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What happens when my mobile contract ends?

Jaskiran Jutla
Wednesday, November 22nd 2017

If you are coming to the end of your mobile phone contract and are happy to stay on the same plan, you can. However, there are several options available if you decide to change your tariff or leave your provider.

You can cancel your contract, upgrade or switch to another provider. Here’s all you need to know…

You can switch to a new mobile provider

Once you have reached the end of your contract it will automatically roll over. This means you won’t need to do anything – you’ll just carry on being charged the same amount on a monthly basis. The only difference is that now you are out of contract so can leave at any time. If you do decide to leave, you will need to give your current provider 30 days’ notice.

Check the providers' coverage before you switch

Checking the coverage in your area is essential. If it looks like you will only get a poor signal where you live, there's no point wasting your money. You can check this by clicking on these coverage checkers for the various providers.

Check which plan you want to go for before switching

If you are moving to a new provider, have a good look at its website so you know what you will be getting. Think about the balance of minutes, texts and data you have been using with your current provider.

If you are using the internet on a daily basis and not making many calls, it may be worth going for an unlimited data tariff with limited minutes, which will work out cheaper. Monitor your activity and then decide.

If you are looking for budget-friendly SIM-only deals, Asda Mobile and iD Mobile offer tariffs starting as low as £4.50 per month.

You can cancel your contract before it ends

You will probably be charged for the remainder of your contract if you decide to leave early. However, there are circumstances in which you can cancel your contract without paying these fees.

If your provider increases the price of your contract, it has to give you 30 days’ notice and may have to allow you to cancel the contract without charge. You also have grounds to cancel your contract if the level of service drops below an acceptable level.

Get a PAC code

If you want to keep your mobile number when you switch, you’ll need to request a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC). This is a code that allows you to transfer your number to another provider.

Mobile providers tend to send your PAC code via text. The code is valid for 30 days, during which time you need to provide your PAC code to your new provider. It usually takes 24 hours to transfer your mobile number.

If you are also happy with your current phone you can continue to use it. However, your phone may be locked to the provider. If that's the case you can get it unlocked for a small fee.

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You can stay with your existing provider

If you're happy with the service and coverage of your current provider, then sticking with them makes sense. You then have a couple of options. You can upgrade or continue using your existing phone and you can change or keep your existing package of minutes, texts and data.

Upgrade or keep your phone

You can usually look at phone upgrade options online or you can speak to an advisor directly. Some mobile providers contact you in advance to remind you that you are coming to the end of your contract, and will almost certainly direct you towards these upgrade options.

Choosing a new phone means you will have to pay for it. If you have only just finished paying off your old phone, some providers let you upgrade your phone without increasing the monthly cost or charging an upfront fee.

Leave your plan as it is or change it

If you have just finished paying off your phone and are not upgrading it, then you will almost certainly need to change plans. Your existing plan will include a monthly cost for paying off the phone, and that is no longer relevant. So you can switch to a SIM-only or pay-as-you-go-deal.

O2 does things slightly differently; it clearly splits your bill between the phone and the services. Once you have paid off the phone, you can carry on just paying for the minutes, texts and data you are already getting without needing to change anything.

Upgrading your plan will usually cost more

Depending on which phone you choose, upgrading will usually cost more. Some providers allow you to pay outright for the phone, while others spread the cost across the contract. If you decide to go for a plan with more minutes, texts and data, you will probably see an increase in your monthly bill.

A downgrade should save you money

If you find that you are not using your full allowance of minutes or mobile data you can downgrade to a cheaper plan. You’ll need to contact your mobile provider to do this. The customer service advisor will let you know what deals are available.

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