It's becoming common these days for broadband providers to entice customers into buying a broadband package by offering tempting rewards, such as gift cards, shopping vouchers, bill credit and cashback, and even shiny tech like tablets, Amazon devices and TVs. All the big name providers do it and some rewards, such as BT's current offer with a choice of tech and a reward card on top, may seem too good to pass up on.
But such offers may not be the best deal for you, even if they look really good at first glance. Before you rush to take advantage of a deal with rewards, you need to stop and ask yourself a few important questions, including:
What exactly are all these different rewards and how do they work?
Will these reward deals still save you money on your broadband contract?
Is the reward on offer something you already want or even need?
Could you spend less by getting a cheaper broadband deal and buying the reward yourself?
How do you get your rewards - are you automatically given them or do you need to claim them yourself?
We've got a brand new page in our Help section all about broadband rewards for you that gives you the answers to these questions and more, so when you decide to buy a broadband deal with a reward, you'll know how much money you'll really be saving, exactly what you're getting and how to get it.
Armed with all that information, you're all set to find the best deal with rewards for your needs - use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area right now!
The first of the month usually has broadband providers dusting off some good offers, and today is no exception. Take your pick from the great deals below!
BT have a very tempting offer this week. Not only can you bag a BT reward card on most packages, if you opt for a fibre product you also get a choice of an Amazon Echo, a Fitbit Charge 3 or a Samsung Tablet A 10.1 - worth up to £179! Superfast Fibre is £29.99 a month and comes with an £80 reward card or, if it's available in your area, you can get Superfast Fibre 2 for £39.99 a month with a £120 reward card.
If you’re not looking from fibre from BT, their standard Broadband with Weekend Calls is only £24.99 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, though sadly no tech extras. TV packages with these rewards are also available.1
TalkTalk’s Fast Broadband package is only £17 a month and comes with a £60 voucher. This offer is only available through the link in this blog post.3
John Lewis have several e-gift cards on offer, depending on the package you opt for. Broadband Unlimited is £20 a month and comes with a £35 e-gift card, Fibre is £28.50 a month and comes with a £50 e-gift card for and Fibre Extra is £35 a month and comes with a £75 e-gift card.4
EE have a Double Data Boost on all their broadband packages. If you have a mobile calling plan with EE you can increase your mobile data allowance by 10GB instead of the usual 5GB boost. Your broadband packages options are Standard Broadband for £21 a month, Fibre Broadband for £27 a month, or Fibre Plus for £31 a month. TV packages are also available.5
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers ends midnight ending 14th March.
2. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Plusnet reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers ends midnight ending 12th March.
3. TalkTalk Fast Broadband is on a 12 month contract. Vouchers are a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster. Offer ends midnight ending 15th March.
4. Offer is on an 18 month contract, John Lewis will contact you before this is up to inform you have price rises from month 19. E-gift card can be redeemed at John Lewis or Waitrose. Offer ends midnight ending 5th March.
5. Offer available to existing mobile customers. All EE products are on an 18 month contract. You will be contacted before your contract is up to inform you of price rises from month 19. Data should be added to your mobile account. Offer ends midnight ending 28th March.
More realistic speed estimates - Providers need to advertise speed estimates that are relevant, and must display an 'average speed' that at least 50% of their customers can get during peak hours, between 8pm and 10pm.
Tell you your minimum guaranteed speeds at point of sale - Before you commit to buying, you should be told the minimum dowmload and upload speeds you can get, so you know what to expect, whether you have an actual speed problem, and if you have the right to terminate your contract.
Improving your rights to leave your contract early - Providers will have 30 days to fix your speeds, and if they're unable to do so they must offer you the right to downgrade or to terminate your contract without penalty. This now includes customers on bundled packages, such as landline and TV services.
These rights apply to all cutsomers regardless of the technology - Previously the rules only covered customers on standard broadband over copper landlines, or 'part-fibre' Fibre to the Cabinet products. Now they apply to 'full fibre' Fibre to the Premises/Home technologies as well, including services that use the Openreach (BT Group) telephone network and Virgin Media's cable network.
