to one that does without paying a penalty.

You also won’t pay a fee to leave a social tariff before your contract ends.

You’re eligible for a social tariff if you receive universal credit, and could be eligible if you receive any of the following:

  • pension credit
  • employment and support allowance
  • jobseeker’s allowance
  • income support

If you claim other benefits, like personal independence payment or attendance allowance, check with your provider.

If you’re not sure if your provider offers broadband and phone social tariffs, you can check using Ofcom’s full list.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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