When you use the internet every day, it’s easy to forget that what’s connecting you to the rest of the world is your broadband - a utility that’s comes straight to your home like gas, electricity and water.
Whether it’s helping the kids with their schoolwork, catching up on what you’ve missed on telly or staying in contact with family and friends, most of us wouldn’t want to cope without broadband these days.
As with any utility, it pays to shop around, so before signing up you should compare broadband deals with an Ofcom-accredited website. Here are five ways to save money on your internet and get the best deal possible for your family:
1. Check the small print
Even if you don’t use your home phone to make calls, you still need a landline to get broadband. The only widely-available exception is Virgin Media broadband, which you can get without a phone line as Virgin Media has its own cable network rather than using the national telephone network like most providers. Line rental usually costs more than broadband, so it shouldn’t be overlooked. You should also compare contract length, as the really cheap deals are normally subject to a 24-month agreement. It might be worth paying more for the flexibility of a shorter contract if you’re not sure you’ll be able to see out a longer one.
2. Pick the right package
Don’t be lured in by a broadband package with a super-low monthly price if the speeds and usage you get are going to limit your family’s enjoyment of the web. A household of three or more internet users, each with their own gadgets, whether it’s a laptop, smartphone, tablet or console, needs a decent amount of bandwidth for a smooth online experience. Superfast fibre optic broadband, which is now available to most of the UK, is ideal for families that do a lot online. In any case, you’ll probably need unlimited broadband with the fastest speeds available on your budget so you don’t have to keep an eye on a monthly usage limit or slow one another down.
A bit like the offers you get in supermarkets, where buying three instead of one means you’ll paying more initially, but make a decent future saving, it’s almost always cheaper to bundle your broadband with other services. For example, if you want Sky TV, you can save a fair few pounds every month by getting Sky Broadband Unlimited with it - getting unlimited broadband separately from another provider is likely to cost you more. BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk all offer TV, broadband and phone bundles.
4. Only pay for what you need
When you compare broadband packages, it’s easy to get carried away with an amazing deal that offers more than you actually need. Before you sign up, think about whether you’re going to be paying for unnecessary extras you can save money on by ditching. On the other hand, don’t obsess about price alone - if you skimp on speed or TV channels you could regret it, and any saving you made will be quickly forgotten.
5. Switch and switch again
Broadband providers offer their best deals for new customers, so once your contract expires it’s always worth having another shop around to see what extra you might be able to get – and how much money you might be able to save - by switching provider again. Contracts normally last between 12 and 24 months, so if you haven’t switched in two years or more, you’re almost definitely missing out on savings, speed and more.