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21 May 2022

Seven costs pushing up your bills that you can cut today

Small changes could save you hundreds on everyday costs and household bills

Budgets across the UK are getting squeezed by the rising cost of living, but there are small steps you can take to reduce your everyday costs and household bills.

From shopping around for the best broadband, TV and fuel prices, to making sure you're not paying for added extras you never use, there are lots of ways to cut your outgoings. 

Here, we reveal seven 'hidden' costs that could be pushing up your spending by hundreds of pounds every year.

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1. Overpaying for fuel 

Typically, petrol at supermarket pumps is a few pence cheaper per litre than fuel at branded petrol stations. 

Many supermarkets also offer loyalty cards, so drivers can collect points every time they fill up, which can be exchanged later for cashback or discounts later on. 

If you buy fuel from the same supermarket as you buy your groceries, make sure you sign up to its loyalty scheme, as you could save money.

2. Paying for more mobile data than you need

It’s worth keeping an eye on how much mobile data you tend to use each month, as you might find you're not on the best deal to suit you.

It’s increasingly common for providers to offer high, or even unlimited, data allowances, yet the average UK consumer uses just 4.5GB per month. 

However, deals with high data allowances aren’t always more expensive, so this might not be a huge factor in your choice of provider. 

Which? Switch Mobile lets you set a minimum data allowance and then compare deals by price – you can use it to check whether the amount you’re currently paying is reasonable, and find a new provider if you want to make a switch.

3. Added extras on broadband, TV and phone bills

Your broadband contract could include a landline and call package, but if you rarely use a home phone it can be easy to forget any of a number of 'extras' that you may no longer need.

For example, you may be paying for add-ons like 1571 Voicemail, (£2 per month with Sky, or £3.61 with BT), Anonymous caller reject (£4 and £6.87 per month with Sky and BT respectively), or other call blocking or barring services.

Similarly, TV packages you don’t often use, add-ons to your mobile bill, like a roaming package, and other payments that are easy to forget can all add up.

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4. Separate mobile phone insurance

Rather than paying for separate mobile phone insurance, you may already be able to protect your phone under a pre-existing policy. 

For example, if you have contents insurance, you may be able to add your mobile phone to your policy under personal possessions cover.

If you do opt for separate mobile cover, note that there are some common exclusions your policy won’t cover. 

Incidents that occur through carelessness are usually not covered by insurance. For example, forgetting your phone was on your duvet when making the bed and causing it to hit the wall and crack its screen. 

Most mobile phone insurance policies also won’t cover you if your phone is stolen if it's been left unattended. 

With this in mind, make sure to shop around and get a policy that covers the things you need - and avoid overpaying for things you don’t. 

5. Paying for boiler cover 

Which? research has found that boiler cover is not cost effective for most consumers, and many people would be better off paying for repairs and services as and when they need to.

Respondents to Which?’s 2021 survey paid an average of £297 a year for boiler cover, but only one in five (21%) had to call an engineer for boiler repairs in the past 12 months.

Those without cover paid an average of £87 a year for an annual service, plus any repairs when needed – meaning consumers stand to make substantial savings by ditching boiler cover.

6. Extended warranties you don't need

Extended warranties are optional – if you ever feel pressured to pay for one, remember your purchases are protected by your statutory rights, and that products typically come with a manufacturer’s guarantee which might be enough for your needs.

Don’t feel pressured to make a decision about an extended warranty at the time you buy the product. If you do want to sign up for one, shop around to find the best deal. For example, by using the extended warranties comparison site.

It's also worth remembering you might already be covered by your home contents insurance. Contact your provider if you're not sure.

Alternatively, if you have lots of electrical items, for instance, it might be better to opt for multiple item insurance, which could be cheaper than paying for extended warranties for each one.

7. Paying for a packaged bank account

Some current accounts come with extra benefits, such as travel insurance, car breakdown cover and mobile phone insurance, all packaged together for a monthly fee. 

Packaged bank accounts can be great value, but only if you’re actually using the benefits.

Take the time to see what else is on the market, making sure that you don’t have duplicate cover elsewhere – mobile phones and gadgets, for instance, may be covered by your home insurance, and some car insurers include breakdown cover as standard. 

To avoid wasting your money, keep an eye on your annual statements, and consider switching to a fee-free bank account if you’re not making the most of the perks you’re paying for.