It’s safe to say that everybody has a mobile phone these days; even the 5 year old kid down the road has the latest iPhone with his Blackberry-loving buddy running about, waving it about everywhere.
I was driving through town once, and I even saw a friggen bum with a mobile. And it was a pretty decent one too! I was like “whaaat!?”. I’ve only got a Sony Ericsson W995 and this bum had a friggen smart phone! Something’s not right there. Maybe he nicked it.
That’s for another article. For now, I will be going on to tell you how you can save money on your mobile phone bill. This only really applies to those of you with contract plans; Pay As You Go (PAYG) people it’s not applicable too, sorry!
Okay, so a bit of a story behind this one. You’re in a mobile phone store; you see a fancy-pants phone you’ve wanted for some time now. You check it out, feel the weight of it (which is off-putting on it’s own since it’s a dummy model attached to a string from the wall!) and press some buttons pretending it’s a real phone. Heck, you might even be inclined to hold it to your head and pretend to call someone and ask how they are.
Anyway, phone store; fancy phone. A sales guy comes over and asks if you need any help. On this occasion, you do. You want to know the pricing plans for the phone. The sales guy walks you to his desk, sits you down and explains that as it’s a premium phone you’re going to have to pay a premium fee. Typically £50 for the phone and then a £40 monthly fee for the next 24 months. Ouch. Don’t wanna get stuck in that plan do you?
Too late! You’ve bought the phone and you’ve run off out the store in excitement, waving your new boxed phone around.
So, 6 months down the line and you’re still forking out £40 for a mobile phone plan that includes… lets say 1200 minutes, unlimited texts and a 1GB data usage.
But, you only use around 300 minutes, 800 texts and maybe towards 521MB of data per month. You can find out your usage either through the network’s online accounts (you can usually set one up for free by linking your mobile to a new user’s account from their website) or by calling customer services or even by stopping into a store and asking what your previous months’ usage was.
Now, depending on which network you’re on (O2, Vodaphone, Orange, etc) you can call customer services and ask them to change your mobile phone tariff. Hopefully you’ve clocked on at this and are already thinking “to a lower one!”.
Yes! Bingo. That’s what we’re after. Less money being spent on your fancy-pants phone.
I know for a fact that O2 won’t let you change your tariff on a 24 month plan (I think it’s the same for an 18 month plan, too) until you’re at least 9 months into your plan.
However, on the 9th month you can call them up (or stop by a store) and ask for your tariff to be lowered. With O2 again, you can only drop down to the next tariff available, however you can go as high as you want (but that completely defeats the object of this article!)
Using my own plan as an example, I was on a £40 tariff and when I was 9 months in, I changed it to the next one down, which was £35. Obviously your limits will change; I was given 900 minutes, unlimited texts and some bolt-on that means my internet costs will never be more than £1 per day. I don’t use the ‘net on my phone so I wasn’t bothered about that.
Now, £5 isn’t much but it gets better. You can only typically change your tariff once per month. So, the next time you pay your bill, you call up, change your tariff down again (mine was £30) and repeat the next month until you’re happy with your tariff/usage ratio.
Obviously you need some brains for this, because there’s no point honking down to a £5 tariff that offers 100 minutes, 200 texts and stupid data charges if you know you’re always going to go over, based on your last few months’ average usage.
Here comes the math part to see how much money you’re saving. Sure, it is “just £5” at first glance, but if you get in there like I did and change it as soon as you can, you’ll save hundreds of pounds. Check it out:
A 24 month tariff at £40 per month will mean you pay £960 over the full term of the contract.
If you change it to £35 after 9 months, that means you’ve paid £40×9 (£360) but will now pay £35×15 if you stay at this tariff. £35×15 = £525, plus the first 9 months (£360) = £885 over the full term. That’s a saving of £75 simply by changing your tariff down a fiver. that saving would do my fuel for a month – so I’m not complaining!
Obviously if you don’t use your phone that often, or you can squeeze your usage into a lower tariff you can benefit from lowering your tariff multiple times, and the savings will increase because of that.
The savings aren’t immediate, but over the term you’ll see that you’ve actually saved a bundle.
It’s an often overlooked concept as most people think it’s set in stone, but it isn’t.
So try it today and see for yourself what you can do. And remember, different networks allow you to jump down at different times during your contract and by different levels. O2 is after 9 months and only one step down per month, the other networks will more than likely be similar.