Here are Raylo’s five big tips for trimming your mobile bill in 2020.
SIM. MVNO. Nope - you’re not looking at the bottom row of an optician’s eye chart. SIM and MVNO deals are two things you should be paying attention to if you want a cheaper package from your mobile provider.
You’re probably familiar with SIM cards, and perhaps with SIM-only contracts. If not, get involved, because these babies can save you a wad of cash. Traditionally mobile customers have been locked in to long, expensive contracts where usage and handset costs are bundled together. A SIM-only deal just covers calls, texts and data, and you sort out your phone separately (more on that later). This usually offers better value and flexibility, with contracts starting at just a few quid a month.
Most providers now offer SIM-only deals, so which to choose? You can often save money with an MVNO or ‘mobile virtual network operator’. This refers to those outside of O2, Three, Vodafone and EE. MVNOs, like Tesco Mobile, giffgaff and iD Mobile, rent their network space from the ‘big four’ networks. They don’t carry the costs of establishing and maintaining a network infrastructure, so they can pass those savings on to you.
While a SIM-only deal could save you money, it’s worth checking how much data you actually need before you sign up or renew your contract. In January 2019, Citizens Advice found that SIM-only customers were wasting an average of 2GB of data each month - the equivalent of streaming three hours of video or 28 hours of music. Take a look at your last few bills and see how much data you really use, don’t pay for more than you need.
The eSIM is something of a well-kept secret - at the time of writing only EE, O2, Truphone and Ubigi offer them for mobile in the UK - but expect to hear more about them in 2020. An eSIM comes embedded in your phone and effectively negates the need to insert a physical SIM card. While this is likely to become the norm, at the moment, eSIMs really come into their own when you’re travelling. The latest iPhones have both physical SIM and eSIM capabilities, meaning you can have your usual plan on your main SIM and sign up to a local carrier on your eSIM, cutting out roaming charges.
If you’re happy with your contract but want to keep an eye on costs, many networks allow you to put a self-imposed stopper on your usage. A spending cap prevents you from going over your monthly allowance and thus collapsing on to a fainting couch when your bill arrives.
Bonus tip: When it comes to budgeting, your phone can actually be a force for good, with a range of apps to help you sort out your spending. Yolt and Emma make it easy to keep track of your bank accounts, set savings targets and manage your outgoings. Plum and Moneybox, meanwhile, automatically set aside savings and can even invest for you.
If you’ve got a SIM-only deal and you’re looking for a new handset, consider getting a subscription rather than buying it outright. With a Raylo membership you can subscribe to the latest iPhone for a monthly fee. You’ll get a brand new phone (insurance optional), use it for 24 months, then exchange it for the next model. It’s cheaper than owning and we’ll prioritise getting your old phone back into circulation, so it’s better sustainability-wise too. Good karma, good value and some top-draw tech in your pocket: sounds like a happy new year to us.