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How to understand your mobile phone bill

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

Paying your phone bill every month might be something you rarely think about. However, understanding our mobile phone bills can be a great way to spot areas where we can save money. In this guide, we will cover everything from how to view your phone bill online to understanding what makes mobile bills so expensive.

What is a mobile phone bill?

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Mobile phone bills are something you pay monthly to cover the cost of your calls, texts and data. Different mobile contracts charge different amounts. The more allowance of calls, texts and data you get, the higher your monthly bill. If you haven’t bought your mobile outright, you’ll also make the repayments within your monthly phone bills. This is very common as the latest smartphones are often close to £1,000, which means most people cannot afford to buy one in one payment. 

If you’re a pay-as-you-go customer, you won’t receive mobile phone bills as you aren’t on a contract. Instead, you top-up your phone with minutes, texts and data before you use it. When you run out, you must top-up again. 

What does my monthly phone bill include?

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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’ll be charged for this on your next bill. 

How to get a detailed phone bill

Itemised mobile phone bills include much more information about your monthly usage, such as:

  • Call logs - information about your calls including the duration and to what numbers.
  • Messages - how many text messages you have sent, to what numbers and whether they were standard text messages or multimedia (images or video).

Itemised phone bills are usually in the form of paper bills you’ll receive monthly in the post. If you want a detailed bill, you’ll have to let your mobile provider know. They should be able to organise monthly itemised bills but it might cost you a little extra. 

Where can I find my mobile phone bill?

You can always check your mobile phone bill online if you have an account set up. Many people still receive their phone bills in the post. You do have the option to go completely paperless, which is great for the environment and easier for the mobile provider. 

Here’s how you can quickly and easily check your mobile phone bill online:

Step 1: Go online 

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Open your web browser on your laptop, phone or tablet and head over to your mobile phone provider’s website. 

Step 2: Log into your account 

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On the front page of your provider’s website, there should be somewhere to log in where you can enter your username and password. If you haven’t set up an account yet, there should be a link where you can do so. Remember, you’ll have to provide personal information about yourself and your phone contract.

Step 3: View your bill

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Once you’ve logged into your account, you should see a link that either says “make a payment” or “pay my bill”. You’ll then be able to view your bill to see your usage and charges for the month. You can then either log off or pay your bill.  

How can I pay my phone bill?

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There are so many different ways to pay your mobile phone bill, we have outlined them all below: 

Paying by Direct Debit 

Most people tend to pay their mobile bills via Direct Debit as it’s so easy and you don’t have to remember to pay each month. 

Usually, you’ll set up a Direct Debit when you first begin your phone contract. However, you can set one up online if you haven’t yet. 

You’ll need to log into your online account with your mobile provider, go into your payment details and set up a Direct Debit by providing the following information:

  • Your bank or building society sort code and account number.
  • Your name (that appears on your bank statement).

Paying by debit or credit card

You can make a payment by logging into your online account with your mobile provider. You’ll simply need to either click “make a payment” or “pay my bill”. You can then view your bill and make a payment using your debit or credit card.

If you receive a paper bill, it will also direct you to pay by debit or credit card in the same way. 

Paying by call or text

Different phone companies will have different methods to pay by calling or texting. You can usually call a payment number and provide your bank details to pay your bill. There is also usually an option to text over your details to make a payment but check the specifics with your mobile phone provider. 

Paying by online baking

You can also pay your phone bill by making a bank transfer. Your mobile provider will have their bank details available on your bill. You can then transfer the amount you owe to their bank account. You’ll need to put your specific account number with your mobile provider as the payment reference. 

Paying by cheque

You can also pay your mobile phone bill cheque. You’ll need to make the payment to your mobile provider and send it to them, these details will be provided on your bill. 

Why is my mobile phone bill so high?

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Your mobile phone bill might be higher than expected if you have used more minutes, texts and data than your contract allows each month. If this keeps happening, you can ask your mobile provider to put a cap on your allowance to stop overspending. 

You might have also used your phone abroad or called expensive numbers.

If your mobile phone bill is consistently too high, you might be on an expensive plan. You can switch tariffs or providers once your contract is coming to an end. This way you can get a cheaper deal. 

How can I reduce my phone bill?

One of the best ways to reduce your mobile phone bill is to try your hand at haggling. When your contract is ending, the ball is really in your court. You can phone up your mobile provider and let them know that you’re considering switching providers as it’s too expensive. 

They will likely offer you a better deal and put you on a much cheaper contract when you renew. 

You also need to make sure that you aren’t overpaying for calls, texts and data you aren’t using. Choose a tariff that offers less if you use less as you’ll save money.

We have an entire in-depth guide dedicated to how to reduce your mobile phone bills.

Mobile phone glossary of terms

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4G - the most common mobile internet with speeds of up to 300Mbps.

5G - currently being developed and isn’t yet widely available. Hundreds of times faster than 4G and allows you to download movies in seconds. 

Air time - your monthly allowance of minutes you can use when making phone calls.

Android - Google’s software that powers smartphones manufactured by Samsung, HTC, Sony and more. 

Auto-focus - a feature of many smartphones that automatically focuses on the subject when using the camera without any input required.

Bluetooth - allows smartphone users to exchange data or connect to other devices. 

Camera phone - a mobile phone with a built-in camera, all smartphones are camera phones. 

Cloud storage - a way of storing your photos, videos and more securely online. 

Data - your allowance for internet usage without Wi-Fi connection. You use data when on 4G without using Wi-FI. 

Fast charging - many smartphones have a fast charging feature that charges your phone faster. 

Hands-free - talk on the phone without holding it. Often used in cars, it requires a bluetooth connection and is a great safety feature so you can focus on driving. 

Mbps - a measure of the speed of your internet connection.

Megapixels - measures camera quality. The more megapixels the better the camera. 

Multimedia messaging - when you send messages that include images and videos between phones. 

OLED -  a modern type of screen that is sharper than LCD screens.

Pay As You Go (PAYG) - you pay for calls, texts and data in advance by topping up. You aren’t tied to a monthly contract.

Refurbished phone - a phone that has been returned due to a fault. The phone is then repaired and sold again as refurbished. 

Roaming - when you use your phone abroad on a different network. You are usually charged extra by your provider for roaming. 

SIM card - a SIM card provides your unique mobile number and account. It stores data and is required to make or receive calls.

SIM only -  A SIM-only deal only includes a SIM card and a monthly allowance of calls, texts and data but no phone. 

SIM-free - you can buy your phone without a SIM card. SIM-free phones come unlocked, which means you can decide which SIM card you use.

SMS - technology that allows text messages to be sent between different phones.

USB-C cable - modern USB cable that enables users to transfer data faster and charge their smartphones quicker.

Voice commands - you can now use your mobile phone by using your voice. You can speak certain commands and your phone will react.


Voicemail - this records audio messages from callers when you haven’t answered your phone.

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