No upfront cost phones 2023

An In-Depth Guide to Contract Phone with No Upfront Cost


If you’re in the market for a new smartphone but want to avoid any initial expenses, you’ll be pleased to discover the world of “No Upfront Cost Phones.” In this budget-friendly option, you can acquire the latest mobile devices without having to make any upfront payments. This approach ensures that you can enjoy cutting-edge technology without breaking the bank from day one.

With the cost of living rising, a no upfront cost phone cost is ideal in many ways. Whatever phone you like, irrespective of the price and features, phone contracts with no upfront payment are beneficial in many ways, like:

  • They are affordable.
  • Don’t compel for upfront payments.
  • No need to pay a lump sum amount.
  • The cost is spread equally over the contract duration.
  • You can get the latest handset even if you don’t have money.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our topic and learn everything about them.

What is a No Upfront Cost Phone?

As the statement suggests, a phone contract with no upfront cost is where you buy a phone on a contract but without any upfront payment. This business model involves monthly payments that cover the handset cost and allowances like free minutes and data. This means you aren’t paying a large amount upfront, and the initial price of the handset is quite reasonable.

Why Buy a No Upfront Cost Phone?

Premium phones launched recently, like the iPhone 15, Samsung Galaxy S23 or Galaxy Z Fold5, are priced heftily. Usually, you may have to pay around £200 for phone even before the start of your monthly instalments.

Contract phones with no upfront cost are favourable for most because not everyone has £200 in their wallet. So, a phone that doesn’t require any deposit at the time of purchase is the best bet for most Brits. Above all, with this contract, you can spread the cost of the cell phone over the duration for which both parties settle.

Simply saying, you won’t have to pay any amount until your first monthly bill. So, if you’re short of cash but still want to get your hands on your favourite device, you can spread the cost of the phone into monthly payments and that too without paying anything initially.

Is a Contract Phone with No Upfront Cost the Cheapest?

Now, this is a tricky part. For some, it is a shortcoming but for most, it is an understood thing. The cost you’re saving upfront will be divided equally amongst the monthly instalments. Hence, your monthly payments will be higher. So, if you’re a fan of low monthly payments, this method to buy your favourite handset isn’t feasible. It may put you under the stress of high monthly fees.

cell phone contract

Which Networks Offer No Upfront Cost Phones?

We’ve got good news if you are searching for a no upfront cost phone in the UK. All the leading telcos operating in the country – EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three – offer these phones. Here’s the complete list of the networks providing contract phones with no upfront costs. The list includes the top 4 UK networks, MVNOs and websites where these mobiles are available.

  • EE
  • Vodafone
  • O2
  • Three

So, based on your choice or the enticing features, you can get phones from manufacturers like:

  • Apple
  • Samsung
  • Huawei
  • OnePlus
  • Redmi
  • Google
  • Oppo
  • Honor
  • Sony
  • Alcatel
  • Doro
  • Motorola
  • Nokia

What to Look for in No Upfront Cost Phones?

When buying a no upfront cost phone, the most important things you need to consider are the monthly payments, overall price, how much interest is added, etc. Other things to look for include allowances – data, free minutes, texts and roaming – and gifts or freebies.

There are a lot of other things to consider that’ll enable you to make the right choice based on your needs and budget. Considering all these factors, you can make an informed choice when buying a contract phone with no upfront cost.


If you’re eyeing affordable handset contracts with no upfront costs, then the networks that will serve you the best are Three and giffgaff.

Monthly Plan Cost

Understand the total cost of the monthly plan, including data, minutes, and texts. Ensure it fits your budget and usage requirements.

Length of the Contract

Determine the length of the contract. Typically, contract lengths can range from 12 to 36 months. Choose a contract duration that aligns with your preferences and needs.

Network Coverage

Check the network coverage of the provider in your area to ensure you’ll have a reliable signal and good call quality. Make sure to choose a network that provides country-wide coverage so that you experience seamless communication wherever you are in the country.

Data Allowance

Evaluate the amount of mobile data included in your plan. Ensure it’s sufficient for your internet usage, including browsing, streaming, and app usage. Based on Ofcom’s findings, an average person in the UK consumes around 5.6GB of data every month.

However, your data usage depends on the time you spend on your phone and your preferences. Hence, it could be different and a lot more than average. Check your data usage from the network’s app on your smartphone to get an idea of how much you consume every month, and then get into a contract that provides the same amount of data to be used monthly.

Additional Charges

Be aware of any hidden fees or charges, such as activation, early termination, or roaming charges. Ensure you go through the fine print to save yourself from hassle afterwards.

Phone Model

Consider the specific phone model you’ll be receiving. Ensure it meets your requirements regarding features, performance, and brand preference.


Also, search if the phone contract with no upfront costs comes with incentives and freebies like reward offers and gifts. Some companies give away coupons and discounts on high-street brands and let you enjoy exclusive deals, too.

So, if you’re fond of these exciting offers, you must look out for these kinds of freebies. However, not at the cost of high contracts and increased monthly payments.

Upfront Costs (if any)

While you’re looking for no upfront cost options, double-check that there are no hidden upfront fees, like delivery charges or initial payments.

Contract Terms and Conditions

Read the contract terms and conditions carefully, paying attention to any clauses related to upgrades, warranty, insurance, or changes in the plan.

Upgrade Options

Determine if the contract allows for phone upgrades during the term and if there are any associated costs or conditions.

Customer Reviews

Go through customer reviews and ratings for the provider and the specific plan to gauge the quality of service and customer satisfaction.

Warranty and Insurance

Find out what warranty or insurance options are available for the phone to protect against accidental damage or theft.

Compare Plans

Don’t settle for the first offer you find. Compare contract plans from different providers to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Credit Check

Be prepared for a credit check, as most contract providers will assess your creditworthiness before offering a contract with no upfront cost.


