Here, we review some points to consider when deciding on the best mobile phone deal for you, from the many options.

The first steps are to quantify your needs and set a budget. Occasional voice users may prefer a pay as you go (PAYG) tariff for around £10 monthly, while frequent users who also require a new smartphone may opt for a monthly invoiced contract and a commitment of between 12 and 24 months. In general, the longer the term, the lower the monthly fixed cost, though 18 months is sometimes quoted as the longest for which people wish to sign. It is wise to anticipate possible changes in circumstances.

Alternatively, using an existing handset for another year (or buying a replacement) and choosing a SIM-only package offers savings. A number of comparison sites are available where you can input your anticipated monthly call and data requirements and find suitable options. Clearly, the network should offer reliable coverage where you are.

In addition, try to predict how much mobile data you require each month. If you use your smartphone to surf the web, is this browsing likely to be over the home or office Wi-Fi ? This will not consume your mobile data quota. However, when partially or entirely mobile, the data usage can soon add up for heavier users – especially with streaming, videos or frequent photography. Mobile phone handsets now have configuration settings that can be used to limit certain applications to work only with Wi-Fi connections. Many users find that 1 Gigabyte is sufficient for their needs.

Choosing the wrong contract means unnecessary expense, while finding the right contract can lead to a significant annual saving. With cheaper contracts, check the call cost per minute when the tariff’s inclusive minutes have been exceeded in any monthly period. Consider whether SMS text messages are necessary; you may, for example, plan to use a messaging service instead.

Some networks offer extra insurance deals. However, check first – does your home contents insurance policy already cover this? If so, the peace of mind need not have any additional cost.

If you travel internationally for work reasons or are a student studying abroad, international call prices are an important point to check before signing up.

Providers and intermediaries have offers, which change from time to time so it is a good idea to re-check before finalising your decision. Comparison sites enable you to investigate the best deals, quickly. Special offers and promotions such as shopping vouchers sometimes come with certain mobile phone contracts and SIM plans. It could well be worth reviewing the small print requirements for special incentives such as cash back.

Up-to-the-minute offers include some former extras for free – roaming abroad, uncharged 0800 calls and even unlimited data plans to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the month. Additionally, emerging deals include VoLTE (Voice over LTE) is newly available via 4G Super-Voice on the latest handsets, while one leading network offers customers free Wi-Fi on the London Underground.

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How to decide on the best mobile phone contract for you
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