If your mobile network has increased your prices mid-contract, you're not alone.
Most mobile providers increase their prices by a small amount each year, to combat upgrades and costs on their end. But what's noticeably different in 2022 is that price increases have been much steeper than normal.
That's because many networks' prices are also tied to inflation, which has hit a 40-year high this year. And unfortunately, that means most mobile prices have shot up between 9-12% — a much higher amount than before.
It's never great news when there's less money in your pocket. But unfortunately, inflation-based price rises are often built into the terms and conditions of the contract you sign with your provider.
So, what can you do when your bill rises unexpectedly? And what rights do you have when it does? Read on and we’ll explain how contract rises work and how you can learn to navigate them.
Price rises tend to only happen once a year, with the major UK phone networks attaching their increases to the Retail Prices Index (RPI), plus a regular amount that they will set themselves of around 2-3%.
This used to mean a hike of anywhere between 3% and 4%. But with inflation skyrocketing in 2022, it has meant increases of at least 8% across the board, with some reaching 12%.
On a typical £30 per month phone-and-SIM contract, an 8% rise would work out at about £2.40 more per month.
At the upper end of the scale, a 12% increase would see your monthly bill rise by £3.60 per month.
Price rises tend to be announced in January and February, before taking effect in March and April.
|Mobile network||Price rise||Option to cancel|
|O2||RPI + 3.9% (17.3%)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Virgin Mobile||RPI + 3.9% (17.3%)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|EE||CPI rate + 3.9% (14.4%)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Talkmobile||CPI rate + 3.9% (14.4%)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Vodafone||CPI rate + 3.9% (14.4%)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|BT Mobile||CPI rate + 3.9% (14.4%)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|iD Mobile (only Handset Pay Monthly customers affected)||RPI (13.4% - if purchased before 1st November 2022) — CPI rate + 3.9% (14.4% - if purchased afterwards)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Three||4.5%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Tesco Mobile||Out of contract price rises only (14.4% in 2023%)||Free to cancel contract or switch network|
|Sky Mobile||Out of contract price rises only (9% in 2023)||Free to cancel contract or switch network|
The picture looks even worse for Virgin Mobile and O2 customers, whose price rises are tied to the RPI rate of inflation instead. At 13.4% in January 2023, these could mean a price increase of 17.3% for customers of these mobile networks.
Browse our best contract deals for the latest handsets or save money with a cheap SIM only offer.
You might be able to leave your contract free of charge, but it depends on the terms and conditions of your current contract.
Most networks are allowed to increase the price of its monthly deals by the rate of inflation, plus a set additional annual amount. They can legally do this because they mention it in your contract terms when you sign up.
That means that you can’t simply cancel your contract without paying an early exit fee.
However, if your contract is at an end, you will be free to switch providers or ask for a better offer from your current network or to compare deals and switch to another network.
Some providers, such as Tesco Mobile, do actually allow you to leave your contract for another deal free-of-charge. Plus, mobile providers recently agreed to waive early exit fees for customers who want to move onto a cheaper tariff on the same network.
Learn more about mid-contract prices rises for telecoms services.
Yes. Under Ofcom rules, you can quit without paying a penny if you can prove, “material detriment.”
Ofcom says it is, “Likely to treat in-term increases to the core subscription price agreed at the point of sale as meeting this material detriment requirement and giving rise to the right of withdrawal". This is a very convoluted way of saying that having your price increased may mean you can switch to another deal without having to buy out the rest of your contract.
However, the bad news is that inflation linked rises are hard to prove as causing material detriment. So it's a bit of a tricky one. Your best bet would be to contact your mobile phone network to see if you can reach an agreement.
Yes. Any inflationary hike covers all kinds of monthly mobile contracts, whether they’re for a handset and line rental or a simple calls, data and texts only package.
The good news is that 30-day SIM only contracts can be left at short notice, meaning you can switch to a cheaper deal if you’re unhappy about your bill going up.
Before you choose another network or deal, make sure you take a look at our full selection of SIM only deals.
And if you feel you need a bit of help switching network and transferring your number, we've got you covered with our complete guide to changing network.
It depends. If you’re a light smartphone user, then pay as you go may be a decent option for escaping the vagaries of unexpected price rises.
But one-month SIM only deals, while susceptible to price rises, are a better bet.
30-day deals mean easily switching if you’re unhappy, with the added bonus of knowing your exact allowance each month.
Need some help choosing a network? Cast your eyes on our complete guide to UK network coverage.