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The biggest mobile phone blunders we all make

Rachel Wait
by Lovemoney Staff Rachel Wait on 30 August 2011  |  Comments 10 comments

If you're choosing a new mobile phone tariff, don't make these mistakes...

The biggest mobile phone blunders we all make

Mobile phones have come a long way over recent years, and as phones have gained an increasing number of handy uses, mobile tariffs have gone up in price.

Unfortunately, there is also a range of temptations and rip-offs that can see us paying out far more for our tariff than we strictly need to.

So here, I’m going to round up some of the biggest mobile phone mistakes to avoid when deciding which mobile deal to go for.

1. Ignoring the internet

You’re bound to walk past several mobile phone shops on a trip into town or on your way home from work. But don’t get tempted to go inside to order your new phone and tariff because the deals you’ll be offered will be more expensive than those online.

You’ll get a lot more for your money if you choose an online plan. So be sure to check out the major network providers’ websites to see what’s on offer. And that leads me nicely onto...

2. Not shopping around

If you don’t shop around for your phone tariff, you’re making the biggest mistake of all! That’s because there are so many different tariffs out there that it’s really important to check you’re getting the best deal to suit your needs.

So always compare deals from different providers carefully. A great way to do this is by using a comparison site such as Recombu. This nifty site allows you to use the slider tools to choose how many minutes and texts you want, together with how much you’re willing to pay each month. You can then find a tariff to meet your requirements. 

3. Being tempted by freebies

Watch out for mobile tariffs that come with some kind of ‘freebie’ such as a laptop or games console. The sole purpose of these offers is to entice you in and ignore whether or not you’re getting good value for money. In many cases you’ll find you would have saved money by getting a cheaper tariff and buying the item yourself. So in reality, the freebie isn't free at all.

Also watch out for cashback deals. Although they might sound good, the process for claiming your cashback can be very tricky and is often not worth it.

4. Being tempted by the phone model

We all see people using flashy phones on the commute into work or at the pub, but don’t get trapped into thinking you need one too. Consider what you use your phone for and whether you really need it to do a lot more than simply call and text.

Tariffs with the latest phone models will be far more expensive and in many cases it simply isn’t worth paying the high price.

5. Forgetting about SIM only deals

Don’t forget about SIM only deals. These are far cheaper than monthly contracts and they are great for those of you who are happy with your current mobile phone.

SIM only deals usually only require you to be tied into a 30-day rolling contract so you won’t have to be stuck on a 12, 18 or even 24 month contract as you would be on a standard contract. This means that should a better deal come along, you can switch at a month’s notice.

All of the major providers offer SIM only deals, but Tesco is also well worth checking out, as is giffgaff and Utility Warehouse.

Giffgaff operates slightly differently from the big networks as it employs a community ethos and if you have a problem with your phone, instead of using technical support lines, the users on the community pages will help out.

It offers some truly competitive deals – for example, for £5 a month, you can get 60 minutes and 300 texts, and an extra free minute for every minute you get called. Or for £10 a month, get 250 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet access. See all the deals here.

Meanwhile, Utility Warehouse offers lots of discounted deals on your mobile, landline and broadband costs, as well as your gas and electricity. This will all be included in a single bill. Examples of its SIM only deals include the Value 500 for £10 a month which includes 500 minutes and unlimited texts, while the Value 800 costs £15 a month and includes 800 minutes and unlimited texts. Find out more here.

Alternatively, have a look at pay as you go deals as these are often better value than contract deals.

6. Signing up to mobile phone insurance

Finally, be very wary of mobile phone insurance, which you’re bound to be offered as soon as you sign up to a new tariff. Personally, I think phone insurance is completely pointless as it’s often riddled with catches and exclusions. Many policies, for example, don’t cover you if you’ve left your phone in a public place or for accidental damage.

What’s more, these policies often come with a fairly high excess and you may find you’re already covered on your home insurance anyway. So you need to weigh up whether you think it’s necessary.

If you do decide to go for it and take out a policy, the number one rule is to always shop around. Policies offered by your provider are often more expensive than policies offered elsewhere so it’s well worth shopping around. Have a look at sites such as protectyourbubble and insurance2go. You can find out more in Ditch these mobile phone insurance policies.

And always ensure you read the terms and conditions carefully so you know exactly what you’re covered for.

More: Eight ways to get your next mobile contract for less | Make £3,300 from your mobile phone

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Comments (10)

  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    I went shopping yesterday for a microwave with a stainless steel lining, I didn't find one in Curry's but my friend who asked to come along bought a smart phone he saw. I don't know much about them but they were different prices for different networks. I asked it they were locked and was assured they weren't. That was misleading I think, I'm sure they aren't locked until you actually buy one and then you have to choose a provider and then they are locked to that provider. I could be wrong, maybe you can put a giff gaff sim in them but it's better to shop around rather than buy on impulse.

    The best price so far on a microwave is £99.99 and that was a smaller shop; it's Sanyo and all stainless steel. I'll keep looking! :)

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • spw
    Love rating 0
    spw said

    I found a small stainless steel microwave in Sainsbury's sale at approx. £40.