The updated Code remains voluntary, so Ofcom won't have the power to force all broadband providers to comply. However, most of the major providers have signed up, in fact Ofcom believes Code complaint providers currently serve around 95% of home broadband customers.
Many of the smaller providers haven't signed up on the basis that the implementation of the technologies needed are too impractical and costly for them to make it viable at this time. The principles of the Code have also been criticised by one small provider. It should also be noted that, although the Code applies to all sales from 1st of March onwards, Ofcom won't be testing the compliance of the rules until 2020 to give the signatories time to implement the changes.
The providers who have signed up for the new 2019 Voluntary Codes of Practice are:
KCOM (Hull Area)
BT, Daisy, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have also signed up for this to cover Business customers, with KCOM and XLN sign expected to be compliant in the near future.
It's always nice to get rewards and free gifts on top of a good broadband deal, so we've put together a list of the best of those deals from this week for you to choose from.
Plusnet Broadband and Phone bundles each come with a reward card this week. Unlimited Broadband comes with a £75 reward card and is priced at £18.99 a month. Both Fibre products come with a £50 reward card, and are priced at £23.99 a month for Unlimited Fibre and £27.99 a month for Unlimited Fibre Extra. You'll need to hurry, as these offers end on Tuesday!1
SSE have a £50 pre-paid Mastercard on offer with their Unlimited Broadband package, which costs £18 a month for the duration of your contract. This offer is also only available through the link in this blog post.3
BT have reward cards on nearly all of their packages. Their basic Broadband with Weekend Calls and a £30 reward card is only £24.99 a month. If you're looking for a Fibre package, then you can get Superfast Fibre with a £50 reward card for £29.99 a month or, if it's available in your area, you can get Superfast Fibre 2 with a £70 reward card for £39.99 a month. TV packages with reward cards are also available.4
1. Offer available to new customers only. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Plusnet reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See Plusnet site for reward card terms and conditions. Offers ends midnight 26th February.
2. Offer available to new customers only. All Vodafone products are on an 18 month contract. Vouchers are a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC Word, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See offer page for full terms and conditions and how to claim. Offer ends midnight 28th February.
3. Offer available to new customers only. Offer is on an 18 month contract, SSE will contact you before this is up to inform you have price rises from month 19. Vouchers are a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC Word, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See offer page for full terms and conditions and how to claim.
4. Offer available to new customers only. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See BT site for reward card terms and conditions. Offers ends midnight 28th February.
Superfast Fibre broadband may now available across 95% of the UK, but there are still a lot of people who can't get it. You might be one of the frustrated few stuck in a broadband not-spot, with Fibre not yet available in your area, or - more annoyingly - it is available, but you're just too far from the street cabinet to see the benefit and are stuck with sluggish speeds on standard broadband over copper phone lines.
The solution to your problem may be simpler than you think.
4G mobile technology started rolling out in 2012 and is now available over 80% of the UK, and now mobile providers such as EE and Three are offering a home broadband solution that uses the 4G mobile network to provide users with speeds that can be comparable with their up to 36Mbps Fibre counterparts. You don't necessarily even need to be in a 4G area to get it, either - you can get respectable speeds in many 3G areas as well, plus there's the option to boost the signal with an external antenna if you need it.
What's more, Three currently have an amazing offer on that's competitive with even the cheaper Fibre broadband deals. For just £22 a month on a 24 month contract you can get unlimited data!
If 4G home broadband is something that interests you, we've put together a handy guide to the service that addresses:
Here's a simple trick that can save you £30 a year on your broadband, as well as slashing your monthly bills. All you have to do is pay your line rental up front in one go. And what's more, right now this will boost savings enough to net you the cheapest broadband offer possible!
Plusnet and BT offer 'line rental saver' deals that can get you cheaper broadband, reduce your monthly payments, and also protect you against price rises.
These deals aren't advertised, and they aren't included as standard in any bundles - you have to add them as an optional extra during checkout when you're signing up. But if you can afford to pay a lump sum up front the great benefits make them well worth seeking out.
