So you're ready to switch broadband providers. You've compared the best deals, you're going to get a faster service, and save heaps of money. But there's a snag: your old provider also supplies your email address. Can you take it with you?
Free email offers are not quite as common as they used to be, and they're certainly less of a selling point. This means that if you do have an email address from an ISP, you've probably had it for a very long time.
Trouble is, they own that address. If you choose to switch providers there's no guarantee you'll be able to keep using it.
The process to switch broadband provider has been made much easier, and switching will certainly save you money. But the prospect of losing your email address can be a pretty compelling reason to stick with what you've got. So what can you do? Let's take a look.
Can you switch broadband suppliers and keep your email?
There's no simple answer to whether you can keep your email address after you leave a provider. Each company has their own policy, and you might need to contact them before you switch to find out exactly what will happen.
Here's what you can expect from the main providers:
Sky: Sky's now-discontinued email service was provided by Yahoo, so you can carry on using it as normal. You can even sign in via the Yahoo website.
BT: You can keep your BT email address if you're willing to pay. You have to sign up to the BT Premium Mail service which will set you back a hefty £7.50 a month. We wouldn't recommend that unless there's some reason why you absolutely need to keep your address.
Plusnet: By default, your Plusnet email account will be closed when you close your broadband account. However, you can keep it open by requesting your account gets downgraded to a mail-only package, costing £1.06 a month. It's important to note that you must request this when you contact them to close your account - don't wait until afterwards.
Virgin Media: When you leave Virgin Media you'll continue to have access to your email for 90 days after you close your account. This should give you enough time to set up and switch to a new email address.
TalkTalk: On TalkTalk you need to pay to keep access to your email address. You do this by signing up to the TalkTalk Mail Plus service, which will cost you £5 a month, or £50 a year.
Bear in mind that even if you can keep your email address now, there's no guarantee you'll be able to keep it forever. Providers can change their policies, or discontinue services, at any time. And if you're no longer a customer of that provider you won't really have grounds to complain.
With this in mind, we'd always recommend against using an email address tied to a specific provider. And if you already use one, it's worth switching.
How to switch email addresses the easy way
The simple solution to all of the above is to switch to a new email address. Most of us have already got Google or Microsoft accounts, which give us free Gmail and Outlook email, respectively. Or if you don't fancy giving all your data to one of these tech giants, you could try a free, privacy-focussed service like Proton Mail instead.
The idea of switching email addresses sounds like a bit of a faff, but with some planning you can make it reasonably painless. The trick is to open and start using your new address at least a month before your old address gets shut down. That way you can get everything sorted and there should be no interruptions to your email access.
Here's a checklist of things you need to do:
In your old account, set up email forwarding. This automatically sends a copy of all new messages to your new account.
Log in to all your main online services and change the email address associated with those accounts. Prioritise the important ones first - banking, bills, subscription services like Netflix, social media accounts, and so on. Don't forget to change the main email account on your phone, too.
Export your contacts from your old account. Send an email to your key contacts to let them know you've got a new address.
If you used webmail on your old account, manually forward any important mails you need to keep to your new address. Alternatively, if you're switching to Gmail you can use the Import Mail and Contacts features to pull it all across in one go.
Finally, for security purposes you could delete all the emails in your old account, and set a new, strong password. Although the account may shut down on its scheduled date, there's no guarantee that will happen. It might lie dormant for several months, which could leave it at risk of being compromised.
If you do miss any services that are linked to your old email address, don't worry. You'll still be able to log in to them after the account has closed down, as long as you can remember the password.
Once your new email address is up and running don't forget to sign up for our exclusive newsletter. It'll keep you bang up to date with all the hottest broadband deals and offers in your area.
5G is now up and running in the UK. EE and Vodafone have both launched their fifth-generation mobile networks, Three will launch theirs in August, and O2 is set to join the party a month later.
Great! But wait - what exactly is 5G, and what will it mean for you? We've got an in-depth guide to 5G, with the full lowdown on the new tech and why it's so important. But if you'd prefer a quick and easy bluffer's guide, here's what you need to know.
1. 5G is fast
Think the 20-25Mb speeds of 4G are already pretty quick? How does 200-250Mb grab you? Typical 5G speeds are ten times faster than 4G right from day one. Find the perfect conditions and it can go way beyond even that, with Three claiming that their network will hit a potential 2Gb.
