Many of us are guilty of spending too much time on our phones – but is it possible that you’re also spending too much money on your phone? There are many unnecessary costs to look out for as a smartphone user. Below are just some of the mobile-related expenses that you should try to avoid at all costs.
The cost of screen repair has been steadily increasing with each new model release, largely due to the fact that screens are constantly getting more advanced. Nowadays, you’re looking at over £250 for screen repair on the latest models (i.e. the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21). You could buy a new phone for that amount of money (in fact, you can buy an iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S10 online for £250).
Screen repair is a cost that can usually be prevented by buying a screen protector. You can buy this alongside the purchase of your phone or online from another seller. If you’ve got a track record of damaging screens, it might also be worth taking out insurance on your phone just in case you need to make repairs. This insurance will cover the cost of getting a new screen if you need it. Of course, being careful with your phone can go a long way too – zip up those pockets and think twice before taking that cycling selfie!
Replacing broken/lost smartphones
Many of us have had to replace a phone prematurely because it was damaged or lost. Perhaps you lost it on a night out? Or perhaps you dropped it in the toilet? Whatever the case, it’s an expensive mistake that nobody wants to make twice.
As with avoiding screen repair, you can avoid having to pay for a replacement by taking out insurance, using a screen protector (and a case) and by taking care with your phone. Be particularly careful when giving phones to kids – children are often more prone to damaging and losing phones, so avoid giving them anything too expensive as a first phone.
In the event that you lose your phone or drop it in some water, be wary that there may still be a chance of saving it. There are ways of tracking a phone by using apps and map tools. Meanwhile, if you dropped a phone in the toilet, there may be a way of successfully drying it out so that it works again. Reacting quickly in each case is key.
If you’ve ever run out of data or minutes on your phone, you may have already paid for add-ons. Phone plan add-ons allow you to buy extra minutes or data to use within that month. This saves you having to go the rest of the month with no data or calls (although some phone plans will simply allow you to keep making calls or using data, charging you extra for it in your monthly bill).
If buying add-ons is a regular occurrence, it could be a sign that you need to upgrade to a better phone plan – you could be spending more money on add-ons than you would if you simply upgraded your contract. You don’t have to wait until your contract is due for renewal to make these changes.
Alternatively, you could simply take steps to start reducing your data or call time. Constantly accessing the internet on the go will quickly use up your data. Games and online videos are some of the biggest data-guzzlers, so think twice before opening up YouTube or playing Fortnite when not connected to local wi-fi. As for reducing call time, if you’re always chatting to people on the phone, consider periodically switching to online voice call platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp.
Just as you can waste money by using up too much data, you can also waste money by not making full use of your data plan. Much like paying for TV channels that you don’t watch, you could be paying extra each month for something that you don’t use. Switching to a lower data plan could save you money without any noticeable effects.
If you’ve never ran out of data before, consider whether you’ve chosen a data plan that is unnecessarily high. Think about your lifestyle and just how much data you realistically use – if you work from home and rarely use social media on your phone, you likely don’t need a lot of data.
Late payment charges
Not paying your phone bill on time is likely to result in late payment fees. These can add up if you keep missing payments. You’ll also be damaging your credit score in the long run by missing payments and it may affect your ability to take out a phone contract in the future (although getting blacklisted generally requires missing quite a few payments).
As with any type of bill, avoiding late payments is all about budgeting. Make sure that you know exactly when your phone bill is coming out and how much is due. Many people find that it’s easiest to have all their bills coming out around the same date so that they can more easily keep track of them. Most providers will allow you to change the billing date if you ring them up.
Depending on your contract and provider, you could be charged extra fees for using your phone abroad. International phone calls are often a lot more expensive than domestic phone calls. You could also be charged extra for texts and using data.
Make sure you know exactly what is included in your plan when travelling abroad. Try to avoid making international phone calls – use Facebook or WhatsApp to make calls instead while connected to a secure wi-fi connection. Turn off data roaming to avoid being charged extra for data usage (even if you’re not actively using apps, it’s worth turning off data roaming as some apps may still use data in the background).
If you’re planning on going abroad for a while and want to be able to use all the functions of your phone, you may want to talk to your provider about customising your plan. There may be plans that involve reduced international fees, allowing you to call people and use data more freely.
Pay-to-win mobile games
A lot of mobile games nowadays are free to download and play. However, players can often be sucked into purchasing extras – which can quickly add up. This could include anything from purchasing extra gems in Clash of Clans or buying extra Pokeballs in Pokemon Go. While most games allow you to get far in the game without splurging on in-app purchases, others can make it very difficult to get anywhere unless you’re willing to spend some money. These games are sometimes notoriously referred to as ‘pay-to-win’ games, because the only way to win at them is to pay.
You should be careful of spending lots of money on these types of games. If you find that you’re easily persuaded into making in-app purchases, consider setting yourself a monthly budget. Alternatively, you could make it a habit of avoiding such games altogether (read reviews beforehand – if players are describing it as ‘pay-to-win’, you may want to give it a wide berth). Be wary that kids playing mobile games may try to persuade you into buying extra content. Unless they’re really serious about these games, you should avoid giving in.