MobilePhoneChecker's Contract Upgrade Guide

Typical mobile contracts last 12 or 24 months. Networks tend to be forget to tell you that your contract is finishing. The reason for this is simple, most contracts have a handset price included, so after the contract has finished and you've effectively paid off the handset cost, networks start to receive a healthy chunk of profit in your monthly payment.

O2 have bucked this trend by offering their "Refresh" tariffs, where your monthly price is split into handset and airtime costs. You simply carry on paying the airtime cost after you've paid off the handset, which is what most people expect to happen (see our O2 Refresh Deals tool). Tesco also offer a similar concept too.

As you become close to the end of the contract, you have a few options open to you. If you're looking for a new handset you'll want to ensure you get a good deal. If you are not wanting to switch handset you'll want to make sure that you are paying the lowest amount for your normal use.

Want a new handset?

If you want to stay on your current network and keep your number, your best bet is to phone up your network directly and see what they offer you. Use our contracts comparison tool to give you a baseline of the type of deal you could get and use that in your negotiating. Don't be afraid to express your thoughts of moving to a new network as their retentions departments typically have better options available to them to retain customers.

If you are looking to move to a new network, first of all phone up your current network and request your PAC (Porting Authorisation) code which enables you to take your mobile number to a new network. Sometimes this prompts them to try and keep you - if the offer a stonking deal then great! Find the best deal for you using our contracts comparison tool and when prompted (normally during the online order process, or in some cases when the handset and SIM arrives) supply your PAC code and existing mobile number to move it to the new network. It typically takes around 2 working days for your number to be ported to the new network once the SIM is active.

If you want to stay on your current network but they won't give you the same deal as a new customer, one option is to port your number to a Pay As You Go SIM on a different network. After the number has been ported, you can immediately request a PAC code from them and use it to port back to your previous network. You can take advantage of new customer deals that way.

New contract, old phone

If you're not looking for a new handset you have various choices available to you:

1) Keep on your current contract - no actino required, but it'll likely cost you a fair amount of money

2) Speak to your current network to see what deal they can do for you to stay with them

3) Use our Pay As You Go or SIM Only comparison tools to see if it's cheaper to move to a new network

If you're moving network you'll need to make sure that your handset is unlocked and will work. You can do this easily by ordering a free PAYG SIM card on the network you're looking to join and trying it in your phone.

If your handset is locked, you'll need to speak to your current network to ask them to help you to unlock your handset. Most networks will do this free of charge if you've completed the contract with them. It's best to do this before moving networks as you don't want to be without service - and some networks may then charge you to unlock your handset if you no longer have a contract with them.

Don't want a contract any more?

You can easily move to a Pay As You Go option. Most networks let you "downgrade" from a contract to one of their Pay As You Go offerings. You'll normally not have to do anything apart from topping up your credit at the appropriate time. If you use our Pay As You Go SIM card comparison you can compare offers across all the networks to work out what deal works out best for you. There are some great deals out there especially for light use.

If you're moving to a new network, you'll need to request your PAC (Porting Authorisation) code to enable you to keep your number. Again, it's wise to check that your handset is unlocked and will work on the new network. Just pop the new SIM in when it arrives and test before porting your number over.

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