How to avoid overpaying for your phone

UNSHACKLED unshackled shares with us the best way to make sure you never get hit with extra phone costs again.

Let’s be honest, phones are not cheap. Now that we’re carrying around a device more powerful than the computers NASA used in the moon landing, we’ve come to expect sizeable price tags as a given. But what we shouldn’t accept is all those little extra charges that come with using a smartphone, because there’s no need to if you’re smart.

Be aware of your data usage

Being on the wrong data tariff is a major factor in overpaying for phones and most of us don’t know how much data we really need. There is absolutely no point being on a 10GB data plan if you regularly only use 2GB –  you’re just overpaying. We’re in more danger of falling into this trap when getting a new phone as we tend not to look at individual tariffs that closely, we usually just compare overall monthly costs. Most offers and deals will be loaded in such a way as to seem like more data is better and you might as well pay for 16GB when it’s only £2 a month more, etc etc. But that’s £48 you may not have needed to spend.

Conversely, if you’re routinely using 5GB data but your plan is only 3GB, you will be slapped with extra charges in your bill. So be aware of your regular usage and don’t be shy to switch tariffs if you can – this can be trickier once you’re locked into a contract, as not many network providers will let you downgrade.

If you’re not sure how much data you actually need, you can check with this handy data calculator.

Avoid getting locked into a phone contract

It all sounds fine when you initially take the contract out, doesn’t it? Low monthly payments, a good amount of data and minutes – these are a little bit more than you normally use, but it’s a bargain so why not? And you love your shiny new phone; it does so many cool new things.

That’s never how we feel 12 months in though, is it? Even 6 months in, there’s better phones out there, better deals and yours is suddenly loads cheaper. But that’s just how it is, right? Well, no actually. Phone contracts aren’t just designed to divide up your phone and airtime costs over a 24 month period, they’re also designed to lock you into a deal that starts off great but goes downhill pretty fast. So don’t let yourself get locked into one – simple.

We should be able to buy a new phone the same way we would buy a new laptop. We should be able to browse SIM deals the same way we look for utility providers. If you switch to getting SIM only deals and either buy your phone outright or through a finance plan, that’s exactly what you’re freed to do.

Keep an eye on the market

It may sound like a bit of a faff having to regularly check for new data deals and swap out your SIM when a new one comes along. We agree and that’s why Unshackled made MobileWatch. You let us know what plan you’re on and we’ll let you know if a better one comes up and help you switch over, hassle free.

Look after the phone you have

This is such a simple tip that it’s frequently overlooked, but looking after the actual phone you currently have will save you money. You’ll save money on repairs at best, replacements at worst. Most important of all however, you can sell or trade it in once you’re ready to upgrade to a newer phone and the better shape your phone is in, the higher the trade in value.