And it doesn't stop there. Industry experts reckon 5G could eventually deliver speeds up to a mind-blowing 20Gb.
What do the faster speeds mean? It'll improve everything you do online, from simple browsing to sharing huge files, it'll deliver instantaneous app downloads, and even allow you to watch Netflix in 4K on your daily commute.
2. It'll work in crowded places
5G fixes one of the biggest frustrations of 4G, its limited capacity. You'll know the signs: you try to use your phone in a crowded place and have to struggle along with a grindingly slow connection - if you get a connection at all. The network simply isn't equipped to handle the amount of traffic we're throwing at it.
The 5G network will enable two and a half times as many devices to be connected at once, and to download a whole lot more data while they're there. That means no more waiting around when you want to go online.
3. 5G will be great for broadband
The faster speeds and higher capacity are so important. They don't just mean that we'll get faster streaming and sharing on our smartphones, they will also completely revolutionise mobile broadband.
If you need a data connection on your laptop while you're on the road, you can expect more reliable performance, faster speeds, and - best of all - significantly higher data allowances. In time, 5G could even become a decent option for home broadband, especially in more remote areas where the existing fibre network is so poor.
4. You'll need new devices
Here's the bad news: your existing 4G-enabled phones, tablets, laptops, watches and dongles will not work on the 5G network. You'll have to replace them all. That includes your iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, and everything else.
The good news? There's no rush. There aren't many 5G devices right now, and they carry a price premium. Unless you're an early adopter itching to try it out, you can probably wait a couple of years before 5G gear is a must. And by then, devices will support it as standard anyway. Meanwhile, your 4G kit will continue to work just as well as it always has.
5. The rollout will take some time
So when will you be able to use 5G? It's available right now in major cities like London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. By the end of the year it'll be available in over 30 locations, from Bournemouth to Birkenhead, and then in over 50 places by the end of next year. Different networks will target different places, so you might need to switch.
But the rollout will take some time. Even areas that do have 5G won't have blanket coverage, and if you're in smaller town it might be two or three years before 5G arrives.
For more information on 5G, including how it works and why it'll be a complete game changer in so many other ways, take a look at our full 5G guide. Or, if you'd prefer, have a look at some of the best mobile broadband deals you can buy today.
There are so many strong broadband offers being presented this week that we felt it was time for another round up of the best broadband discounts and rewards around.
Onestream has one of the cheapest broadband deals we've ever seen. The Flow Unlimited package offers average speeds of 11Mb and is an impressively low £13.99 a month on a 12 month contract, with line rental included! Onesteam also have a range of competitively priced Fibre products, starting with their 17Mb average speed truly unlimited Jetstream Lite Fibre that comes in at just £17.99 a month on a 12 month contract with line rental included - that's cheaper than many provider's standard broadband deals!1 £9.99 setup cost applies on all offers.
Shell Energy aren't far behind Onestream for extremely cheap standard broaband, their Fast Broadband package with average speeds of 11Mb is only £15.99 a month all in.2
There are also a number of strong reward offers on this week. For example, if you want a Fibre package from BT, then not only will you get a BT Reward card, you'll also receive a Marks & Spencer voucher! Superfast Fibre is £31.99 a month and comes with an £80 M&S voucher and a £30 Reward Card, while Superfast Fibre 2 is £39.99 a month with an £80 M&S voucher and a £60 Reward Card.3
Plusnet have a mix of reward cards and cashback offers on their broadband and phone bundles this week. Unlimited Broadband is £18.99 a month in low cost areas and comes with £75 cashback, Unlimited Fibre is £24.50 a month and comes with £50 cashback, while the Unlimited Fibre Extra package is £27.50 a month and comes with a £60 reward card. You'll need to hurry, because the Fibre offers end tomorrow night!4
John Lewis are bundling in a Google Home Hub with all their broadband products. This is a hands-free Smart Speaker with a 7" screen worth £119! You can choose between Broadband Unlimited with average speeds of 10Mb for £20 a month, Fibre Broadband with average speeds of 36Mb for £28.50 a month or Fibre Extra with average speeds of 66Mb for £35 a month.5
Blink and you'll miss it, Virgin Media's flash sale on TV bundles starts today. You can get a fantastic £150 bill credit on select broadband and TV packages. Choose from the Bigger Bundle for £57 a month, Bigger Bundle + Movies for £62 a month or the Bigger Bundle + Sports for £72 a month - all of these packages have average speeds of 108Mb. If you to up your speeds to an average of 213Mb and get more TV options, you can get the Bigger Bundle + Sports & Movies for £79 a month. Or you could go all out and get Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, BT Sport, Kids Pick and whopping average speeds of 516Mb with the Ultimate Oomph Bundle for £99 a month. Hurry, this offer ends on the 12th July!6
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker or verify on the provider landing pages to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. 12 month minimum contract. Standard broadband price rises to £24.99 from month 13, Fibre Lite rises to £27.99 from month 13. £9.99 delivery fee for the router applies to all deals. Further terms and conditions may apply, see Onestream site for details. Offer is only available via the landing pages linked from this blog post and may end at any time.
