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1 October 2020

Choosing the best type of phone deal

Whether you're a download-addicted smartphone owner or just want to make the odd call, we'll help you get the best-value phone deal.
Howtochoosethebestmobilephonedeal 447329
Hamse Yusuf

Not sure which mobile phone deal to choose? Our expert guides will help you pick the best one for your needs and budget.

First you'll need to decide which type of deal to go for. The three options to choose from are:

The option that's best for you will depend on how much you use your mobile for calls, texts and internet browsing, and how often you want to upgrade to a new handset. Keep reading to find out more.

If you're trying to choose which network to sign up with, we can help make sure you don't get stuck with terrible customer service. 

We survey thousands of mobile phone owners so we can reveal the best mobile networks

Should you buy a phone on contract or Sim-free?

Our phone contract calculator can help you decide whether to buy a new phone on contract, or pay for the phone outright and buy a Sim separately.

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile phone deals

With a pay-as-you-go tariff, there's no fixed monthly fee to deal with and you don't have to sign up to a direct debit agreement. Instead, you pay for your phone use by topping up your mobile credit in advance. Once you've used up all your credit, you won't be able to make outgoing calls or texts until you top-up again.

If you have kid or grandkids who are getting their first phone or if you only use your phone for the odd call or text and you want to better budget for your mobile phone, PAYG is probably the best for you.

If you want the latest PAYG deals, read our guide on how to get the best PAYG mobile phone deal.

Pay-monthly (contract/PAYM) mobile phone deals

With a traditional pay-monthly contract, you pay a fixed minimum monthly fee by direct debit, which is made up of paying for the phone (usually through a credit agreement, meaning you get credit checked) and the sim deal itself, with an allowance of calls, texts and data. You'll have to commit to a period of time, typically 2 years.

Depending on the deal you select, there may also be an upfront fee you pay for the device, which is something worth considering if you are set on a contract deal.

This type of deal is great if you are looking for the latest smartphones, such as the iPhone Xs and Samsung Galaxy S9, but don't fancy paying a lump sum for it.

If you want to know more about why you would choose a contract deal, click here to read our expert guide on pay monthly deals.

Sim-only mobile contract deals

A SIM-only deal is basically a contract deal, without a phone attached. You'll still get an allowance of calls, texts and data, but the monthly cost will be lower than it would be with a regular pay-monthly mobile contract, as you are not paying for a phone.

Often, it is much more cost-effective to pay for a phone upfront and get a SIM-only deal, if you have the spare cash. However, it does mean you have to stump up a lot of money, which can reach over £1000 for the latest smartphones such as an iPhone XS Max.

If you are in the market for a SIM-only deal, then read our picks for the best deals for any budget.