/ Technology

We’re overpaying for our mobile phone contracts

Mobile phone next to coins and credit card

Around 10 million Brits regularly pay for extra calls, texts and data on top of mobile line rental each month, according to Which? Mobile research. Have you been shocked by extra costs on your monthly mobile phone bill?

If you’re on a mobile contract, could you state with confidence what your monthly allowance of calls, texts and mobile data is? If you don’t know, or only have a foggy idea, you’re not alone.

Our research has found that around six million people are in the dark about their monthly limit for calls, and five million feel the same about their text and data allowances.

Do you use more than your allowance?

It may come as no great shock, then, that around 10 million of us with a mobile contract regularly pay more than our fixed monthly line rental – and that’s just of those who keep an eye on their bill.

Making calls outside contract allowances is likely to be costing UK mobile users a pretty penny, as non-inclusive usage reverts to a provider’s much costlier standard call, text and mobile web rates. At the other end of the scale, one in five said they never pay more than their fixed monthly line rental.

This could be a good thing – if it’s because you’ve chosen the right tariff for your needs. But it could equally be because you’re paying too much each month for loads of minutes and texts you never use.

New Year, new mobile deal

Realistically, the only sure fire way to pay for exactly the minutes, texts and data you use – and to never overspend without realising – is to opt for a pay-as-you-go tariff. But your handset choice will be more restricted, and the cost per minute or text is relatively high compared to pay-monthly deals, so pay-as-you-go tariffs don’t really suit avid mobile phone users.

Nor should you settle for lining your mobile network’s pockets by sticking with the wrong mobile deal out of inertia. And since around 18 million people have never switched their mobile phone provider, based on our research, I find it hard to believe that every one of them is staying put out of love and admiration for their operator.

So why not make 2011 the year to finally make a mobile change? Check your last few mobile bills, work out how many minutes and texts you really need, and get switching. Your wallet will thank you – even if your current mobile provider doesn’t.

Now, where did I put my last mobile phone bill…


I have a Motorola G Mobile. Periodically I top-up the pay-as-you-go money on the line (from Virgin). I have no idea whether this is cheap or expensive and I can’t find out how the money is spent. I don’t make a lot of calls and I text occasionally but I do use the camera quite a lot and use Google ‘Drive’ to transfer to my laptop. I keep having to top up quite often. How can I get the bill itemised so that I can see where the money goes?

Hi Alan,

PAYG mobiles don’t usually give out bills, itemised or otherwise.

I don’t use Virgin myself but, if you are using internet data without using some of your PAYG credit to buy a specific monthly allowance for that, you may well be paying an extortionate rate for the privilege.

With rival PAYG provider giffgaff, it is necessary to register all PAYG accounts on-line and it then becomes possible to goto a web page that will show your monthly usage and charges. Virgin may provide similar facilities for their customers…

For significant data usage, giffgaff users usually spend somewhere between £7.50 and £20.00 each month on a “goodybag”, to get a pre-paid allowance for call minutes and internet data.