For many people, one of the major benefits of having a pay monthly phone deal is that you can get a new phone without having to pay for it outright. You also get inclusive minutes, texts and data so you can use your phone without having to worry about things like topping up and running out of credit.
This is our breakdown of what to look for when choosing a mobile deal with no upfront cost and the options that are available to you.
If you’ve decided, or if circumstances dictate, that you’re going to get a mobile phone deal without an upfront cost, then what next? Here’s what to be looking out for in order to get yourself the best possible deal.
Comparison sites such as Cable.co.uk often feature deals that you can’t get by going directly to the provider. It might be that we’ll offer you a cheaper monthly price or get an extra freebie thrown in with your deal.
If you click on one of our deals you may find yourself on the website of a reseller such as Fonehouse or Metrofone, rather than that of the provider itself. Don’t be alarmed, the contract being offered is with the stated provider, it’s just that you’ll get it cheaper by going through a third party.
All of the following mobile providers offer phone deals with no upfront cost, but there are pros and cons to each one. Let’s take a look at what each provider has to offer.
You can get pretty much any brand of phone that you like with no upfront cost, but if you’re looking at one of the newer models then you’ll be facing a pretty hefty monthly fee. Here are some of the most popular phone brands that feature in deals with no upfront cost, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
It’s a mobile phone deal that doesn’t require you to pay anything on the day you take out the contract – the first time you pay anything is when you get your first bill. These deals are sometimes described as offering "free phones" but of course they’re not actually free – you’ll pay off the full cost of the phone over the course of the contract.
Often, the total amount you’d pay for a handset stays the same whether there’s anything to pay upfront or not. So in order to get a phone with no upfront cost, you’re probably going to be either paying more each month or taking on a longer contract.
Providers like O2 are increasingly offering custom mobile contracts, which means the customer can choose how much is paid up front (if anything), and decide on a set monthly payment or contract term. Custom plans are gaining in popularity because of the flexibility they offer, and they allow the cost of more expensive handsets to be spread out over a longer period, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Yes, you can usually pay off the outstanding balance on your handset in order to leave your phone contract early, although this is unlikely to be the most economical way of switching providers.
This varies all the time and the very cheapest may not necessarily be the one for you. You can use our comparison tool to find the right mobile deal for you – and simply filter by price if you consider that most important.
It’s possible, but you’re unlikely to be accepted for a top-of-the-range handset. If you don’t pass a credit check, some providers will ask you to pay an upfront deposit on the phone rather than flat-out decline you.
If your current phone is still usable, you may be accepted for a SIM-only contract, which is a good way of improving your credit rating – as long as you make your payments on time. There’s more information in our guide to getting a mobile deal without a credit check.
You’ll need a valid credit or debit card in order to take out a phone contract. Some providers will also ask for extra proof of identity, especially if you’re signing up in store. Usually this will be a full UK driver’s licence or passport, as well as either a recent utility bill or bank statement.