Prices soar for mobile contracts: what you need to know

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Before the middle of the year, millions will see the cost of their monthly mobile contracts rise, in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

 

A bit of boring background first, just to briefly explain why this is happening (if you dont care, scroll down to what can be done about it). RPI is a measure of inflation published by the Office of National Statistics each month which measures the change in the cost of a representative sample of retail goods and services. Mobile phone providers are allowed to increase prices because they typically have a clause in their terms and conditions (you know, the small print bit that people rarely read) that warns of potential changes in line with the RPI.

So, are you affected?

  • EE is the first to increase prices, from 30 March, by 4.1% (in line with Decembers RPI).
  • Next up is O2, which will increase its prices by 4% (in line with Januarys RPI) in April.
  • Vodafone is also increasing its prices in April. This increase is currently unknown as it will be in line with Marchs RPI.
  • In May, Three will increase its prices by 4% (again, in line with Januarys RPI).

Others may follow suit so do keep your eyes open for communications from your provider.

If you are affected, what can be done?

This depends on whether you are out of contract or not.

Out of contract

If you have finished your minimum contract term, happy days. You can leave your provider without paying a penalty (providing you give notice) and if you shop around, or negotiate with your current provider (pretending you want to leave is always a good trick for getting the maximum discount), you are likely to be able to get a better deal.

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Mid-contract

Not such good news here, Im afraid. If you are still mid-contract, because of the aforementioned sneaky clause in the small print you unfortunately cannot leave without paying a penalty. This is the case for EE, O2 and Three customers. If you are a Vodafone customer who took out a contract before 5 May 2016, you can leave penalty-free.


However, don
t give up! If you are mid-contact but unhappy about paying the increase, or unable to afford it, do get in touch with your provider and see if anything can be done. For instance, if you are approaching the end of your mobile contract, you might be able to switch to a cheaper deal. If there is no joy there, make a note of when your plan is due to end, so you can start shopping around before it finishes and escape your current contract at the earliest opportunity.


Just for completeness, we should mention that telecoms regulator Ofcom states that you can leave your mobile contract penalty-free if you have experienced
material detriment as a result of a price hike. However, it is highly unlikely that a rise linked to RPI would be seen as sufficient detriment, especially as customers were warned about these possible RPI rises in the small print. Hey, if youre a betting man, or woman, give it a go, but be prepared not to get very far with that particular argument.

General cost-saving tips

Not wanting to end on a downer, here are some tips for saving those precious pennies when it comes to mobile phone choices:

  • If you sign up to a contract and find that your usage is consistently less than expected, theres nothing to lose by calling your provider, explaining the situation and trying to renegotiate your contract.
  • To avoid going over your data allowance, use Wi-Fi when its available. It may sound obvious (and patronising sorry!) but its so easy to forget, especially when 3G and 4G are now so widely available. However, avoid using public Wi-Fi for anything that could make your personal information available to hackers.
  • If you’re getting a new handset, don’t just chuck your old one in a drawer – recycle it and you could earn hundreds of pounds.
  • Consider going SIM-only. Although buying the handset is a large initial expense, if you can afford it, it is typically much cheaper over two years to buy the handset and get a cheap SIM-only deal than it is to get a contract. Plus, with SIM-only you could gain greater flexibility as you can often sign up to rolling contracts of, say, 30 days instead of a fixed term. Note, however, that the latter is likely to be better value, although less flexible.


Sign up to Bean today to track all your contracts and take control of your finances. With tools to cancel unwanted contracts, switch to better deals and remind you of upcoming renewals you’ll never overspend on your bills or subscriptions again! 


Bean users save around £672 a year on their bills and subscriptions; switch your mobile contract today for major savings!

Subscriptions: How to Save by Sharing.

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sharing subscriptions can save you money

Everyone stop what you’re doing right now.
We need to talk about subscriptions. More specifically, how to save by sharing one subscription between multiple people.

Whilst helping people save money with Bean, we started to see a trend of several people in one household paying for an Amazon Prime account. That means you’re literally paying double for something that is supposed to save you time and money! You can even register multiple cards and addresses making keeping track of which package belongs to each person a real cinch. And this isn’t some huge secret; Amazon even encourages families and roommates to set up a “household” where you can share all services. The only downside to this is if you rely heavily on Amazon Music or the video streaming, which only one person can enjoy at a time, but I think that’s just a good excuse to whip up some extra popcorn and get everyone together.

 

But this got us thinking… Surely there must be even more places where sharing an account can save someone some money? Here are our top picks for subscription sharing.

Spotify

For a long time Spotify fell firmly into the solo accounts category, but with an ever increasing demand for sharing they’ve now introduced Spotify Family where you can pay a monthly fee of £14.99 for up to five individual accounts. That’s going from almost a tenner each to less than three quid – bargainous!

