The Premier League is back, and there are more ways than ever to catch the action. Pick the wrong ones, though, and you could end up paying the best part of a grand for the privilege. Shop around, and there are savings to be had.
Let's look at the cheapest ways to watch the new Premier League season.
Sky Sports is the self-styled home of football, and Sky have the rights to by far the most games. They'll show 128 in the 2019/20 season, across Friday nights, Saturday evenings, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. They get the first pick from all the games from each round, so this is where you'll catch the big derbies and the title deciders.
But Sky Sports isn't cheap. Although it actually only costs £18 a month, you can't get it from Sky TV as a standalone service. You need to take Sky Entertainment, too, which bumps up the price to over £40. Plus you need a dish, and a Sky Q box (with optional UHD viewing), and have to pay any installation and setup fees. And it all comes with an 18-month contract.
The same goes for Virgin Media customers, you can't just sign up for Sky Sports Premier League, it has to be taken as part of an expensive bundle along with all the other Sports channels and a variety of other premium Entertainment channels. However, if you're already with Virgin Media, this could still make sense for you. Check out the latest Virgin Media Sports offers.
Alternatively, if you just want to watch on your phone, you can get the Sky Sports Mobile Month Pass for only £5.99 per month - you're limited to only one smartphone viewing at a time, but that's otherwise an unbeatably cheap way to access Sky Sports Premier League, and 4 other Sky Sports channels!
You can also get a cheap deal on the full Sky Sports Pass when you take it as part of a great value bundle with NOW Broadband. Just choose your preferred broadband plan and you can add the full Sky Sports package for only £20 a month for a year. That's 40% less than the full price. Even better, there's no contract on the TV side of the deal, so you can cancel whenever you want.
The NOW Broadband plans are very competitvely priced, ranking among the cheapest in the UK. They start at just £18 a month for the Brilliant Broadband service, with average speeds of 11Mb. Or if you'd prefer fibre you can get it for £25 or £30 depending on what speed you need. They're all on 12 month contracts as standard, or you can switch to a rolling contract by paying extra £60 upfront. Choose your NOW Broadband and Sky Sports Pass deal here.
If you don't fancy a broadband bundle and don't want to pay for a season ticket pass, you can take a standalone NOW TV Sky Sports Pass and get access to all 11 Sky Sports channels for £33.99 a month on a 30 day rolling deal. This undercuts the Sky Sports + Entertainment deal for Sky TV, and you can save more money by cancelling in June and July when there are no games.
Although the content's the same, the NOW TV experience isn't quite as good as what you get from Sky. There's no UHD, and HD resolution is currently pegged to 720p. You also can't record shows, though you can pause, rewind and watch on demand. For most, though, it should more than satisfy your hunger for the beautiful game.
As a streaming service you'll need to make sure your internet is fast enough to handle it. 4 to 5Mb should be enough for one device to stream 720p HD. If you need to upgrade, use our postcode checker to find the best and fastest broadband deals in your area.
This offer is available to new and existing customers. Take a look at the latest TalkTalk TV offers to see what takes your fancy.
Want BT Sport?
BT Sport have the rights to 32 matches on Saturday lunchtimes. BT get second pick of the games for 20 rounds, and fifth pick for the rest, so you might be more likely to get Watford's trip to Burnley than Liverpool vs Man City. They've also got all 20 games from two midweek rounds, and you get the Champions League and FA Cup among other things, too.
The big new signing for the season is Amazon, who'll be showing games through their Prime Video service. They've got the rights to an impressive 20 matches spread over a rather less impressive two rounds played on Boxing Day and another as yet unspecified bank holiday. With staggered kick off times you might be able to catch more three or four games in total, if you want. But on the whole we'd regard this as a nice addition to the whole Prime package rather than a reason to sign up on its own.
If you're not on Prime Video yet, Amazon will often offer free trials of Prime that can be easily cancelled. If there's a particular Prime Video exlusive game or games that you have to watch, your cheapest option may be strategically timing when you begin your trial membership in order to cover the most matches.
