The European Commission has rung the final bell for 36-month mobile contracts. But should we sign up to long contracts at all? Perhaps it’s time to buy our handsets outright and embrace the freedom of Sim-only deals.
Do you know what your financial position will be like in three year’s time? How about what job you’ll have, how much you’ll be paid, where you’ll be living, or how many children you’ll have?
You might know the answer to some of these questions, but certainly not all of them. And you probably don’t know how much you’ll be using your phone in 2014 either.
Farewell three year contracts
Thankfully, this won’t be as much of an issue as it used to be, with the European Commission now outlawing mobile phone contracts longer than 24 months.
The new rules also force operators to offer a 12 month alternative to the 18 and 24 month options that have become the norm.
Shorter contracts should help stimulate competition as we’re given more opportunities to switch provider. Then again, 24-month contracts often mean you get your mobile for free, letting you spread the cost of a handset over the length of your contract.
You can acquire a free handset on a 12-month contract, but you’ll have to pay through the nose for it though your monthly line rental. So getting a new handset each year is a nice luxury, but it’s an extravagance not everyone can afford.
Time to go Sim-only?
But some people are opting to bypass these contracts altogether, buying their handset outright and signing up to a Sim-only contract that only ties you into a month at a time.
After a quick browse, I found you could save £100 over a year by buying an HTC Desire S up-front and going for the cheapest monthly Sim-only contract, rather than getting it free at the start of the contract (though you’ll get more minutes and texts with the latter). This tactic does depend on you having a spare £360 or so lying about, but the savings and freedom over the following months are more than worth it.
Have you already jumped on the Sim-only bandwagon? Or is that ‘free’ new toy too tempting?