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, your phone bill can help. It holds the key to how you use your phone and how to save money.

What is your current bill pay plan?

Your mobile 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 part 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 sometimes be pricey. So, look for a plan with an allowance that’s close to your actual usage but won’t leave you short.

Or, if you’re a very heavy data user and on an unlimited plan, check if there’s a fair usage policy attached. Some unlimited plans cap your data at 60GB a month.

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. Our guide to call charges can also help.

To find out more about PRS including how to check and block a number or make a complaint, visit 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 and phone costs 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 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 350 international minutes a month to The USA, Canada and 44 EU and other European destinations.
  • Three: offers a range of bill pay add-ons, e.g. unlimited minutes to Irish landlines and mobiles and while roaming in the EU for €7.87, fair usage applies.
  • Vodafone: offers 200 minutes to any Irish number for €5 a month and 500 minutes to international numbers for €10 a month.
  • eir Mobile: offers once off and recurring 30-day add ons e.g. 3GB data to use at home or in the EU 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 there’s no lengthy tie-in.

To find out more about how to switch, read our guide to switching to a SIM-only deal.

Compare SIM-only deals

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.

If you’re looking for an iPhone or Samsung handset, check out the latest iPhone deals or compare Samsung Galaxy offers.

Don’t forget about your old handset too, our guide explores what to do with your old mobile phone.

Compare bill pay deals

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:

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile offers freestyle contracts which separate the cost of your phone from your call plan.

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.

48 offers a prepay, SIM-only plan for €10.99 a month. This gets you:

  • Unlimited minutes
  • Unlimited texts
  • 100GB data

You can even try before you buy and get 1GB data free when you order your SIM.

What about perks?

Most networks also offer ‘perks’, but don’t pay extra for things you won’t actually use, for example:

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

Our guide to call charges covers unlimited calls and fair usage limits for each network.

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?

You can use our comparisons to help you to find the right SIM-only plan or bill pay phone by comparing deals from the top networks in Ireland.

If you haven’t had a SIM-only plan before, our guide walks you through the process of switching to a SIM-only deal.

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.