Can I downgrade my broadband package?

Dan Howdle | January 25th, 2024

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Whether you're mid-contract and find yourself with more than you need or are just looking to save money, the question of whether you can downgrade your broadband package has more than one answer: Sometimes, yes, sometimes no, and sometimes yes but you probably should consider switching instead.

In this guide we're going to run through those three scenarios as well as providing tops to get a better broadband deal both with your existing provider, and with an alternative provider serving your area.

Downgrading your broadband package mid-contract

You cannot downgrade your broadband package mid-contract. When you sign up for 12, 18 or 24 months that's your promise to your provider to stick with them for that long and they will hold you to that. Sure, you can jump ship early, but you will be legally obliged to pay off the remainder of your existing contract in most cases.

So where does that leave you if you're simply looking to pay less for your broadband and you're still a long way from your contract's end? Well, you may still be able to save some money by taking on more services rather than less. And yes, we're perfectly aware that doesn't make sense on face value. So…

Saving money by adding to your package

This works if you're already paying for a collection of services – for example Netflix, Disney+, your mobile phone SIM/tariff and so on. Providers like Virgin Media, Sky, BT and EE all offer bundles where you can tie all of your services together under a single package, and in some cases save a lot of money.

For example, we – the royal we, writer of this guide – had Netflix, Virgin Media Broadband and a Three Mobile SIM last year, with the three collectively costing about £80 per month collectively. And for £10 less, we were able to get Virgin Media to upgrade us to their Ultimate Volt Bundle, giving us an unlimited O2 mobile SIM, gigabit-speed broadband, Netflix, 200+ channels, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports and TNT Sports. We repeat: for £10 less.

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Now, you may not have that option with your current provider, and if you do they will make you sign up to a new contract. It will also depend on being able to easily switch out of the services the bundle will be replacing. Not an issue with Netflix and the like, since they tend to run on a one-month rolling basis, but with your mobile plan, like broadband, it's not going to be so easy to escape if you're mid-contract.

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Downgrading your broadband package out of contract

Unlike attempting to do so mid-contract, it's actually very easy to downgrade your broadband package once your contract has expired. If you have more than you need and want to save money, downgrading is certainly an option. Not the best option (as we'll cover shortly), but certainly an option. But here's the kicker: Changing your broadband package in any way – even downgrading – will usually involve signing a new contract. Which is why our advice is always going to be…

Don't downgrade, switch

If you downgrade your existing broadband package, you're going to be getting the worst of both worlds. You…

  • Won't be a new customer – New customers get better prices and extras like vouchers and cashback to tempt them in the door. As an existing customer you won't be able to take advantage of either. To be a new customer you will have to have been away from your provider for a set time – usually at least 12 months
  • Won't get an sign-up benefits – Providers really do throw the kitchen sink at new business in order to attain your custom. As a 'loyal' existing customer, most broadband providers care a lot less about retaining you
  • Won't save any money – The price of broadband packages is going up all the time, especially more recently where inflation has played a big part in pricing across the industry. In almost all cases you will find broadband more expensive by the time you end your contract even if you opt for a slightly lower speed
  • May be stuck with inferior equipment – Every few years broadband providers upgrade the equipment (router) they offer their customers. Having the latest offering means better wifi, and a smoother, faster and more capable service. Providers aren't however inclined to upgrade your equipment for you when you roll on from one contract into another

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Should I switch broadband instead of downgrading?

In almost all cases, yes. You may be thinking that's a bit rich coming from a company whose bread and butter is helping people to switch broadband, but ultimately you'll never get a better deal by sticking with your existing provider. The whole, somewhat toxic, culture of rewarding new customers and ratcheting up prices for existing ones is in no danger of ending anytime soon. So the question then becomes:

How do I go about switching broadband provider?

We have a whole, in-depth guide on how to switch broadband, so if you're after a deep dive, do go check that out. If you'd like a more time-saving focused overview, here's how to go about it:

  • Step 1: Use a postcode checkerOur postcode checker will draw on provider data to show you exactly what's available where you live. We don't store any user data so entering your postcode into the tool is completely safe
  • Step 2: Know your speed – If your existing speed is enough, then that's a good place to start, but you may find deals both faster and cheaper on a good day. In terms of understanding what broadband speed you need, we have a guide on that too
  • Step 3: Choosing a better deal – Once you see a deal you like, click through to the provider and sign up. And bear in mind that deals with special extras like vouchers or cashback don't stick around long, so if you see one and it's on the package you want, snap it up

In summary

If you're scrolling straight down here to find out what you need to know in shorthand, here it is. You can downgrade your package after your contract ends, but switching is always the better option if your objective is to get a better deal.

If you're in the midst of your contract, leaving early is never a good idea, but you may be able to wangle a better deal by signing up to additional services like TV and mobile that you're already subscribed to with other providers, provided you are in a position to cancel them and move everything over to your existing broadband provider (and that your existing provider offers them). Clear? Good.

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