Mobile phone tariffs can be a minefield of options, and it can be hard to work out which is the best deal. Do you look at the phone first or the tariff? You’ll probably look at the phone first, decide if it has the features you want and then find the best deal on that particular one. It's all personal choice, but the key is to make sure it's an informed choice. So let's take a look at mobile phone tariffs and what they actually mean.
If you own a mobile phone you'll need to have one of the following...
• Pay as You Go – typically for light users who only want to pay for what they use and avoid being tied to contracts. Also useful for people who can’t get a contract due to poor credit rating, or age.
• SIM Only – for people who have a phone already, and want the benefits of a contract like free texts and calls. They are free to move about as these tariffs usually run on a month by month basis.
• Contract with a phone – for people who want the latest phones but don't want to pay for it upfront so you can spread the cost over the length of the contract. It's also typically for heavy users as you can benefit from unlimited calls, texts and data for a set price.
What you choose is really down to your own priorities. So let's look at how the mobile phone tariffs are broken down...
What’s included in a tariff?
• Calls – providers tend to offer a certain amount of minutes free. If you spend hours talking to your family and friends, then make sure you include enough minutes or consider unlimited calls, as it's expensive if you exceed your limit.
• Data – if you just use your phone to surf the web then consider how much data you need. If you like to download movies or games then it might be worth paying for unlimited data.
• Texts – you may think 500 texts is a generous allowance but it really isn't if you text all day, every day. Also if you like to send photos via text make sure you have this included in your tariff as that can be expensive.
• International – if you travel abroad then look for a tariff that looks favourably at this.
What else to consider
When you compare mobile phone tariffs consider what you usually use by looking at an old bill. As much as you don't want to be caught out paying premium prices if you go over your plan allowance, you really don't want to be paying for, say, unlimited data if you rarely use it.
You need to think about where you'll use the phone the most. Check the service of all the providers in that area, two years is a long time to be stuck with a service if you can't really use it due to bad signal.
The cheapest mobile phone tariffs are not necessarily the best as you may find that they have limited usage and costs go through the roof if you go over those limits.
We’ll help you search tariffs and compare your options to find a deal that’s right for you.