Many of us couldn’t get by without our smartphones and have become ever more reliant on electronic devices, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay through the nose for the latest tech.
We know because every month we survey thousands of Which? members to see how they save money on everyday bills, services or purchases. You can see the full range of our members’ money-saving tips by trialling Which? Money for two months for £1.
In August and September 2015, we asked 893 members how they saved money when shopping for gadgets. Whether you’re after a new smartphone, tablet or reliable sat-nav, avoid shelling out more than necessary with these member tips.
Ditch the traditional contract
Mobile phone contracts might allow you to buy a handset with manageable monthly payments, but you’ll spend more in the long run. If you have the cash, it is more economical to buy an unlocked phone and look for the best Sim-only deal. One member saved £144 on an iPhone 6 contract by doing this. You can compare Sim-only plans on websites like uswitch.com to see which will suit you.
Many Sim-only deals are offered as monthly rolling contracts, making it easy to move to a cheaper plan if you never use all the calls or data on your existing one. Giffgaff is a good network for monthly plans as it tells customers when their plan is too generous, encouraging them to buy a cheaper one in the next month.
If you don’t want to buy a handset upfront, Apple offers 0% finance deals twice a year, allowing you to pay off an iPhone or any other product worth more than £399 over a 12-month period.
Find out more: getting the best Sim-only deal – decide which is best for you
Get a cut-price premium product
Refurbished or reconditioned goods can offer great value. Some items have been pre-owned, while others may have had the battery replaced or cosmetic damage repaired. Some are just unboxed products, deemed as unfit for sale as ‘new’ goods. Many Which? members described their refurbished purchases as ‘good as new’, with some saving as much as £250.
You can get hold of refurbished tech via Apple, Argos, Currys, CEX, Ebuyer, O2 and Tesco Direct among other retailers. They are not always displayed clearly, so you might have to dig around online or ask in-store. One Which? member told us he saved £140 on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 from the O2 store, which was offering unboxed tablets at the time.
A good retailer will offer a warranty for these products, even if just for a year. CEX offers a two-year guarantee. You can also trade in your unwanted products for cash or vouchers at CEX, saving even more on your new purchase.
Find out more: how to get discounts on refurbished products – find out more about the discounts available
Check for cashback or a voucher code
When shopping for gadgets online, many members found a great deal via cashback sites or by using a voucher code.
Hotukdeals.com is a useful source for cashback deals and voucher codes, as well as a range of online or in-store offers.
You can boost cashback accumulated via topcashback.co.uk by 6% when you convert it into Love 2 Shop vouchers. One member told us he saved £53 by using these vouchers to replace his sat-nav.
Find out more: how to make the most of cashback websites – more money-boosting tips
Haggle for the best contract price
If you’re after a traditional mobile phone contract, it’s always worth negotiating to try and make a saving.
One Which? member told us she recorded her usage and showed it to the salesman in the Carphone Warehouse during negotiations, reducing the bill of her next plan by £20 a month. Billmonitor.com is a useful website to help you do this.
Haggling on the phone can often prove more fruitful than in-store. If you phone your network provider and tell them you’d like to leave, you’ll more than likely be passed to the retention team, who may be able to access better deals.
Find out more: haggling for the best mobile phone deals – use our field-tested script