How to choose the right mobile network provider

When considering or even browsing stores for a new phone (or just a new plan) you can soon find yourself lost in a minefield of providers and plans. Even stepping in to a mobile phone store can seem a bit overwhelming and more often than not you find yourself jumped on by a barrage of colleagues eager to get their commission by signing you up to any old deal that fits (yes I used to work in one a long time ago)

So how do you go about choosing your new phone network? Or perhaps your buying a first phone for a child and unsure who to go with! Well below are a few tips to help you out a little.

1) Pay monthly, Pay as you go or Sim only – This is the first thing to consider when purchasing or upgrading a phone. There are 3 different options here.

β€’ Pay Monthly – Is where you enter into a contract. You usually have to sign up for 12 or 24 months. You will also need to pass a credit check. This option can be beneficial if you are wanting the latest or particularly expensive handset. Many providers will offer the phone at a very reduced cost for contract takers or even give the handset for free. The downside being that it’s a set monthly payment. Therefore even after so many months when your handset reduces in value you will still be paying the same amount which in some cases can be quite a high amount. Also remember your payments are recorded on your credit file, as are non payments. You won’t usually beable to upgrade your handset until your contract is almost up. If you don’t take extra insurance and break your device during this time then you will still be liable to pay your monthly fee.

β€’ Pay as you go – This was once the most popular option for mobile phones. It’s simple, you buy the phone, you buy the SIM card. You then top up as and when needed. Many providers nowadays offer monthly top up plans which includes so many minutes, texts and data for so much per month. My first few phones were Pay as you go. It’s good for those who don’t want or can’t get a monthly contract. The downside being the cost of the handset. If you’re on a limited budget then that brand new iPhone will not be affordable.

β€’ Sim only – This is my favourite option at the moment. It works like this – you either already own a decent mobile phone or you buy a new one. You then get a contract but a sim only plan. This means you get the SIM card, the data, texts etc but not a new handset included. It works for me and my children’s phones. The sim plans are really cheap depending on what you require. There are still credit checks but these are much easier to pass than a full phone contract.

2) Read reviews & comparison sites – When considering mobile providers, A website such as Half Cooked can really help. This website goes into great detail of the most popular UK providers giving pros and cons of each. People don’t leave reviews unless they have had a really bad experience. If a provider seems to have lots of negative reviews then it’s probably best to steer clear.

3) Plans – Work out what you need from your mobile device. Do you need to make lots of calls or send hundreds of text messages each month? Most providers now offer unlimited calls and txts plans or mini plans which are more suited to children and elderly people. The most important consideration for many people is data. This is your internet connection when there is no wi-fi. I’d like me you need to be connected the majority of the time then you need a plan with lots of data. 1GB does not last long at all. Look for plans with upwards of 4GB. Compare providers online to find the best data deals.

4) Reception & Coverage – Most areas of the UK get a good signal and the usual full bars on their devices. However some of the more remote areas do not. If you live in an area where your mobile signal is poor constantly then it’s probably time to seek out another provider. Look online to see which provider works best in your area. As no one wants to sound like a crackly Android when trying to talk.

5) Roaming/International phone use – If you regularly travel outside of the UK, then you will need to choose a plan which includes data roaming and international calling or you may find yourself hit with a very high bill. There are still many horror stories floating around the internet of people going on holiday and being hit with a bill in the thousands for using their phone abroad.

I hope these few tips help when choosing the right phone plan and providerfor you or a family member.

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