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How to cut your mobile phone bill

Fiona Leake
Fiona Leake
  | Edited by Fiona Leake
Updated 4th February 2021

The average mobile phone bill in the UK isn’t cheap and many of us simply upgrade to the latest handset without trying to cut our bill. At Latest Deals we’re here to help you get the best phone deal and cut your mobile bills, saving you money.

If you’re looking to buy a new mobile phone, are coming to the end of your contract or simply think you’re paying too much for your phone - you might be wondering if there’s a way you can cut your bills. Read our top tips to start saving money on your mobile phone bill today.

What are mobile phone bills?

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Mobile phone bills usually include the following charges:

  • The cost of your mobile plan (calls, texts and data).
  • The cost of your handset (if you haven’t bought your mobile phone outright).
  • Any additional charges (if you’ve exceeded your monthly allowance or used abroad etc.)

Mobile phone bills are usually the same each month when you’re on a contract. However, if you make any additional purchases for more data, for example, you will be charged for this on your next bill. 

For more information on bills, read our explanation guide on mobile phone bills.

Is a mobile phone bill a utility bill?

Mobile phone bills aren’t considered a utility bill. Utilities only cover gas, electricity, water, Wi-Fi, landline phones and TV-related bills. 

Mobile phone bills will not be accepted if you try to use them as proof of identity. You’ll have to use utility bills to do so, such as your water bill. 

However, it’s a good idea to class your mobile bills as part of your monthly household bills. This will help you to budget and not forget about it.

What’s the average mobile phone bill in the UK?

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According to industry regulator, Ofcom, the UK phone bill is around £45.60 per month on average. However, if you want to get your hands on the latest handset available, you could be paying up to £60 every month! 

There are many ways to slash your mobile bill and if you’re paying more than £30, you’ll likely be able to save.

How do I get the cheapest mobile phone contract?

If you’re looking to buy a new mobile phone, it can be a very expensive affair. The latest smartphones cost upwards of £1,000. Here are some things to consider first:

  • Research - use comparison sites to find the cheapest smartphone and mobile provider that fits your requirements. 
  • Work out what you need - how much data, minutes and texts do you use every month? You don’t want to be paying for unlimited data if you’re always connected to Wi-Fi. 
  • Haggle - if your current mobile contract is ending, haggle for a better deal, your mobile provider won’t want to lose you. 
  • Stick with what you’ve got - SIM-only deals are much cheaper than getting a new phone. If your current smartphone is working fine, consider sticking with it and saying no to the temptation of upgrading. 

Can I haggle with mobile phone companies?

You can haggle with mobile phone companies and we encourage you to negotiate for a better deal! 

You’ll want to talk to the ‘disconnections department’ which actually is the customer retention department. 

We’ll cover how to haggle for a better deal below...

10 Tips to reduce your mobile phone bill

If you’re in the market for a new phone, are sick of paying so much for your mobile each month or your contract is coming to an end, these top tips could help you to save a lot of money on mobile bills. 

Tip #1: Haggle for a better mobile phone deal

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Calling up your mobile network to ask for a cheaper deal is one of the best ways of cutting your mobile phone bills. You can only do this when your contract is due for renewal, you won’t be able to negotiate an existing contract.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

There are two different ways to ask for a cheaper mobile tariff:

  1. Competitor price match - most mobile providers promise to match their competitors if they offer a cheaper deal. Work out your monthly mobile usage and run it through a comparison site. Write down the cheapest price other competitors offer. You can then ring your network and ask them to match that price. 
  2. Try your luck - another method is to phone up and ask for a cheaper deal. You could say that your current bills are too expensive and you’ll have to leave. They’ll likely offer you a cheaper tariff to keep you as a customer. 

Always ask for as much as possible when you phone up - including a better package, an upgraded phone and free perks! You could end up walking away with a much better (and cheaper) deal than you bargained for. 

The most important thing is to make sure that you’re put through to the disconnections department. 

The job of disconnections is customer retention. They want to keep your business and can offer a better deal. 

You might have to repeat your request to disconnections and make sure that you sound serious about leaving if they can’t provide a better deal. 

If they completely refuse and the disconnection department says no, DON’T disconnect because you feel that you have to. 

If they say that they’ll arrange a cancellation, you can always say that you want to think about it and you’ll call back. This gives you time to decide whether you want to stick or switch and find a cheaper network provider. 

