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Given many household budgets are already being squeezed, it's become even more important to ensure that you're getting the most out of your broadband deal – but millions of UK customers are paying more than they need to for their connection.
Reducing the cost of your connection doesn't have to be tricky: there are simple actions you can take to make sure you're not paying over the odds. Then you can go one step further and take advantage of perks to sweeten the deal even more. We've rounded up 10 key ways you can save money on your broadband deal.
If you're mid-contract and worried about being able to pay for your broadband or pay TV service, get in touch with your provider – all of the major providers tell us that customers struggling with bills should contact them for support.
Listen to our free podcast for expert advice on making savings on mobile, broadband and TV.
When you come to the end of your broadband contract – or if you’re already out of contract – it’s worth weighing up a switch. Picking a new broadband provider will mean you get access to an affordably priced introductory offer which can cost as much as 90% less than a pricey standard tariff, so switching could save you hundreds per year.
It might sound like a faff, but when we asked people who’d recently switched broadband provider how they found the process, six in 10 told us it had been easy. We’ve broken down switching into four simple steps – get started using our guide on .
It’s become increasingly common for broadband providers to offer a little sweetener to entice new customers, so look out for incentives when you switch providers. They typically include vouchers and reward cards, but sometimes hardware is on offer too – we’ve spotted things such as wireless speakers, tablets or even televisions.
However, keep in mind that you won’t always simply receive these incentives when you sign up to your new provider. There is usually a process for applying for them, and this can have a time limit.
You’ll usually be able to claim your incentive once your new broadband connection is set up, but while you might be sent an email explaining the process, you might also be left to find an online form on your own.
If you’re offered any incentive with a new deal, take note of what’s necessary to claim it when you sign up and set a reminder so you don’t forget before you run out of time. You can explore which incentives are available deals using a comparison service, such as .
If you’re happy with the provider you’re with, you might feel reluctant to switch away just to get a better price. Luckily, it’s not necessary – negotiating a better deal with your current provider will allow you to stick with your current deal and pay less.
Haggling can sound daunting, but it’s expected and invited by most of the big broadband providers. These days it doesn’t have to include a long phone call either – most providers will allow you to do it via live chat or social media. To make it one step easier, we’ve pulled together so you know how to get in touch.
Over the past few years, providers such as BT, EE, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Shell Energy Broadband, TalkTalk and Vodafone have all begun . These annual price hikes are generally based around the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation as published in January, and they take effect in spring each year. However, the providers don’t stop at CPI – they add an extra three to four percentage points on top, meaning this year’s increases were all around 9%.
While no price rise is particularly welcome, these feel particularly sneaky. Usually you're given the right to exit your contract penalty-free if your provider announces a price hike, but if they are included in the terms and conditions of your contract that no longer applies.
That means that if you're within your minimum contract period, you'll have little choice but to accept the price increase (or to pay a pricey exit fee to terminate your contract). It's also become more common for contracts to last for 18 or 24 months, so you may see your price rise twice.
But not every provider includes price rises in its contracts. So far Virgin Media and Sky stick to ad hoc price rises, for example. And other providers such as Hyperoptic, SSE, Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet all commit to keep your tariff the same for the duration of your contract.
While some providers just specialise in broadband, more and more offer a variety of services – energy and mobile phone services are most common. That means they're able to offer discounts on other services you take up. For example, EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone will give you access to discounted mobile phone deals, while SSE and Utility Warehouse often offer discounted broadband and energy bundles.
But there are other extras on offer from some providers that can also help you save money. Shell Energy Broadband gives customers access to its Shell Go+ programme, which includes benefits such as 3% off 60 litres of fuel per month. Now Broadband offers discounted Now TV services and Virgin Media customers can access discounts via O2 Priority.
If you've had a pay-TV service for several years, it's worth weighing up whether it's still serving you well and whether you're paying the right amount for it. The pay-TV landscape has changed considerably in recent years: it's now possible to get Sky Sports with Virgin Media, BT Sport with TalkTalk and Sky Atlantic with BT, for instance. Flexible deals that you can change month to month have become more common, plus the increasing number of streaming services might mean that you don't watch pay TV channels as much as you used to.
All of this means it's worth double-checking whether you still need your service and whether you could get a better deal with a different provider. Our research has found that long-standing TV and broadband customers are more than three times as likely to be paying over £100 a month for their deal when compared with new customers, so the potential savings are impressive.
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' you have added that you may no longer need. Your bill could include various call packages, such an evening and weekend, anytime or international calls. You may also 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.
These can all add up, and if you're not using them you could net you a tidy saving each month. Alternatives such as a , or making more use of unlimited minutes, or on your mobile phone instead, could mean that you'll barely notice them missing.
Several broadband providers, including BT, Hyperoptic, Sky and Virgin Media, offer special discounted 'social' tariffs for customers who receive certain benefits.
If you're on a means-tested benefit such as Universal Credit, you could be eligible for a social tariff – we've rounded up those available below. If you sign up to one of these deals, you'll need to share evidence that you meet the eligibility criteria.
|Broadband social tariff||Price||Average speed||Eligibility|
|£15 per month||36Mbps||Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|£20 per month||67Mbps||Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|£15 per month||50Mbps||Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|£15 per month||50Mbps||Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|£25 per month||150Mbps||Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|£19.99 per month||30Mbps||Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|£20 per month||36Mbps||Universal Credit or Pension Credit|
Research from the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has shown that while 4.2 million households are eligible for social tariffs, only 55,000 have signed up so far. Access to a decent broadband connection is vital for every day life – social tariffs could make getting online affordable for millions of customers currently struggling to afford their connection.
And, while it doesn't offer a social tariff, TalkTalk partners with the Department for Work and Pensions to offer six months of free fibre broadband to certain jobseekers. This isn't available to all customers; eligibility is determined by Jobcentre staff. If you're on Universal Credit, ask your Jobcentre Plus work coach if you're eligible.
Sites such as Quidco and TopCashback can help you earn financial rewards when you sign up to a new broadband deal. Deals from BT, EE, Hyperoptic, Now Broadband, Plusnet, John Lewis Broadband, Shell Energy Broadband, Sky, SSE, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone are included on cashback sites. The amount you'll get back will depend on what's on offer when you sign up, but we've seen amounts varying from £50 to £165.
But never base which deal you pick solely on potential cashback – check that the deal is still going to be competitive without it, because cashback isn’t guaranteed and can take months to arrive. The deals advertised through cashback sites may also not be as well priced as you can find elsewhere, so weigh that up before you commit.
If you love your broadband service, there's one last way to get money back from your provider: recruit friends and family to sign up with them, too. Referral bonuses are on offer from a range of providers including BT, Virgin Media and Vodafone.
In most cases both you and your friend or family member will get a little bonus. Usually this comes in the form of a gift card, but some providers offer bill credit or money off your tariff instead.
Here are some of the referral bonuses we've seen on offer: