Pay as You Go or Contract? Your Mobile Service Options

Having a mobile phone isn’t enough. You will also need service to go with your phone. This means getting a SIM card from a mobile operator that will let you access that operator’s network. There are two ways that you can get this SIM card, either by signing a contract or getting a pay as you go plan. Today we’re talking about the differences between these two options, what the best deals are and which of these options suits which kind of customer. So, if you’re ready to get service to your new phone, read on to find out what might be best for you.

Pay as You Go Plans

The simplest way to get a SIM card and service is to get a pay as you go plan. You’ll get a SIM card from an operator, and then you’ll need to load credit onto your phone. When you use your phone, credit will be taken from your account. Once the credit is gone you’ll lose service on your phone (although you’ll still be able to receive calls and texts), and then you’ll need to get more credit. Pay as you go has a couple of advantages. You only ever pay for services that you use, unlike under contract where you might end up paying for services that you don’t use. Plus, because you pay for services before you use them, budgeting is easy. Pay as you go can be a little inconvenient, since you might run out of credit when you need to make an important call, for example. And rates on pay as you go tend to be a little higher than on contracts. But there are still some people who benefit from pay as you go plans. Light phone users are the group most likely to fare better with these plans. If you use around ten calling minutes a week, use mobile data only for emailing and a little casual web surfing, and send three to four texts a day then you’re classified as a light phone user. These people rarely use up the large limits for minutes, texts and data that are included on contracts, so even though they may pay slightly higher rates for pay as you go, they end up saving by only paying for what they’re using. Pay as you go plans tend not to be good deals for average or heavy phone users though.

The Best Pay as You Go Deals

If you’re looking for a plan, the best pay as you go deals are undoubtedly with Three. Until recently the prices for calling and texting on pay as you go plans were pretty standard amongst operators, though data prices could differ a little. But at the beginning of July this year, Three announced a revolution in pay as you go rates. The drastically cut their prices, and are now by far the cheapest operator on the market. Prices on calls dropped from 26p to 3p, and prices on texts dropped from 11p to 2p. Most amazingly, Three cut the price of one MB of downloaded data from 65p to just 1p. So, until other operators catch up with these price cuts, by far the best pay as you go deals are going to be with Three.

Mobile Contracts

Signing a contract for mobile service is a little more complicated. Operators offer two kinds of contract: SIM only and incentive. Both of these contracts give you a calling plan, but an incentive contract also gives you a mobile phone, often for free. A calling plan will give you a limit for the amount of calling minutes, text messages and mobile data that you can use each month for a set monthly fee. If you decide on an incentive contract then your monthly fee will also contain an instalment on the phone that you got, since you will have to cover the price of the phone yourself. This obviously means that incentive contracts are more expensive. Also, you’ll need to choose that calling plan, since the size of the calling plan will determine how much you have to pay each month. Unfortunately, the wrong plan can cost you a lot of money. You pay the same monthly price for using all of your minute, text and data limits as you do for using half of them or even none of them. So if the calling plan is too big then you have to pay for services that you don’t use. But if those limits are too small, you’ll break them. And when this happens you pay your monthly fee plus premium rates on any extra services that you used. However, with the right calling plan both average and heavy phone users save money, since rates are generally cheaper than they are on pay as you go. So contracts can be cheaper for the right customer, and they’re also convenient. You’ll never lose service because you’ve run out of credit. You will need to be legally able to sign the agreement though. This means you must be eighteen and a legal UK resident, but it also means that you will have to pass a credit check. If you don’t pass a credit check the mobile operator will either refuse you a contract or ask for a hefty deposit as a guarantee against your bills.

The Best Contract Deals

The best contract deals vary a lot and it really depends on what it is that you’re looking for and what kind of user you are. As a general rule though, T-Mobile offers the best big contract prices, whilst Vodafone offers the best small contract prices. O2 tends to be best for business users, and Three has the best rates on mobile data plans. Orange is great for mobile roaming for frequent travellers, and Tesco Mobile usually has the best family plans. The best thing to do is find a mobile tariff comparison site that will allow you to compare plans with different operators until you find a plan that suits you best.

 Getting the best pay as you go deals was important to Sam Jones.  With so many to choose from it seemed an impossible task but help was at hand in the form of comparison sites like uSwitch.

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