The best thing about mobile phone contracts is being able to spread the cost of a device out over a long period. And with these deals, you don’t need to pay a penny up front in order to get the device of your dreams.
What is a ‘no upfront cost’ phone deal?
Put simply, it’s a contract deal on a mobile phone where you pay nothing for the phone upfront.
That means the cost of the phone is part of your monthly payments for the duration of your contract.
Some networks or sellers might ask you to pay for the first month’s service when you sign up. But the main thing is you won’t have to stump up on the spot for the phone itself.
How to get the best mobile phone deal with no upfront cost
It couldn't be easier: just use the comparison tool at the top of this page to compare mobile phone contracts with no upfront cost. Pick the phone you want and then set the ‘upfront cost’ filter to see all the deals with nothing to pay today.
You can 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 some extra help to work out exactly what you need, you can use our guide to mobile data to work out how many megabytes you'll need a month.
Can I get an iPhone deal with no upfront cost?
Absolutely. Here at Broadband Choices, iPhones are among the most popular phones you can get with no upfront cost. To see what deals are available, all you need to do is search for the iPhone model you want and slide the filter to ‘no upfront cost’.
The good news is you can secure virtually every available iPhone with no upfront cost. That includes the top-of-the-range iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13, the ace new iPhone SE 2022 and older handsets like the iPhone 11.
Which networks offer mobile phones with no upfront cost?
Pretty much every network that does mobile contracts offers 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 make sure you compare mobile phone contracts to see what’s available.
Mobile networks known to offer contracts with no upfront cost include:
Which manufacturers offer no upfront cost phones?
Compare mobile phone contracts with no upfront cost and you’ll see that nearly all major manufacturers offer deals where you don’t need to pay anything when you sign up.
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 - A lot 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 - A lot of us can’t afford to splurge a load of cash all in one go, so this type of plan alleviates that concern.
- 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?
No contract or setup is perfect and there are drawbacks to no upfront cost contracts.
- 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 need to accept before signing up.
- 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. When you compare mobile phone contracts with us, you’ll see the total cost so you can make your own decision.
- 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. Keep this in mind, especially as some older models may not get essential software updates after three or four years.
What phones can I get at no upfront cost?
What are the cheapest pay monthly deals with a free handset?
Right now there are some excellent, affordable pay monthly deals with a free handset. You can get the iPhone XR on Three for £24 per month with unlimited calls, texts and 4G data for 24 months.
Want something even cheaper? How about the Samsung Galaxy A12, with unlimited calls and texts, plus 30GB of 4G data on Three for just £14 per month?
Is it cheaper in the long run to pay upfront for a phone?
More often than not, yes. Monthly payments will always be greater if you opt to pay nothing up front.
And most deals that don’t demand an initial fee usually cost more over the length of the entire contract.
So if you have some cash saved up, you may be better off paying up front. This doesn’t have to be a huge sum.
Tweak the filters on our comparison deal and you can pay as little as £10 upfront to lower monthly bills.
Are all no upfront cost mobiles pay monthly?
Yes. Otherwise the phone would be free. But play around with the comparison filters to see if you can get shorter contracts.
12 month deals are sometimes available and mean you can own the device outright after a year.
Does O2 offer phone deals with no upfront cost?
Yes. You can get a whole range of phones on O2 without having to pay anything upfront. If that’s your network of choice, we have a whole range of mobile phone contracts to choose from.