With the COVID-19 pandemic having put the economy on hold and creating an era of uncertainty, we are all looking for ways to reduce our spending habits and save money. Our mobile phone network is one area that we are not usually willing to compromise on, as we rely on our phones for daily communication. Talking and video calling loved ones is more important than ever, in a time when we cannot see our loved ones face to face and meet up for social events.
However, despite our need for our phones and our data, our phone SIM-only plans and phone bills are actually one area where you can reduce your spending. Choosing the best phone network for you can be complicated, so we’ve taken away the jargon and narrowed down the things that you need to look out for when choosing a new phone network and a new SIM-only plan.
As the name suggests, with a SIM-only plan, you only pay for the network usage on a monthly basis with no obligation to continue the plan after the first month. On the other hand, a contract usually involves a 24-month fixed payment plan and an initial fee to cover the costs of your network usage and the cost of your mobile phone that you get when you sign up for your contract. A SIM-only plan actually works out cheaper in the long term, even though you must buy your mobile phone outright without monthly payments like a contract. However, the monthly payments towards your mobile phone actually work out more expensive, as interest is added on the mobile phone. Technically, you don’t actually own your mobile phone until you have paid the last payment on your contract.
Therefore, if you are trying to save money on your monthly phone bill, it would make sense that you use your existing mobile phone, or ‘bite the bullet’ and purchase a new mobile phone upfront, before opting for a low-cost monthly SIM-only plan. Although this initial cost will be an expensive month after you purchase the phone, it is only as expensive as you decide, since you are buying the phone. You could opt to find a second-hand mobile phone instead, which could save you hundreds of pounds. With a SIM-only plan, you can decide on how much you want to spend on a phone, whereas this is not possible with a contract. Furthermore, a SIM-only plan is quicker to sign up for as you don’t need a credit check, and you can end the monthly plan at any time.
When searching for a new SIM-only plan, you should review your current usage of data, minutes and text messages. This will help to guide you on what you would like to get out of your new plan and prevent you from paying for extras that you know from the past that you will not use. This is also a chance to see how much you can realistically cut back on your phone bill, as you may optimistically – but unrealistically – decide to downgrade your data to 3GB when you are using over 10GB each month. This can be costlier in the long term, if your phone network charges you extreme amounts of money for each GB that you use beyond your 3GB limit.
However, there are some phone plans where you are not allowed to go over your plan and they will not charge you any hidden extras because you are capped and limited by the agreed amounts. There are some ways that you can actually reduce your data usage yourself, so that you can find a cheaper plan with less data. For example, you can restrict your data usage by ensuring that you connect to Wi-Fi wherever possible, and avoiding applications like video calling or video streaming that will use up all your network data.
There is no point in spending hours hunting down the best SIM-only deal for a phone network that you cannot even get a good signal for in your home! It is surprising how different phone networks have better signal in some places than others, even if you are based in a city. It is worth researching which phone network has the strongest signal in your home and in your workplace, to ensure that you can actually access the data, minutes and SMS texts that you are entitled to and are paying for. You can even test out the phone signal and calling quality by using a friend’s phone on a different network to see how well the phone network works in your area or office!
This may seem obvious, but checking customer reviews is not something that everyone remembers to do. The best way to see how well the phone network treats its customers, and how well the network performs for everyone else, is to check reviews online or through asking any friends who are on the network already. They are bound to give honest feedback, and can even offer you recommendations of which plans are better than others, or how this network compares to another network!
These reviews are vital to your research and can save you lots of time because they may mention information that you could not have found without spending hours browsing on the network’s website. There are also dedicated websites that compare phone networks and their plans for you, which are based on expert tests and customer reviews. This is a simple way to find the best plan for you if you are unsure of where to begin and which networks to research.
Companies are always looking for ways to expand their customer base by building upon their existing client network. When deciding which network to go with, check out whether there are any discount codes available to reduce your networking charges, and whether they offer any referral rewards. If you’ve got a good deal and are confident that your friend would benefit from it too, some networks will reward you for referring a friend through cash back or extra data.
For example, you can actually earn extra cash from home with Lebara when you refer a friend to any of their ‘SIM-Only’ deals on the network, with your cashback reward depending on the monthly plan that your friend chooses. It’s good to know that the network itself is reliable, can be canceled at any time and your friend will actually benefit from your referral link by getting extra data on their plan too! Plus, who wouldn’t want to earn extra cash from home?
There are so many phone networks and deals available out there, that scouring the internet for the best deal can seem almost impossible. Keeping in mind these five tips when searching for your perfect SIM-only plan can make the task a much simpler process. With a little patience and time to research according to your personal requirements, it is possible to save money on your phone bill and put this money to better use elsewhere in these difficult times.