Which of your bills are going up and how to avoid paying more.
It’s the time of the year when a whole host of price increases are announced for a number of big services we all pay. Broadband, mobile, energy, council tax, water, TV… you name it.
And since many price hikes are linked to inflation rates from December last year or January this year, it means many bills are going up by up to 17%!
If you’re out of contract it can be the nudge you need to look for a better deal. Or even cut back on the services you pay for.
Of course, sometimes you can’t do much or anything about it. You can’t switch your water or Council Tax to a cheaper provider. Some contracts have annual increases written in when you sign up or exit fees.
But even in these situations, you might be able to find some savings. So in this article I’ve shared the top ways to pay less on your bills.
Broadband and phone bills
Virgin Media, BT, Sky and other many broadband bills are going up at the end of March and start of April by around 14%. Which is huge!
The bad news is most customers can’t do anything about it until they are next out of contract. But the good news for Sky and Virgin Media broadband customers is you can use this as a chance to break your contract penalty free – handy if you’ve not been happy with service. Sadly this could be the last increase where this rule works for Virgin Media.
If you can break your contract, or if you’re already out of the initial one, then use a comparison site to see what you can get from a different provider. Here’s more on getting the best deal for your broadband.
New customer extras (such as bonus gift cards or extra credit on your account) aren’t as good as they used to be, but it’s still well worth seeing what’s out there. Don’t forget to go via cashback sites Quidco or TopCashback as you might be able to get £100 back, perhaps more.
Or you can use your price research to haggle. Along with mobile networks, I’ve found you can often get money knocked off your bill if you tell your provider you are going to leave. Then see what they offer you to get you to stay.
TV and streaming bills
You could be hit by Sky, Virgin and BT increases even if you don’t get broadband with them as TV customers will see hikes too – and these won’t allow you to ditch mid-contract.
If you’re out of contract you could shop around or haggle here too – but personally I’d see it as a chance to ditch something you are probably overpaying for!
Instead you can get all the Sky channels via NOW TV or Sky Stream, though I’d go with the former as you’ve more flexibility.
This will work out a lot less each month for most customers, though the sports channels can make it less cost-effective, especially since the Sky Sports and Boost packages on NOW and the BT Sport month passes have all increased in the last month. Here’s more on ditching Sky and Virgin TV.
Elsewhere, we’ve not had any other major streaming price hikes this year (so far at least). But prepare for changes in the near future as Netflix is set to bring in sharing restrictions and Disney+ might start charging more to avoid adverts. Even if there aren’t hikes, I think it’s a good opportunity to streamline your streaming and pay for fewer services each month.
Oh, and the TV Licence is frozen this year, so there’s no increase. Though I think it’s a vital service, those who don’t want to watch live TV or use iPlayer can stop paying.
EE, BT, Three, O2, Sky and Vodafone are among the networks that have already announced price increases or have it written into existing contracts. And if you’re with Virgin Mobile or O2 it could be going up by more than 17% more!
If you’re not already SIM-only, then as soon as you are out of contract you need to seriously consider this. With 12GB deals available for £7 a month (or less with offers) there’s no reason people should be paying more than this.
If you’re out of contract it’s worth calling up your network to see if they can offer you a discount to stay. Don’t let them fob you off with free extra data. If you don’t need it you won’t use it, so you’re really gaining anything. Here’s more on how to pay less for your mobile phone bill.
Right now we’re set to see a £500 increase to average annual energy bills from 1 April 2023, along with the end of the £67 a month energy grant that’s been around since October. This is despite the energy price cap falling.
However, it’s looking increasingly likely that in the Budget on 15 March (perhaps before), the Chancellor will reverse part of this by extending the existing Energy Price Guarantee free. So we’ll still pay more each month, but not quite as much.
Right, so can’t change your supplier if bills are going up. But you can potentially move to a water meter. The rough rule of thumb is you’ll save with one if there are more bedrooms in the home than people. But it’s best to use a calculator to get a better estimate of whether you will save.
And if you’re already on a water meter you can add water saving features to your home and ultimately just try to use less of it. Here’s more about reducing your water bill with a meter.
Most councils will be putting up prices from the start of April by up to 5%.
It’s also another bill you can’t switch. But you might be eligible for a discount. For example you’re the only adult in the property, are a student or are a carer.
It’s also possible to check whether you are in the wrong band. If you are, then payments could be backdated. Here’s more on cutting your council tax bill.