2. All Shell Energy deals are on an 18 month contract. Prices will rise from month 19, see Shell Energy site for more details. Offers are only available via the landing page linked from this blog post and ends 11:59pm 8th August.
3. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. BT have announced the intention to raise all prices by a small amount annually from March 2020 in line with the consumer price index, this figure is published each January. Offers end 11:59pm 11th July.
4. All Plusnet deals are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount, cashback will be issued as a cheque when your broadband is active. Offers are only available via the link in this blog post. Fibre broadband offers end 11:59pm 9th July, standard broadband offer ends 11:59pm 16th July.
5. Virgin Media packages are on a 12 month contract, prices will rise from month 13. £35 upfront cost applies. Credit will be applied to your first bill. See Virgin Media website for full details about included channels and extras. Offer ends 11:59pm 10th July.
6. John Lewis Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, John Lewis will contact you before this is up to inform you of price rises from month 13. Offer ends 11:59pm 30th July.
7. 24 month minimum contract. Availability and speeds vary depending on the mobile coverage in your area and level of usage on the same cell tower. Traffic prioritisation will apply so some services may be slower during peak times. Offer ends 11:59pm 22nd August. Three have announced the intention to raise all prices by a small amount annually from March 2020 in line with the consumer price index, this figure is published each January. Check coverage for your area on the Three website.
When you compare broadband deals you'll see that most providers sell their services based on how fast they are. When they do this they're almost always only talking about the download speed. That's fair enough - it is one of the two most important factors you need to consider, along with the price.
But there's another speed spec that providers don't shout about, and is often quite difficult to find anywhere. The upload speed.
So what exactly is this, and is it something you need to worry about? Let's take a look.
What exactly are upload speeds?
As you probably know, the download speed represents the speed at which data is transferred from the internet to your computer. Well, the upload speed is the opposite. It's how fast data moves from your computer to the network.
Broadband providers place all their emphasis on download speeds because the vast majority of the stuff you do online involves downloading. Everything from opening a simple web page to streaming 4K video on Netflix is affected by your download speed. By and large, the faster it is the better your experience will be.
But you're uploading all the time, too. Every time your computer communicates with a website or other online service it does so by uploading packets of data to those services. This is how it opens a web page or logs you in to your online bank account. However, the amount of data involved is so small that it's unaffacted by your upload speed. It all happens instantanesouly.
This means that your upload speed is irrelevant for day-to-day web use, which is just as well because it's usually a lot slower than your download speed. Broadband providers know that downloading is more important, so they configure their system to give that priority.
Where it does matter is when you're uploading large amounts of data. If you like to share your holiday photos and videos on Facebook, for instance, your upload speed will determine how quickly that will happen, and it can be a massive difference. Uploading one gigabyte of images would take around two and a half hours at a 1Mb speed, or just 14 minutes at 10Mb.
Or if you make video calls on Skype or FaceTime your upload speed dictates whether you can broadcast yourself in glorious high definition or will have to settle for a more low-res, pixellated image. Skype requires an upload speed of 1.5Mb for full HD.
So, what speed am I getting?
The easiest way to find out what upload speed you're getting is by using our Speed Test tool. You should then use this figure when you start to shop for a new broadband deal, because it's technically possible to switch to what looks like a similiar or better package, and end up with slower upload speeds in the process.
