Nine million paying for handsets already paid off

Nine million paying for handsets already paid off

More than nine million UK mobile phone owners could be forking out for handsets that have already been paid off in full, according to a new study.

The research by independent price comparison and switching service highlights how nearly a third (31%) on pay-monthly contracts choose offers with ‘free’ handsets - paying for the device in the monthly bill – and haven’t switched to a new offer when the handset's paid off.

By continuing to pay the monthly charge when the contract ends, they are effectively paying for a handset that has already been paid off.

Such users could switch and save by simply moving across to SIM-only contracts or new pay-monthly deals.

In doing so, it is estimated they could save £104.40 each over the course of one year; this translates to a saving of £1bn collectively.

With the average person using just 39% of their monthly minutes, 21% estimate that they use less than a fifth of their talk-time in a typical month.

By choosing a tariff with fewer minutes, the average saving per person is £8.70 per month.

The study also revealed how almost a quarter (23%) regularly exceed their data allowances – forking out £7.60 per month in out-of-tariff data charges. By not being on a contact that meets an individual’s data usage needs, more than £885m is being wasted annually.

‘From the outset, it makes sense to do the maths and work out the total lifetime cost of ownership,’ said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at

‘Sometimes it pays to spend a small amount upfront and go for a deal offering a lower line rental, rather than opting for a free phone with a hefty amount to pay each month.’

When picking a new deal, it’s always recommended to choose a tariff that best reflects your actual monthly usage as your current bill shows you ‘how many minutes, texts and data you use in a typical month’.

‘If you have a smartphone, do pay close attention to your data usage, as out-of-bundle charges are likely to be costly.’


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