How to use your mobile phone bill to save money
If you often go over your monthly mobile allowance or want to check you’re on the right plan, take a look at your phone bill. Your bill holds the key to how you use your phone and how to save money.
What is your current bill pay plan?
Your phone bill should show what’s included in your monthly phone contract including:
- Number of calling minutes
- Number of texts
- Amount of data*
*You can often use a portion of your data to roam in the EU. Here’s more about roaming and charges.
You could also check your data plan online by signing into your account, or calling the network provider direct.
How much data do you use?
Data is the more expensive element of your bill so if you go over your allowance, you’ll pay quite a bit more.
If you often get notified that you’ve hit 80% of your data, and struggle to make it last the month, you probably need a higher allowance.
Many plans include unlimited data, but they can be pricier. So, look for a plan with an allowance that’s close to your actual usage but won’t leave you short.
What calls and texts do you make?
Your bill should list all the calls you made the previous month, and show whether they’re included as part of your plan or cost extra.
If you’ve made calls outside your plan, check if they’re to:
- Premium rate voice services
- Irish mobiles
- Irish landlines
- International numbers
- The UK
- Your network, or other ones*
*Some plans include unlimited calls to the same network only.
This will help you work out what you need your next plan to include more of.
What calls are excluded from your allowance?
Whichever network or call plan you choose, these types of numbers aren’t usually included as part of your call allowance:
- Premium rate service (PRS) numbers: starting with 15 which are for information or entertainment based services that are charged at a higher rate.
- National and international directory services numbers: starting with 118. These may have a high connection charge as well as a high cost per minute.
- Some five digit short code text services: starting with a 5 are also premium so you’ll pay more.
You can check what each network provider charges for these premium service calls in their pricing guide or general terms and conditions.
To find out more about PRS including how to check and block a number or make a complaint, visit comreg.ie who regulate these services.
What about texting?
Check how many texts you make and whether there are any that fall outside your plan. If you tend to text a lot more than you call, you might need a high allowance or even unlimited supply.
To get around this, you could use other messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger which won’t eat up any of your text allowance.
Try and check at least three bills to make sure your data, calling and texting usage is consistent, and take into account things like holidays which often affect usage.
How to reduce your mobile phone bill
Your options for reducing your bill will largely depend on whether you’re tied into a contract or not.
If you’re not sure when your contract ends, log into your network account or just give them a call.
Tied into a contract?
If you need extra data, calls or texts, the right add-on could work out cheaper, for example:
- Virgin Mobile: offers an international add-on for €5 a month which gives you 50 texts and 50 minutes of calls to 27 European countries.
- Three: offers 300 flexi-units to call or text the UK for €2.99 a month and unlimited calls to Irish landlines for €6.99 a month.
- Vodafone: offers 200 minutes to any Irish number for €5 a month and 500 minutes to international numbers for €10 a month.
Out of contract?
If your contract has ended and you’re still happy with your handset, your cheapest option is to get a SIM-only plan.
If you want a new handset but your budget’s a bit tighter, you could consider getting a refurbished phone and SIM-only plan.
Most SIM-only plans are on a rolling 30 day contract basis, so you can cancel by giving 30 days notice and aren’t tied into a lengthy contract.
To find out more about how to switch, read our guide to switching to a SIM-only deal.
Choose another bill pay phone plan
If you’re not tied into a contract and want a new handset, choose a bill pay phone and then find the best plan for you.
Make sure the new plan solves any issues you had previously, and if you’re switching networks, check the coverage in your area.
Don’t forget about your old handset too, our guide explores what to do with your old mobile phone.
Looking for a flexible plan?
If your usage varies each month, or you want more control over your spending, here are some options to consider:
They let you know when your phone’s paid off (which you can do early if you wish) and you’re then free to upgrade it.
If you don’t upgrade your phone, your bills will reduce to just the call plan for the remaining term.
Three offers flexi-units with their plans which range from 100 units to unlimited.
One flexi-unit equals a minute of call time or two texts or 500KB internet. You can use these units however you like each month.
Three also offers FlexiFix which is a combination of bill pay and prepay. You can buy the latest phone and have a call and text bundle but without a lengthy contract.
You can also top up your calls, texts or data if you run out of flexi-units.
What about perks?
Most networks also offer ‘perks’, but don’t pay extra for things you won’t actually use, for example:
- Tesco Mobile plans will earn you Clubcard points.
- eir offers eir sports for free with some bill pay plans.
Mobile phone bill FAQ’s
Can I be charged extra on an unlimited plan?
Yes if you’re an extremely heavy user or if you make calls or texts that are excluded from your allowance. Not all unlimited plans are truly unlimited as they have a fair usage policy attached to them.
This caps your texts, calls and data usage each month but at a very high level, for example:
- 10,000 texts within the ROI to any national mobile
- 10,000 minutes of calls within the ROI to any national mobile or landline
- 80GB data within the ROI and a portion of this for EU roaming
Check each network’s terms and conditions to find out if their unlimited packages are truly unlimited and what exclusions there may be.
Can I cancel my mobile phone contract early?
You can’t usually exit your contract early without paying a penalty. Most networks charge you for the total of the remaining months left on your contract.
It’s usually cheaper to wait until your contract ends, unless you want to upgrade your phone with the same network provider and the new plan is more expensive. In this situation, you may be able to exit early.
Can I switch to a SIM-only deal on another network?
Yes, but you’ll need to make sure your phone is unlocked so it can accept another SIM card. Here’s our guide to unlocking your mobile phone.
How do I find the right phone plan?
What happens if I go over my monthly allowance?
If you’ve used up all your data, minutes or texts but keep on using the services you’ll be charged for the extra you use.
If you can’t cut down on your usage, it might work out cheaper to buy the right add-on for the month that gives you more of what you need. Each network offers different options so you’ll need to see what’s available.
Get a SIM only deal with the calls, texts and data you need for less.
It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving.