Mobile phone contract deals

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When you are choosing a mobile phone, one of the biggest questions is whether you want a mobile phone contract deal or a pay as you go deal. Mobile phone contract deals are those when you sign up to an agreed contract where a network will supply you with a SIM card and an agreed number of minutes, texts and data included as part of the package. Some deals offer unlimited calls, messages and web browsing whereas others cap these – it all depends which deal you choose. Some mobile phone contract deals come with a handset included in the package. These will generally cost more as you will be paying off the cost of the handset as part of your monthly fee. Other contracts are for SIM only, which means it is up to you to provide a suitable handset. Contracts are usually for either 12, 18 or 24 months, but suppliers will usually offer slightly better deals for longer terms as they want to lock you in to the deal.
Last update: October 2021

Again, it depends what kind of mobile deal you are looking for as to which term length is best for you. At the end of the agreed term, most networks will then offer you the chance to upgrade your package, either replacing your handset for a newer model or changing the terms of your deal. Or, you can choose to remain on the same plan if your provider is still offering this. Mobile phone contract deals have a number of advantages and drawbacks when compared to pay as you go, which we will look at in more detail below.

How do contract phones work?

A contract phone deal is one that offers you a SIM, a phone handset and a monthly package of minutes, texts and data that you can use. Sometimes deals offer just the SIM plus calls and data only, without the handset. Depending on the exact details of your deal, your calls, texts and data usage might be capped at certain levels or may be unlimited. As you might expect, deals which offer unlimited calls, texts and data tend to cost more.

The contract is billed at a monthly rate, paid on a specific day at the end of the billing period. Contracts are generally for either 12, 18 or 24 months, according to the details stipulated in each deal.

Throughout the course of the deal period, you have the handset on a kind of hire purchase arrangement, so you don’t fully own it until the end of your agreed contract term. Towards the end of your term, your provider will usually give you the chance to upgrade, often swapping your handset for a newer model or offering slight adjustments to your deal.

What are the pros and cons of pay monthly mobile contract phones?

The advantages of choosing a phone contract deal include:

  • You usually get a heavily subsidised handset
  • You get free talk time and texts included in your monthly fee
  • Free talk time and text allocation are generally cheaper than Pay As You Go
  • A wide choice of top of the range handsets
  • Regular billing without ever running out of credit
  • Good for your credit rating

Some of the drawbacks of a phone contract include:

  • If you have a poor credit rating it may be very hard to obtain a contract
  • You are committed to a fixed monthly fee for the duration of the contract
  • Free minutes of talk time and texts can sound attractive but unless you use all, or most, of your allowance you’re not making the most of the money you are paying
  • Unused minutes and data do not carry over to the following month
  • You can’t cancel the contract if you find a cheaper deal elsewhere
  • You can’t cancel the contract because you have change your mind

You need to weigh up the pros and cons of a phone contract and decide if this is right for you.

How long do pay monthly contracts last?

Phone contracts are generally for either 18 or 24 months, with a few 12 month deals available too. Networks usually make their longer deals more appealing as they want to tie you into a contract for longer.

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Who has the best phone deals right now?

There are hundreds of different phone deals on the market, available from dozens of different networks. Each deal offers something different, including more minutes or texts, up to date handsets, unlimited data or even free gifts when you sign up. There is no one single best deal, as they change all the time, but there might be a deal that best meets your needs right now. That’s why it is so important to compare phone deals from a wide range of networks.

In order to get the right phone deal for you, take some time to think about what you most need from your phone contract. If that’s the latest smartphone handset, then look for deals that offer this as part of the deal. If you’d rather have unlimited data, search for deals that offer this as a selling point. If you would like some help deciding what kind of phone best suits your needs, get in touch with our team on 0330 054 0020.

Here are five great mobile deals you can find right now:


Phone Data Upfront cost Monthly cost
Google Pixel 5 5G 128 Gb 30GB £105 £26
Samsung Galaxy S21 128GB 33GB £65 £33
Apple iPhone 11 64GB 30GB £65 £26
Apple iPhone 12 64GB 160GB £79 £70
Apple iPhone 12 Mini 64GB 18GB £155 £23



How do I pick the right pay monthly contract phone?

