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Spend less on your mobile phone

Date: 10/14/2008 12:02:07 PM

Any ways in which we can reduce our monthly outgoings are welcome during these cash-strapped times, and cutting mobile phone bills is one easy route to saving hundreds of pounds a year.

Most people spend around £35 a month on their mobile bills, which adds up to a massive £420 a year. The bad news is that several providers have raised prices this year, putting even more pressure on our pockets. Most of the increases affect those who exceed their monthly allowances of talk time each month.

Vodafone, for example, increased the cost of extra minutes for pay monthly customers from 12p a minute to 15p this summer, and O2 and T-Mobile have also raised costs for those who use more than their allocated call limits.

Check your bill carefully to see if you make more calls and send more texts than your current package allows. If you regularly exceed your monthly allowance, contact your provider and see if you can switch to a package more appropriate for your needs. I did this with T-Mobile and have seen my bills fall from an eye-watering £60 a month to £30 as a result.

If your provider cant offer you a better deal, and you are at the end of your current contract, tell it that you want to move and ask for your Porting Authorisation Code (Pac), which you will need to give to a new provider in order to keep your number. You can still move while you are in your contract period, but you will need to pay a monthly fee until the contract finishes.

There are several websites that can help you seek out competitive mobile deals. They include,, and According to, one of the best deals for a moderate user is the Mix & Match 300 tariff from the network provider 3.

This offers 300 inclusive minutes and 300 inclusive texts for £15 a month, and, depending on which retailer you go to, you can pick from a range of different handsets that will be included in the cost. If you think you will need more minutes, 3 also offers a Mix & Match 500 deal, which gives you 500 minutes and 500 texts a month for £18.

Another option is to consider moving from a pay-monthly to a pay-as-you-go deal once your current contract comes to an end. The pay-as-you-go market is becoming even more competitive as people look to cut their monthly expenditure, so there are plenty of good deals available.

For example, a couple of months ago Asda slashed the cost of pay-as-you-go calls by half, so it now costs only 8p a minute to phone a landline or another mobile, rather than 16p a minute. Texts cost just 4p. In comparison, Virgin Mobiles pay-as-you-go plan charges a steep 40p a minute for calls to mobiles on other networks and 10p for texts, while T-Mobiles pay-as-you-go Mates Rates and O2s Favourite Place deals both charge 25p a minute for calls to other mobiles and 10p for texts.

Watch out for occasional promotions too. For example, Orange is currently offering students a £10 discount on any Orange pay-as-you-go handset worth over £29.99 until the end of October. A valid National Union of Students card or number must be provided to qualify. For more information, visit

Alternatively, it may be worth considering a Sim-only deal to keep costs down. The Sim, or subscriber identity module, is the little card that fits in the back of your phone and activates it. It often holds all the information on your phone, such as contact numbers and text messages.

Calls and texts can often be much cheaper with a Sim-only deal than if you were tied in to a contract, as the network is not subsidising the cost of the handset as part of the monthly contract. As a result, you could potentially double your inclusive allowance if you go Sim-only. According to research by Which?, a Sim-only mobile deal can save users up to £15 a month, or £180 a year.

For example, T-Mobiles Combi 20 monthly contract gives you 200 minutes of calls and 400 texts for £20 a month. But if you went for T-Mobiles Solo Sim-only deal, which also costs £20 a month, you would get 500 minutes a month and unlimited texts. Another advantage of a Sim-only deal is that contracts typically last for just one month, so you wont be locked in for a long time.

The only real downside is that a Sim-only deal is just that – there is no handset included, not even a basic one, meaning that consumers have to either use a handset they already have or buy one separately. However, most of us have old handsets lying around, so if you want to be economical, use one of these.

If you have more than one spare handset, consider selling any you dont plan to use again. There are over 80m old phones lying around in Britain, with a value of £1.6bn, and there are plenty of people prepared to pay for older models. Websites such as,, and all buy old phones, which usually end up being sold on and used in the Middle East, Africa and South America, so you are recycling at the same time. According to the mobile2cash website, a Motorola RAZR V9 model would fetch around £92, while a Nokia 8600d phone could be sold for £85.

All you do is put in details of the make and model of your phone and the websites will tell you how much they will pay for it. If the price is acceptable, the company will usually send you a pre-paid, addressed envelope for you to send the phone to them. Alternatively, you will be asked to send the phone in a padded bag to a freepost address.

Once the phone has been received and the company has tested that it is working, they will pay you for it.

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