Are longer mobile phone contracts really worth it?

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We investigate the real cost of a 36-month phone deal…
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Are longer mobile phone contracts really worth it?

If you want to get your hands on the phone of your dreams, you’ve now got more options than ever.

Buying a phone on a pay monthly contract means you can get it in your hands right now, without paying the full price. You then pay off your phone over the course of your contract.

Most pay monthly contracts are 24-months, but some networks are now starting to offer 36-month contracts. This is because the latest handsets are getting more expensive, and one way that networks are trying to make them more affordable is to offer different payment options and plans. But are these longer deals worth considering? Let’s take a closer look to see how they stack up.

36-month contracts. Are they worth it?

When you’re weighing up the pros and cons of a pay monthly contract, you’ve got a lot more to think about than the monthly cost. Below, we’re going to consider the total cost, your data allowance, and the contract length.

What’s the total cost of a 36-month contract?
If you see a 36-month contract with a lower monthly cost than a 24-month one, you might think it looks like a better deal. But in the long run, you’ll end up paying more for your phone. Think of it in the same way as paying off a loan. If you go for the longer option, you get charged more interest, and it costs you more.

Here’s an actual example. At the time of writing, these 24-month and 36-month contracts are being offered by different mobile networks for the Samsung Galaxy S9:

24-month contract. Pay £36 per month, with a £29.99 upfront cost.

Total cost = £893.99

36-month contract. Pay £27 per month, no upfront cost.

Total cost = £972

As you can see, although the 36-month contract has a lower pay monthly cost with less to pay upfront, you actually end up paying £78.01 more.

How much data do I get for my money?
We’ll stick with the above real-life example. The 36-month contract comes with a 1GB monthly data allowance. The 24-month contract, on the other hand, gives you a whopping 26GB.

According to recent reports, the average amount of mobile data being used in the UK each month is 2.5GB. So with that 36-month contract, you could end up buying extra data every month. Over three years, that could really add up.

What will you be doing in three years’ time?

A 36-month contract is a major commitment. If you’ve got a settled lifestyle and know what you’re going to be doing in three year’s time, you might be comfortable with it. If you’re not so sure, you might welcome the extra freedom that a 24-month contract gives you.

Which contract is right for you?


So, what do you think? If you've decided to get a new handset on a pay monthly plan, is a 24-month or 36-month contract best for you? As you can see above, there are lots of things to consider. While a cheaper monthly cost might be appealing, you might not want to be tied down to a long-term contract if there’s a chance that your present circumstances will change.

Why not ask one of our experts for their advice before you sign up to a new mobile contract? Remember, we compare thousands of deals across all the major networks. You can pop in to any Carphone Warehouse store for a chat, or call for free on 0800 049 6250.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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