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As lockdown continues, many of us are relying on video calls, social media, and phone calls to keep in touch with family and friends. Streaming services and online gaming platforms are also being used more frequently in a bid to stay entertained.
As a result, internet use in most households has risen significantly, while mobile phone bills may also be creeping up. It can therefore pay to check whether you are on the right broadband or mobile phone deal or whether you could switch to a more suitable package that may also save you money.
Checking your broadband deal
Many broadband deals come with introductory offers that last around 12 to 24 months. If that period has now finished, it’s likely you will now be paying considerably more for your broadband.
The good news, however, is that once you are out of the minimum contract period, you can switch broadband deals without paying a penalty charge.
It can therefore be worth considering whether your broadband package still matches your needs and if it doesn’t, look for a more competitive deal.
You can compare broadband deals easily with MoneySuperMarket and it’s worth keeping the following points in mind when you do:
- Overall cost: check whether there is an introductory offer and what the cost rises to once the offer ends. Also check whether there are any set up costs.
- Download speeds: if you are currently using the internet more than usual, you may need a connection with faster speeds. Fibre optic broadband delivers significantly faster download speeds than standard (ADSL) broadband, but it is not available in all areas.
- Download limit: if your broadband deal doesn’t offer unlimited downloads (many do) it could be worth switching to a deal that does. This means you won’t need to worry if your whole household is streaming music, using social media or gaming online.
- Contract length: you can often choose between a contract of between 12 and 24 months.
- Availability: some connection types are not available in all areas, so make sure you check before choosing a package. Most providers offer a postcode checking service.
Once you’ve found a deal to move to, switching should be relatively straightforward, particularly if both your old and new provider use the Openreach network – these include BT, Sky, EE, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and Daisy.
Your new provider will let your old provider know you are switching, and you should receive a letter from your old supplier to confirm the switch. Your new broadband provider will let you know when your contract is up and running.
If either your old or new provider do not use Openreach, you will need to contact your old provider to cancel your service and contact the new one to make the switch.
In most cases you won’t need an in-house visit from an engineer, which is good news during lockdown. If an engineer does need to visit, you may have to wait slightly longer for an appointment, but appointments can be made from 1 June onwards.
You could consider taking out a deal with a provider that offers a dongle as this can help you stay connected until an engineer can visit, or hotspot from your phone if that’s an option.
Alternatively, it can be worth haggling with your existing broadband provider to see if it can offer you a better deal.
Switch to a better mobile phone deal
If you are out of contract and are happy with your existing mobile handset, an easy way to cut mobile phone costs is to choose a SIM only deal. Many deals are on a one-month rolling contract so you can easily cancel or change to a different package. Others require you to sign up for 12 to 24 months.
SIM only deals can be much cheaper than standard mobile phone contracts, with some starting from as little as £3.99.
To help you find the right SIM only deal, it is worth asking yourself the following questions:
- How much data do you need? If you are staying at home, it’s unlikely you will need a huge amount of data at the moment.
- How many minutes are included? If you are regularly phoning friends or family, check whether the included minutes are sufficient – some deals will only offer around 150 minutes, others will be unlimited.
- How many texts do you send? Most SIM only deals include unlimited texts.
If a SIM only deal isn’t suitable and you are out of contract, now is the ideal time to shop around for something better. The above questions will still apply when you are comparing deals, but keep in mind that once lockdown restrictions are lifted, you may need more data than you are using now, and you may not make as many calls.
If you are still tied into a contract, but you are not using your full data allowance each month, it can be worth checking with your provider whether there is any flexibility to lower your data allowance so that you can save money.
Sky Mobile, for example, allows you to change your data, calls and texts plan every month, so you only pay for what you need. O2’s Refresh tariffs also allow you to move between other tariffs that were available on your phone when you bought it.
Alternatively, some companies such as Virgin Media allow you to roll over data from one month to the next (for one month only). Sky Mobile lets you store unused data in your ‘Piggybank’ for up to three years.