What deals can you get?
Plusnet value their line rental at £18.99 a month, but will let you have it for £197.88 if you pay all at once. That's equivalent to £16.49 a month - a saving of £30 a year. Throw in the £75 cashback cheque that Plusnet offer if you sign up through this link by Wednesday the 13th of February and you're effectively saving £105 in the first year!
That's not all.
Plusnet's standard broadband - with an average speed of 10Mb - is free. You normally only pay line rental. So if you've paid your line rental up front, it means you'll be getting a year's broadband for NO MONTHLY COST. Or if you divide the total costs of line rental after cashback by 12, you're paying the equivalent of only £10.99 a month. Not bad! And what if you want a faster fibre package? You'll still only pay a little over a fiver more each month under the same terms.
BT offer a similar deal, but with a smaller saving of around £20 a year, which is roughly the same as their activation fee. They also throw in a Weekend calls package. While it probably isn't worth switching to BT solely on the back of this offer, if you were planning to go with them anyway it's totally worth paying the line rental up front if you can afford to do so.
Sounds good, but what else do you need to know?
Firstly, you can obviously only get the deal if you can afford the upfront payment, and it is a lot to pay in one go. Some users might also just prefer to spread the cost over many months. But it does work out cheaper in the long run, and also protects you against mid-contract price rises on line rental (but not the broadband).
Second, make sure you check the length of both parts of your package. Line rental saver offers are for 12 months, but broadband deals can often last 18 months. This will leave you paying six months of line rental at full price in the last part of your contract period. You'll still make a saving, but make sure you make a note of it so you aren't taken by surprise when your bill goes up after a year.
You can renew the line rental saver deal at the end of the year, but we wouldn't recommend this unless you're absolutely certain you're going to be sticking with the same broadband supplier. Broadband prices always go up when your contract ends, so you want the freedom to shop around and find a better deal with a different provider.
A better option might be to hold off until you can get both broadband and line rental on a 12 month contract. Plusnet switches between offering broadband on 12 and 18 month deals frequently.
Finally, your upfront payment isn't refundable. If you need to leave your contract before it's up for any reason you won't get your money back.
These days most of us have a mobile phone we use regularly - often using it in place of landline phones to make our calls - and we're always looking for a good deal on mobile call packages. Most of us also rely on the internet in our day to day lives, and most households in the UK consider a broadband package as an essential utility.
So wouldn't it make sense to combine broadband and mobile to get a cheaper deal?
With several of the major broadband providers branching out to offer mobile deals and some of the major mobile networks also offering home broadband as well, there are a number of options for getting a good mobile and broadband bundle deal. You can even throw in a TV package to your bundle to make even more savings!
We'll help explore your options and explain in simple terms how mobile from your broadband provider works.
Our new guide on the subject covers:
Which providers offer broadband and mobile bundles
Ofcom has launched a new Boost Your Broadband campaign aiming to help millions of internet users get a faster service or to slash their bills on their existing deals.
Half of UK homes could switch to superfast broadband for no extra cost
Ofcom's research has revealed that superfast broadband is now available to 94% of homes, yet only half of UK households have taken it up, and the industry regulator wants more people to start taking advantage of it.
What's more, they found that around four million households with old-style, basic broadband have passed their initial contract period and could switch to superfast for about the same cost as they're currently paying - and in many cases they could even save money!
The high profile campaign is fronted by Gloria Hunniford, and you'll see it on TV, in the press and online. It will help you find out if you can:
Get a faster service with your current provider
Pay less for your existing package
Switch to a better deal with a different provider
Boost Your Broadband offers straightforward, easy to follow advice. Even if you aren't tech savvy and don't even know why you might need faster internet, it doesn't matter. The campaign will equip you with everything you need to snag a better deal.
How to get a better deal with Boost Your Broadband
At the heart of the Boost Your Broadband campaign is the reality that so many of us are still stuck on old deals where the minimum contract period has ended. This leaves us paying more than we should be for a service that's often not as good as it could be.
