Mobile phones have now become an essential part of everyday life, with almost everyone having one. The purpose of a mobile phone has changed dramatically over the past couple of years with most using it not only for calls and texts but as mini computers – surfing the internet, updating popular social networking sites including MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, and checking their e-mails. Owning a mobile phone can work out to be costly unless you are on the right kind of package.
With so many different user tariffs available you could be forgiven for getting confused. Firstly look at what you want from your phone, whether it be just basic use for texting and calls or if you want data included. The data allowance must be carefully considered as this is where costs can escalate – if you don’t get the right tariff for your usage you will find yourself with hefty bills. Deciding on a handset is the next thing to consider, if you want it for basic usage then look at the standard handsets as you will probably be able to get these free as part of your agreement. The popular handsets from BlackBerry, HTC and of course Apple will cost more. There are many offers available where you pay less for the handset but far higher monthly charges, and are tied into lengthy contracts.
A recent comparison calculated using the iPhone 4 model and one of the most popular networks, found that over a 3 year period there was approx. £50-£80 difference in all the different options available from paying for the phone outright and going on a SIM only contract to paying hardly anything for the phone and more on a monthly contract – we were very surprised with our findings.
Next, consider is how long you want to be tied into a contract. As mentioned earlier, you will pay less for your handset for a longer contract, but be very careful as companies do hold you to the contract length and whilst 18-36 months doesn’t seem that long when you are signing on the dotted line, it can seem forever when you are half way through and want to change you network, handset, usage or all 3! The contracts last for differing lengths from a 30 day rolling contract which is ideal if you already have your own phone up to a 36 month contract, plus there are SIM only deals and Pay As You Go options to choose from.
Pay As You Go deals are ideal for children or those on a tight budget as you only spend the credit available. Most phones will continue to work once the credit has run out but only for calls to the emergency services or to receiving calls. However, all networks are different so you must check the small print to make sure.
Planning a journey overseas? Then contact your network provider prior to travelling, as they will be able to advise the best tariff whilst you are away, and many companies will put you on a “roaming” tariff for the duration of your overseas stay.
Remember: always turn off data roaming at the start of your trip – this will save you money – leaving it on will cost absolute fortune! Most network companies will send you a text when you reach a certain usage limit as defined by your contract agreement whilst some will stop all usage when you reach a certain amount. Unfortunately, some providers will not warn you and the mobile phone companies are becoming less tolerant with customers who run up hefty bills whilst overseas, as there is so much publicity about the issue. Once again we suggest you read the small print to make sure you fully understand all charges whilst overseas.
If you take time to research and think about the long term you should find the perfect package and have no problems but we cannot stress how important it is to read the small print to find out exactly what is and isn’t included.