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Mid-contract price rises: Which networks have them and what are your options?

1st October 2021

Mid-contract prices rises

Table of Contents

When you take out a contract with a mobile network – be that SIM-only or for a handset – you might expect that the monthly price listed will be what you’ll pay for the life of the contract, but in fact that’s not typically true.

Mid-contract price rises are now a common practice among mobile networks, meaning that your monthly costs can rise after the first year of a contract.

But it’s a complicated business too, as some networks raise prices more than others, and some don’t at all. To simplify things we’ve highlighted the exact mid-contract price rise terms for each network, then further down we’ve provided guidance on alternative options that don’t have price rises, and on what you can do if you’re already in a contract that’s set to get more expensive.

Networks with mid-contract price rises

The following networks all have mid-contract price rises of some kind, though how this is calculated can vary. In most cases however its rise relates to the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or the RPI (Retail Price Index), both of which are measures of the rate of inflation, so you’ll see both of these mentioned a lot below.

Note also that if you have a plan dating back to before any of those listed below, then in most cases your prices won’t rise mid-contract at all.

EE

If you took out a new plan with EE or upgraded from September 1st, 2020, then on or after the 31st of March each year you’ll see an increase of 3.9% plus CPI. As this is a measure of the rate of inflation it fluctuates, but the figure EE is using at the time of writing is 0.6% - so that plus the 3.9% is a 4.5% total increase in charges.

If you took out an EE plan before September 1st 2020 then your contract price will rise in line with the RPI, and the figure EE is using for 2021 is 1.2%. In the case of both RPI and CPI, EE is using the December figure.

Three

If you joined or upgraded on Three between May 29th, 2015 and October 28th, 2020, then your contract prices will increase each May based on the January RPI figure, which for 2021 was 1.4%.

If you joined or upgraded after October 28th 2020 then your monthly charge will increase by 4.5% each year – this increase isn’t tied to the RPI or CPI, it’s just a flat 4.5% regardless of how they fluctuate.

Vodafone

If you joined or upgraded on Vodafone between May 5th, 2016, and December 9th, 2020, then your bill will increase each April in line with the RPI, based on the RPI figure from March of that year.

If you joined or upgraded after December 9th, 2020 then your increase will be tied to the CPI, plus 3.9%. Vodafone uses the CPI figure from January and applies the change in April each year.

O2

If you took out a plan or upgraded with O2 before January 23rd, 2014, then the network has the right to increase your plan in line with RPI once per year – though may not always do so. If your plan dates from between January 23rd, 2014 and March 24th, 2021 then O2 definitely will increase your price in line with RPI each year.

If however you signed up or upgraded on or after March 25th, 2021, then your price will be increased by RPI plus 3.9% annually. If RPI is negative then O2 will just use the 3.9%, and in all cases it will use the RPI rate from February of that year, with the change being applied to your bill in April.

BT Mobile

BT owns EE, so unsurprisingly BT Mobile’s terms here are largely the same. It will increase prices by the CPI rate plus 3.9% on the 31st of March each year, based on the CPI rate in January of the same year – which in 2021 was 0.6%.

iD Mobile

If you took out or upgraded a plan with iD Mobile on or after March 1st, 2018, then your monthly price will increase in line with the RPI each year. The RPI figure will be taken in February and applied to your contract in April of the same year. In 2021, that meant an increase of 1.4%.

Plusnet Mobile

Plusnet Mobile customers will be subject to an annual price increase of 3.9% plus the CPI rate published in January of that year. The increase will come into play on or after March 1st every year.

  • To read Plusnet Mobile’s terms in full, head here

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile will increase customers’ prices by the RPI rate of inflation each year, using the figure announced in April. The rises will be put in place in July of the same year.

Talkmobile

For plans taken out or upgraded after March 30th 2021, Talkmobile will apply an annual price increase of 3.9% plus the CPI rate from January of that year. The increase will be applied in April of the same year. As with most other networks using the CPI rate, CPI will be ignored if it’s negative (but the 3.9% increase will still apply).

For most older Talkmobile plans, the annual increase will be in line with the RPI rate from March of that year.

Networks without mid-contract price rises

The following networks don’t raise your prices at the time of writing – either because they don’t actually offer long-term contracts, or because they simply choose not to.

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile is rare in that it doesn’t increase the price of its plans mid-contract. It never has done and says it doesn’t plan to start now.

Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile doesn’t guarantee that prices will stay the same, saying “prices may increase and services may vary, including during your minimum term. We will let you know about any material changes before we make them.” However, at the time of writing it doesn’t raise prices mid-contract.

Giffgaff, Smarty, VOXI, Asda Mobile, FreedomPop, Lycamobile and Lebara

These networks all offer short-term, typically 30-day plans (though up to 12 months in the case of Lycamobile), so mid-contract price rises don’t apply to them.

What you can do if your price is set to rise

If you’re tied into a contract where a price rise either will happen or has happened and you’d rather not pay it, your options are typically quite limited. You can usually get out of your contract, but unless you’re still in a cooling off period at the very start, it typically requires termination fees, which can mean paying off much or all of the balance.

However, once your contract is up you do have options to avoid price rises in future, and we’ll detail them below.

Alternative options that don’t have mid-contract price rises

If you want to avoid mid-contract price rises then you have a few options. For one thing, at the time of writing neither Tesco Mobile nor Sky Mobile will raise your price mid-contract, so you could always sign up with one of those networks. We’d give Tesco the edge here, since it guarantees not to raise your price mid-contract, while Sky reserves the right to.

Alternatively, you could switch to a 30-day plan. Whatever network you’re on, these won’t be affected by mid-contract price rises, as they’re too short term. So even the networks above that have mid-contract price rises won’t do for 30-day plans.

Similarly Pay As You Go isn’t subject to these rises, since you’re literally just paying for what you use. However neither Pay As You Go nor 30-day plans will include a phone, so if you need a new handset you’ll have to buy one outright if going down these routes.

It’s worth noting also that contract pricing tends to be lower per month than the same allowances would cost on a 30-day plan, so even with the price rises you’re often getting a better deal on a long-term contract, just as long as you’re happy to stick with that network for a while.

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