Mobile deals are getting better and better. While price wars used to erupt over the number of inclusive calls and messages you got in your monthly plan, today it’s all about the data.
Whether you’re using your phone for business or pleasure, our handsets gobble up the megabytes like they’re going out of fashion.
Video Is The New Messaging – And It Devours Data!
For work we’re conference calling just like the old days, but increasingly with video rather than just listening in. For fun it’s just the same – the enormous success of Apple’s FaceTime has caused a huge headache to other handset makers, and software companies like Microsoft too as Skype really didn’t see them coming.
Gigabytes Not Megabytes: Super Size In Action
While in days gone by you were likely to get excited with a few hundred megabytes of data in your plan, it’s now about the maximum gigabyte allowance, with some networks like Three offering all you can eat data to their most data hungry customers.
With 4G (and soon 5G) too, the time has come where many people can get a better connection from their mobiles that they ever did on their BT line, and many are starting to ask the question as to whether they even need a landline any more.
Mobile Is The New Black
It used to be the case that a landline was good for a credit score, but even lenders are starting to realise that fixed lines are often an aggravation rather than a necessity, so if that’s even partly true today, it probably won’t last much longer.
Of course, most of us still like to use the laptop or computer from time to time, even if our device of choice is a laptop or internet connected tablet like a Kindle or iPad. Even tablets can have their own mobile connection too, from their own data sim card so they don’t need wifi and operate just fine on the move if there’s a mobile signal.
Tethering: Know Your Hotspots
If you’re on a laptop or PC, though, you do need a hotspot allowance for your phone to get online if there’s no wifi available, which is also known as tethering. That means your smartphone operates just like your home router, sharing the internet connection with your phone. As a side note – don’t do that on holiday abroad, you might end up with a big bill. In fact, the same applies using data on your phone – check whether your allowances work abroad before you travel!
So, back on topic – data!
Pay As You Go Vs Contracts
Did you know you can even get a great deal without a contract? We’ve talked already about the inclusive allowances on pay monthly deals, but there’s also a lot of pay as you go (PAYG) options which bundle data too – for example a nice big chunk to use in the 30 days following each top up of credit.
These incentives have really narrowed the gap between pay as you go and contract phones, especially if you’ve got a smartphone already and don’t need a new one.
There’s also a half way house too called sim only, but we’ll come to that in a moment!
How To Find The Right Sim Card Deal
Getting a decent deal on pay as you go is really easy – just go to a websites like free-simcards.co.uk and compare deals. It’s much easier than going into each shop on the high street, as everything you need is in one place.
You’ll quickly notice that all the networks offer something, and at first glance they often all look similar in terms of what they offer. Where it gets interesting is when you look beyond the cost per minute, text or megabyte. Instead, focus on the rewards each time you top up, or what you can ‘buy’ for your top up. In many cases it’s actually like buying a single month’s allowance on a contract, but with the flexibility to mix and match so you can pick a different bundle each time.
If You’re A Mobile Heavyweight, Contracts Still Rule
Of course, if you’re a regular heavy user of calls, texts or data, or combination thereof, you’re more likely to get a better deal on a traditional contract, but if your use is sporadic and varies a lot each month, this may well be worth looking into in more detail.
Assess Plans Against Your Needs
As a side point, try to get out of the habit of filtering out anything that doesn’t look like the cheapest deal – you have to evaluate the tariffs based on your own usage patterns. Ideally dig out your last six monthly bills (or better still, more), and really look at how much you use each month. See if you can spot any patterns too – maybe you’ve got new friends that text a lot, or perhaps a new partner that prefers calling to texting. Taking these things into account is important, as a simple average over the year won’t tell you much about things that might have changed recently.
Prepare To Be Amazed
Lets face it, we’re all glued to our phones every day, so spending a little time being honest with ourselves about how much we really use might shock us, but it can also save us a fortune by helping to get the right mobile deal for our needs.
Another great tip – if you’re close to an allowance every month, it’s worth considering a higher tariff – they’re often only a pound or two more each month, yet the extra allowances can be huge. If you take the lower plan and go over, it’s easy to rack up charges outside of your allowance quickly, wiping out the entire year’s cost of upgrading to the next plan. We’re not necessarily saying super size your deal, just think it through without the penny pinching mindset.
How Sim Only Fits Into The Picture
Sim only mobile plans are designed to offer contract style allowances without the mobile phone to go with them. In other words, if you’ve got a perfectly good smartphone that you know, love and are happy to keep for another year or more, you’re covered. If on the other hand, you’re desperate for the latest handset, or your current phone’s battery barely holds charge until lunchtime, forget sim only altogether.
These plans are a lot cheaper than traditional contracts, because there’s no smartphone to pay for. For example, iPhones are typically priced around £500 for the cheapest model, with the opposite end of the spectrum drifting into four figures. The mobile networks aren’t charities – they recoup this cost (and a good chunk of what is effectively interest) from your monthly fees. In the same way that some people buy cars on PCP plans and are perfect happy to pay for the privilege, normal contracts are a similar concept. Sim only gets away from that, and allows you to just buy the service provided by the mobile network.
All in all, pay as you go is a much more attractive opportunity than it used to be. There was a time where a ten minute call would cost several pounds, but now you can often get an entire month’s use for the same price as that call.
As we’ve covered here in detail the trick to getting the most bang for your buck is to do your research ahead of time and be sure to at least cover your normal allowance in the bundles you’re getting for your standard top ups. By comparing that to what’s available for a comparable price on contract or sim only, you can be sure to get the best deal for you, regardless of how the price plan is structured.