Most providers offer similar upload speeds, just as they do download speeds. For standard broadband with download speeds around 10-11Mb, uploads are usually around 1Mb. On an entry-level fibre deal - 36Mb download - it's around 9Mb, and is around 18Mb on the high-end fibre deal (typically 64-67Mb downloads). Providers that use different technolgies, such as Virgin Media or fibre to the home suppliers like Gigaclear, offer different speeds. But remember, they're always only average speeds, so you might get better or worse.
Here are the average upload speeds for the UK's biggest broadband providers:
Virgin Media: speeds are 3Mb on the slowest VIVID 50 plan, 6Mb on VIVID 100, 12Mb on VIVID 200, and 21Mb on VIVID 300.
Direct Save: mostly above average upload speeds ranging from 5Mb on the 25Mb plan to 30Mb on the 300Mb plan.
Gigaclear and Hyperoptic: these fibre to the home providers offer 'symmetric' services, meaning the upload and download speeds are the same. This results in the UK's fastest upload speeds of 900Mb on the top end plans!
Do I need to care about upload speeds?
Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere covered by Gigaclear or Hyperoptic - and that's only around half a million homes between them - your upload speeds are typically going to be limited to between 1Mb and 30Mb (on average).
So how much weight should you give this when choosing a broadband deal? It depends on how you spend your time online. We've established it doesn't matter for normal web use - browsing, social media, streaming TV, or even if you use your broadband for gaming. But there are certain tasks where you'll definitely benefit from faster upload speeds. These include:
using cloud services like Dropbox
sharing photos online to places like Instagram or Google Photos
using P2P file sharing services
making VoIP phone calls
making video calls over services like Skype or FaceTime
uploading videos to YouTube
live streaming games on services like Twitch
You might also want it if you work from home, especially if you work with large files or need to do video conferencing, etc. And a larger household with many users online together will also benefit from faster speeds.
For many, though, the upload speed is something that's good to know but not essential. In all cases the most important thing is to make sure you get the broadband speed you need based on how you use the internet.
Our broadband listings show the upload speed for all plans. If you're ready to start shopping for something faster, use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals in your area now.
It's time for another of our semi-regular rewards roundups, where we do all the hard work for you and gather the best offers of the week for you all in one handy post!
BT are back with a bountiful tech plus reward card offer on Superfast Fibre packages. The tech on offer is worth up to £149, and is a choice between a JBL Bar Studio speaker, a Hive Smart Lights pack or an Amazon Echo. If this offer appeals then you can get your choice of tech on the Superfast Fibre package for £29.99 a month along with £40 Reward Card, or Superfast Fibre 2 for £39.99 a month with a £70 Reward Card.1
If you're a light user who just wants a cheaper option, or fibre isn't available in your area yet, then BT are still showing you some love. You can get the standard BT Broadband package with average speeds of 10Mb for £24.99 a month with a £40 Reward Card. It's worth remembering that you can throw a BT TV package into all these deals for the same rewards, with prices starting at £34.99 a month.1
If you want to grab a £75 or £100 gift card with a Vodafone fibre package, then this offer is only available through the links in this blog post! Superfast Fibre 1 is £21 a month with a £75 gift card, and, if it's available in your area, Superfast Fibre 2 is £26 a month with a £100 gift card. The gift card is a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC World or Marks and Spencer.2
TalkTalk have a strong voucher offer on their fibre packages, but only if you use the links in this blog post. You can get a pre-paid Mastercard or a voucher of your choice from Amazon, Tesco or Ticketmaster! If you opt for TalkTalk's Fibre package at £24.50 a month then your reward value will be £70. If it's available in your area, then you can get the boosted Faster Fibre packagefor £27 a month and your reward value will be £80!3
Plusnet's reward card offer is available on both their fibre with phone packages. Unlimited Fibre is £23.50 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, and Unlimited Fibre Extra is £27.50 a month with a £70 reward card, provided it's available in your area.4
In a Virgin Media network area? Want the fast broadband speeds but not interested in a TV package? The VIVID 50 + Phone package might be for you. It's £27 a month with free setup, comes with a £50 bill credit and is only available through the link in this post!5
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount plus a choice of tech between a JBL Bar Studio speaker, a Hive Smart Lights pack or an Amazon Echo. Offers end 11:59pm 23rd May.
2. Vodafone fibre products are on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the WeGift landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 29th May.
