Like many other services, broadband has seen a large price hike this year. Here’s how to fight back, and crank down those broadband bills to save money.
Cash-strapped households are paying over £100 more for broadband since April due to mid-contract price hikes of almost 15% – but there are ways to pay less. Here’s how you can save money on your broadband bill.
Thinking about changing your broadband provider? Check out this month’s best broadband deals.
What are mid-contract price increases?
You might think signing up for a fixed-term broadband deal means you’ll pay the same price each month, but this isn’t always the case. Many households have seen mid-contract hikes in the price of their broadband bills by as much as 14.4%, which can boost your bill by over £100 a year in some cases.
This is because most broadband contracts have clauses written in that allow providers to hike prices in line with inflation. These increases usually kick in from April each year.
Prices tend to rise in line with the consumer price index (CPI as published in January), plus a bit extra on top – usually 3.9% or 3.7%. Several major broadband firms hiked their prices this year, including:
- BT: 14.4%
- EE: 14.4%
- Plusnet: 14.4%
- TalkTalk: 14.2%
- Vodafone: 14.4%
According to Uswitch research, this means a household previously paying £50 a month for broadband now needs to find another £86.40 a year. And those who were paying £75 a month could now be paying an extra £10.80 a month, or £129.60 a year.
Has my broadband bill gone up?
If you’re not sure whether your monthly broadband bill has increased, check your bill, or your contract terms and conditions. As mentioned, any likely jump would have happened in April.
If you’re paying more than you want to, and you’ve passed your initial contract term end date, it’s always a good idea to shop around. Compare broadband deals today to see if you could save.
How do I save money on my broadband bills?
If you’re looking to slash your costs, here are seven ways to help keep your broadband bill low.
1. Switch broadband providers for a better price
While it’s often possible to switch broadband providers at any time, leaving your contract early may mean paying a penalty fee. This could result in paying the full cost of any remaining months left on your contract.
This is why most people usually only switch providers when the minimum period on their contract ends. Most deals tend to last 12-24 months.
If you’re out of contract – rather than accepting price hikes – it’s worth shopping around and switching to a new deal. At this stage, you usually only need to give your existing provider 30 days’ notice if you want to leave.
When it comes to switching providers, it’s worth knowing that most UK broadband services such as BT, Sky, Plusnet, EE, and TalkTalk use the Openreach network. Switching between these providers is relatively easy, as they use some of the same equipment in the telephone exchange.
The main exception is Virgin Media which has its own network. This means switching to or from Virgin Media can be a bit more complex.
2. Compare broadband prices
It pays to shop around to find the best broadband deals. The best way to do this is to compare broadband deals in your area.
Use the postcode checker to find out what’s available at your address, as not all broadband deals are available across the UK.
You can either compare broadband-only deals, or bundles which can include a phone line and TV package.
3. Haggle to lower your broadband price
If you’re happy with your broadband supplier but not keen on the price, you may be able to haggle – either online or over the phone – to get a better deal.
A 2022 survey by Which? found nearly half (46%) of survey respondents had haggled with their existing provider when their contract ended. These people reported saving an average of £85 on broadband and £128 on broadband and TV.
Haggling with your provider may mean you can pay a cheaper price for your current broadband package or even get a better deal for the same price. Some providers might offer extras like faster broadband speed, extra premium TV channels or free landline phone calls.
Think about what you want and crucially what you’re most likely to actually use. Do you just want a cheaper price, or are you happy to pay the same in order to get faster speeds or additional TV channels?
Do your homework before you start haggling. A good tactic is to research prices from rival providers first before calling your own provider.
Ask for ‘disconnections’ or press the ‘thinking of leaving us’ option as this usually gets you through to the retention team. They tend to be able to offer the biggest discounts when it comes to keeping you as a customer.
4. Check how long your broadband contract is
Broadband contracts typically last for 12, 18 or 24 months. In general, the longer you commit, the cheaper the monthly price.
Some providers also offer short-term 30-day rolling broadband contracts, which can be cancelled at short notice.
These are good for people who might be moving house soon or students who go back to the family home for several months each summer.
Bear in mind that, even if you sign a contract, the terms and conditions are likely to allow mid-contract rises in certain situations such as rising inflation.
5. Check your broadband speed
If you’re paying for fast broadband, make sure you’re getting the speed you’re promised and that it’s available in your area. You can use our broadband speed test to help you out.
Ultrafast or fibre broadband tends to be the fastest broadband available but also the most expensive. The fastest widely available broadband in the UK is offered by Virgin Media, with download speeds of over 1Gb with its Gig1 service.
ADSL broadband, which is delivered to your home via a normal phone line, is cheaper and more widely available. It’s slower than superfast or ultrafast broadband, but generally fast enough for most households.
It’s worth thinking about how fast your broadband needs to be so you don’t pay more than you need to.
6. Could a broadband, TV and phone bundle be cheaper?
Many households bundle broadband along with landline calls and a TV package.
It can work out cheaper than buying all the services separately from different providers but do check what you’re getting.
If you’re switching your TV service alongside your broadband, you should look at the TV box included in the deal, plus which TV channels you’ll get. If you’re including a landline phone service in your bundle, check whether you get any free calls included.
Bundles can work out cheaper for many households. However, if you’re not fussed about having a wide choice of TV channels, you might be better off buying a standalone Freeview box and keeping your broadband separate.
If you have inclusive calls on your mobile phone package, there’s no need for a calls package on your landline too.
7. Are you eligible for a social broadband tariff?
If you’re on a low income or claiming certain benefits, you might be eligible for help with broadband costs in the form of a social broadband tariff.
These deals are cheaper than standard broadband deals and could save eligible customers around £180 a year according to GOV.UK.
Around four million people could be missing out on these discounted deals. They’re available from providers including BT, Vodafone, Sky and Virgin Media, as well as smaller suppliers.
Prices typically start from around £12 a month. An example of a good deal is Virgin Media’s Essential Broadband (15 Mbps) and Essential Broadband Plus (54 Mbps) which cost £12.50 and £20 a month respectively. And crucially, this is a 30-day rolling plan, so you’re not tied into contracts.
If you claim Universal Credit, but don’t have an internet connection, you may be able to claim six months of free internet with speeds of 38 Mbps through a deal for jobseekers with TalkTalk and your local Jobcentre.
And while taking a trip to the local library or hooking up to free Wi-Fi in shopping centres, train stations or cafes may not always be practical, it can mean a way to get online. However, you should be wary of doing anything like online banking this way. It’s always worth exercising caution and avoiding sending sensitive data over public networks.
Check out this month’s best broadband deals.