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Saving Money on a Broadband Contract

By Mark Billen

With inflation rising and bills spiralling, we could all always save on the monthly outgoings. Home broadband is no exception so why pay more than necessary?

None of us like feeling short changed out of a good deal.

When it comes to utility bills, home broadband is very much a modern living cost worth saving on. The market is competitive and options are broad, making striking a better bargain fairly easy.

This guide looks at the factors to consider before suggesting practical tips for paying less.

The loyalty penalty

You might think staying loyal to a broadband provider is a good thing. You keep a service you know, like and trust with no hassles, right?

Sadly, it isn’t always so rewarding in terms of price. That’s because letting an expired contract run at uncompetitive rates means you’re paying more than necessary.

Like mobile phones, broadband contracts have minimum term periods typically ranging 12-24 months. Once this time has lapsed your contract “rolls” on at the same fixed price, subject to inflation or rises.

With better offers normally exclusive only to new customers, sometimes it’s best to be “disloyal” to save money.

Staying with your current provider

If loyalty still seems like the best bet, there are ways to evaluate and steer towards an improved deal.

Happy with your service?

Staying with a current provider is one thing, but are you completely satisfied?

Consider the product, the service and whether it has always met expected levels. Speed, reliability and access tend to be key success factors for evaluating broadband.

Haggling for a better deal

It’s always best to know what else is out there. Survey the market, shop around and make a note of what other providers are offering.

With this information you can then “haggle” with some confidence:

  • Bluff tactics – “They’re offering me this, so can you better the deal in order to keep me?”
  • Reward my loyalty – “I don’t WANT to switch so make me a great offer to stay!”

Remember, you are never in a more powerful position when renewing a contract. Providers don’t like losing customers and will negotiate exclusive offers to retain your business.

Removing optional extras

Many broadband packages are inclusive of additional services you may not want. Providers do this to justify a bigger price for an “all-in-one” product, bundling phone and entertainment etc.

Sky, BT and Virgin Media are prominent examples of this, tethering super-fast fibre broadband to premium TV subscriptions. Landline calling allowances and mobile deals too, are sometimes unwanted optional extras.

Perhaps your existing deal still includes these? Would you rather save money by dropping them? Suggest to your provider if these can be trimmed away to make things cheap as possible.

Shopping for a new contract

When a new contract elsewhere seems preferable, it’s good to shop around. Look for the latest broadband deals and use comparison services to survey the market.

What speed should you get?

Speed is always the biggest driver for broadband. The “bandwidth” defined in megabytes (Mbps) or gigabytes (Gbps) per second often dictates price.

As a rule, you want as higher a rate as possible for what you can afford. There is no point in going slow to go cheap and finding the service fails to meet requirements.

If your web activity is frequent, high-demand and across multiple users or devices then fibre optic is a basic minimum. Conversely, try gauging actual usage and consider if a premium cost, super fast package is justifiable.

Weighing up the options

There are other factors to consider when choosing a deal. These can make a big difference to affordability when comparing packages:

  • Free gifts. Often in the form of gifts cards, prepaid credit cards, or free products like headphones, these gifts can count significantly towards your overall savings.
  • No setup fees. Usually, the savings here are fairly small, but sometimes it works out cheaper to get a deal with no or a small set-up fee, especially if you have cashflow issues.
  • Contract term. Calculate the total price to pay across the length of the contract. In general, longer-term contracts are cheaper, but a shorter contract can save money overall if you know you’re going to have to cancel early.

Out with the old…

When out of contract, selecting a new provider and switching is most simple. You’ll usually get the biggest saving doing this, and in many cases, the new provider will handle the change for you and it should happen smoothly.

Things get harder when a minimum term hasn’t yet lapsed. Technically you are bound to honour this or pay a cancellation fee to leave.

As an example, Virgin Media caps its “Early Disconnection Fee” at a maximum of £240, but other providers will vary. Most demand written notice of at least 14-30 days as a standard.

Switching contracts should not leave you with a period of no connection. The process has become far more seamless and with little to zero disruption around activation time.

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