In order to choose the right phone deal for you, think carefully about what your priorities from any prospective phone contract might be. That means considering the following factors:

  1. Price
  2. Number of inclusive minutes
  3. Number of inclusive texts
  4. Inclusive data
  5. Handset model and operating system
  6. Contract length
  7. Bundle options
  8. Upgrades

Write a list and number each point in order of importance to you. Then use this to find the most suitable deal.

Can you get unlimited data on pay monthly contracts?

There are multiple networks that offer unlimited data as part of a pay monthly contract. These include:

  1. EE– £37/month
  2. GiffGaff – £25/month
  3. O2 – £30/month
  4. Tesco – £28/month
  5. Three – £16/month
  6. Virgin Mobile – £25/month

What offers can I get with new mobile phone deals?

As well as great offers on monthly deals offering unlimited minutes and data, phone contracts often come with introductory gifts to entice new customers. This could be anything from a TV to bonus months or minutes on your contract. It’s worth shopping around and trying to find which networks offer the best deals and gifts.

How to compare mobile phones

You could spend hours scouring through online deals trying to figure out what makes a good deal or finding a package that suits you. But this can be hit and miss and could end leaving you more confused than ever. With so many networks and dozens of comparison sites to choose from, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.

You need to narrow down your options by making a list of your priorities. If you need a new handset then think about which brands you like. How long do you want your contract to be? Is your phone more for data or calls or texts? Once you have a clearer picture of your needs, then you can go about making a comparison.

There are also online tools and calculators to help you work out how many minutes and how much data you might need. The average person uses about 3GB of data each month and makes five phone calls a day, with each lasting around 3 to 4 minutes. This may help you work out if you are a light, medium or heavy phone user.

Pay monthly contract vs. SIM free.

A phone contract will provide you with a SIM, a handset (optional) and a monthly package of minutes and data. Depending on the cost and terms of your contract, calls, texts and data usage might be capped at certain levels or may be unlimited, although unlimited deals tend to cost more. Contracts with handsets included will usually be more than a SIM only deal.

Pay monthly deals are useful if you want a regular, steady bill, without the hassle of running out of credit or having to top up. Monthly deals usually offer a cheaper way of making calls and accessing the web.

SIM free is when you simply purchase the phone itself, with no SIM card attached. You can then arrange a SIM only deal, paying monthly or pay as you go. This is a good way of combining the handset you want with the right call plan.

What are some of the reasons that I should choose a contract phone?

A contract is a great way of getting your hands on the latest handsets without having to pay for them up front. A phone deal spreads the cost of your phone over the contract period. Regular monthly billing is easy to keep on top of and you only pay for calls and data above your allotted minutes and terms, if they are not unlimited.

Do I have to pay an upfront cost for contract phones?

It depends on the plan. Some do, some don’t. Plans that offer newest handsets often ask for an upfront payment to help meet the cost of the phone. More affordable plans generally don’t have any upfront costs.

What’s the network coverage like for your pay monthly phones?

Network coverage for pay monthly phone contracts are good, the same as for any other kind of phone deal. Your exact coverage will depend on your chosen provider. According to studies, EE has the best coverage across the UK. Vodafone is the second-best, while Three is third, followed by O2.

Do I own my phone after contract?

If you’re on a phone contract you are essentially on a hire purchase deal for your phone handset. This means you don’t actually own it until your contract term is up and all your payments are met. The handset is then yours to do with as you please.

Can I get a phone contract with bad credit?

Bad credit is not necessarily an obstacle to a phone deal, it depends on the circumstances. However, if a bad credit rating is causing a problem you can always try another network or go for a pay as you go deal.

Call us to find the best broadband and/or phone provider for free!

0330 054 0020

Available Monday to Friday from 8.30 am until 5.30 pm

FAQ

Can you get unlimited data on pay monthly contracts?

There are multiple networks that offer unlimited data as part of a pay monthly contract, with unlimited minutes and texts also available.

How long do pay monthly contracts last?

Phone contracts are generally for either 18 or 24 months, with a few 12 month deals available too.

What offers can I get with new mobile phone deals?

As well as offering cheaper or unlimited minutes and data, phone contracts often come with introductory gifts to entice new customers.

Do I have to pay anything upfront for contract phones?

Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. More expensive plans often have an upfront cost to help cover the handset. However, there are plenty of plans with no upfront costs.

Updated on 3 Aug, 2021

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Chérie

Junior Copywriting Specialist in Broadband

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Alex

Consumer Broadband Expert