Spring is definitely underway, the weather is (mostly) improving, and while you're probably pondering a bit of spring cleaning over the bank holiday weekend it might also be time to look at freshening up your broadband deal at the same time. We've selected some of the best broadband offers for you below.
Plusnet have reward card offers of varying amounts on all of their broadband and phone bundles this week. Unlimited Broadband is £18.99 a month in low cost areas and comes with a £65 reward card, Unlimited Fibre is currently at £23.50 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, while the Unlimited Fibre Extra package is £27.50 a month and comes with a whopping £70 reward card!1
BT's offer this week is an Amazon Echo, worth £89.99, on their Superfast Fibre 2 packages. You'll also get a £60 BT Reward Card, increasing the total value of this offer to £149.99! Superfast Fibre 2 is £39.99 a month if it's available in your area. Superfast Fibre 1 customers haven't been left out; while there's no Amazon Echo bundled in, you can get fibre broadband for £29.99 along with a £90 BT Reward Card!2
If fibre isn't available in your area, or you're a light user and just want the cheapest option, there's BT Broadband with average speeds of 10Mb for £24.99 with a £60 Reward Card. These deals are also available on BT TV packages, which start at £34.99 a month.2
SSE's Unlimited Fibre broadband package is just £23 a month on an 18 month contract and comes with a £55 reward, which is a choice between a pre-paid Mastercard or an Amazon.co.uk gift card. You'll need to hurry, this offer ends Sunday night and is only available via the link in this blog post!3
Sky's Broadband Unlimited and Fibre Max packages both come with a £50 voucher, a choice between a Tesco or Ticketmaster gift card. Broadband Unlimited is £20 a month and Fibre Max is £27 a month. This offer is also only available via the link in this blog post. 4
TalkTalk's Fast Broadband is currently only £17 per month for the 12 month contract, and you'll also receive a £50 voucher of your choice for Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster! Again, this offer isn't on our usual listings, so be sure to sign up via the link in this blog post.5
NOW Broadband's offer of 6 month Entertainment Pass and free Anytime calls on all their broadband products is still going, but you'll need to hurry as it ends early next week. If you're looking to watch the final season of Game of Thrones, then this may be the perfect deal for you. The Entertainment Pass comes with 11 pay TV entertainment channels not available on Freeview, including Sky Atlantic, FOX, Comedy Central and Discovery Channel, and over 300 Box Sets to watch On Demand. Brilliant Broadband is £18 a month, Fab Fibre£25 a month and, in areas where it's available, Super Fibre is £30 a month. If you're an existing Entertainment Pass customer taking out a new broadband contract, then you can redeem this offer in the final 30 days of your current subscription.6
Finally, a fantastic offer for people in broadband not-spots who can get a decent mobile signal. 4G home broadband from Three is just £25 a month and comes with a Huawei AI Cube, a wireless router that acts like a smart speaker and has the Alexa voice assistant built in. What's more, you also get unlimited data each month! If you're not interested in smart gadgets, then Three's basic HomeFi deal also boasts unlimited data for just £22 a month. Find out all you need to know about 4G home broadband in our dedicated help page on the subject.7
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. 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. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 7th May.
2. 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 prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 7th May.
3. SSE Unlimited Fibre is on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 5th May.
4. Sky deals are on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the WeGift landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 7th May.
5. TalkTalk Fast Broadband is on a 12 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 9th May.
6. NOW Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, or a 1 month contract with a £60 setup fee. Offer is also available on their 1 month contracts, though an ongoing broadband subscription is required for the 6 month pass. Pass auto-renews from month 7 at £7.99 a month, unless cancelled. You can cancel any time. Offer ends 11:59pm 7th May.
7. 24 month minimum contract. Availability and speeds vary depending on the mobile coverage in your area and level of usage on the same cell tower. Traffic prioritisation will apply so some services may be slower during peak times. Check coverage for your area on the Three website.
Whether you're a fan or not, it probably hasn't escaped your attention that the final season of Game of Thrones is coming to an end after 8 years on our screens. Starting this month, the must-see event television fantasy series will go out with a bang with 6 unmissable feature length episodes.
