Students learn a very fast lesson in budgeting when they first leave home. With rent, bills and groceries quickly eating into your student loan, you’re probably eager to save money wherever possible. Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. In this guide, we’ll cover how you can save money on that absolute essential, your mobile phone bill.
One brilliant bonus of student life is the discount. Many retailers offer at least 10% discount to students, giving you savings on all kinds of things, including mobile phone contracts.
All of the big four networks (EE, O2, Vodafone, Three) offer a student discount of some kind. And some of the smaller resellers may do so too. Let’s explore some of the different options, so you can make an informed decision.
Vodafone offers 10% off pay monthly contracts for students of participating universities. This covers traditional handset contracts, tablet contracts and SIM-only deals. Buy your contract of choice and then apply for the student discount within 60 days to qualify.
Rather than a percentage discount, Three offers student-specific deals. These are only available for 12-month SIM-only plans (so you’ll need a handset) but all offer some pretty good savings.
On the lowest end of the scale you’ll pay £11 per month for 4GB data and unlimited calls and texts. At the top end you’ll pay £31 per month for unlimited data, calls and texts plus free unlimited Snapchat use. Note: unlimited data usually comes with a fair use policy, so read the T&Cs if you choose this deal.
With 20% off your monthly tariff and a 500MB safety net each month, EE offers a great deal for students. It even comes with six free months of Apple music. This offer is available to new customers and existing customers who are eligible for an upgrade. You’ll need to get a code from UNiDAYS to qualify for your new plan.
If you’re an existing customer but not yet eligible for an upgrade, you can still get the 500MB data buffer by texting “STUDENT” to 150.
O2’s student discount programme also offers 20% off your plan but only for the airtime portion, not the device.
You need to buy a new phone on the O2 Refresh tariff. Once you’ve purchased, sign in to UNiDAYS to get your discount code and text it to O2 at 61202.
While VOXI doesn’t specifically offer student discount, it is a great network for students. The network is available only to those under the age of 30. It offers a range of SIM-only deals with lots of data and completely free use of all social media apps. In addition there are no long contracts and no credit checks, which is really useful if you’re unable to get a traditional contract due to your credit rating.
Consider taking out multiple services from one provider
You can save money by taking multiple services from one provider (such as broadband and mobile). BT broadband customers can get a SIM-only deal for just £5 a month, but EE, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have similar offers.
TalkTalk even have a deal that gives you a free SIM package worth £90 when you sign up to their Plus TV on-demand service.
Be wary of taking on services you don’t actually need or won’t use, just to save money on a phone contract… because you won’t actually be saving money. Also, be sure to carefully check and terms and conditions before you sign up as some of these deals may come with restrictions.
Things to know before you take out a contract
Most students are new to mobile phone contracts as you have to be 18 years of age to apply for one. Taking a finance agreement of any kind is a serious matter and so there are some things you should know before you sign up.
- SIM-only is almost always the cheapest option, saving you hundreds of pounds a year versus buying a handset contract. You’ll need to buy a phone upfront but you can buy second-hand or refurbished models very cheaply.
- If your contract has ended (or you’re on SIM-only) you can switch networks. Never feel you are tied to one network, especially if the signal is poor or you’ve seen a better deal elsewhere.
- A trick if you want to say on the same network but can’t get the deal as an existing customer is to port your number to a PAYG SIM (choose a cheap PAYG option here) and then take out the new deal and move your number back.
- Make sure you’re 100% happy with the contract you take on. If you decide to leave a 12 or 24-month contract early you will be charged an early termination fee. This can be hundreds of pounds depending on how much of the contract is left.
- Going over your data allowance can come with some really hefty charges. To prevent an unexpectedly large phone bill, set a data cap and use Wi-Fi wherever possible.
- The phone provider will probably try and sell you insurance. If you’re buying an expensive device this may seem like a good idea but you can probably find a cheaper insurance deal elsewhere or self-insure. Self-insuring involves putting a little money into a savings account each month to use solely for phone expenses.
- Student discount offers may not actually be the best deal. Be sure to shop around before you commit to anything.