When that happens you need to speak to your provider to find out what your options are. But if the thought of doing that leaves you feeling a bit out of your depth, don't worry. Ofcom has provided a handy checklist of questions you need to ask:
Am I still in my initial contract period?
If I am, how long is left?
How much am I paying for my current deal?
What am I getting for that price?
How fast does my broadband need to be to do the things I want?
Can I get a faster service, and how much will it cost?
How long do I need to sign up for?
Do I need to pay connection fees to get the new deal?
What happens at the end of the initial contract period?
Once you've got the answers to those questions you'll know what your options are. And that usually boils down to four possibilities: getting a faster service with the same provider, keeping the same speed but signing a new contract (preferably at a lower price), switching providers (which is a lot easier than you might think), or sticking with what you've got.
Before you start, use our Ofcom accredited postcode checker to find out what other broadband packages are available in your area. This will give you an idea of what kinds of speeds and prices you should be looking for. It'll also help you make an informed decision on what to do next.
You could be in line for compensation next time your internet goes down, following an agreement involving some of the UK's biggest broadband providers.
A voluntary code introduced by industry regulator Ofcom states that, from early next year, providers will have to reimburse customers if they lose broadband or landline phone service.
So far, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Zen Internet have signed up to the agreement. Plusnet and EE have also indicated that they may join.
What you'll get
Under the plan, customers will receive £8 per day in compensation when their broadband goes down and the fault takes longer than two days to fix.
In addition, there will be £25 compensation when an engineer misses a scheduled appointment, or cancels within 24 hours.
Plus, customers will receive £5 per day when new services they sign up for do not start on time.
Homes, and small and medium businesses are eligible.
There are some caveats. You won't get compensation if you're the cause of the problem, like if you damage the wiring in your home or are out when the engineer arrives. Most faults are also likely to be fixed inside two days, so you could still experience disruption without being compensated for it.
Openreach are also involved in the scheme, since most faults occur on their network (apart from Virgin Media, who use their own infrastructure). They have said that they won't compensate the broadband suppliers in the event of force majeure events like flooding, leaving the onus on the suppliers themselves to foot the bill in those instances.
After a consultation in Spring 2017, Ofcom published their judgement in November 2017, giving retail and wholesale providers a 15 month deadline by which automatic compensation had to be in place. This means that the very latest we can expect to see the system working is mid-February 2019.
Your consumer rights
The agreement is the latest in a line of measures designed to the experience of broadband users, and ensure we're all getting value for money.
As we spend more and more of our lives online - managing our money and doing our shopping - we're more likely to encounter problems. Viruses, scams and other cyber-crimes are continuing to become more common. So what's the best way to stay safe online? Let's take a look.
1. Install anti-virus software
Anti-virus software is a must if you use Windows (less so for Macs, Chromebooks, phone and tablets). It doesn't just protect you against viruses you can get though email attachments or dodgy downloads; it protects against all malware - any software designed with malicious intent. This includes nasties like spyware that steals your passwords, and ransomware, which locks down your computer unless you pay up.
Free anti-virus software from your broadband provider
A lot of the best broadband providers give you a free, or cheap, anti-virus subscription as part of their deal. If yours is on this list, make sure you take them up on the offer:
BT: with BT you get the McAfee powered BT virus Protect. You can install it on two or up to 15 machines, depending on your package. You also get Web Protect, which checks websites you visit are safe, and True Key, a secure password manager you can install on five devices.
EE: EE Home Broadband gives you a year's subscription to Norton Security Premium for up to 10 devices. After that it costs £39.99 a year, half the normal price.
Plusnet: Plusnet Protect, from McAfee, is free for Unlimited and Unlimited Fibre Extra customers. On the standard Unlimited Fibre deal you'll need to pay an extra £2 a month for your virus protection. You can install it on up to seven PCs.
Sky Broadband: on one of Sky's Unlimited deals you get a 12 month free trial of the McAfee Internet Security suite for up to three PCs. On the limited packages you get three months. Once the trial is up you can keep it going for £3 extra a month.
