Coming off contract for your mobile phone and thinking of signing up again? You're in a powerful position. Don't just settle for the standard deal; now is the time to hit your provider up for extra perks and bargains. Here are some ideas for extras to request.
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Phone companies are loathe to lose customers. Acquiring up a new customer is far more expensive than maintaining someone who is already signed up. If you're on month 23 of a 24-month contract, you have more power over your provider than at any other time. Once month 24 rolls around, there's no reason why you can't jump to someone else.
There are scenarios in which actually doing nothing can make sense. For instance, if your current plan offers more data or call credit than the plans offered to new customers and you're not in an urgent rush to upgrade your phone, doing nothing can be a financially sensible move. However, if you're hoping to shift to a new phone, now is the time to swoop.
One common factor unites all these suggestions: you won't know unless you ask. Be polite and don't be deceitful — claiming you've been receiving terrible service purely as a gambit to score extra options is going to make you look stupid. But saying "I'm about to be out of contract and I'm looking at other offers, what can you do for me?"
The other core element is to research the market before you start asking for bonuses. If you don't know what's on offer with current plans, you won't know whether that's a better deal than what you're already getting. Perhaps more importantly, you won't know how "special" any special offer you receive actually is.
Options which you might be offered (and which might be worth asking for) include:
- Additional data allocations A common gambit when signing up new customers is to offer additional data on top of the standard allocation. Often this is time-limited (1GB extra for the first six or 12 months, for example). That can be worth asking for, especially if you're a heavy phone data user.
- Bonus months Some carriers will offer you a bonus "month" where you receive access without paying access or handset charges.
- Waiving handset charges A variant on the previous concept; you're less likely to see this with brand-new phones.
- Free movie tickets, MP3 downloads or other extras The usefulness of these will depend on whether you actually plan to use them.
- A free prepaid Wi-Fi dongle This is quite a common offer. Wi-Fi dongles aren't especially expensive (you can often pick up older models for under $30), but it's a potentially useful bonus if you don't own one and don't want to use your phone as a hotspot.
If readers have additional perks they have lined up in the past, please tell us about them in the comments. Happy bargaining!