Before you sign a contract

Sometimes it's hard to work out the mobile phone deal that's best for you. Here are some tips on searching for the perfect phone deal.

Video: Getting the best mobile phone deal

Getting the best mobile phone deal video

This video looks at what to think about and look for when buying a mobile phone. Make sure you get the best deal for you.

Transcript: Getting the best mobile phone deal

Work out what you can afford

Keep out of money trouble by working out how much money you'll actually have left to spend on your mobile after taking into account your other expenses such as fares and entertainment. Maybe you also have to pay rent, petrol, food and regular bills.

Use our budget planner to work out roughly what you can afford each month.

Budget planner

Decide how you will use your phone

Video: Peter decides on the wrong mobile phone plan

Peter decides on the wrong mobile phone plan video

In this video Peter talks about how he signed up to the wrong mobile phone plan, and what he should have done to avoid a big mobile phone bill.

Transcript: Peter decides on the wrong mobile phone plan

The best mobile phone deal for you is the one that allows you to do the things you want to do at the lowest cost.

What do you think you're going to use your phone most for: texting, calls, emails, social networking, taking and sending photos, watching videos, playing games, overseas communication or other things?

Are most of your family and friends already using a particular phone or are they on a particular network? If your new phone is the same or on the same network as theirs, maybe using your phone will be cheaper.

Ask for a Critical Information Summary (CIS)

Don't be scared off by the name ― the Critical Information Summary (CIS) is a free document that a company must give you about their phone or service. The CIS will help you to understand what your new phone service is really going to cost you and what you'll actually be getting for your money - and it's written in a way that doesn't make it sound like rocket science!

Ask for a CIS from your mobile service provider before you buy or sign anything, whether it's from their website, over the phone or at one of the provider's shops.

To find out more, read about Critical Information Summaries on the ACMA website.

Understand your mobile phone contract

You can end up with debts of hundreds of dollars if you sign a mobile contract that you don't understand. Asking a mobile-savvy friend or relative to read and help you understand your contract with you before you sign can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

A service provider must make its contracts available on its website - it's the law. Don't sign a contract until you understand it.

Case study: Afsenah's overseas roaming shock

Afsenah went overseas for 2 weeks and only made three calls but she used her phone to receive many calls. After she arrived home in Australia she was shocked to get a bill from her mobile service provider for $1,160 for using her mobile overseas.

She contacted her provider who pointed out that her plan clearly stated she would be charged for receiving calls overseas. Afsenah checked her contract and realised that the provider was correct. She realised that in future she would have to be more careful about understanding all the details of her phone plan.

Check the cooling off period

Smart tip

Look carefully at the fine-print behind advertisements. Remember that ads are meant to make a product or service look good.

A 'cooling-off period' is the time you have to change your mind after you sign a contract. Whether you get a cooling off period depends on what it says in the phone contract. Sometimes there is no cooling-off period.

You will usually have a cooling-off period if you sign a contract as a result of a salesperson knocking on your door, telemarketing or being stopped in a shopping centre. However, if you go to a store and sign a contract, you probably won't have a cooling-off period.

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Last updated: 29 Jul 2016