TalkTalk: with TalkTalk you get HomeSafe, an award winning online security package. This combines some virus protection and parental controls. It isn't a full anti-virus tool, though.
Virgin Media: Virgin Media Security is worth £39.95 a year, but is free to all Virgin Media broadband customers. It gives you full anti-virus coverage for up to three PCs.
Vodafone: with Vodafone you get a free six month sub to F Secure SAFE anti-virus package for up to five devices. After that, you can subscribe for £39.99 a year - half the normal price.
NOW Broadband: with NOW you get the Broadband Buddy service. This helps to protect you against malware-infected sites, but isn't a full anti-virus package.
John Lewis Broadband: John Lewis offers a full subscription to the Bullguard security package for Windows users.
If your supplier isn't on the list, there's loads of free anti-virus tools you can get instead. Bitdefender and Avast are among the most highly rated.
Malware isn't just a concern for those who browse the murkier reaches of the internet. Perfectly benign, mainstream websites can become compromised, and even ads can be crafted to try and do bad things without you even needing to click on them.
2. Keep your software updated
It's so tempting to turn off automatic software updates. They always pop up at the worst possible time, and if it happens to be a Windows update you can write off the next half hour waiting for it to finish.
Except, software updates are really important. Especially the Windows ones.
They don't just bring new features or improved performance, they make your computer more secure. Bugs in software can create the kind of security risks that malware thrives upon. Not only do they allow the malware into your system, they can also enable it to spread from one machine to another.
Updates shut down these vulnerabilities. At the very least, don't turn off updates to Windows or your web browser, such as Google Chrome. Better still, allow all your apps to update as they need to.
3. Learn how to recognise online scams
Malware is designed to exploit weaknesses in computer systems, but the truth is the weakest points of all are us, the users. You can lock down your laptop but it won't stop someone trying to trick you into handing over your passwords.
Phishing scams, as they're called, have moved on a lot since the days of the Nigerian prince who wanted to send you tens of millions of dollars. They're now a whole lot more sophisticated and difficult to spot. And it isn't just online that you need to be wary. You might get a text message purporting to be from your mobile network, or you could get a scam call from your broadband provider.
So, how do you spot scams? Here's a few tips:
Spelling and grammar mistakes in emails are a dead giveaway. Also, does the email greet you by name or a generic title?
Beware of emails demanding urgent action. Scammers try to scare you into responding, like telling you there's been a security alert on your account, or you're overdrawn, and you must log in to fix it.
Be wary of links in emails. Don't assume that the link is going to take you where you think it will.
Or just don't click links at all. Instead of clicking a link to one of your online services, manually type their address into your browser instead. Or pick up the phone and give them a call.
If it sounds suspicious, it probably is. If you didn't buy a lottery ticket, you didn't win the lottery.
Don't assume a fancy website means that a site is reputable. This is a rule to follow when shopping online, too.
Anti-virus software and web browsers will help you to sniff out phishing scams. What better reason to keep them up to date?
4. Use better passwords
We all know the importance of using strong passwords and not re-using them. But it can be difficult, since strong passwords are so much harder to remember. There are three things to try to make your life easier:
Think in terms of passphrases instead of passwords. A sentence of eight random words is easier to remember - and type - than a password of eight random characters, but it's just as hard to crack.
Consider using a password manager. Don't save your passwords in your web browser, use a dedicated password manager instead. This saves all your logins under a single, more secure password. With BT Broadband, the True Key offers exactly this feature and is worth trying out. Alternatively, take a look at LastPass or 1Password, both of which are free.
Use two factor authentication. A large and growing number of services offer two factor authentication. When you log in you need to enter both your password and a second, unique code sent to your phone via an app or text message. It's a lot more secure.
5. Keep an eye on your privacy
Finally, keep an eye on how much information you're sharing online. If you use social networks you're probably sharing a lot more than you realise. Check the Privacy section in Facebook and other services to lock them down, and make sure your kids do this, too.
And speaking of kids, most broadband providers offer some form of parental controls that you can use to manage what people can see, or how long they can go online. These are worth setting up, but remember that they are by no means foolproof.