Stop for a moment. Take a look at your mobile. Some view it as a shiny little pocket rocket of technology that acts as a mini-computer, others think it’s just a phone. The problem is too few see it as a household bill that costs £100s a year, which can often be done for a fraction of the cost.
This tweet I received (to @martinslewis, on my phone) from Peter Hore proves the point. “Mobile bill cut from £30pm to £7pm! For more than enough minutes, texts and data for my usage! Thanks!” Translate that to an annual bill and it’s a reduction from £360 to £84 – a more than handy saving.
So let’s see if we can ring down the changes…
1. Do you use all your free minutes?
If not, you’re likely to be one of 74% of people on the wrong contract and overpaying each month. If you regularly go above your free allowance, you’re overpaying each month for the extra you use. The balance isn’t easy, but the BillMonitor.com tool speedily analyses your bills to find the tariff to match your usage.
2. Find the right tariff at speed
Don’t focus on the handset, the key is the tariff – the amount you pay for minutes, texts and data.
There are comparison sites out there which can really make this easier: there’s the aforementioned BillMonitor for breadth, and to include handset choice look at MobilePhoneChecker.co.uk or MoneySupermarket.com. If you’re after a bite of Apple, iPhones aren’t cheap but use the www.mse.me/iphone tool to find the right tariff.
3. “Threatened to leave, got 500 mins, unltd texts & data for £5/mth.”
As this quote from a MoneySaver shows, anyone near the end of their contract is holstering a great weapon in the form of consumer loyalty. The key is to ask for a major reduction as technology changes generally mean mobile costs are deflationary.
If you don’t get it, say you’re considering leaving. Then you’ll be put through to ‘disconnections’, internally known as ‘customer retentions’, which has much more discretion to keep you. Full tips on how to play this at www.mse.me/mobilehaggle
To show its power, of my site users who’ve tried to haggle, 76% succeeded with Vodafone, 68% with T-Mobile, 70% with Orange and 71% with O2.
4. Using pay as you go – consider Giffgaff
If you won’t pass a credit check, don’t want bills that’ll sneak up on you or a long contract, then PAYG is the main option. Currently the easy winner for heavy data users is Giffgaff (which uses the O2 network), at £10/month. For that you get 250 minutes plus unlimited texts and data – and extra calls and texts aren’t costly either.
5. Smartphone insurance doesn’t have to be costly
Mobiles no longer just make calls. They’re our diaries, contact books, games machines and more. Losing them can cause tears. Insurers play on this fear with hefty prices and unnecessary cover. Yet you can get cheap mobile, smartphone and iPhone insurance for £5 per month.
Before you do it though, check if your home insurance or bank account covers your mobile. If not, for price, Insure And Go is around £6 a month and cover limits are high enough for smartphones (£500). There’s a £25 excess and you won’t get the next day-type replacement service the networks’ £12/mth insurance can offer though, so you need to balance it.
6. Don’t flog mobiles to any old site
No one can have failed to see the adverts from the companies buying old mobiles. But don’t fall for the branding. There are many of these sites out there. There can be huge variations in the amount they pay for each handset – and they change by the day.
The www.mobilevaluer.com tool compares 18 different sites and the differences can be startling, eg, the price for a Blackberry 9700 Bold ranges from £40 to £87. Of course, while using these sites is the simple option, you can often beat it on eBay.
7. Text for free with special apps
If you don’t have inclusive texts or go over your limit, it can be costly. Yet Touch and WhatsApp work on many smartphones and let you message friends with the same apps worldwide for free. Even on non-smartphones, if it has web, you can save with FishText and Vyke. You will usually pay for access to data, but it’s normally just a fraction of the cost of texting.
8. Free wi-fi with your coffee, burger or beer
If you’re out and about, don’t use up your mobile’s inclusive data unnecessarily – it may later push you over your data limit. Big chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Wetherspoons all offer free wi-fi, as do many smaller shops. Also check out My Hotspots, Free Hotspot, and Hotspot Locations for more free wi-fi areas.
9. Call freephone numbers for free from your mobile
Dial a freephone number and it can bizarrely cost up to 33p/minute from your mobile – and it won’t usually form part of your inclusive allowance. Yet there is a trick to beat this so you can call for free.
The www.0800buster.com website will give you a special number to dial before calling the freephone number, which then effectively lets you call it as a normal geographic phone number. So if you’ve got free minutes, it’ll actually be free.
10. Are you paying 35p/minute to pick up your voicemail?
There’s a nasty catch to voicemail. Some tariffs charge a ghastly 35p/minute for calling it if you’ve gone beyond your tariff, and it can lead to mammoth bills. If you often go over, it’s worth checking your voicemail costs – and even switching it off for that period if you have to.
Tesco DOUBLE exchange is back incl frozen food
16 million people stash points on Tesco’s Clubcard reward scheme. Many wait for its ‘double points’ promo, and now it’s back. Before doubling in-store, check Tesco’s Rewards brochure, as you can get 3x or 4x points value (so £5 becomes £20) on days out, restaurants, jewellery and more. If nothing floats your boat, Tesco’s launched its Summer Exchange that lets you swap each £5 voucher for £10 to spend in-store or online on selected departments. For the first time this includes all frozen food. There’s also clothing, stationery, small appliances & electrical and more. See www.moneysavingexpert.com/tesco for full info.
School’s out for summer! 100 ideas
It’s enough to make you cheer/groan (delete as appropriate). To help, I’ve a directory of 100 free and cheap things to do with kids this summer, including vouchers for free swimming at 700+ pools, football coaching for 5-11s, tennis coaching, 100+ free museums and more. Full list at www.moneysavingexpert.com/summer