Helping customers to find the best broadband deals is the reason we exist and something we're passionate about. Below we explore how to find the right deal for you and whether you should or shouldn't bundle to save on your bills.
What’s the best broadband deal?
The fact of the matter is the best deal is the one that meets your needs for the best possible price.
Ideally, then, before you compare, you should have an idea of what you’ll use your broadband for and what else you want it to include. When you know that, it’s a doddle to work out what broadband package is best for you.
So, here’s what to think about to find the best deal for you:
Unlimited broadband or usage limit?
There aren't many fixed usage packages around these days. Most people want to download as much as they like, and providers have responded accordingly - most packages are unlimited now.
Still, you can get the occasional fixed usage packages, and they're usually pretty cheap. But are they right for you? Well…
- If you watch TV or movies online - go unlimited. Video services like iPlayer, Netflix or Now TV are extremely data-hungry.
- If you have a large family or live in a shared house - you should go unlimited. Fibre optic broadband would be helpful too.
- If you have lots of gadgets like phones and tablets connected - go unlimited.
- If you play console or PC video games regularly - you'll need lots of megabytes. Go unlimited.
- If you make video calls regularly with services like Skype - definitely unlimited. That's quite a data-hungry activity.
- If you're a solo user who goes online to check email and social media - you'll probably be fine with a set usage limit.
What broadband speed do I need?
Broadband comes in a variety of speeds, and it's important that you pick the right one for your home. Your speed choices essentially come down to:
Usually has advertised download speeds of 10Mb or so. This is the slowest kind of broadband you can get - as well as the cheapest - so it's ideal if you only use the 'net for a bit of browsing, email, and occasionally streaming. Compare ADSL deals here.
Fibre broadband deals
Generally defined as broadband with speeds above 24Mb. Fibre optic packages count as superfast. Go for 24Mb+ speeds if you have a fairly large household, like to stream TV and music, make a lot of Skype calls, or need decent internet for work. Compare superfast deals here.
Ultrafast broadband deals
Broadband with download speeds of 300Mb and above. Most of us don't need a connection quite that fast, but if you have a big household with tons of devices online at once, or want to stream in 4K Ultra HD without buffering, it's certainly worth a look. Compare ultrafast deals here.
Regularly download large files like video games? If so, fibre optic broadband, if you can get it where you live, is likely to be the best choice.
If you regularly stream video and music, and play games online, you’ll have a much improved experience with fibre. If you can’t get it, you can still do all that stuff with standard broadband, but not as well.
And if you only download big files occasionally, and primarily browse and use social media, you’ll get much more value for money from a cheaper package.
How many people will share the connection?
The more people that use your broadband at the same time, the more it will slow down. So, if you live with four or more people who’re often all online, you should look at fibre optic broadband, which is nippy enough to cope with the workload without speeds dropping to unmanageable levels. Read our guide to shared broadband connections for more:
Should I get a bundle?
Do you want TV?
Bundling TV with broadband is a great way to save money on both. There’s also considerably less faffing around involved than getting them separately, as you’ll only have a single bill to deal with, instead of two separate ones, and the two services will be designed to work with one another.
If it’s TV and broadband you’re after, there are four providers that cover both bases in the UK: BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. Use our postcode checker to see what packages they offer in your area.
Don’t forget about phone
Most packages come with a phone line to deliver broadband, and may come with inclusive calls too. If you think it’s good to talk, a package with anytime calls may save you money. If you favour your mobile phone, pick a package with evening and weekend calls or no calls at all.
If you do rely on your mobile to stay in touch, you could save money by comparing mobile phone deals. If you want home phone calls and a better mobile deal, a quad-play deal (broadband, TV, phone and mobile package bundled together) might be worth considering.
Do I need a phone line installed?
Broadband packages without a landline aren't particularly common - after all, most providers need that landline to deliver services. You can get it though: Virgin Media is the most widely available broadband-only provider, and you can get smaller providers like Relish and Gigaclear in a small number of areas.
Be careful though - landline-free deals are often more expensive than packages that do include a phone line. Find out more in our full guide:
What about extras?
Then there are the little things - the small extras that can make a particularly deal better than the others. It's worth keeping your eyes open for these sort of perks:
- Free set-up or equipment
- Fixed price contracts - no price rises mid-contract
- Free access to Wi-Fi hotspots
- Free access to services like BT Sport or Netflix
- Discounts on a mobile plan or other services
- The ability to pay for a year's service upfront - a big bill, but cheaper in the long run
Want rewards and free gifts?
Many providers offer extra incentives for switching, including cashback, vouchers and reward cards. It's worth keeping your eyes open for extras when comparing - while you should never pick a package purely for the perks, it can help swing your decision towards a particular provider.
Can you keep your phone number when you switch?
Yes! If you're staying in the same home, you can keep the same phone number when you change providers.
If you're moving house, things are a little different. Stay within the same area code, and most providers will help you keep those familiar digits. But if you move somewhere with a different area code, you'll have no choice but to get a new number. Find out more in our full guide:
Can you keep your email address when you switch?
It depends on who your provider is. BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media or Plusnet, for example, all will let you keep access to your email temporarily. Some will let you keep it longer if you pay them. But we'd recommend moving to a free service like Gmail or Outlook, so you don't have to worry about it. Find out more in our full guide:
Want more help?
Still not sure which deal’s right for you? Take a look at our guide: How to pick a provider. It takes an even more comprehensive look at how to find the best package.
Compare broadband providers
See what you can get from some of the main broadband providers in our guides:
- BT broadband deals - for standard and fibre optic broadband, which you can bundle in with home phone, a bit of basic TV, and of course BT Sport
- Sky broadband deals - Sky offer download speeds of up to 36Mb with its fibre packages, and its Fibre Max packages provide speeds of up to 63Mb
- TalkTalk broadband deals - Cheap, reliable broadband provider offering average speeds of up to 63Mb
- Virgin Media broadband deals - Offers speeds of up to 362Mb, although top speeds will not be available everywhere. Plus, you can get broadband without line rental
- Vodafone broadband deals - Average speed on its standard fibre package is 35Mb, and its top packages provide an average speed of 63Mb
- Plusnet broadband deals - Reasonably priced broadband provider, with top packages that reach speeds of up to 66Mb. Plus, it also offers unlimited downloads
For more, have a browse through all our broadband provider guides here.