No contract and short-term broadband

Why do you need short-term broadband?

There’s a number of reasons why you might need short-term broadband. Perhaps you’re one of the UK’s 2.3 million students and are renting for a short time. Or perhaps you’re working away from home or living with relatives for a while.

Whatever your reasons for needing no contract broadband, there’s a few things to consider when looking at providers and their respective deals.

What are the benefits of no contract broadband?

Short-term broadband deals can be useful if you need flexibility. Advantages include:

  • no long-term commitment – the main benefit of no contract broadband is you’re not tied into a long-term deal and you don’t have to pay a cancellation fee to end the contract. It means you’re not financially committed for a long period.
  • no cancellation fee – you don’t have to pay a cancellation fee to end the contract. With an 18 or 24-month deal, the cancellation fee can be hefty if you end the contract early.
  • quick switches to cheaper deals – you can change broadband provider quickly and easily when a better deal comes along.

What are the disadvantages of no contract broadband?

While short-term broadband can be very useful, there are some disadvantages that mean it’s not always the right option. These can include:

  • high set-up fees – set-up is unlikely to be free with short-term packages and you might have to pay for the WiFi router. Plus, if you switch from one short-term provider to another, you’ll typically have to pay another set-up fee.
  • higher monthly cost – rolling monthly contracts and short-term deals tend to be more expensive than comparable packages with a longer contract.
  • no special offers – the discounts, shopping vouchers and free gadgets that are often advertised to attract long-term customers aren’t usually offered with short-term contracts.

Frequently asked questions

What is a rolling contract?

A rolling contract offers you greater flexibility, as it doesn’t tie you down for 12-24 months like a traditional broadband contract would. Rolling contracts can also come in different sizes, but a monthly rolling contract would mean you could cancel your deal and switch to another and only have to wait until the end of that contracted month. This means it’s much easier to switch to newer deals that are available. However, rolling contracts are usually a bit more expensive each month.

What is the shortest period of time I can get broadband for?

With most providers, the shortest agreement is one month. Some providers may advertise this product as rolling one-month contract broadband, which means you need to give 30 days’ notice to leave. Do that and there’s no penalty for cancellation.

Can I get a 6-month broadband contract?

While these used to be more widely available, a six-month rolling contract is much harder to find now. Although you may still be able to find one, you’ll have far fewer options to choose from, which means you probably won’t have the best choice of broadband deals.

How many providers in the UK offer no contract broadband?

While the number of providers is lower than with contract broadband, there are still some companies offering this more temporary option.

How fast is no contract broadband?

Like all broadband deals, it depends which provider you go with and which deal you choose. It may also depend on where you live. Generally, the more you’re able to pay, the faster your broadband will be.

Some short-term broadband providers also offer unlimited data options.

Are there any additional costs with no contract broadband?

With no contract broadband, you’ll usually need to pay a one-off set-up fee. Set-up fees are usually around £20, but read the terms and conditions as they can be much higher. These fees may be included in your delivery charge instead.

If you don’t already have a telephone line installed at the property, there’ll usually be an additional connection charge for this.

Should I get a no contract deal if I'm moving house soon?

Most broadband providers allow you to move your existing service to your new home. But if you’re about to sign up to a long contract, it’s a good idea to check whether it’s portable or not.

Different providers offer different services and availability depends on your postcode, so you might have to change your plan. Whether your service is portable really comes down to the provider, your current deal and the address you’re moving to.

Read our guide to broadband when moving home for more information. 

Can I get no contract fibre broadband?

Yes, short-term fibre broadband deals are available, although there’s much less choice than with contract home broadband as most providers only offer longer-term fibre packages.

Is it possible to get pay-as-you-go broadband?

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) home broadband is not available. However, you can get PAYG mobile broadband without having to sign a contract or pay a monthly fee. You just top up your account as and when you need data. It gives you flexibility if you only use the internet occasionally, but it can work out more expensive than short-term broadband.

Do I have to pay line rental?

It’s possible to get no contract broadband without line rental, but options are very limited because most broadband is supplied through a landline. So, in most cases you’ll still have to pay for line rental, which will be included in your monthly bill.

What are the alternatives to broadband with no contract?

There are other options you might want to consider instead of no contract broadband. These include:

  • Mobile broadband According to the Office for National Statistics, almost two-thirds of households in the UK now have mobile broadband access. Depending on where you live, you could opt for a short-term contract on your mobile phone using a dongle. This option is more suitable for basic web browsing, rather than streaming.
  • Tethering This is where you use your smartphone as an internet hub or WiFi hotspot, essentially ‘tethering’ it to your PC. It will quickly burn through your data allowance though, so be careful you don’t end up incurring excess data usage charges.
  • Student broadband If you’re a student at university, you can sign up for a nine-month contract. This means you won’t have to pay for broadband when you’re not in your rented accommodation over the summer holidays.

Where can I find broadband with no contract?

Unfortunately, our comparison service only compares broadband deals on 12, 18 and 24 month contracts. If you’re interested in these, you can explore other options with us to find the right deal for you.

What do I need to get a quote?

Although we don’t compare no contract broadband, we’ve made comparing broadband deals quick and easy. Simply type in your postcode, tell us the name of your current provider and what type of broadband service you want.

You’ll then be able to scroll down a results page with a list of deals, starting with the cheapest.

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**On average it can take less than 1 minute to compare broadband deals through Compare the Market based on data in November 2020.

***For the period 1st September to 30th November 2020, 12,477 people responded to the recommend question. 11,706 responded with a score of 6 or above, therefore 93.8% are likely to recommend.

Holly Niblett

From the Digital team

What our expert says

“If you know you’re only going to need broadband for a few months, short-term broadband can be better value than getting tied into a long contract. But always check what set-up fees are involved, as well as monthly line rental and average speed.”