After trying out and reviewing several mobile phone financing options, several things have become apparent. Mobile phone financing seems an attractive prospect on the surface, but with handsets becoming more expensive, different retailers are coming up with different deals. I recommend the following steps for anyone looking for a mobile financing deal.
Before settling, take time to consider the options. Do not simply go for the cheapest option in terms of monthly installments. The way financing deals work is such that longer repayment deals will likely have low installment rates, but will eventually run a higher overall cost. Do not just go for the cheapest and have it done over with. Look at the contract carefully and consider what it requires. Be careful with the contract length too. Cheaper is more appealing, but keep the options open in case circumstances change. Stick to the classic 12 or 18 month contract, and always reserve the right for a buyout in case circumstances change.
Consider retailers that offer mobile phone insurance as part of their deals. The repayment period will likely be long, and having to deal with losing or a damaged phone while still in the course of the repayment can be difficult. While walking around with a £300 phone that is still being financed will be easier with the thought that in case anything happens to it, insurance could have it replaced free of charge. If the financing deal is attractive but does not offer insurance, then consider a specialist device insurer that offers affordable rates.
Consider the online option when looking for a financing deal on a good handset. While many people prefer looking at and touching the new shiny handset before buying it, going into any retail shop means being exposed to unique circumstances. The retail assistants, mostly paid on commission, are trained to sell. Shopping online removes the pressure of having to make the quick and likely wrong decision on impulse. Furthermore, the financing process online is straightforward and relatively quick.
The biggest device manufacturers have some of the most attractive deals in the market. For instance, Apple provides an option between renting and owning the device. After paying a setup fee, the payments can be spread over a 24 or 36 month period, with ownership given at the end with a one off payment. The rental deal is similar, but at the end of the term, one is provided with the option of either buying it at the current fair market value, returning it or upgrading to the latest. While this, and deals from many other major manufacturers can be attractive, consider looking outside the biggest players sometimes. Do not be afraid to step outside the major players.
Another potential way of saving money is choosing a refurbished phone over a completely new one. The refurbished handset will have been used and returned, but will normally be restored completely to its original condition and sold at a lower price. They often have been tested to ensure they work properly, and will likely be graded according to their cosmetic condition.