3. TalkTalk Fast Fibre products are on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 23rd May.
4. Plusnet Fibre products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 21st May.
5. Virgin Media VIVID 50 is on an 18 month contract. Credit will be applied to your first bill. Offer ends 11:59pm 5th June.
6. John Lewis Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, John Lewis will contact you before this is up to inform you of price rises from month 13. E-gift card can be redeemed at John Lewis or Waitrose. Offer ends 11:59pm 10th June.
Spring is definitely underway, the weather is (mostly) improving, and while you're probably pondering a bit of spring cleaning over the bank holiday weekend it might also be time to look at freshening up your broadband deal at the same time. We've selected some of the best broadband offers for you below.
Plusnet have reward card offers of varying amounts on all of their broadband and phone bundles this week. Unlimited Broadband is £18.99 a month in low cost areas and comes with a £65 reward card, Unlimited Fibre is currently at £23.50 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, while the Unlimited Fibre Extra package is £27.50 a month and comes with a whopping £70 reward card!1
BT's offer this week is an Amazon Echo, worth £89.99, on their Superfast Fibre 2 packages. You'll also get a £60 BT Reward Card, increasing the total value of this offer to £149.99! Superfast Fibre 2 is £39.99 a month if it's available in your area. Superfast Fibre 1 customers haven't been left out; while there's no Amazon Echo bundled in, you can get fibre broadband for £29.99 along with a £90 BT Reward Card!2
If fibre isn't available in your area, or you're a light user and just want the cheapest option, there's BT Broadband with average speeds of 10Mb for £24.99 with a £60 Reward Card. These deals are also available on BT TV packages, which start at £34.99 a month.2
SSE's Unlimited Fibre broadband package is just £23 a month on an 18 month contract and comes with a £55 reward, which is a choice between a pre-paid Mastercard or an Amazon.co.uk gift card. You'll need to hurry, this offer ends Sunday night and is only available via the link in this blog post!3
Sky's Broadband Unlimited and Fibre Max packages both come with a £50 voucher, a choice between a Tesco or Ticketmaster gift card. Broadband Unlimited is £20 a month and Fibre Max is £27 a month. This offer is also only available via the link in this blog post. 4
TalkTalk's Fast Broadband is currently only £17 per month for the 12 month contract, and you'll also receive a £50 voucher of your choice for Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster! Again, this offer isn't on our usual listings, so be sure to sign up via the link in this blog post.5
NOW Broadband's offer of 6 month Entertainment Pass and free Anytime calls on all their broadband products is still going, but you'll need to hurry as it ends early next week. If you're looking to watch the final season of Game of Thrones, then this may be the perfect deal for you. The Entertainment Pass comes with 11 pay TV entertainment channels not available on Freeview, including Sky Atlantic, FOX, Comedy Central and Discovery Channel, and over 300 Box Sets to watch On Demand. Brilliant Broadband is £18 a month, Fab Fibre£25 a month and, in areas where it's available, Super Fibre is £30 a month. If you're an existing Entertainment Pass customer taking out a new broadband contract, then you can redeem this offer in the final 30 days of your current subscription.6
Finally, a fantastic offer for people in broadband not-spots who can get a decent mobile signal. 4G home broadband from Three is just £25 a month and comes with a Huawei AI Cube, a wireless router that acts like a smart speaker and has the Alexa voice assistant built in. What's more, you also get unlimited data each month! If you're not interested in smart gadgets, then Three's basic HomeFi deal also boasts unlimited data for just £22 a month. Find out all you need to know about 4G home broadband in our dedicated help page on the subject.7
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 7th May.
2. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 7th May.
3. SSE Unlimited Fibre is on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 5th May.
4. Sky deals are on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the WeGift landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 7th May.
5. TalkTalk Fast Broadband is on a 12 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 9th May.
6. NOW Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, or a 1 month contract with a £60 setup fee. Offer is also available on their 1 month contracts, though an ongoing broadband subscription is required for the 6 month pass. Pass auto-renews from month 7 at £7.99 a month, unless cancelled. You can cancel any time. Offer ends 11:59pm 7th May.
7. 24 month minimum contract. Availability and speeds vary depending on the mobile coverage in your area and level of usage on the same cell tower. Traffic prioritisation will apply so some services may be slower during peak times. Check coverage for your area on the Three website.
