As part of my ongoing mission to trim the fat off my monthly outgoings, I shopped around for the best options to reduce my mobile phone costs and decided not to go with the cheapest option here’s why and what I did.
Phone + SIM deal
I thought I’d start with this one as whilst it doesn’t apply to us I know a lot of people do things this way. If you are paying for a plan that bundles your phone with your SIM then this is nearly always the most expensive way of doing things. It is significantly cheaper to buy your phone outright and then take out a SIM-only plan.
Buying a new phone
Never buy the latest newest model, always go for a previous-generation version. This will save you a decent chunk of money. Mobile phones have got to the point now technology-wise that advances are minimal year on year. Our phones (iPhone XR) are now over 4 years old and still going strong and when I look at the latest iPhones the only real-world advantage to me is that the camera has got a lot better.
How much data do I need
MAFF & I are both very light users. We are almost always on wi-fi and don’t make many calls/texts (everyone uses WhatsApp or some other service these days).
We need, at most, 3GB of data per month each and it’s usually a lot less than that.
Best SIM Only deal
With the above out of the way let’s turn to what SIM deal I actually went with and why I didn’t go with the cheapest.
It is MAFFs SIM deal I’m trying to sort out. She currently pays £9 p/m to Tesco and I know we can get that a bit cheaper.
First off I used the MoneySavingExpert Comparison tool to look at the cheapest deals available. That turned out to be one from Lebara where it’s £0.99 per month for 1st six months and then £4.90 p/m thereafter. That was for 3GB of data and unlimited calls/texts. I don’t want to change providers every 6 months, so I’m looking at this as £4.90 p/m.
All of the other cheapest deals came in close to the £6 p/m mark for between 5-12GB of monthly data.
Then I logged in to my O2 account, to see what they offered as I have recently moved to them at £6 p/m for 12GB of data as it was part of the deal when negotiating my Virgin Media bill down. They offered me an additional SIM at £6 p/m for 6GB of data.
What I Decided to Do
I did some research on Lebara via Reddit as I have never heard of them. Turns out a lot of Redditors were not happy with the customer service and various other things. For the sake of a £1.10 per month (and less data), I decided I couldn’t be bothered.
So, in the end, I went with O2, their deal was as good as anything else on offer and it means we have everything in one place and our 12-month contracts will expire at roughly the same time. This will make switching both SIMs in the future a little bit easier.
Would a Pay-as-You-Go SIM Not Be Cheaper
I assumed it would but when I checked, there was virtually no difference unless you are a really light user..
There are two types of PAYG services available:
Ones where you pay per use – The cheapest of these comes in at 1p/MB, 1p per min for calls and 1p per min for text. But that’s with EE and I know from past experience that their signal is really bad where we live. All the other networks are quite a bit more expensive.
Bundled deals – These give you between 3-4GB of data per month and unlimited calls/texts for £5-6 p/m.
I don’t want a pay per use deal as I want to have a fixed cost and the bundled deals aren’t really any better than the contract deals.
The Switching Process
I’m not sure when this change came in but switching SIM providers is even easier than it used to be now.
Assuming you want to keep your existing number. All you have to do is text ‘PAC’ to 65075 (same number for all providers) and your current provider will text you back with a PAC code. You then simply give this PAC code to your new provider when you sign up with them.
When your new SIM arrives in the post you need to activate it, at which point the process for transferring your existing number starts and takes a few hours (so be prepared to be unable to make/receive calls/texts for a while).
Final thoughts on reducing my mobile phone costs
There really isn’t a great deal of money for me to save here as I already buy my phones outright, but I saved a little bit (£36 per year) for very little hassle.
What I really wish existed, which would suit our usage, is a service where you can pre-buy a fixed amount of data, calls, text etc. Say 100GB, 1000 mins/text for around £25. That would save me money as it would take me about a year to get through that. Unfortunately, as far as I’m aware, no such offer exists. Let me know in the comments if you know of one.