Eyeing a new phone but loth to pay a lump sum upfront? Good news: on this page we’ve tracked down a selection of our best deals with nothing to pay upfront. Better yet, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of phone contracts with no upfront charge, too.
What are no-upfront-cost phone contracts?
Some phone-and-tariff contracts ask you to pay a lump sum up front towards the cost of a brand-new smartphone. You’ll be expected to pay this in full at the point you sign up for the contract.
But in the case of contracts with no upfront cost, which are less common, the price of the phone is spread across the entirety of your contract term.
So you’ll be paying for the phone in instalments for 24 months, or even longer in some instances.
Why consider choosing a phone contract with no upfront cost?
With the majority of contracts that include a brand-new, high-end phone. You’ll usually be expected to pay between £50-£200 upfront. In effect, this is a deposit towards the cost of the phone.
The problem is that not everyone has £200 to hand to pay upfront, or even £50. And therein lies the chief appeal of phone contracts with no upfront charge.
These allow you to get a high-end phone and instead of having to pay a lump sum, you can spread its cost across the entire length of your contract.
Which manufacturers offer no upfront cost phones?
You can get no upfront cost phones from the likes of:
iPhone deals with no upfront cost
Lots of networks offer iPhones with nothing to pay upfront, but you may have to wait for a few months after a brand-new model has been released to get it on a no-upfront-cost contract.
That said, you’ll almost certainly be able to get a well priced iPhone contract with nothing to pay upfront on these older models:
Which networks offer no upfront cost contracts?
All household-name networks offer phone contracts with nothing to pay upfront.
And while you may not always be able to get the very latest mobile phones with no upfront fee, you won’t have to wait more than a few months after their release for networks to start offering them.
O2 phone contracts with no upfront cost
O2 offers contracts with nothing to upfront on a number of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
You also get membership of its Priority and Rewards customer benefits schemes.
Vodafone phone contracts with no upfront cost
As you’d expect, you can pick most smartphones on a contract with no upfront charge via Vodafone.
Customers get membership of its VeryMe Rewards scheme too.
Three phone contracts with no upfront cost
Choose Three and you’ll typically be able to choose from no-upfront-cost contracts on Huawei, Google, Samsung and Apple phones.
EE phone contracts with no upfront cost
When it comes to prices and selection of phones, EE’s phone deals with no upfront fee are broadly in line with other networks.
EE’s other notable selling points are extensive 5G coverage and Swappable Benefits on select plans.
What to look for in phone contracts with no upfront cost
Key considerations when buying a phone with no upfront cost include price, freebies and data allowance. Let’s take a look at each in turn.
If you’re looking for a keenly priced contract, as well as no upfront charge, we’d suggest you look at value networks such as Tesco Mobile and Three.
Make sure you check if the contract you’re eyeing includes any customer incentives, such as rewards schemes. With some schemes offering money off at high street stores and restaurants, it’s well worth checking.
Most people get through about 3GB of data per month, so bear that in mind when you’re shopping around. But the best way to find out how much data you’ll need is to check how much you’re using now.
You’ll find your data usage within your network’s smartphone app, or you can log into your account online.
Pros and cons of no upfront cost phone contracts
Let’s start with the pros…
- No need to find a hefty lump sum
- Make it easier to afford a high-end phone
- Plenty of contracts to choose from
And the cons?
- You’ll pay a higher monthly premium. So budget accordingly.
- Expect to be paying off the phone for 24 months at least
Prefer to keep your existing phone and get new SIM deal instead? Head to our SIMs comparison page where we've picked out a selection of our best SIM contracts.
We've got cheap SIMs for light users, all the way to unlimited data SIMS aimed at heavy users.
Bad credit phones with no upfront cost
Providers that offer bad credit phone deals generally expect you to pay something upfront.
However, you may get lucky if you opt for an older phone rather than the very latest models.
Is it cheaper to get a phone contract with an upfront cost?
While it’s not cheaper in the sense that you won't save any money, you will benefit from lower monthly premiums. Which means there's less to find each month.
Can I get a phone contract with bad credit and no upfront cost?
It’s unlikely, given that you’d have to pass a credit check. The best way to get a phone contract with bad credit is to apply via retailers that specialise in bad credit phone contracts. They’ll typically ask you to sign up for SIM deal first and pay that for a few months to prove your credit-worthiness.
Is it better to pay for a contract upfront or monthly?
That depends on the state of your finances and whether you can find a lump sum. We’d prefer to pay something upfront in return for lower premiums, but if you’re short of cash and have your heart set on a particular phone it may make sense for you to go for a contract with nothing to pay upfront.