If you're yet to visit Westeros, or just want to refresh your memory of who's still standing, now's the time to catch up with previous seasons of the show! But what's the cheapest and easiest way to do that in the UK?
If you have Sky TV, you'll already know that the final season starts on Sky Atlantic on the 15th of April and you can watch the show from the start with the on demand Box Sets service. Looking to switch to Sky? Check out our Sky Broadband Buyers Guide here.
Don't have Sky, can't commit to a long contract or put off by the satellite dish? A NOW TV Entertainment Pass may be the answer for you. There's no contract, so you can cancel at any time and the pass only costs £7.99 a month. With that you can access over 300 box sets, including big name shows like Westworld, and of course seasons 1 to 7 of Game of Thrones, plus all the new episodes once they air.
If you're a massive diehard fan and you plan to stay up all night to watch the 2am HBO simulcast live on Sky Atlantic, NOW TV will let you do that too! Along with Sky Atlantic, you'll also get 10 other pay TV channels that include Sky One, FOX, Comedy central and ABC!
Line rental required with NOW Broadband, included in the quoted price. Prices rise from month 13, see NOW Broadband site for amounts. 1 month contracts available with £60 setup fee. Offer ends 23:59 7th May 2019.
Is it better to get your broadband, TV and phone services as part of a single bundle from the same provider, or should you shop around for the best standalone deals?
Is it simply a question of convenience versus flexibility? And does one work out cheaper than the other?
Let's take a look.
What kind of bundles can you get?
There are three types of broadband bundle. Where providers offer more than one you might see them described as triple or quad-play providers.
Broadband and call bundles
Most broadband services need you to have a traditional phone line, the price of which will be included in your broadband bill. Many providers - even some of the smaller ones - make the most of this requirement by offering you a call plan as part of a bundle. You can add off-peak, Anytime or International calls for a few extra pounds a month. If you don't add a plan the price for any calls you make just gets added to your bill.
Even some providers who don't require a landline will still offer you call bundles, and that can work out cheaper even if you don't intend to use them. For example, Virgin Media's broadband with phone options are cheaper than just standalone broadband for the offer introductory period of. After this, it goes up by £2 a month, but you always have the option of ditching the phone portion at the end of your minumum contract, or some people might consider the extra £2 worth it for extra piece of mind in an emergency. Of course, this isn't always the case, as with Hyperoptic who charge more for a phone bundle than they do for a standalone product. But it's worth investigating to see whether a potential provider requires a landline or not, and if you can make a saving by getting calls bundled in.
Broadband and TV bundles
Broadband and TV bundles are the next most common types of deal. These are generally restricted to the bigger name providers like Sky or BT, and can give you access to premium TV channels that show Premier League football or the latest movies. But beware, they aren't all like this. Some TV bundles, such as the basic TalkTalk or Virgin TV deals, don't offer many more channels than you can get with Freeview. You get a set-top box that lets you record or pause shows, but doesn't include any pay TV channels unless you choose to upgrade. Take a look at our guide on the cheapest ways to get pay TV for the full lowdown.
Broadband and mobile bundles
The other type of deal you can get is a broadband and mobile bundle. Again, these are rarer. Your options are split into two groups: either money off your bill, or a bonus added to your mobile plan, usually in the form of a bigger data allowance. The good thing about the latter is that you can add it to an existing plan if you're already a customer, without needing to take out a new deal.
How do the prices compare?
So how do the prices of bundles compare to buying all your services separately? And do they work out cheaper? Well, it's complicated. When you compare like-for-like services, bundles will usually give you a decent saving. But if you're willing to make compromises on what you need, they might not be the best option.
Here's an example. Let's say you want to sign up to Sky TV.
As of April 2019 you can get Sky Entertainment with 63Mb Fibre in a bundle from Sky for £42 a month. By contrast, if you took the cheapest fibre deal with an average 63Mb speed, from TalkTalk, plus the same Sky Entertainment package from Sky it would cost you a total of £47 a month. It's the same story for different speed broadband, and when you add more TV channels the gap increases further.
Bundles are cheaper when you compare like-for-like services. But - and there's always a but - it isn't quite as simple as that.
