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There are 1000s of phones, contracts and tariffs to choose from. It can get confusing if not overwhelming when it comes to choosing a new phone. Here are some top deadcert tips to reducing your costs and finding a payment plan you'll be happy with whether its on contract, PAYG or SIM only. Choosing a Mobile Phone Make a list of all the features you want first e.g. voice call, SMS, bluetooth etc. Depending on who you sign up with there may be a limited choice of phones so Find the 5 or so cheapest or your 5 favourite phones which fill your criteria . This should give you a good idea of the kind of phone you'll be getting along with additional features to your original criteria. Tariffs The most important choice of all is the tariff. Here you'll need to decide between Sim only/PAYG (Pay As You Go) and contract. Depending on how much you use the phone, the tariff is likely to be your greatest cost. As a guideline, below 150 calls and 100 texts you're better off with a PAYG tariff. Above either of those you should consider getting a contract. SIM Only deals means you purchase a SIM card only and this then gives you the freedom to use a phone you already have or purchase a phone independently without being tied into a contract. They usually work on a 30 day notice period without the need to enter into a longer term contract. Contracts (usually paid monthly) can offer cheap rates but usually come with a phone and tie you in to a longer term contract with the operator. Beware the long term contract, especially ones over 12 months. The operator really will hold you to it. When picking a contract always take the number of free minutes and texts in to account - check if unused texts/minutes are rolled over each month. Rollover contracts can be useful for people whose usage varies a lot from month to month. Don't look at the international calling rates being offered as these can be circumvented, see below. Comparison sites to use: omio.com uswitch.com mobilephonechecker.co.uk onecompare.com Cash-backs, freebies & special offers. Once you have decided on the kind of phone you want and have checked out the best tariffs, only then is it time to consider special offers, cash-backs, etc. Cash-backs are offered by many providers. Beware that the tariff is the charge made by the network and the cash-back is provided by the dealer. They can however be problematic to claim and involve having to fill out several forms, each of which must be returned on time or the cash back becomes invalidated, another reason why the its the tariff that counts. VOIP If you want VOIP on your mobile your choice is limited . Cost of phone?? For some years now the networks have resisted introducing VOIP to customers claiming quality issues but perhaps more likely that they don't want their customers on unlimited use flat rates. Vodafone and Orange even going to such lengths as to disable the VOIP software (Truphone) on the Nokia N95 phones they sell with their contracts. One operator pushing Skype a bit more positively is Three with the Skypephone S2. As long as you are talking or messaging to another Skype user then calls are free. With the appropriate Skype calling subscription you can make calls to all international landlines and mobiles at the normal low Skype rates. You don't need to have a special deal with the operator to use VOIP as long as your phone as WiFi capability and hasn't been nobbled by the operator - you can direct your VOIP call straight through the Internet access point you're connected to. Switching Switching tariff can be useful if your usage changes and you want to switch to a tariff which better matches the minutes and texts you use each month. This is also a good way to reduce the cost of getting out of a lengthy contract - change down to a lower tariff first and only then give notice of termination and the cost will then be at the lower rate instead of the cost of the remaining months on your original contract. If you're coming to the end of a contract and perhaps found a better tariff with another provider then it can be worth haggling with your provider?? to see if they can match or better the deal. If they're unwilling then make a point of asking for the PAC (Port Authorisation Code) which they can't refuse and it shows you're serious and ask to get put through to the disconnections department which may have more authorisation to offer better rates. Using Your Mobile / Cell Phone Abroad Providers often have punitive rates for calling/receiving calls/messages abroad. You can get round this by buying a SIM card in the country you're travelling to or buying a Global SIM card. You can then use this SIM card in your existing phone. You can then make local calls at local rates, call cheaper back to the UK and receive calls for free. Global SIM sellers: gosim.com 0044.co.uk sim4travel.com If you're going somewhere that is likely to have good Internet access and Wifi consider using a WiFi enabled phone with VOIP software such as Skype or Truphone, you'll be able to make calls completely free of charge. If you are using your normal SIM abroad there's still things you can do to reduce the cost. Turn off voicemail or change your message to ask people not leave voicemail messages as you'll be charged international rates. Get people to send you SMS texts instead of calling as these will still be free for you to receive. Insurance BIBA (British Insurance Broker's Association) advise mobile phone insurance can be difficult to claim on and the cost at around 5 - 10 per month can be more than the cost of replacing the handset. See http://www.biba.org.uk/ConsumerContentDetails.aspx?ContentID=744 Even if you don't have insurance you should contact your provider to get them to block the phone to avoid racking up charges on calls made by the thief. Unlocking All we need from you is your handsets IMEI number, which can be found by typing *#06# into your phone, and the network operator you are currently tied to. Look for a free code first: try:Nokia phones. The easiest way to unlock older Nokias is via codes found on sites like Trycktill, Unlock Nokiafree or Unlockitfree. If you can't find one there are numerous web sites offering remote unlocking, you'll need to supply them with the IMEI, serial number, network and they'll give you an unlocking g code for a small fee. Failing that you can take it to a specialist who will use cable & clip tools to unlock it , though if you're competent enough you can buy kits on eBay to do this job. Selling Your Phone For Ca$h I you have an old phone, your new provider may be prepared to offer cash for it but you may get more money by selling it on eBay (unlock it first though as it will be worth more).

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