Why are some people overpaying for their mobile phone?
Mobile phone operators generally sell two main types of contracts when people get a smartphone with their airtime (data, minutes and texts) plan:
Split contracts – where the airtime and the smartphone loans are split into two separate payments.
Bundled contracts – which combine the cost of a phone and airtime into one bill.
What difference does the type of contract make?
With bundled contracts, providers can continue to charge customers the same amount even after they’ve reached the end of their contract and paid off their phone. This means customers are being charged for a phone they already own.
With a split contract, like O2 Refresh, customers will automatically stop paying for their phone when they reach the end of their contract term, meaning an instant saving and no risk of overpayment. Any annual price rises also won’t apply to the device repayment – unlike on bundled contracts where a percentage price increase is typically applied to the whole bill.
Here’s an example.
If you took out a phone contract that costs £50 for 24 months (£30 for the device and £20 for the airtime), on a split contract your bill would automatically go down to £20 in month 25.
On a bundled contract, you could end up being charged the full £50 indefinitely – until you cancel your contract or swap to a new deal.
That’s a big difference.
How can I check which type of contract I’m on?
You can check your monthly bill to see whether you’re on a split or a bundled contract.
If you can see two separate parts of your bill (one for your device and one for your airtime), you’re on a split contract and should automatically get a cheaper bill at the end of your contract.
If you get one bill that covers both your phone and airtime, it’s likely you’re on a bundled contract and unfortunately set to continue paying more than you should when your deal’s up.
O2 was the first operator to introduce split contracts and automatically lower our direct customers’ bills as soon as their device loan’s been repaid, having first launched our O2 Refresh plans a decade ago.