The obvious advice for anyone who wants to cut their broadband bill is to switch to a different provider. It's so easy to compare broadband deals, and more often than not you'll be able to find something better or cheaper than what you've currently got.
But what if you don't want to switch? What if you're happy with the service you're getting, and would just rather pay a little less for it?
Well, there are a few tried and tested ways to pay less for your broadband without switching providers. Let's take a look.
Don't stay on your old deal after it expires
The first step is a no-brainer, yet it's something that millions of us fail at. Don't stay with your old deal after the initial contract has ended.
When you sign up for a broadband deal you get a price and a minimum contract period. When that contract period ends the price will start to go up. In fact, it might go up the very next day. A recent Which? report suggest that customers who don't bother switching deals end up paying as much as £690 more each year than they otherwise would.
If you only take one thing away from this post, it's that you need to know when your deal ends. That way you can make an informed decision about what to do.
At the very least you can call your supplier and see what they can offer you if you take a new contract. That ought to be better than what you've currently got. But remember that these companies reserve their most attractive offers for new customers, so don't assume that their first offer is the best you can get.
Master the art of haggling
Haggling is not terribly British and our collective refusal to do it is costing us hundreds of pounds a year.
But it's actually easier - and less terrifying - than you'd think. Just use our comparison tool to find a better broadband deal, then call your provider armed with this information. Tell them what you can get elsewhere and see if they can match it.
If the thought of haggling brings you out in a cold sweat, don't worry. Write yourself a little script first. Try this one for size:
"My contract's ending soon and I'm looking at my options. I can get this deal from this provider for this much per month. Can you match it?"
Or this one: "My contract's come to an end and I'm trying to cut my bills. My budget is this much a month. What can you do for me?"
And then follow it up with: "Hmmm… I was hoping for something a little better than that…"
You'll speak to the regular sales team first, and they're limited on what they can offer you. If you aren't happy you can tell them that you'd switch providers instead. This will get you put through to the Retentions department. Retentions exists purely to stop customers leaving, and they have more scope for offering you better deals.
A lot of people don't want to take it this far because they're worried that they'll be forced into starting the switching process even when they don't really want to. But you don't have to make any decisions over the phone there and then. Just tell them you were hoping for a better offer, and that you'll have a think about it and will call them back tomorrow.
Don't accept mid-contract price rises
It's a lot easier to cut your broadband bill when your contract is coming to an end (or has already ended). It's a lot harder when you're still in your initial contract period, but there are a few things you can use to your advantage. One is poor performance, the other is a mid-contract price rise.
In the right circumstances, both of these can lead to you being allowed to leave your deal early without penalty. If you're getting terrible performance then you might want to switch anyway. But you can use a price rise as leverage to get a better deal. Not only might they waive the increase, but they might throw in another sweetener, too.
You have to act quickly, though. You've got 30 days from when you're informed of the price rise. After that you're regarded as having accepted the change.
Cut services you don't need
Another simple way to reduce your bill is to cut services you no longer need. This is easiest if you've got a TV bundle, as you can dump those channels that you don't watch. Or maybe you took out a call plan and now find you don't make as many calls as you thought.
You can even think about what type of internet service you've got. Do you need that ultrafast broadband package, or could you downgrade to a slower speed without noticing the difference? Our guide to what broadband speed you need explains more.
Find different ways to pay
If you've got a chunk of cash sat in your bank account just waiting to be spent, you could potentially make savings on your broadband by paying some or all of it up front. It's rare for providers to allow you to pay all your bill in one go - and we wouldn't necessarily recommend it either - by a few still offer a line rental saver option.
Plusnet and BT both let you pay the line rental part of your deal up front, which can knock as much as £30 off your annual bill. Not a huge saving, granted, but still the equivalent to a month or month and a half of free broadband, and definitely not to be sniffed at.
Paying up front protects you against price rises, but does come with a small risk. If you need to exit your contract for any reason (including something like moving house) you're unlikely to get your money back.
Seek out bundles for better value
Do you get your broadband, phone, TV and mobile from different providers? If so, there's a good chance you can make savings by bringing two or more of them under the same roof. Many broadband providers offer bundles for various services, and it often works out cheaper than buying products from lots of companies. It's more convenient, too, since you no longer have to juggle multiple bills each month.
