Pay monthly & contract mobile phones

Calling enthusiastic freshers and procrastinating finalists, we know the importance of having a mobile by your side. Whether it’s to reassure mum everything is fine, tweeting a #RevisionSelfie or getting the number of the hottie who lives in your halls, a phone is essential for taking your uni experience to another level.

We also know phones can be expensive too, which is why we’ve put together this handy guide to phone contracts with students in mind. By saving money on your mobile, you’ll have more student loan to spend on the fun stuff you really want to do.

So go grab a coffee and meet us in 5. When you’re back we’ll teach you the secrets of finding incredible value on a handset you’ll love.

I want the latest and greatest smartphone!

Looking good matters and we realise your heart strings may be pulling towards the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device; ours do too!

With top end smartphones valued between £400-600 it’s important to work out what you can afford within your budget.

Knowing this isn't fun, but it'll help your application...

When you apply for a phone contract with anyone, applications are credit checked by an agency. More expensive handsets will tend to require a higher credit rating as you are being given a product before paying a penny.

Though no student is guaranteed to pass or fail the credit check with the below, we’ve put together 3 questions you should ask yourself to increase your chances.


We’re not talking about dad’s wallet here.

Though a student maintenance loan can assist in paying your monthly contract, it’s a huge plus for credit agencies if they can see evidence of another income such as a summer or part-time job.

2. Is my current phone contract in my own name?

If it is, that’s great news! Providing your current tariff has no outstanding payments, the networks have a stronger case to accept you. If your mobile contract is in your parents name and you have no credit history, we would recommend to either:

a) Continue with the contract in your parent’s name. This should let you upgrade to a handset that’s of a similar value to your current one.

b) If you’re taking the first steps to build credit in your own name, we’d recommend paying a handset cost to lower your monthly payments.

3. Does this contract meet my requirements?

The latest handset at the lowest price point may seem like the cheapest way to get the mobile of your dreams, but ultimately choosing a tariff that’s tight on allowances will cost you more in the long run. When signing for a contract, networks can charge a premium if you go over your allowances and you might not have accounted for this when taking out the phone.

When researching a deal, don’t forget to check the tariff against your actual mobile usage for calls, texts and data. You should be able to find it on a recent bill.

You’re much more likely to pass a phone contract with a handset cost. By paying for a part of the phone upfront, the network sees a smaller credit risk compared to giving away a smartphone for free.

Save more with a mid-tier smartphone

OK, how about a handset with less credit risk, lower monthly payments and more tariff for your moolah? Though they don’t sound as hip, many of these releases give you the key features you’ll use for a cheaper price. Film a housemate’s chunder in high definition, download Tinder from an app store; mid-tier releases won’t stop you and your antics.

With many mid-tiers, you’ll even be able to access faster 4G internet speeds for less. That means less time waiting for your night out photos to upload or instant streaming of your favourite Spotify hits. We all know uni years are short, so why waste them waiting?

Because we want to make sure you receive your phone, we don’t post out packages to halls of residence. You could always get around this by sending it to mum and dad, who we’re sure would be happy for you to pay a visit. Mmm home cooked meals, now there’s a treat!

Save more with Sim only

Maybe you’re not ready to ditch your smartphone for a faster, leaner, model. That’s cool, it’s actually a really great way to save money.

Towards the end of a pay monthly contract, ring up your current network and see how much they can knock off your contract without including a new handset. You’ll usually find you can get your current allowance for a much cheaper monthly cost.

We have a range of sim only deals across the major networks. Have a browse and use these to compare against what your network can offer you. You could make huge savings on your bill, or up your allowances to include something awesome like unlimited or 4G data.

Save more with Sim only

Sim onlys have about the same commitment as a romance in fresher’s week. Why shackle yourself down to a 24 month contract, when the love of your life is just around the corner? Go for a one month rolling SIM card and you’ll feel more freedom than a post-exam par-tay.

Mobile networks will sweat over your lack of commitment. We say let them. Whether you’re waiting for the next iPhone announcement or a high spec Android release, when your dream phone is unveiled, you’ll have the flexibility to go for it. Breaking up has never been so easy!