 

Did you know you could save by sharing your spotify subscription?

 

They do stipulate that all members need to live at the same address so this is ideal for families or roommates but if you don’t mind all registering the same address there’s no reason this can’t work for friends who live apart.

Netflix

Gone are the days of being kicked off mid-episode because someone has jumped on your account. Netflix standard now supports two sessions running at the same time as well as the option to upgrade to up to four users streaming at the same time. So you can enjoy your Parks and Recreation binge while your roommate explores the newest environmental documentaries in the next room.

Kindle & Nook Loans

More of a reader than a watcher? We’ve got you covered! Both the Amazon Kindle and Nook e-readers have sharing systems enabled meaning that, without having to share passwords or account info, you can lend a title to a friend for a set period of time. It’s important to note that the nominated book will be unavailable for you while on digital loan, but it’s a good way to cut back on costs if you have a bit of a book obsession, like me.

Did you know you could share your kindle and nook ebooks?

Asos Premier 

If you do a lot of online shopping with Asos, their premier membership can be a lifesaver. For less than a tenner, you get a year of free next day shipping, free returns and a heads up on any sales coming up. If you’re not a bonafide shopaholic but still want to take advantage of the quick shipping, find a friend with an account. Much like Amazon Prime, you can add several cards and delivery addresses to your account, meaning as long as you trust your friend not to go on a shopping spree with your Visa then you can piggyback on their account.

 

Every little counts when you’re saving so if you’re already paying for any of these services check in with your friends, family, and housemates and make sure you aren’t paying double.


We’re always on the lookout for more saving tips and tricks so make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram so you never miss out on an update. Looking to cut back even more? Sign up to Bean today and see how much you could be saving on your bills and subscriptions.

Making the most of a last minute vacation

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Scrambling to put together a last minute plan for the late May bank holiday? Don’t worry, Bean has the information you need to plan an incredible vacation on a day’s notice. It’s true that advance planning can often cut down on a lot of the cost of travelling but if this May has crept up on you (like it has us!) then there is still plenty you can do without breaking the bank. Here are just a few of our favourite last minute travel tips.

Make your budget go further by staying closer

We’re incredibly lucky in the UK to have so many great destinations in our backyard. From the boardwalk and beaches of Brighton to the historic sites of Cambridge, there’s a getaway for every taste. The best part? You can save 20% on rail tickets with Thameslink and Great Northern Railways this bank holiday, making dozens of destinations cheaper than a tenner to visit.




Let savings lead your adventure

On one impulsive night out, my friends and I decided to book an impromptu weekend away but, being quite strapped for cash, needed to keep it cheap. We decided to check the cheapest flights available for that weekend on Skyscanner and planned our entire vacation around it. We had a blast! Not only does it let you take advantage of some amazing travel deals but it forces you off the beaten path to discover new places you might not have even considered. I mean, can you really turn down thirty quid, round trip, to Krakow?



Get creative with accommodation

Who says a vacation has to include a costly hotel? There are fantastic alternative options out there these days. I have seen some truly swanky airbnb’s listed all over the world and, if you’re traveling alone or as a duo, rent a room, rather than the whole property. Not only will you cut costs further but you get a built in guide who can tell you where the locals really hang out and what tourist traps to avoid. Looking for a large group? Check out listings for bunk houses on YHA. It’s a bit more “rustic” and usually involves self catering and cleaning up at the end, but it’s a great way to get away with all your friends without wiping out your savings account.


Embrace the great outdoors

Speaking of untraditional accommodation, some of my favourite childhood memories involve chucking up a tent in our garden and pretending we were explorers in the wilderness. Take it a step beyond backyard imaginations by packing up that tent and hitting one of the (literally) thousands of camping grounds across the UK. Pitchup is a great place to search for your next outdoor adventure. Don’t own a tent? No problem! They’ve got listings where you can rent one on arrival or, go crazy and upgrade to a tipi, wigwam, bell tent or even a luxury yurt. Yes, you get to sleep in a yurt. Move over infinity pools, I see a new Instagram trend this summer.

Splurge smarter

Still craving that exotic getaway? If you’ve got a little extra tucked away for rainy day spending then check out lastminute.com for some travel and accommodation packages. It’ll set you back a bit more than the other options listed but you’ll still save a pretty penny compared to booking direct. In an attempt to make their deals more attractive, hotels will often include some meals and cheap transport at the destination but make sure to read the fine print so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

With so many options available there’s no reason to let your budget (or lack of planning) stop you from having an incredible last minute vacation this bank holiday. What are you waiting for? Friday will be here before you know it; where will you be when it arrives?

We’d love to see where your last minute vacations take you. Send us a snap and any travel saving tricks you use to hello@usebean.com and we’ll feature you on our social accounts. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest Bean updates, saving advice, and more. Happy traveling!