Many mobile network providers have started to introduce mid-contract price increases when you sign up. These price increases were usually reserved for after the contract ended, but now they occur annually, often for more than inflation.
With recently announced increases in the Retail Price Index (RPI) of 7.5% and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 5.4%, many consumers with phone contracts will face significant increases.
If you found that your contract costs have increased, you may have been surprised. We detail the best and worst providers for mid-contract price increases, what you can do to reduce your risks, and how to get better value from your subscription.
How mobile network provider inflation compares
|RPI inflation price rises (7.5%)||RPI inflation (7.5%) plus 3.9%||Consumer Price Inflation (5.4%) plus 3.9%||no price goes up||Continuous contract providers (price increase does not apply)|
|mobile identification||O2||BT mobile||tesco mobile||giffgaff|
|Virgin mobile||USA||mobile sky*||Smarty|
|Plusnet mobile||utility warehouse|
* Sky Mobile does not currently increase prices at half of the contract, but does not offer any guarantees ** Three will increase its prices by 4.5% each April, not tied to inflation
Which providers are raising prices?
Mid-contract price increases have taken various forms, with some increasing the price just for inflation and others attaching a fixed percentage along with inflation. This is probably due to low inflation rates in recent years.
Last year, ID Mobile, O2 and Virgin Mobile raised their prices just because of RPI inflation. However, this year only ID Mobile maintained this increase. O2 and Virgin Mobile will now increase their prices for RPI inflation (which is 7.5% at the time of writing) plus 3.9%
Like last year, BT mobile, EE, Plusnet mobile and Vodafone are increasing their prices due to consumer price inflation plus 3.9%.
Tres raises prices by a fixed 4.5% each year without linking it to inflation. Instinctively, this might seem like a more expensive option, but price increases for other providers will generally be higher, as CPI plus 3.9% is likely to be more than just a 4.5% increase. For example, currently the CPI is 5.4%, so the price of BT, EE, Plusnet and Vodafone will increase by 9.3%.
Which providers are not raising prices?
Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile do not currently raise mid-contract prices for their mobile contract customers. However, Sky Mobile does not guarantee that your price will remain the same, stating that prices may go up during your subscription. Tesco Mobile guarantees that your price will not change mid-contract as part of its ‘Rate Promise’, so it locks in your price until the end of your contract.
How to beat price hikes
If you’ve recently signed a contract, then there’s not much you can do without paying expensive termination fees.
If you are out of contract or nearing the end of your contract, your options open up. Continuous contract offers, which allow you to leave with only 30 days notice, are the best way to give you the flexibility to overcome price increases and ensure that you can move to a monthly package that suits your needs if your situation changes .
Low cost Sim-only providers such as gifgaff, Smarty, utility warehouse Y Lebaraoffer one-month contracts and not raise prices annually, and our survey of best and worst mobile phone providers has shown that they can often outplay bigger rivals.
Even most of the ones that are raising prices annually offer one-month deals, although they can be more expensive at times.
Do you love a bargain? We round the best mobile phone deals and sim only each month to highlight some of the best discounts.
Beat inflation with one-month Sim-only deals
In the table below, we’ve rounded up some of the best Sim-only one-month deals that can help you beat the price hikes. All of these offers come with unlimited minutes and texts.
With text to switch, changing your mobile network is a breeze, but many choose to stay with their current carrier which may not offer you the best deal available.
Read our detailed guide on how to change mobile providerwhich offers advice whether you have a contract or not, and how to make sure you get a good signal with a new provider.