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17 Feb 2022

Ease the squeeze: how to save on mobile, broadband and TV

How to cut your bills now, whether you're in or out of contract

With inflation skyrocketing, many of us are seeing our phone bills hiked mid-contract. Here's how you can reduce yours.

Up to one-fifth of households have cut back spending on essentials like food and clothing to make TV, internet and phone payments in the past year, according to Ofcom.

And several major mobile networks are planning to raise prices by 7.8% or more from April.

O2 and Virgin Mobile will both raise prices by RPI inflation in January (7.8%) plus 3.9%. While BT, EE, Plusnet and Vodafone are all boosting bills by CPI inflation (5.4%) plus 3.9%.

The Which? Money Podcast has heard from people whose bills have been affected, and asked experts what you can do to reduce yours.

Here, we've rounded up how to , and how to save .

And if you can't afford to pay your bills, .

How to check if you're in contract

  • Log into your online account with your provider
  • Check letters or call your provider

When it comes to mobile and broadband contracts, many of us are guilty of letting them roll on once our initial term has already expired.

But not only does that mean we miss out on cheaper deals from other suppliers, you could be open to unexpected price rises.

Plus, if you've been paying for a mobile as part of your contract, not all networks reduce your bill once the phone is paid off.

You can easily check whether you're in or out of contract by logging into your account with your provider, or getting in touch with them directly. Once you know, you'll be ready to follow our in contract or out of contract savings tips.

How to save on mobile, broadband and TV if you're in contract

  • Consider cancelling separate mobile phone insurance
  • Cancel early for free if you have poor reception/connection
  • Ask for help if you can't cancel and can't afford your bill

Sadly, when you're locked into a contract you have far less scope to save money than you will when your contract ends.

Something quick you can do is cancel standalone mobile phone insurance. It'll often cost you less to cover accidental damage to your mobile phone by adding 'away from home' cover to your existing home contents insurance instead. Cheaper still could be going without insurance and relying on your savings.

Usually, you'll have to pay for the rest of your mobile, broadband or TV contract if you want to end it early. So if you're 12 months into an 18-month arrangement, you'll need to pay six months in order to get out of it.

There is an exception to this if your broadband or mobile network is not providing the consistent service you've paid for. The onus will be on you to prove this, though. Keep a record of anytime your connection goes down and send complaints to your provider each time so there is a paper trail.

What to do if you can't pay your bills

Contact your provider as soon as possible so it can help you come to a solution. It should be able to help you with:

  • creating an affordable payment plan
  • reducing your bill
  • granting you more time to pay
  • changing you to a contract that suits you better

You may also be eligible for certain specially discounted broadband on what's called a social tariff.

You can learn more about what to do if you can't pay your phone, broadband or TV bill at Citizens Advice.

How to save on mobile, broadband and TV if you're out of contract

  • Rethink what you need from your mobile, broadband and TV packages
  • Haggle with your current provider for a better deal
  • Switch to a cheaper deal from a different provider

Once your contract has come to an end (or if you pay as you go) you could save hundreds of pounds on your bills.

Before you do anything, make sure you know what you want. If you're not using all your mobile data, perhaps you could reduce it. If you're not watching all your TV channels, why not cut some of them?

Then, go to comparison sites and see what competitors are offering. Don't forget about social tariffs if you're receiving benefits.

Finding quotes can help you negotiate a lower price with your current provider (see below), but you may find it's still cheaper to switch. We've found customers can save more than £200 from switching.

You can use Which? Switch to compare the broadband deals and mobile deals on offer.

How to haggle for cheaper mobile, broadband and TV bills

Paul Lester, Which? Technology Editor

Haggling might sound daunting, but it's no different to renewing an insurance or energy contract. Most firms will expect customers to haggle, so should be happy to discuss better deals with you.

Recent Which? research found that haggling could save you up to £130 a year.

Once you're researched the prices offered by competitors, call up your current provider and ask if they can match or beat these quotes.

If they're not willing to budge, consider switching - you could save money and get a better service.

Providers should be working hard for your business, so make sure you're not giving them an easy ride. Find out more tactics in our guide to haggling for a better broadband deal.