Traditionally, opting for a contract phone means you know what you’ll pay each month, you’ll get a better tariff and probably a better phone, while PAYG means just paying for the minutes and extras you need with the phone cost upfront.Times are changing, however.

While it used to just be a choice between these two methods if you wanted a new phone, some suppliers are now providing contracts that give you elements of both, with the flexibility to change your phone whenever you want, and enjoy lower monthly charges. Networks are competing for your custom and it pays to contact a few of them to see just what they can do for your particular needs.

Watching the pennies

One of the reasons PAYG is so popular is that it gives you more control over how much you use and, if done so carefully, you can spend far less than most contracts. It once meant that you’d get a less favourable price for your calls and per text message, but if you use very little of them it’s certainly a way to keep down costs significantly. With the advent of smart phones, internet usage and 3G have come into play and it’s worth considering whether you’re getting the best deal.

If you own a phone already that’s still got plenty of life in it, then you could go for one of the many SIM-only packages available. It’s cheaper than paying for a phone, and with some of the benefits of buying a phone via a contract (i.e. a set monthly cost), they make sense for many people. If your phone doesn’t have much life left you can easily sell it and pay some towards your new one. For instance, you might sell your old iPhone 3GS and get a good chunk towards the brand new iPhone 5S.


Phone life moves a little faster than it once did, and phone providers are responding to that. New rolling contracts offer the flexibility that usually only PAYG customers could enjoy; knowing that they weren’t going to be stuck with the same phone and contract in 2 years’ time when newer devices have come on the market and already become outdated. You can even find contracts that allow you to pay for your phone and bundle as separate entities, allowing you to pay off and trade in a phone without giving up the good rate you’re paying.

In fact, things have changed beyond recognition in just a few years. Before, when you chose your package it was all about how many minutes you spent on the phone and how many text messages you sent. With smart phones came internet usage, the need for data allowances and a huge change in how many people communicated. Why send an expensive text when you could email for nothing on the go? So the providers now offer a huge variety of bundles, encompassing texts, calls, data and phone that you can take advantage of. They will try to sell you things you don’t need, so watch out for spending extra for a higher tariff than you really need.

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