The great thing about contract deals is that you can spread the cost of an expensive phone out across your whole contract - and in the case of these plans, you won't have to pay a thing besides your usual monthly bill.
What is a ‘no upfront cost’ phone deal?
In simple terms, it’s a contract deal on a mobile phone where you pay nothing for the phone upfront.
The cost of the handset becomes part of your monthly payments for the duration of your contract.
Depending on the network or seller, you may have to pay for the first month’s service when you sign up – but you won’t have to fork anything out on the spot for the phone itself.
How to get the best mobile phone deal with no upfront cost
It’s easy. Use the comparison tool at the top of this page to compare deals with no upfront cost. Just choose a phone, and set the ‘upfront cost’ filter to see all the deals with nothing to pay today.
Use the other filters to set your preferences, including specific phones, data allowances, maximum monthly bills, and more. We’ll then show you the best deals with no upfront cost that fit what you’re looking for.
If you want a bit more of a steer, you can use our guide to mobile data to work out how many megabytes you'll need a month.
If you’re willing to pay just a small amount upfront – say, £30 or so – you can set the filter to show you these deals too.
Can I get an iPhone deal with no upfront cost?
Yes, you can. In fact, iPhones are one of the most popular type of handset you can get on a no upfront cost deal.
All you need to do is compare deals on the iPhone model(s) you like the look of, slide the ‘upfront cost’ filter to zero, and compare deals.
Which networks offer mobile phones with no upfront cost?
Nearly all networks that do mobile contracts offer deals with nothing to pay upfront – or with very little to pay on the spot.
The exact networks, phones, and specific deals you can get depends on what’s currently available, so do run a comparison check to see what there is.
Mobile networks known to offer contracts with no upfront cost include:
Bad credit phones with no upfront cost
You can’t really get a mobile phone contract at all without a credit check. However, if you have bad credit, there are options available – even ones with no upfront cost.
Try signing up to a deal you like the look of. Some networks and retailers are more lenient than others, so you may be in luck. Deals on older phones, cheaper phones, and refurbished handsets are generally more likely to let you pass a credit check.
No dice? Try a network like giffgaff. They offer mobile contract deals, sometimes with no upfront cost, even if you have a poor credit history. But bear in mind their contracts work through third-party loan company Klarna – not giffgaff itself.
What's good about no upfront cost phone deals?
There are plenty of reasons to get a mobile plan that doesn’t force you to pay for the device straight away. For example:
- It makes initial outlay manageable - Some of us can’t afford to splurge a load of cash all in one go, so this type of plan alleviates that concern.
- It spreads out the cost - Phones are expensive, and splitting the cost into monthly bills makes it a lot easier for the average person to manage, even if you do end up paying more in the long run.
- It makes top end phones more immediately affordable - Speaking of expensive, have you seen how much an iPhone runs you these days? Splitting up the cost puts flashy phones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy family within reach for people who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
- Lots of great phones available - If you want to save even more money, there are loads of mid-range or budget handsets available at no upfront cost. They may not have the 'wow factor' of the flagships, but many are still truly excellent devices and have all the useful features you'll need.
What's bad about no upfront cost phone deals?
As with anything in the world of mobile, there are drawbacks to this sort of deal. Here are some of them:
- Monthly bills will be higher - Although you have less to shell out immediately, your monthly bill will be higher than deals that do require initial expenditure. That’s the trade-off.
- You’ll pay more in the long run - You’ll notice we’ve been twisting in circles to avoid using the phrase ‘free phone’. That’s because it isn’t, even though it may feel like it is. You’ll usually pay more than the value of your handset over the course of your contract.
- Long contracts - Contract lengths can be up to 48 months on these types of deal. That will be fine for some people, as it spreads the cost out, but it also means you won’t be able to change phone or switch to a better offer for a while, nor can you buy a new phone on a SIM-only deal.