Broadband providers normally require you to sign-up for at least 12 months, and will usually charge you a hefty fee if you need to end the contract early...
But there is another way. A small number of "no contract" broadband packages now exist in the UK market, giving consumers more freedom to switch provider when a better deal comes along.
It's also a great option for anyone planning to move house in the near future, or people who just don't want to be tied down with monthly outgoings they can't shake for 12 or 18 months.
Here we'll show you some of the best no contract broadband deals around, and highlight exactly what you need to be aware of before signing on the dotted line.
Short contract broadband
Monthly cost: £5.99 1st year cost: £102.87
Monthly cost: £9.99 1st year cost: £150.87
Monthly cost: £25.00 1st year cost: £325.00
Monthly cost: £30.00 1st year cost: £385.00
|speed up to 16 Mb||speed up to 16 Mb||speed up to 16 Mb||speed up to 16 Mb|
|10GB usage||Truly Unlimited usage||Unlimited usage||Unlimited usage|
Call Plusnet on
0808 178 5954
Call Plusnet on
0808 178 5954
No minimum contract broadband offers
Both of its home broadband packages - "Value" and "Extra" - come with no contract options, giving you the choice to cancel your broadband with just 10 days' notice and no penalties.
You simply have to pay upfront for your router, costing around £20 for a wired connection or £40 for a wireless router. However, if you have your own, you can even use that.
If you know that you definitely don't want your broadband for a whole year, but will need it for at least a few months, then BE Broadband (www.BeThere.co.uk) offers fast, reliable broadband on three-month contracts with speeds of up to 16Mb.
Mobile broadband offers
Mobile broadband is available from mobile phone operators, on either a contract or pay-as-you-go basis. Flexible one-month contracts provide the best value balance between cost and flexibility.
With mobile broadband, you'll be able to take your connection with you wherever you go surfing the web on your laptop, smartphone or tablet - and by using it instead of a home broadband connection, you'll be able to save over £160 a year on line rental.
However, mobile broadband packages have far lower monthly usage limits than traditional packages, and out-of-bundle costs can be very high - so you need to be very careful you don't exceed your download allowance.
Monthly subscription prices
You might find that, in order to cover their costs, some providers charge a higher monthly amount if you choose not to sign a longer-term contract.
They may require you to pay the same for only nine or 10 months on a month-by-month contract as you would for a whole year with a normal one. With this in mind, it's worth doing your sums first. If you're moving house in 11 months' time, it might still be worth signing-up for a whole year.
Try to match the broadband package with your circumstances, and make sure you compare the different deals available as some are far more competitive than others.
A lot of UK providers use the BT Openreach network of phone lines, and have to pay a fee to BT to activate your broadband connection.
Many of them won't charge you for this when you sign-up, but, to cover their own costs, they will add the fee to your bill if you disconnect within a year - even if you're moving house.
This fee might also be higher if you're a first-time broadband user, as the cost of connecting you will have been higher in the first place. Cable broadband companies don't have the excuse of dealing with BT, but you should always check the small-print anyway when it comes to disconnection or de-activation fees.
It may be worth choosing an internet service provider that charges an upfront connection fee instead - such as O2 (www.O2.co.uk) - so that you're not stung with an unexpected bill when money's tight or when you eventually move house.
Some ADSL and cable suppliers will also ask you to return, or pay for, the modem you were supplied with if you've cancelled within a year of signing-up.
Monthly vs yearly contracts
Longer contracts of 12, 18 or even 24 months will generally mean a lower monthly bill, and, depending on your circumstances, could be the best bet for you.
However, you should bear in mind that you will be unable to switch for the duration of the contract, and may miss out should a better offer pop up elsewhere.
Monthly contracts can be a bit pricey, but many people consider them worth the extra cost because of the flexibility they offer. However, you could consider a three-month contract that still offers some flexibility but at a slightly lower cost than no contract options.
If you find a good value monthly broadband contract with no big fees, you'll be the envy of all your friends. Not only will you have the freedom to move house, or cancel if your service isn't up to scratch, but you can also keep an eye on the broadband market and switch whenever a better deal comes along.
You can compare broadband deals with our Ofcom-accredited broadband calculator.