An Introduction To UK Mobile Phone Bills

A group of people are holding out their mobile phones

In just over 2 decades, the use of mobile phones in the UK has spread, fuelled by the advent of smartphones. While only 16% of Britons had mobile phones in 1996, nowadays 96% of households have at least one phone (with over half possessing more than one).

In this article we examine:

  • What can cause your mobile phone bills to be high
  • Adhering to your data allowance
  • Keeping your mobile phone bill low
  • Considering to switch providers

There’s no doubt that mobile phones are convenient, but UK households now have to include mobile phone bills in their budget. The industry regulator, Ofcom, has revealed that the average mobile phone bill is now £45.60 per month. This figure is so high as it includes all those people who buy a new handset and repay it over the term of their contract.

Why is my mobile phone bill so high?

It’s very common for consumers to be shocked by their mobile phone bills as they’re much higher than they expected. There are a number of possible reasons.

Only 16% of UK citizens were using mobile phones in 1996

The fair usage cap

Although your contract may specify unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles, there’s often a fair usage cap which limits how many calls you can make. If you exceed this cap, you’ll be charged extra.

Exclusions from your allowance

There are a number of mobile phone services which are excluded from your monthly allowance. Use of any of the following can increase your mobile phone bills:

  • Premium rate numbers such as 09, 07, and 070 prefixes
  • Calling company help desks beginning with 084 or 087
  • Calling direct enquiries (118)
  • Text messages containing photos, videos or emojis
  • Text messages sent abroad

A woman is shown speaking on her mobile phone at a cafe

Exceeding your data allowance

If you often use social media, listen to music or watch videos online, you’ll find it very easy to go through your data allowance in days rather than weeks. The tariff for exceeding your allowance is costly and can easily inflate mobile phone bills.

Mobile phone bill questions:

How can you save money on your mobile phone bill?

Some ways to lower your mobile phone bill have to do with your mobile data usage. To ensure that you limit your data usage, use Wi-Fi when this is available and limit your background data usage. You may also wish to waive an insurance policy, if you have one, to help bring costs down. Ask your employer if they offer any discounts when you sign with a particular mobile phone carrier. If you do not wish to stay on a contract, a pay as you go plan can help save you money if you use it wisely. Finally, you may consider keeping your phone for a longer period before switching a new device.

How much is the average phone bill in the UK?

Mobile phone bills in the UK cost, on average, £439 per year. This figure reveals that consumers are paying approximately 44% over the required amount for the services that they utilise. For users spending this much on their yearly mobile phone bills, it is estimated that switching to pay as you go, or SIM-only deals, could save them about £250 annually.

How can you negotiate a lower phone bill?

If you wish to contact your mobile phone provided to negotiate a lower phone bill, begin by examining your current bill to determine whether you are being charged for services that you no longer require. Make sure to compare your current provider’s rates to those of the competitors. Make sure to take notes and ask to speak to supervisors if you are unable to reach your desired deal. You should always remain polite while on the phone with your provider, and be prepared to switch providers to get the best possible deal.

Mobile phone roaming

If you take your mobile phone abroad, your bill might be higher even if you haven’t used the phone. This is because a smartphone will automatically try to connect to a network.

How can I keep my mobile phone bill low?

Looking at the list of why your bill is so high has no doubt given you some ideas about reducing how much you pay. There are other ways to cut your costs.

Change your allowance

If you regularly exceed your allowance or pay extra for services you never use, you should speak to your provider about switching to a bundled package which reflects your mobile phone usage. You should check your mobile phone bills for at least 2 months to get a better idea of your needs.

Keeping to your allowance

Your mobile service provider can set up a text alert once you’ve used 80% of your allowance, block further use of the phone and/or block use of premium rate numbers so you don’t pay extra.

Switch your provider

If you’re coming near to the end of your mobile phone contract, you could look around for a better deal with another provider.