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When should I switch broadband? How to avoid an expensive price hike

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Written by Max Beckett, Content Editor

11 April 2022

If your contract's ending soon, you might be due a costly price increase. Find out how you can steer clear of expensive out of contract bills.
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You might have seen your broadband prices increase by up to 9% this April, but if you last switched broadband in 2020 or 2021, you might be due an even bigger price hike soon — one that could be up to 90%.

And if you started your last contract even earlier than that, you might already be paying much higher monthly fees than you need to. So what can you do?

The good news is, you can easily avoid this costly increase. All you need to do is choose a new plan — whether that’s staying with your current supplier, or switching to another provider that offers a better package for your needs.

In this guide, we'll explain how to find out if you’re able to switch or re-contract your broadband. We’ll also explain your options if you’re faced with an out of contract price hike.

When do my broadband prices increase?

Many broadband providers will increase your monthly price once you fall ‘out of contract’, which is when your contract has finished but you continue to use the same service.

This is because your fixed term would be finished, so your provider no longer needs to charge you an agreed amount, and is allowed increase your monthly costs. However, it also means that you’re free to change your deal with just one month’s notice, and without paying an exit fee.

If you can’t remember when you signed up for your contract, there’s no need to worry. Providers now must send you a notification if your contract is about to end, or if you’re already out of contract.

So as long as you’re keeping on top of your provider’s emails or letters, you should know whether you’re out of contract or not. If you don’t remember receiving a notification, look back through old messages from your provider to see if it’s sitting there among all the marketing emails and letters you normally receive.

If you’ve been given an out of contract notification, this means you’re eligible to switch onto a cheaper contract. Search for broadband deals with Uswitch to find a package that’s right for you.

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How much is an out of contract price increase?

The price hike you experience entirely depends on the broadband provider you’re with and the service you’re using.

Some providers increase their prices by a very significant amount after you fall out of contract with them, whereas others will only add a few extra pounds onto your monthly rate. This said, it’s always good to steer clear of any price hike that you can legally avoid.

We’ve seen price hikes range from 6% to a staggering 90%, depending on which provider is managing the contract. Very few providers have no price increase at the end of the contract term — carbon neutral full fibre supplier Zen Internet is one of those.

Our Uswitch pricing data gives a fairly clear view of which providers generally increase their prices the most and least. Take a look at what you could expect depending on which provider you’re with.

Note: Pricing correct as of 1st April 2022

Providers with larger out of contract price increases

You’re likely to see a large jump in monthly prices on selected products if you stay out of contract with these providers.

  • Plusnet: Up to 90%

  • Virgin Media: Up to 83%

  • Hyperoptic: Up to 75%

  • NOW Broadband: Up to 75%

Providers with smaller out of contract price increases

While your monthly price will still increase if you stay out of contract on selected products, these providers don’t increase their monthly price by a large amount.

Regardless of whether your price increase is large or small, being out of contract means you can switch to a different provider at just 30 days’ notice, without any exit fees. You can therefore easily avoid a more expensive bill, *and* you can take advantage of much better deals.

If you haven’t changed providers in a while, you can learn how to switch broadband with our guide.

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What is an end of contract notification?

An end of contract notification is a message you’ll receive from your provider, either by email, text or post, that tells you your contract is coming to an end. It will also inform you of the new monthly prices you’ll be paying from when you’re out of contract, and it’ll offer some new plans you can re-contract onto.

What these notifications often leave out is that it also means you’re free to switch your broadband provider, if you find another one that offers a better deal for your needs.

Learn more about end of contract notifications with our guide.

If you’ve received an end of contract notification, it means you're roughly a month away from being out of contract, when you will likely be put onto a more expensive tariff.

So during that time, it’d be smart to compare broadband deals from a range of providers before choosing a new service. The offers included in your provider’s message could be enough for your needs, but there’s always a chance something better is out there, so it’s a good idea to shop around.

Our best broadband deals

Search Uswitch to find the right broadband plan for you.