If you take that 63Mb TalkTalk Fibre plan and add a NOW TV Entertainment Pass instead of the Sky subscription, the monthly price plummets to just £33. In fact, add the NOW TV plan to Sky Fibre and it works out £7 a month less than the Sky bundle.
What gives? The important thing here is to compare the small differences in the services you're getting. NOW TV is cheaper and gives you the same channels you get through Sky, but it's also a far less premium service. You can't use it to record shows, access red button services, watch 4K broadcasts, or plenty of other things.
In summary: if you want the full monty, a bundle will almost always be cheaper. But if you're willing to shave off some of the extras, you might be able to make savings by buying separately.
Are bundles right for you?
Money aside, the big selling point of bundles is convenience. A bundle gives you one contract, one bill, and one customer service department to deal with. In most cases you'll be able to renew at the same time, too. And you could argue that getting all your services from the same provider will give you more leverage when it comes to negotiating the best deal. The more you pay, the keener they'll be to keep you.
But buying standalone deals has its merits, too. You get more choice, for a start, since there aren't many triple or quad-play broadband providers. And more flexibility, which lets you pick up a faster broadband package than your chosen TV provider can offer, for example. Plus, there's the possibility of taking shorter deals. Sky TV comes with an 18 month contract, Virgin 12 months, and NOW TV just 30 days.
Call plan bundles are the easiest to decide upon. Lots of us don't even have phones plugged into our landlines anymore, so don't need them. But if you make a lot of landline calls - especially international calls - then go for it.
For TV, make sure you know what you want before you sign up. For the full pay-TV experience a Sky or Virgin Media bundle will work out cheaper. If you just want a few extra channels, like from NOW TV or the handful of premium channels offered by BT, a standalone deal might actually work out better.
And as for mobile, keep an eye out for indirect savings. Sky TV customers, for instance, are automatically eligible for unlimited free calls and texts, which means they only need to pay for a data plan. The cheapest they offer is just £6 a month - almost certainly less than you're paying at the moment. EE give 5GB of mobile data to their broadband customers each month. This won't show as a saving on your broadband bill, but is likely to enable you to switch to a much cheaper mobile plan and make your savings there instead.
The main thing is to know what you need and how much it will cost you separately. The you can compare it to how much an equivalent bundle will set you back. Use our comparison tool to find your perfect broadband bundle to get started.
A new voluntary code introduced by Ofcom goes into effect today. This scheme means that the broadband providers who have signed up will have to reimburse customers in the event of their broadband or landline phone service being down for longer than two days. Here's what you need to know.
The compensation you can expect
Delayed repair following loss of service - if a fault takes longer than two days to fix, you can expect £8 for each day after that period that your broadband is not repaired
Missed appointments - if the engineer does not turn up or your appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours of notice, you can expect £25 per missed appointment
Delays with the start of a new service - if your broadband does not go live on the agreed date, you can expect £5 for each day of delay, including the missed start date
Homes and small to medium businesses who choose to use residential broadband are eligible for compensation on this scheme, and you should only need to report the fault for compensation to be paid out automatically.
To qualify for compensation, faults must not be of your own making (for example, your problem is down to your own wiring and equipment, you shove a spade through a vital cable on your property, or you're not at home for an engineer visit). You're also due compensation in the event of extreme weather causing problems and third-party incidents that contribute to the delay of repairs.
The providers taking part
Originally BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen signed up to the agreement back when it was proposed in 2017. Since then EE, Hyperoptic, Plusnet and Vodafone have also signed up, accounting for more than 95% of broadband and landline customers in the UK. While most of these providers will be participating in this scheme from today, Hyperoptic and Vodafone will start automatic compensation later this year, and EE should be ready to do so next year.
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.
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.
Loyal customers who stick with their broadband provider end up paying on average 43% more than if they had switched.
Research by Citizens Advice has cast a light on the way the major providers hike their prices once a contract has ended. Customers who choose to keep their existing deal instead of shopping around find themselves paying an average of £113 extra each year in what has been dubbed a "loyalty penalty".
