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Published 10 April 2024
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April Price Hikes: How to Tackle Rising Broadband, Mobile & TV Bills

April’s price hikes can feel overwhelming for consumers whose bills seem to be going up all at once. For most people, internet services are essential, but are there savings to be had? Here’s how to take back some control.

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Many of us have been hit hard by the latest stack of price hikes, making April a worrying time for those already struggling to cover their outgoings.

From council tax and water to broadband, mobile phone contracts and TV streaming services, the new tax year brings a raft of price increases. 

And for many people, internet services are now essential. In a recent NerdWallet UK survey, broadband internet was considered ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ to 86% of UK adults, more than their rent or mortgage payments and fuel.

Internet providers, such as BT, Vodafone, EE and Sky, are hiking up broadband and mobile phone bills by 7.9%, with Virgin Media pushing bills up by 8.8%. 

“Telecom providers do send correspondence notifying people of the uptick in prices come April, but not a lot of people know what that means in pounds and pence terms,” explains Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at investment platform interactive investor. 

He adds that “not a lot of people are aware that they could find a cheaper deal with the same telecom provider or go elsewhere to find a cheaper deal – that is not made clear”.

7 tips for tackling rising broadband, TV and mobile bills 

1. Don’t take it lying down

To tackle a bigger broadband bill, comparison websites can be a handy way to check whether you can get a better deal. 

Depending on where you live, there could be a range of providers who may charge you less for a similar service. 

Sometimes a phone call to your provider is the most effective way to bring your costs back under control. “Don’t forget, there is power in negotiation,” says Jobson. Just remember to check for cancellation fees before you pull out of your existing contract.

2. Reduce your TV and broadband package

Set aside time to negotiate with your provider and be prepared to stay on the phone, or web chat, with customer services until you reach a price point you’re comfortable with. 

You may be passed around a few different departments or telephone operators – stick with it! Find out how long any revised price is guaranteed, and set a reminder to review your expenditure at that point.

3. Weigh up streaming services versus TV licence fee

If you currently pay for Netflix or Disney Plus, you can expect those costs to increase. Given that the vast array of viewing options can be overwhelming, households who feel they’re spending too much on streaming services could try sticking to standard TV and catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer to make the most of the on-demand content. BBC iPlayer is included in the TV licence fee, which increased on 1 April to £169.50 per year (from £159).  

4. If you’re on benefits, tell your provider

Some companies offer discounts to customers in receipt of certain benefits, known as ‘social tariffs’. 

If this applies to you, contact your providers and explain your financial circumstances. You may be required to provide evidence of your entitlement, such as proof of your recent Universal Credit payments or jobseeker’s allowance.

You can find a full list of social tariffs on the Ofcom website, the broadband, home phone and mobile services regulator. 

5. Check your mobile phone contract 

If you’ve recently taken out a new 18- or 24-month mobile phone contract, put a reminder in your calendar close to when that contract ends. 

It’s usually cheaper and easier to change providers once you’re out of the minimum contract period, so that’s often the best time to take stock of whether you’re getting value for your money.

Jobson encourages consumers to keep a close eye on their contract dates because companies “don’t necessarily notify you when you’ve paid off your handset” at which point you may be able to move on to a cheaper tariff. 

6. Watch out for automatic upgrades

Some TV streaming services may move you on to a more expensive plan at the end of an introductory offer, for example. Keep your login details secure, but accessible to you, so that you can access your account and take control of your plan.

7. Look at price hikes outside of your ‘bundle’

As well as an increase to your basic plan, extras such as top-ups of additional data could also become more expensive. Keep this in mind when reviewing whether or not your current contract still meets your needs.

Bite back using your budget

Price hikes can be a great reminder to take stock of your outgoings and consider whether you can absorb the increase or need to make some changes. Re-evaluating how much you use the services you pay for can help you work out where to scale back your spending.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to do a holistic review of their finances,” advises Jobson. “Have a look at your income and your expenditure and see if there are any ways in which you can raise any savings,” he adds. 

This is a reminder that one of the most important aspects of building your financial fitness is maintaining an emergency fund for unexpected financial shocks. 

If you want to keep all of your current services despite rising costs, look to make savings from somewhere else in your budget. ‘Trading down’ is one way to reduce spending, while still buying the things you enjoy: swap more expensive items for cheaper alternatives, such as buying own-brand versions of your usual favourites. 

Jobson says that most people don’t need to make sweeping changes and instead small tweaks can add up to bigger savings. For example, you don’t need to give up your caffeine habit completely, but consider visiting that “fancy barista coffee house every other week rather than everyday,” he suggests. 

The recent increase in the standard living wage and minimum wages could relieve some financial pressure for lower-paid workers. However, for some consumers there may still be a gap between income and expenditure. Selling pre-loved items on Vinted, Depop or eBay can be an effective means of making money online

Image source: Getty Images

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