Originally published 28 January 2016
First of all, you should have a look what else is on offer. Go to our broadband channel to see what other deals are available.
How to compare deals
Tell us your postcode and we can show you which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are available in your area, with an indication of the speeds you could get, any download or usage caps and how much you’ll pay each month.
When you’re doing your sums, remember to factor in the price of line rental, if necessary, and how much it’ll cost you over the term of the contract.
The easy way to work it out is:
Monthly cost + monthly line rental cost x contract length (in months) = overall cost
So if the monthly cost were £5 and the monthly line rental cost were £17.40 over an 18-month contract, here’s how it would break down:
£5 + £17.40 x 18 = £403.20
Choosing the best deal for you
Of course the price is only part of it because you also need to think about speed and download limits – both of which depend on how you use your broadband.
As a rule of thumb, the lighter your internet use, the less important speed and download limits will be for you.
If, however, you’re always online and you’re streaming video and music – perhaps even gaming online, you’re going to want faster speeds and more generous (if not unlimited) download limits.
Bear in mind that to stream video in standard definition, you need speeds of around 3 Megabits per second (Mbps). For high definition, 5Mbps and above is best.
If you only use the web to check email, Facebook and websites like MoneySuperMarket or TravelSupermarket, you’re not going to download masses of data, which means your download limit is less important.
If, on the other hand, you like to watch videos on YouTube or BBC iPlayer, stream music on Spotify and the likes, then you’ll need a higher download limit.
When your broadband has a download limit and you go over it, you’re likely to get a message from your provider telling you that if you continue to exceed the limit, you’ll be moved on to the next deal up, which could cost you more each month.
So, if you’ve found a deal that looks like the right speed and download limits at the right price, you’ll almost be ready to switch.
How to leave your existing deal
The next thing it’s worth doing is to check with your broadband provider to see where you stand when it comes to leaving. You’re likely to be signed up to a contract for your broadband and the terms vary from one company to the next.
For some, it might be as simple as giving 30 days’ notice, for others it might mean paying off the remaining cost of the contract.
Broadband switching is now easier than it used to be. For the most part*, all you have to do is sign up with the new provider, who will take care of cancelling your existing tariff.
If there is a charge to leave your existing deal, your broadband provider will let you know once the switch is being sorted out – and you can still cancel the switch if you change your mind at this point.
You’ll get letters from the new broadband provider and the old one to confirm everything, and you're allowed to cancel the switch for up to 14 days after the new contract starts.
*If you’re switching to a broadband provider outside of BT’s Openreach network, such as Virgin Media’s cable network, things work a little differently.
In this case, you have to tell your existing provider you’re switching and they’ll arrange a date to switch off your broadband – you’ll set up a date for your new broadband with the new provider separately.
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.