There are plenty of ways to get your bill down and get more for your money in the process

Our phones are one of the most useful tools in our lives; keeping us connected to the world around us, entertaining us with games, music and videos and helping us with all manner of daily tasks such as shopping, directions, banking, budgeting and work. It's fair to say that many of us would struggle without one.

However, as phones have become more and more advanced in what they can do, the average price for a top end flagship phone has increased. In fact, the latest flagships can cost more than double compared to the initial models in their series, meaning getting a great deal and not overpaying for your phone each month is more important than ever.

With that in mind, we've compiled this guide of useful ways you can reduce your mobile phone bill.

1. Buy the previous year's model

Every year, the likes of Apple and Samsung will release a brand new flagship phone with improved specifications over the previous year's model. Features such as display quality, battery life, speed and cameras all receive an upgrade. Some of these features are truly ground-breaking and innovative - but that's no good to you if you don't actually make use of them.  Some of the updates are also minor - often the same display or camera lens will be used for example. If you want to save yourself some cash, just buy the previous year's model. Remember, it's only a year old and some of these flagship products even 12 months on are still some of the most powerful smartphones on the market.

Take the Samsung Galaxy S21 for example. It costs on average £15 a month less than the new Samsung S22 and boasts a ridiculously stunning display, a powerful camera that makes your photos look amazing and powerful features such as wireless charging, a great battery life and lightning fast switching between apps for multi-tasking. Opt for the S21 instead of the new S22 and you save yourself about £360 on a two year contract.

The same goes for the iPhone. Don't get us wrong, the iPhone 13 is a truly amazing phone, with powerful features that make it a best-selling phone across the world. But because of that, it's also at the upper end of the price scale. Do you really need one? The iPhone 11 is over a year old yet is still one of the most popular iPhone models at Chitter Chatter every week, and at many other retailers and networks today. Apple don't really make poor performing hardware, so the iPhone 11 is everything you'd expect - great camera, bright display, good battery life and includes Apple's latest software - the same software that appear on the iPhone 13. An iPhone 13 will cost you about £1450 over two years on a pay monthly contract. An iPhone 11 will cost you about £791. That's a saving of about £659.

We'd thoroughly recommend checking out the previous year's model before going for the 'latest model' - you'll save yourself a stack of cash.

2. Pay something upfront rather than nothing

If you can afford to pay something upfront rather than go for a 'no upfront' deal when buying a pay monthly phone, you'll usually save some money over the total life of the contract. Even a £20-£50 upfront cost, can substantially reduce your monthly bill, so have a look at the price plans available and see what you can afford upfront. Do the math's though (monthly cost x contract length + upfront cost) to compare the 'total cost of ownership' as sometimes the networks will run promotions on some price plans which could mean it makes more sense to go with the 'no upfront cost' deal - especially if you're after a lot of data.

3. Buy your phone outright (SIM Free Phone)

Gone are the days when the only way to pay monthly for a phone was with an operator contract. Nearly 40% of phone shoppers now choose to buy their phone outright rather than on a monthly network contract. If you have the cash to pay everything upfront for your phone by choosing SIM Free, it's by far the best value overall, but even if you don't want to pay outright, payment options such as PayPal Credit and Klarna are now available which let you spread the cost (like you would with a network contract), from 4 months up to 24 months (subject to credit availability). Be sure to double check any interest rates - some payment options will offer 0% for a certain period and others will charge an interest rate.

All new phones in the UK sold now are unlocked which means you can use them with any network - once you've got your new phone, you're free to choose a SIM only plan which again will cost you less per month than a full mobile phone contract (see point 4)

4. Remember your network contract end date

When you reach the end of your two year contract with a mobile network you are free to do one of three things; cancel your contract, upgrade with your current network or switch to a different network with a better deal. All networks are now obliged to notify you at the end of your contract but just in case you miss it, when you buy a new phone, make a note of your contract end date in your diary. That way, as soon as it ends you can make sure you're still on the best deal.

At Chitter Chatter, we'll email you and text you when your contract has ended and can then help you choose a better deal.

5. Switch to a SIM only plan

A SIM only plan is where you just pay for a monthly allowance of minutes, texts and data but don't pay for an actual phone as well. If you're happy with your current phone, get given a hand-me-down or buy a second-hand phone on eBay, you can buy a SIM only plan and put that SIM in the phone. Just make sure that the phone you are using is either unlocked or compatible with your mobile network of choice. If your phone is locked to a network (sometimes the case if you bought it direct from a mobile network) then you can contact them to unlock it for you so you can use it with any network.

SIM only plans often have shorter contract lengths too, such as 12 months or 30 days. This can be useful if you're not quite ready to upgrade your current phone or if your waiting for a new model to launch. It also means you can switch if you see a better deal.

Without the cost of phone to consider, a SIM only plan will reduce your monthly phone bill considerably. Plans are often available from as little as £5 a month.

6. Don't pay for more data than you need

Unlimited data? 300GB of data? These big data deals we often see advertised can be tempting and sound like amazing deals, but only if you actually need all that data or don't want to worry about monthly allowances. Consider how much data you actually need for your phone and choose the appropriate plan for you - the average user in the UK uses less than 10GB a month. If you're unsure, check your mobile network's app as it will often tell you how much data you're using each month.

It's worth noting though, that often some of these big data deals are on promotion, so can sometimes actually be cheaper than going for a lower data allowance plan. Again, do the maths (monthly cost x contract length + upfront cost) to determine the best value deal but don't be lured into being upsold from 25GB to 300GB if you're never going to use it.

7. Buy a refurbished phone rather than new

Refurbished phones continue to be an increasingly popular choice for buyers looking to upgrade their phone. Always purchase from a reputable retailer that you trust and check the details on exactly what you're getting. For example, at Chitter Chatter, all our refurbished and pre-owned phones come with a 12 month UK warranty and we're upfront in explaining whether they may have some minor signs of use. Our Pristine range of refurbishes phones actually look like new!

Buying a refurbished phone rather than a new one will often save you around £100-£200 compared to buying a new one. Chitter Chatter have a range of refurbished iPhones and Samsung phones in stock.

8. Cap your network bill 

This was a requirement introduced by Ofcom a few years back. All mobile networks must allow you to cap your monthly phone bill. You can select this option at checkout online - you can choose from no cap or another denomination. A £10 cap would mean you can't spend more than £10 a month over your price plan (on extra things like calls, etc). There are some items that aren't affected by the cap so check the details depending on the network you choose. This can be a handy way to control your monthly spend.

9. Look at alternative models, not just the one on TV

The S-Series is the king of Samsung's range - these are the models that get all the press attention, the flash keynotes and often the multi-million pound advertising campaigns. But there are alternative models available. In the case of Samsung, their Galaxy A-Series are lower cost versions of their S-Series phones, often slightly stripped back but they do include many of the flagship features you'll find on the top end phones.

We'd highly recommend considering these if you're looking to keep your monthly bill down. The same goes for looking at the 'non-Pro' versions of the iPhone.

10. Compare your network's upgrade offer with what else is out there

The golden rule of upgrading your phone at the end of your contract. Don't grab the first offer your network gives you without comparing it against what else is available. Price isn't everything of course, you should consider network coverage, data allowance, customer service and any extra perks your network gives you, but it's worth checking what else is available to give yourself and fair and honest comparison.

If you ever have a question about your bill or a deal, feel free to get in touch with the team at Chitter Chatter and we'll do our best to help.

You can view our latest pay monthly mobile deals here or take a look at our SIM Free phone deals.

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