Five Questions About: Choosing the right mobile tariff

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The Independent Online

Why should I review my mobile tariff?

Millions of people pay over the odds for their mobile phones each month because they aren't on the right tariffs to suit their needs. For example, if you have a tariff that includes 200 minutes a month, but you regularly exceed this by just a few minutes, then you are probably paying much more than you would if you went for a package with 250 inclusive minutes. Deals are also getting much more competitive. Tesco Mobile has just announced a SIM-only deal which costs £6 a month and allows you to make 100 minutes of calls and unlimited texts.

What does SIM-only mean?

The SIM card is the removable memory card in your phone which holds information about you and stores your telephone numbers. With a SIM-only deal you buy the handset and the provider gives you the SIM to put in the phone. These deals are usually on a one-month contract.

What's best, a longer contract or SIM-only?

It depends how you use your phone. Often calls and texts can be cheaper with a SIM-only deal than if you were tied into a lengthy contract, as the network is not subsidising the cost of the handset as part of the monthly contract. However, if you don't already have a handset, you'll have to buy one and if you want the latest smartphone technology, this could set you back a few hundred pounds.

Aren't pay-as-you-go deals the cheapest?

Not necessarily, as most providers will charge a little more for calls and downloading data when there is no contract to ensure you will remain loyal to them. That said, if you only use your telephone very rarely they can work out to be the most cost-effective option. As with SIM-only deals you will have to cover the handset cost upfront.

Can I move deals and keep my number?

Yes, but first speak your current provider and see if you can switch to a better package. If they can't offer you a tariff which suits your needs, or the price isn't right, then it's time to move. Ask your current provider for your Porting Authorisation Code, which will enable you to move providers while keeping the same number, so you can then shop around for competitive deals elsewhere.

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