How to Choose Your Mobile Contract: A Step by Step Guide

Looking to get yourself a new mobile contract and wondering how on earth you’re supposed to decide between all of your options? Whilst contract options can seem overwhelming at first, there’s actually a very simple process that you can use to determine which contract is best for you. Today we’re taking you step by step through this process so that you can be sure that you’re choosing the best contract that you can. So, if you’re stuck deciding between contract options, read on and find out the right way to choose…

1. Check Coverage with Mobile Phone Networks

The first step in this process may or may not narrow down your choice of operators. Different mobile phone networks have different levels of coverage in different locations. Very basically, coverage is going to determine how good your phone reception is, with better coverage giving you better reception. Bad reception equals bad call quality, slow mobile data, and the chance that you’re phone isn’t going to work, so you want to make sure that you sign up with an operator with good coverage. Go to the OFCOM web site and you’ll find a comparative coverage map. Simply look up your location using your post code, and make note of which of the mobile phone networks gives you good coverage. Urban residents generally find that they get good coverage with everyone. But customers in more rural areas might find that their options are limited.

2. Decide if You Want a Phone

Next, you’re going to want to decide whether or not you need a new phone. You can get a mobile contract that’s just for service, called a SIM only contract, or one that’s for service and comes with a new mobile phone, called an incentive contract. The monthly bill for an incentive contract is going to be higher, because it will include an instalment payment on your phone. Plus, when you total all of the instalments you will pay a little over retail price for your phone. However, if you do need a new mobile and you don’t want to spend a lot of cash all at once, then an incentive contract might be for you. Generally, most people get high end phones with incentive contracts, but there are all kinds of models available. Not all operators have all models though, so your choice of phone might help to determine which operator you will choose as well.

3. Work Out Your Calling Plan Needs

Any contract is going to come with a calling plan. This is what gives you the set of monthly limits for the amount of mobile data, calling minutes and text messages that you can use every month for your fixed monthly fee. You’re going to want to consider your calling plan needs extremely carefully, since the wrong plan is going to cost you money. A plan that’s too big results in you paying for services that you don’t use, whilst a plan that’s too small results in you breaking your limits and having to pay premium prices on using extra services. There are a couple of ways that you can go about choosing a calling plan. The first is to simply look at any old mobile bills that you have lying around, if you’ve had a contract before. These will give you an idea of the average amount of minutes, texts and data that you use per month. Alternatively, you might want to look into using a pay as you go phone plan for a month. This way you can monitor your mobile usage and then decide what kind of calling plan you need. Either way, you’re going to need a sensible estimate of your calling plan needs.

4. Think About How Long You Want to Sign Up For

Your last major decision is to think about how long you want your phone contract to be. The contracts that you see advertised are generally for twenty four months. However, the law in the UK requires that operators also offer a twelve month contract option. Some companies additionally have eighteen month options. And some SIM only contracts come in short, thirty day, periods. The choice is up to you, but there are some pros and cons to the contract length that you choose. Firstly, longer contracts usually have cheaper monthly payments. And if you’re signing an incentive contract, a longer contract will definitely have cheaper monthly payments. This is because the price of the phone that you get will be divided into more instalments, which will make the price of each instalment lower. But that’s not the only concern. Once a mobile contract is signed you’re going to find it both tough and expensive to break that contract. Contracts contain things called non completion clauses which will allow the operator to penalise you should you not complete the contract. This penalty is usually a fixed fee which will be multiplied by the number of months that are left in your contract when you stop service, and the total amount is going to be high. This means that you want to try to make sure that you’re not going to have to break the contract. If you’re in any doubt it’s going to be best to just sign the shortest contract, even if it’s a little more expensive each month.

5. Choose Your Plan

Finally you should now have all the information you need to find the contract that you want. This step is easy. Go online and find a mobile tariff comparison site. Most of these sites allow you to enter search parameters to find a plan. Put in the calling plan limits that you’re looking for, the amount of minutes, texts and data that you want on a contract. The site will then present you with a list of plans with different operators that will match your needs. Check that the plans are with operators that give you good coverage, and then just choose the cheapest available option.

Sam Jones’s current provider was no longer meeting his needs so he wanted to check out other mobile phone networks. He used uSwitch to compare al the offers available and got a great deal within his 

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