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • snowchick
    Love rating 12
    snowchick said

    Not wanting to blow my own trumpet and all but I have not made ANY of the above 'blunders'. I have a relitively cheap phone £50 with a slide keyboard (no mistypes on predictive texts). I have been on the same network for about 15 years. I top up about £20 every 8 months (yes that was 8 months). I guess you would say I was a low user but I never 'chat' on my mobile - it is more of a 'I am out shopping, I saw this, shall I buy it' or 'I'll be late home' type call. I have 5 free texts a day as part of a promotion they had about ten years ago where as long as you remain in credit you have 5 free texts a day.

    HOWEVER I just got myself an HTC wildfire as all the others in work had one - I shopped around and paid about £120 in phones4u (their phones are unlocked). I used it on my home broadband for internet only and have now got a giffgaff goodybag for £10 for a month (deal as above). I am not convinced I will use all the minutes or internet allowed but it was the best deal around. The phone has to be charged daily and as there is no booklet with it (you are supposed to read how it works on the net), I can't sit down with a cup of tea and flick through the bits I need at my leisure.

    All my chatting is done from my home phone where I also get free uk minutes. I need a home number as I use this for all those times you have to put your phone number in where you just KNOW they are going to call you to try to get you to buy something/do some survey etc etc. I absolutely WILL NOT tolerate these calls on my mobile. If I am in work I am not allowed to take calls on my mobile. If I am driving I can't take calls either, if i am shopping, the last thing I want to do is be fumbling about for my phone while i am trying to pay for shopping.

    I suspect I will not use all my entitlement. I expect therefore I will revert to my old faithful phone. Having said all that though it is handy to play games while on the bus or while waiting for the kids to have a swimming lesson etc etc. Handy and fun - but not essential.

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • snowchick
    Love rating 12
    snowchick said

    Also I have to say all my mates in work had their HTC phones on contract and looked at me like I was some form of amoeba when I said I paid £120. So they are locked into 24 months contracts at about £30 a month. That is £720. I pay £120, no contract. Most of the time I am at home so use my broadband connection. With a giff gaff goodybag at £10 I get a much better deal with no tie in - 24 months total £360. Now who is the amoeba???

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • Steviebaby1959
    Love rating 34
    Steviebaby1959 said

    This article is fine if YOU are the one that is going to operate the cellphone, however, as allegedly 1/3rd of all children in the UK have a mobile, they don't pay the bill, so, if you ask them what tariff they're on, they'll look at you blankly and say.....tariff, what pop group's he in then.....LOL

    Seriously though, half the parents don't know what their little darlings use their 'phones for, how many unlimited texts they need daily, if they require pin codes and security passwords, etc, etc, that's how these Mobile phone companies have made a killing financially this last decade, or, so, as they know that half of what adults have paid for was probably not needed, but, they don't keep tabs on how often their child uses their mobile, just as long as they've got one.

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    A rather patronising title for the article, as I'm sure most of us don't make these blunders - at least not those of us savvy enough to be reading Lovemoney threads. I suggest Googling 'Dual Active Sim' phones for those wanting to be really smart about their mobile deals. Give your kids a phone on GiffGaff and you will only need to top up £5 every three months to ensure they can phone and text you and any friends on the same network. I manage without any fixed landline and my office is so mobile that could set up in a hotel room within an hour. I have both UK and USA landline incoming numbers and use Skype in and Skype out. I occasionally use Manifone to set up special diverts.

    I'm afraid I can beat the microwave deal, though I doubt others will be able to repeat it. I bought a brand new 'returned' all stainless microwave from a mail order returns company. It needed a new fuse internally which I replaced and it has been perfect for the last 18 months. £15 !

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • SIMON KENT
    Love rating 0
    SIMON KENT said

    ELECTRICBLUE - I would much appreciate knowing how I can get a US landline, of any sort, in the UK - thanks in advance.

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • TheImpostor
    Love rating 14
    TheImpostor said

    My best estimate is that, like Twitter and other online social media, 95% of what is said on mobile phones is utter waffle and wasted air. But it provides a good break from watching celebrities on TV and in the press - now you can talk about them using radio-waves to someone else who hasn't got anything better to do either.

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • mumtaz
    Love rating 4
    mumtaz said

    SIMON KENT - Clever you to spot that of course you cannot get a USA landline. However, what you can get (like ELECTRICBLUE) is a USA landline number - from any one of the many VOIP and internet telephony providers - Localphone, Skype, etc etc

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    As most telephone systems these days are transmitted through a number of media pathways to arrive at the destination I think the differentiation you make is pointless and childish, Simon. In any case, whilst I do use Skype and other VOIP diverts all the time, O2 offer a direct incoming number from any one of many countries, with at least 3000 incoming minutes. The service is as clear as usual O2 calls, which in my area might not be that great except that I use a high power desktop GSM phone.

    I tend to agree with Thelmposter on the use of mobile phones; however, as in my case I have customers and colleagues all around the world I need to talk to, tin cans and string just won't do the job unfortunately. 95% of conversation in general is wasted air though, so I fail to see the point of commenting.

    JOHN - we don't like people posting money earning links. I am theoretically in several affiliate programmes, but have the decency to post my opinions based on what works for me and without a profit motive.

    Report on 27 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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