Mobile phones: You want one, you probably need one, but can you afford one?
Here's 6 money saving tips for a cheaper phone contract.
Say no to premium rate and 'free' 0800 numbers
0800 numbers are only free from landlines and can cost up to 40p a minute from mobiles. Premium numbers (e.g. 0870.. and 09..) can cost even more than the already expensive per minute price from landlines when dialled from a mobile phone. Use websites like SayNoTo08700 to get a direct number.
Look out for mobile short codes
You may have seen these on TV shows like The X Factor or I'm A Celebrity. A relatively new invention, mobile short codes are short phone numbers that fix the price of a call from a mobile to the same price as if it was being made from a landline. Where they're available, use 'em!
Consider pay as you go
If you're not a big phone user - especially if you don't use much data - than pay as you go may be cheaper. There will probably be a bigger upfront cost, especially if you want a new smartphone, but in the long term it may prove to be less expensive. Do some sums to see which works out best for you. (see below)
Watch out for roaming charges
Be careful when going aboard or near borders of expensive roaming charges. Make sure you fix your mobile's network to the UK (an option usually found in Carrier settings) and turn off roaming when travelling. Speak to your network about cheaper pay as you go-style options for using your phone abroad.
Compare and haggle
Contract up for renewal? Compare the best deals available via a website like MoneySupermarket, and don't be afraid to ask for a better deal from your current provider.
Estimate the Total Cost of Ownership
The key to getting a cheap mobile deal is to consider and estimate the Total Cost Of Ownership: That is, how much you'll eventually end up spending. Carriers may be offering flashy deals to new customers, free handsets or cheap introductory monthly payments, but these are all short term gains.
Take some time and do some maths: Consider the cost of the handset, the total cost of calls (either your monthly top up amount or monthly contract charge) plus any extras such as data or tethering you may need or want to include.
For example: A phone costs £100 and a carrier has two options for your needs: A 24 month contract at £20 a month with the phone free, or Pay As You Go with around £10 a month top up.
On contract you'll get the phone for free but you'll spend £480 on monthly payments, whereas the Pay As You Go option will cost you a total £340 over the same time two-year period despite the higher initial cost.
Be smart with your money!