In the 21st century, many people view their mobile phones the same way they view their right hand: essential. There are two main ways to procure your partner in crime, each with their pros and cons. What may be right for your friend might not be the best option for you.
A contract gives you a mobile phone and a set number of minutes, texts and data in return for a set monthly fee over a prearranged period of time, usually 1 to 2 years.
You know exactly what your allowance is and won’t run out of credit, although it may be subject to fair usage policies (unlimited does not always mean unlimited). It’s an affordable way of getting a top of the range phone without a massive initial payout, and sometimes the company will even throw in a free gift, and sometimes let you upgrade to a new phone early. Bonus!
However, even if you get sick of your new phone, or lose it without getting the insurance, you will still have to make your monthly payment for the rest of the agreed contract term. It is a formal contract, so you will need to pass a credit check to get it, and if you stop paying your monthly fee, or pay it late, it can also damage your credit, which can affect bigger purchases. Some companies might also require you to be over 18. As I said before, make sure you read the small print, “unlimited” might be defined as a certain number of texts the company thinks is reasonable, and if you go over it you are liable for extra fees.
SIM only deals mean you sign up for just the SIM card. This involves a package with your company with a certain number of minutes, texts and data. Again, these may come with some terms and conditions.
The term for SIM only contracts are much shorter, some let you swap after as little as a month, giving you freedom to jump from one company to the other and follow the best deal. They can also be used with different phones. If you’re prone to dropping your phone – we all are, I know – you can just pop the SIM in your replacement and away you go. This is a cheaper option, but does not include the mobile phone itself. Because you are only paying for the SIM card you may find a better deal with more minutes is more affordable. The credit check for a SIM only contract is much nice too.
Some of the drawbacks of a SIM only deal is having to pay out for a new phone. If you like to keep up with phone trends, or need to replace a broken or stolen handset, this could set you back hundreds of pounds, a blow to most bank balances. Some phones are locked to the company that sold them, although these can be unlocked at phone shops for a fee.
So, in light of this, will you be trading in your right hand?