Switch broadband, phone or TV provider
You might be able to save money by either switching to:
- a new provider for your broadband, mobile phone, home phone or TV
- a bundle or combination deal
Things to consider before you switch
Talk to your current provider and tell them you’re thinking of switching to a cheaper deal with a different provider. Your provider may offer you a cheaper deal to get you to stay with them.
If you don’t want to stay with your current provider, find out if you’ll be charged an ‘exit fee’ to leave - you’ll usually be charged if you’re part-way through a fixed-term contract, and it can be expensive. It might be better to wait until your current contract’s up.
Check customer service ratings before you switch. It’s easy to find if you search online.
If you’re switching broadband provider
Check your tenancy agreement if you’re renting - you may not be allowed to switch broadband provider as a tenant. Ask your landlord for a copy if you don’t have one or can’t find it.
Bear in mind that you may not get the speed that’s advertised, depending on where you live.Take a broadband speed test to find out the best speed you can get - you’ll need your postcode.
When you’re searching for deals you may see ‘superfast’ (sometimes also known as ‘fibre’) broadband advertised. It can be expensive, and you’ll only really notice the difference if you:
- use broadband at the same time as other people in your house
- download films or large files regularly
- play lots of video games online
If you’re switching mobile phone provider
Before looking at new deals, find out how many minutes and texts you use, and how much data you’ll need. Ask your current provider if you’re not sure.
Decide whether you want a SIM-only deal (they’re usually more flexible) or a package including a new phone.
You may want a pay-as-you-go phone if you need help budgeting. It doesn’t require a credit check, but it can be more expensive if you use your phone a lot.
The easiest way to switch your mobile phone provider is by sending a text - you can also switch by calling your current provider.
If you want to switch by text and keep the same phone number, text ‘PAC’ to 65075. If you don’t want to keep the same phone number, text ‘STAC’ to 75075.
Your provider will text you back immediately with:
your switching code - this will be valid for 30 days
information about any money you owe, for example if there’s a charge to end your contract early
If you want to switch by calling your provider, you should ask for a ‘PAC’ code if you want to keep the same number. If you don’t want to keep the same number, ask for a ‘STAC’ code.
You should give your new provider your switching code - they’ll arrange the switch within 1 working day.
When you switch, it will end your contract with your old provider - they’ll send you a bill if you owe them money.
If you’re switching home phone provider
Check your tenancy agreement if you’re renting - you may not be allowed to switch landline provider as a tenant. Ask your landlord for a copy if you don’t have one or can’t find it.
If you want to keep your number, talk to your new and current provider. It’s pretty easy to arrange.
Look out for deals with unlimited weekend, anytime or calls to mobiles if that matters to you - or an international calling plan if you’ll be making lots of calls to people out of the UK.
If you’re switching TV provider
You won’t need a subscription package if you only want to access the Freeview and Freesat channels - you’ll only need a digital set top box, digital TV with built-in Freeview or digital TV recorder.
If you want more channels, recording services or HD (high definition) channels, you’ll have to pay.
How to switch provider
- Decide whether you want to get a bundle - a deal with one provider that combines broadband, phone and TV (or maybe just 2 of them). They’re sometimes cheaper, and will also simplify your monthly bills.
- Compare tariffs from different providers. Use an Ofcom-approved price comparison site - they’ve been approved because they’re independent and unbiased. You’ll usually find better deals online than in shops or on the phone.
- Understand the quote. Sometimes you’ll be offered 6 or 12 months free, but be careful - check how long you’re signing up for, and how much the monthly fee will be after the free trial. Make sure you factor in any installation, line rental or connection charges.
- Decide how you’ll pay bills and monthly rental - it’s usually cheaper to pay by direct debit.
- Once you’ve found the right deal, sign up and contact the new provider.
- Get your old provider to set up the switch - it’s their responsibility.
- Pay your final bill with the old provider, or get a refund if you’re in credit.
If you’re signing up to a contract that lasts 12 months or more, make sure you can afford the service for the length of the contract. Check what happens if you move house - you should be able to take your services with you at a small cost.
How long it takes
How long it takes to switch depends on the provider. Ask them when you’re switching - and ask how you’ll find out when the switch has happened.
If you have a problem
Contact your new provider and ask to follow their complaints procedure if:
- you've switched but you’re still being charged by your old provider
- the switch is taking too long
- you’re being quoted an exit fee when you’ve just moved into a new rental property
- you’ve changed your mind about switching - you’ll have 14 days to cancel the switch (you may be charged if you cancel after the 14 days) if you’re switching to or from BT
Contact your local Citizens Advice bureau or Advice Direct Scotland's consumer service if you need more help.
Advice Direct Scotland's Consumer Service
Freephone: 0808 164 6000