If you’re struggling to pay your phone, internet or TV bill

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you’re struggling to pay your bills or you owe money, there are things you can do. You might be able to get a cheaper deal or get help and support from your provider. 

Check if you can get a cheaper deal

You might be able to switch providers or move to a different contract to get a better deal. 

If your provider has told you they’re increasing the price of your contract, you might be able to cancel - check how to cancel your contract.

If you’re employed, check if your employer has a benefit package - you might be able to get cheap internet, mobile and TV deals.

If you’re getting benefits

You might be able to get a cheaper internet, mobile or phone deal called a ‘social tariff’. It depends which benefits you get. 

If your provider has a social tariff, you won’t have to pay to move to it. You can move at any time - you don’t have to wait until the end of your contract.

If your provider doesn't offer a social tariff, you can switch to another provider that does.

You can check which providers offer social tariffs on the Ofcom website. You can then find the full rules about a provider's social tariff on their website. 

You’ll need to check that:

  • you’re on the right benefits for the social tariff

  • you’re the main account holder named on your contract 

  • the social tariff package covers all the services you need

If you have a Jobcentre Plus work coach, you might be able to get free internet for 6 months - ask your work coach if you’re eligible.

Check if you can leave before the end of your contract

Check your contract’s terms and conditions. If you want to leave before the end of the contract you might have to:

  • get permission from your provider

  • pay a fee

Tell your provider if you're struggling to pay - they might let you leave your contract early without paying a fee.

If you’re thinking of changing your contract, you should check what to consider when switching providers.

If you need help cancelling your contract, you can check how to cancel a phone, TV, internet or mobile contract.

If you want to cancel a subscription to a streaming service, what you can do depends on how you pay for it.

If you pay for your streaming service each month, you should be able to cancel your subscription at any time. 

If you’ve already paid for a whole year, you probably won’t get a full refund. Check the terms and conditions on your streaming provider’s website.

If you’re struggling to pay your TV licence

You should first check if you need a TV licence.

You’ll only need a TV licence if you:

  • watch or record live TV - this includes live TV on streaming services

  • use BBC iPlayer

If you need a TV licence, it's important to pay for it. It’s a criminal office to watch TV without a licence - you could be fined up to £1,000.

If you don’t think you need a TV licence, you can tell TV Licensing on their website

If you can’t afford to pay for your TV licence for a whole year, you can spread the payments out. You won’t save money but it might make it easier to afford.

If you pay through Direct Debit, you can pay every month or 3 months. You can check how much you’ll pay on the TV Licensing website.

If you get a TV Licensing payment card you can pay every week, 2 weeks or month. You can pay:

  • online

  • through the TV Licensing app

  • over the phone or by text message

  • in person at any PayPoint store

  • through the post - by cheque or postal order

You can get a free payment card by calling the TV Licensing service.

TV Licensing free payment card

Telephone: 0300 555 0286

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 6:30pm

Calls to this number from a mobile or landline cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number. If minutes are included in your phone contract, the call will be free.

If you or your partner get Pension Credit

You can get a free TV licence if both of the following apply:

  • you're at least 75 years old

  • you get Pension Credit - or your partner who lives with you gets it

Apply for a free TV licence on the TV Licensing website.

If you’re registered blind

You can get a 50% discount on your TV licence if you’re registered blind, or live with someone who is. Check how to apply for the discount on GOV.UK.

If you live in a care home or sheltered accommodation

You might be able to get a TV licence for £7.50. You must be either:

  • aged over 60 and retired

  • disabled

Ask your housing manager to apply for you.

If you’ve received a bill that looks wrong

You might be able to dispute your bill if you:

  • have been charged more than you expected

  • were charged for a period after you cancelled or switched 

You should check how to dispute your mobile phone, internet or TV bill.

Check if something might be a scam

It might be a scam if:

  • your provider has contacted you in a different way to usual - for example through a text message

  • you’ve got a bill you weren’t expecting

  • you’ve been asked to transfer money quickly

  • you’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way - for example through a transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union

If you’re not sure if the message is genuine, check with your supplier.

Get their contact details directly from their website - don’t call any numbers or visit any websites that are included in the message that might be a scam. 

If you’re behind with paying your bills

If you owe money to lots of companies

You should speak to the companies you owe money to – they might let you pay smaller amounts or take a break from payments.

Don’t ignore bills or letters about money you owe.

Find out how to start dealing with your debts.

If you miss a payment or pay late, your provider might charge you a fee.

If you continue not to pay, your provider might:

  • restrict your service - for example your phone provider might only let you make calls to the emergency services

  • disconnect you - you can check when your service will be disconnected on your provider's website

  • send your details to a debt collection company - they'll contact you to try to arrange repayments

  • take you to court - check what to do if you're being taken to court

You should contact your provider as soon as possible if you think you'll miss a payment. They might agree to:

  • reduce your bill

  • give you more time to pay 

  • increase your data or download limit

  • move you to a cheaper contract

You might also be able to agree a plan to repay the money you owe. This means you’ll pay a bit more each month until you’ve paid back what you owe.

Tell your provider if you’re vulnerable

You can be vulnerable in lots of different situations, for example if:

  • you’ve reached State Pension age - check your State Pension age on GOV.UK

  • you’re disabled or have long-term ill health

  • you owe money to other organisations

  • your income has recently gone down - for example, if you lost your job

  • you live in a rural area away from other people

If you think you’re vulnerable, or if it’s really important for you to use a phone or the internet, you should let your service provider know. They should make sure you’re treated fairly and help you keep connected.

Further Help

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form

If you’re in Northern Ireland, contact Consumerline.

Help us improve our website

Take 3 minutes to tell us if you found what you needed on our website. Your feedback will help us give millions of people the information they need.