Tip #2: How to haggle mobile network providers like a pro

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Whilst we’ve explained how to haggle for a better mobile deal above, perfecting the art of negotiating isn’t easy. So, here are some quick tips to keep in mind before you call up your mobile provider:

  • Timing - don’t ring up your provider until a month before your contract expires. Any earlier and they might refuse to give you a better deal. 
  • Usage - know how many calls, texts and data you need before you call. This will help you find the best deal and avoid being tempted into paying for more than you need.
  • SIM-only - don’t let them tempt you into getting a shiny new handset if your current mobile is working fine. SIM-only deals are far cheaper.
  • Research - make sure you’ve researched competitors and got the figures in front of you before you call. You can quote these and ask your provider to match the cheapest deal.
  • Problems - if you’ve had problems with your mobile phone provider in the past such as poor coverage, let them know when you’re haggling. They will try and make it up to you with a better deal.
  • Don’t say yes - don’t agree to the first offer you’re presented with. They can do better than that! Be patient and push for more. 
  • Keep trying - you might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and got a tough nut to crack. Call another day and try speaking with someone else, they might be more likely to give you a better deal. 
  • Walk away - if you’ve tried everything and your current provider refuses to give you a better deal, walk away and switch to a different company. 

Tip #3: DON’T continue to pay full price once your handset is paid off

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Ofcom has warned customers that they could be overcharged even once they’ve finished paying for their smartphone. If you don’t buy your new phone upfront, your bill is made up of two charges:

  1. The cost of your tariff (texts, calls, data etc.)
  2. The repayment of your handset.

However, costs related to the repayment of the handset often still stick around after you’ve repaid unless you query it. 

Out-of-contract customers are paying a total of £182m a year more than if they got a new deal, according to Ofcom.

You can’t expect a refund if you’ve overpaid but you can ring up your network and haggle for a better deal, explaining that you know you’re overpaying. If you want to stick with the same network, they will switch you to a much cheaper SIM-only deal and probably throw in some extras for your hassle.

People have managed to slash their mobile phone bill by 50% using this method!

Tip #4: Check you aren’t wasting money on the wrong deal

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Find out whether you’re on the right mobile phone deal for you by checking the following:

  • Usage - are you overpaying for unlimited texts, calls and data that you aren’t using? Or, are you regularly exceeding your allowance which results in large bills?
  • Compare - shop around for other mobile tariffs on comparison sites to see if you can get cheaper elsewhere.

A quick way to make sure you’re on the right deal is to use Billmonitor. This tool meets Ofcom guidelines and analyses your mobile bills to find the best (and cheapest) deal for you. 

Tip #5: Avoid expensive phone calls

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Telephone numbers that start with 09, 0871, 0872, 0873 and 118 are more expensive to call. This can appear as an unexpected charge on your phone bill. 

However, if you see an unexpected charge for a phone call you didn’t make, you can dispute it. Learn how to on the Phonepay Plus website.

Tip #6: Keep an eye on your children

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Your kids can easily increase your mobile phone bill by sneaky ‘in-app purchases’. Most children’s apps are free-to-play but certain features can only be unlocked by spending money. 

Always double-check what apps your children are using on your phone and make sure your bank details aren’t readily available for them to use! Before handing over your phone, tell your children not to make any purchases.

Tip #7: Go SIM-only

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If you’re satisfied with your current smartphone and are coming to the end of your contract, you could go SIM-only. 

SIM-only deals just cover the cost of the mobile tariff which is your calls, texts and data.

This works out much cheaper than upgrading to a new handset. Ring your provider and haggle for a cheap deal!

Tip #8: Get a refurbished phone 

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Refurbished phones are handsets that have previously been returned by the customer due to a fault. They are then repaired and sold on as ‘refurbished’.

Refurbished phones do often come with a warranty but can be in varying conditions. If you want a newer handset but a SIM-only contract, refurbished phones could be your best option.

Tip #9: Ask for free perks 

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When haggling for a cheaper contract or picking your next tariff, ask your mobile network provider to throw in some free perks. Ask them what sets them apart from other providers and what extras they can give you. 

You could get free access to streaming services or network roaming abroad. 

Tip #10: Avoid the latest mobile phone model

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New smartphones come out every single year, with each one claiming to be the best yet. If you opt for a phone that’s just two years old, it'll be significantly cheaper, whether you pay for it upfront or via your contract.

Smartphones that are just a couple years old still have pretty much the same features as the latest models. 

Ask yourself: do you need the latest iPhone?

What if I can’t afford my mobile phone bill?

If you find that you’re struggling to pay your mobile phone bill, contact your provider right away to explain why. 

Mobile providers should be able to help you in some of the following ways:

  • Change the due date of your bill.
  • Set up a repayment plan you can afford.
  • Move to a cheaper tariff.
  • Lower your spending cap on calls, data and texts.
  • Waive any penalty charges such as late payment fees.

For more advice, read our guide on mobile phone debt.

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