What's good about this is that you can often do it when you're in the middle of a contract. When you ask your provider if you can give them more money each month they're unlikely to turn you away. Just make sure that your deals for these services with other providers have run out, otherwise you could be penalised for moving them.
Be willing to walk away
Okay, you don't want to change providers, but you're in a far stronger position if you're willing to do so regardless. Not only does it improve your chances of getting the best deal with your current supplier, but it also opens you up to all those incredible 'new customer' offers from everyone else.
And while it sounds like a hassle, the good news is that the process to switch broadband providers is now easier than ever. In some cases your new provider will do all the work for you!
Whether you're a fan or not, it probably hasn't escaped your attention that the final season of Game of Thrones is coming to an end after 8 years on our screens. Starting this month, the must-see event television fantasy series will go out with a bang with 6 unmissable feature length episodes.
If you're yet to visit Westeros, or just want to refresh your memory of who's still standing, now's the time to catch up with previous seasons of the show! But what's the cheapest and easiest way to do that in the UK?
If you have Sky TV, you'll already know that the final season starts on Sky Atlantic on the 15th of April and you can watch the show from the start with the on demand Box Sets service. Looking to switch to Sky? Check out our Sky Broadband Buyers Guide here.
Don't have Sky, can't commit to a long contract or put off by the satellite dish? A NOW TV Entertainment Pass may be the answer for you. There's no contract, so you can cancel at any time and the pass only costs £7.99 a month. With that you can access over 300 box sets, including big name shows like Westworld, and of course seasons 1 to 7 of Game of Thrones, plus all the new episodes once they air.
If you're a massive diehard fan and you plan to stay up all night to watch the 2am HBO simulcast live on Sky Atlantic, NOW TV will let you do that too! Along with Sky Atlantic, you'll also get 10 other pay TV channels that include Sky One, FOX, Comedy central and ABC!
Line rental required with NOW Broadband, included in the quoted price. Prices rise from month 13, see NOW Broadband site for amounts. 1 month contracts available with £60 setup fee. Offer ends 23:59 7th May 2019.
Is it better to get your broadband, TV and phone services as part of a single bundle from the same provider, or should you shop around for the best standalone deals?
Is it simply a question of convenience versus flexibility? And does one work out cheaper than the other?
Let's take a look.
What kind of bundles can you get?
There are three types of broadband bundle. Where providers offer more than one you might see them described as triple or quad-play providers.
Broadband and call bundles
Most broadband services need you to have a traditional phone line, the price of which will be included in your broadband bill. Many providers - even some of the smaller ones - make the most of this requirement by offering you a call plan as part of a bundle. You can add off-peak, Anytime or International calls for a few extra pounds a month. If you don't add a plan the price for any calls you make just gets added to your bill.
Even some providers who don't require a landline will still offer you call bundles, and that can work out cheaper even if you don't intend to use them. For example, Virgin Media's broadband with phone options are cheaper than just standalone broadband for the offer introductory period of. After this, it goes up by £2 a month, but you always have the option of ditching the phone portion at the end of your minumum contract, or some people might consider the extra £2 worth it for extra piece of mind in an emergency. Of course, this isn't always the case, as with Hyperoptic who charge more for a phone bundle than they do for a standalone product. But it's worth investigating to see whether a potential provider requires a landline or not, and if you can make a saving by getting calls bundled in.
Broadband and TV bundles
Broadband and TV bundles are the next most common types of deal. These are generally restricted to the bigger name providers like Sky or BT, and can give you access to premium TV channels that show Premier League football or the latest movies. But beware, they aren't all like this. Some TV bundles, such as the basic TalkTalk or Virgin TV deals, don't offer many more channels than you can get with Freeview. You get a set-top box that lets you record or pause shows, but doesn't include any pay TV channels unless you choose to upgrade. Take a look at our guide on the cheapest ways to get pay TV for the full lowdown.
Broadband and mobile bundles
The other type of deal you can get is a broadband and mobile bundle. Again, these are rarer. Your options are split into two groups: either money off your bill, or a bonus added to your mobile plan, usually in the form of a bigger data allowance. The good thing about the latter is that you can add it to an existing plan if you're already a customer, without needing to take out a new deal.
How do the prices compare?
So how do the prices of bundles compare to buying all your services separately? And do they work out cheaper? Well, it's complicated. When you compare like-for-like services, bundles will usually give you a decent saving. But if you're willing to make compromises on what you need, they might not be the best option.