So that’s how you increase your chances of getting a mobile contract you’ll love.

It was quite heavy reading, so go take a Facebook newsfeed break. When you’re back we’ll let you know how to avoid bill shocks and how students really can get the most out of their smartphones.

Squeezing the savings out of your current contract

Congrats smarty pants, you’re a graduate for savvyness when hunting for a contract deal. Go on, add a PhD* from us to your LinkedIn profile. Buy why stop there? A 24 month contract is the time it takes to climb from fresher to finalist; there’s loads of chances to save dosh.

Avoid high bills, protect your phone from theft and damage. These unexpected costs are less fun than a 4am fire drill, but if you’re smart enough you can dodge these and protect your student loan. So take a seat and learn from the gurus.

*PhD = Phone Deals. This award has zero educational value.

Know your allowances and stick to them.

Sounds simple right? You’d think that keeping track of your monthly minutes, data and texts should be easy yet so many students often go over their limits. Exceeding your allowance means the network can charge you a premium fee for any extra minutes, data or texts you use.

We recommend downloading your network’s mobile app onto your smartphone. This will let you monitor exactly how much allowance you have left for the month.

But data is soooo confusing!

Let’s face it, most of the fun stuff on a mobile phone uses up data. Instead of text messages, many of us use the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to talk to our mates.

These will eat into your data allowance but not nearly as fast as buffering cat videos on YouTube.

To make things worse, push notifications are like silent ninjas and will stealthily take away your megabytes, often without you knowing.

Stretch your data further with these tips…

Abuse the campus Wi-Fi

Most unis have an expansive Wi-Fi network across campus for their students. Halls, libraries, the union. When connected, your smartphone will choose Wi-Fi over your own network data. Gotta love Wi-Fi!

Block those pesky push notifications

If you check your emails daily, do you really need your smartphone to scan for new ones every 15 minutes? By changing this to every couple of hours (or turning off completely), you’ll save megabytes without even realising.

Be creative with your allowance

Low on minutes? Use data and have a video call instead. Short on texts? Use data over a messaging app. Be flexible and try to use your whole allowance before going over.

And if you really do need more allowance for the month, most networks will offer a “bolt-on” or bundle for just a few quid. Trust us, they work out cheaper than the bill shock of going over your allowance without telling them!

Top tip - use the cloud

Keep your essays and work projects backed up on cloud services such as Google Drive and iCloud. Not only will this keep your coursework safe should your laptop break. It means you can also view and edit projects across multiple devices, be it your smartphone or tablet.

Protect yourself from theft

Students will always be a target for opportunist thieves. Unlock your smartphone and scribble down your IMEI number (type *#06# into your phone book to see yours).

Should you become a victim of theft, alerting your network with this code will make the phone unusable and lockdown your allowances so they can’t be overused.

You need back up!

We’re not talking about wingmen here.

Smartphones are pretty expensive purchases and it would be a crime against humanity to wish a damaged smartphone upon any unfortunate student.

Why is it we fumble around with these super-computers when we’re at our most intoxicated? You’ve seen it before, a search party of phones using camera flashes and white screens, shining to the depths of the dance floor as they try to find their friends lost device. The victim on the sidelines reduced to tears and anxiety. Should the phone ever be reunited with its owner, it’s cracked screen and alcohol stained casing is a major FML moment, which we doubt was ever worth it.

Don’t wait for the big drop on the dance floor to take action. By owning a cheap feature phone on pay as you go, you can just plug in your contract sim when you need a little protection. With smaller screens, feature phones tend to be more robust to knocks and drops and will have a battery life to outlive any festival on a single charge.

Starting from £5 + top up, a feature phone is easily the cheapest insurance policy you can buy.

And should you ever lose it, you’ll be thankful your smartphone was unharmed. You could even use it post-uni life as you discover your kindred spirit during a “Gap Yah”

So that’s our guide to saving money on contract phones as a student. By thinking beyond cheap deals on new smartphones, you really can save money long-term across your contract.

Got a mobile money saving tip for other students?

Tweet us @e2save and we’ll spread the word.