Citizens Advice analysed the cheapest broadband deals from the UK's five largest suppliers. They found that Virgin Media was the only one that did not bump its prices at the end of the initial contract period. The other four saw increases of as much as 67%.
BT - the price rises from £24.49 to £40.99 after 12 months. An increase of 67%, amounting to £198 per year.
TalkTalk - the price goes from £20 to £25.50 after 24 months. An increase of 28%, or £66 per year.
Sky - after 12 months the price rises from £18.99 to £28.99. An increase of 53%, or £120 per year.
EE - the price rises from £21 to £28.50 after 18 months. An increase of 36%, amounting to £90 extra per year.
Virgin Media - the cheapest deal is £32.25 per month for 12 months. The price doesn't rise at the end of the contract.
The report found that more than a third of customers didn't realise that prices could go up once their contract had ended. It also found that customers stay on the same deal for an average of four years, which ends up costing them as much as £594 extra.
Those over 65 or on lower incomes were significantly more likely to stick with a deal for more 10 years.
Time to switch
The study highlights the fact that it's more important than ever to shop around for the best broadband deal. Our Ofcom-approved price comparison service helps you find the best and cheapest packages available for your postcode.
Switching broadband providers is easier than you might expect. In most cases, your new provider will handle all aspects of the switchover. You should experience no loss of service, and you won't even need to inform your old supplier that you're leaving. Read our guide to switching broadband providers to see how the process works.
Citizens Advice is calling for greater clarity in how providers advertise their services, and also to inform customers by text when the fixed price comes to an end.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said, “People often choose their broadband deals based on the price that works for them - but our evidence shows that many do not realise the price will rise after the end of the fixed deal. The government has rightly put energy firms on warning for how they treat loyal customers - the actions of broadband firms warrant similar scrutiny. Extra protections for vulnerable consumers are also a must.”
The moral of the story is clear: loyalty doesn't pay. Once your contract is up, find a new provider. There are some incredible deals to be had on both standard and fibre broadband, and if you're lucky you might even bag an awesome free gift at the same time.
BT and Sky have both announced that they're hiking up their prices once again - but you don't have to pay them. Under Ofcom rules, any unexpected price rises mean you can quit your contract early without paying a penalty fee.
BT's price increases are all in the region of an inflation-beating 5-6% on standard and fibre broadband deals. They include:
Standard broadband: a £2 per month increase from £33.99 to £35.99 for the "all-in" deal including line rental, as of 2nd April
Fibre broadband: a £2.50 per month increase from £39.99 to £42.49 for Infinity 1, and £51.49 to £53.99 for Infinity 2, as of 2nd April
BT Sport: will cost £3.50 per month via BT TV from August (it was previously free). Via Sky TV the price goes up from 2nd April by £1.50 per month if you have BT Broadband, or £1 per month if you don't
Calls packages: also increasing across the board from 2nd April
Sky's price rises are mostly limited to line rental, but customers on older deals will also see increases:
Line rental: up 9% from £17.40 per month to £18.99 from 1st March
Older broadband and TV deals: will rise on average just under £3 per month from 1st March. The exact amount will vary depending on what deal you're on
How to cancel your broadband contract without penalty
If you aren't happy about the proposed price increases then you do have options. Ofcom states that you can end a contract without penalty if there's a price rise you weren't warned about when you first signed up.
If you're still within the minimum terms of your contract (eg. you're six months into a 12 month deal), you must tell your provider of your intention to quit within 30 days of being informed of the price rise. Both Sky and BT began informing their customers toward the end of January, so move quickly if you want to switch.
If you're outside the minimum terms of the contract (eg. you signed a 12 month deal 18 months ago), you're free to leave at any time regardless.
Switching broadband providers is likely to be your best option for saving money. The best deals are almost always reserved for new customers. Our postcode checker shows what packages are available in your area.
And what if you're happy with your provider? You can, of course, try haggling. You can sometimes get a better deal if you're willing to enter into a new contract. Even so, it's still worth arming yourself with information on the best broadband deals so you know what you're asking for. And if no offer is forthcoming remember the golden rule of haggling — always be willing to walk away.