Here's an example. Let's say you want to sign up to Sky TV.
As of April 2019 you can get Sky Entertainment with 63Mb Fibre in a bundle from Sky for £42 a month. By contrast, if you took the cheapest fibre deal with an average 63Mb speed, from TalkTalk, plus the same Sky Entertainment package from Sky it would cost you a total of £47 a month. It's the same story for different speed broadband, and when you add more TV channels the gap increases further.
Bundles are cheaper when you compare like-for-like services. But - and there's always a but - it isn't quite as simple as that.
If you take that 63Mb TalkTalk Fibre plan and add a NOW TV Entertainment Pass instead of the Sky subscription, the monthly price plummets to just £33. In fact, add the NOW TV plan to Sky Fibre and it works out £7 a month less than the Sky bundle.
What gives? The important thing here is to compare the small differences in the services you're getting. NOW TV is cheaper and gives you the same channels you get through Sky, but it's also a far less premium service. You can't use it to record shows, access red button services, watch 4K broadcasts, or plenty of other things.
In summary: if you want the full monty, a bundle will almost always be cheaper. But if you're willing to shave off some of the extras, you might be able to make savings by buying separately.
Are bundles right for you?
Money aside, the big selling point of bundles is convenience. A bundle gives you one contract, one bill, and one customer service department to deal with. In most cases you'll be able to renew at the same time, too. And you could argue that getting all your services from the same provider will give you more leverage when it comes to negotiating the best deal. The more you pay, the keener they'll be to keep you.
But buying standalone deals has its merits, too. You get more choice, for a start, since there aren't many triple or quad-play broadband providers. And more flexibility, which lets you pick up a faster broadband package than your chosen TV provider can offer, for example. Plus, there's the possibility of taking shorter deals. Sky TV comes with an 18 month contract, Virgin 12 months, and NOW TV just 30 days.
Call plan bundles are the easiest to decide upon. Lots of us don't even have phones plugged into our landlines anymore, so don't need them. But if you make a lot of landline calls - especially international calls - then go for it.
For TV, make sure you know what you want before you sign up. For the full pay-TV experience a Sky or Virgin Media bundle will work out cheaper. If you just want a few extra channels, like from NOW TV or the handful of premium channels offered by BT, a standalone deal might actually work out better.
And as for mobile, keep an eye out for indirect savings. Sky TV customers, for instance, are automatically eligible for unlimited free calls and texts, which means they only need to pay for a data plan. The cheapest they offer is just £6 a month - almost certainly less than you're paying at the moment. EE give 5GB of mobile data to their broadband customers each month. This won't show as a saving on your broadband bill, but is likely to enable you to switch to a much cheaper mobile plan and make your savings there instead.
The main thing is to know what you need and how much it will cost you separately. The you can compare it to how much an equivalent bundle will set you back. Use our comparison tool to find your perfect broadband bundle to get started.
A new voluntary code introduced by Ofcom goes into effect today. This scheme means that the broadband providers who have signed up will have to reimburse customers in the event of their broadband or landline phone service being down for longer than two days. Here's what you need to know.
The compensation you can expect
Delayed repair following loss of service - if a fault takes longer than two days to fix, you can expect £8 for each day after that period that your broadband is not repaired
Missed appointments - if the engineer does not turn up or your appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours of notice, you can expect £25 per missed appointment
Delays with the start of a new service - if your broadband does not go live on the agreed date, you can expect £5 for each day of delay, including the missed start date
Homes and small to medium businesses who choose to use residential broadband are eligible for compensation on this scheme, and you should only need to report the fault for compensation to be paid out automatically.
To qualify for compensation, faults must not be of your own making (for example, your problem is down to your own wiring and equipment, you shove a spade through a vital cable on your property, or you're not at home for an engineer visit). You're also due compensation in the event of extreme weather causing problems and third-party incidents that contribute to the delay of repairs.
The providers taking part
Originally BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen signed up to the agreement back when it was proposed in 2017. Since then EE, Hyperoptic, Plusnet and Vodafone have also signed up, accounting for more than 95% of broadband and landline customers in the UK. While most of these providers will be participating in this scheme from today, Hyperoptic and Vodafone will start automatic compensation later this year, and EE should be ready to do so next year.