If you have an existing phone number, check if you can port it to the new contract or if there are any additional charges for number portability.

Early Termination

Understand the consequences of terminating the contract early, including any penalties or fees. Again, make sure you go through the fine print or terms and conditions. You may also contact the service provider and ask about early termination and the charges you may incur (if any).

Pros and Cons of No Upfront Cost Phone Contracts

Let’s now talk you through some of the pros and cons of phone contracts with no upfront costs so that you are in a better position to decide against or in favour of it.

benefits of no upfront cost phones


It is an Affordable Option

As you aren’t paying any lump sum amount when buying this handset, this option of a contract phone at no upfront cost becomes highly affordable.

So, even if you don’t have any money, you can get a phone through this contract. And you’ll have to make the first payment (most contracts with no upfront costs) at the end of the first month.

The Cost is Spread

If you don’t have the money to pay for a no upfront cost phone cost at once, this contract is your best bet. Get your hands on your favourite handset in a more manageable way and pay a monthly percentage for the duration of the contract.

Buy any Phone from a Leading Brand

You are aware that the latest phones with features are quite expensive. Take the example of the iPhone 14 series or Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5.

So, a deal with no upfront costs lets you have the phone you want by paying nothing for the first month. Moreover, you’ll pay the amount on a monthly basis.

Save Money on Older Handsets

The market is full of mid-range and budget cell phones that you can have with no upfront costs. Factually, they don’t have the latest and most attractive features as the new phones, but they are still worth having and that too without paying a lot.


Higher Monthly Bills

As you aren’t paying any upfront costs, your payments at the end of the month will be more. Also, if you cannot pay a higher monthly premium, you may be fined from the network. So, before going into this contract, ensure you can pay the monthly premium without affecting your budget.

You’ll have to Deal with the Contract Length

Compared to phones that you buy by paying a lump sum amount, in this form of purchase, you’re locked in a long-term contract normally 12-36 months. Moreover, once tied to the agreement, you may not be able to change the length of the contract.

So, before proceeding, it is better to be sure whether you can keep up with the extended contract and pay a certain amount every month.

You’ll End up Paying More

As with all things purchased on instalments, you’ll have to pay more than what the handset would otherwise cost. Be it a car, an electronic device, a house or any mobile, if you opt for instalments -monthly payments – the price rises based on the length of the contract.

Less Choice is Available

With some network providers, you may not get every phone on a contract as compared to paying a lump sum amount where you can buy any device of your choice. So, having fewer options is another con you need to have in mind.

P.S: If you’re content with your existing handset and just want to get a new SIM-only deal, spare a moment to explore Talk Home’s best SIM-Only deals and choose a plan that suits your needs and budget.

Bad Credit No Upfront Cost Phone

If, for some reason, you don’t have a good credit score, you may be worried that you aren’t eligible for a contract phone at no upfront costs. Or, if you qualify, the options might be limited. The fact is providers may be ready to give you a handset on a contract basis. However, the contract may include upfront costs.

They will ask you to pay a certain percentage of the phone’s cost upfront. They do this to ensure that a percentage of the device’s cost is covered at the start. Still, you may get a phone on contract with no upfront costs, if you choose an older or a budget phone instead of a latest, premium phone.

Or else, if you aren’t interested in contract phones and think that the phone you already have is efficient and will last for some more time, you can always get a SIM-only deal even if you have a bad credit score.

Which Option is Better: Lump Sum vs. Normal Contract vs. No Upfront Deal?

It all depends on your financial condition or income stream. If you have some money resting in your account, enough for a phone, it is better to buy a phone in cash. If you have some money to pay for the upfront costs, we suggest you pay it and pay a lower amount every month.

On the other hand, if you don’t have enough cash but want a specific phone, a contract with no upfront cost is the best option you have as you don’t need to pay for anything initially. Ensure that you have a regular income stream to pay monthly premiums. Otherwise, you may be penalised by the network, and your credit score will also get a hit.

Are Only British Citizens Eligible for Phone Contracts Only?

No. Anybody can benefit from this deal. However, the only condition you must fulfil is to be a UK resident for at least three years. Also, you must have an active bank account in the country.

If you don’t fulfil these conditions required by telecom providers or may leave the country before 12 months, you can qualify for a Pay-as-you-go SIM deal.

Can I Avail the 14-day Cooling-off Period?

Yes, you can. When you sign up for a handset deal, the 14-day cooling-off period applies to you by default. So, for any reason, if you don’t want to go ahead with the contract, you can cancel it.

If you pull out of the contract within 14 days, you are under no restrictions to pay for the early termination. But you may have to pay for the allowances you consumed, like data, minutes, and texts.

Is Getting a Phone Contract with Bad Credit and No Upfront Costs Possible?

Most networks, before the deal, check your credit history. If you have a bad credit history, likely, you may not get the deal. The only way to get a contract phone despite a bad credit score is to apply through retailers specialising in bad credit contracts.

They require you to sign up for a SIM-only deal and pay for it for a few months without skipping. Once you prove your creditworthiness and pay consistently on time, then they’ll assist you in securing a phone contract.

Can I Transfer a Phone Contract to Someone in my Friends & Family?

Yes, you can, but not all networks support contract transfer. So, it all depends on the network you and the person you want to transfer the contract are on.

If you are on a network that does allow this facility, i.e., transfer of ownership, they do a credit check on the person you want to transfer the phone contract to. This transfer of contract to someone else may require you to pay a transfer fee.

Is it Possible to Use the Contract SIM on Another Phone?

Yes, however, you must ensure that the other phone is compatible and not locked to any other network.

What if the Phone Gets Broken During the Contract?

If your contract phone starts malfunctioning by itself, you can and should claim it with your service provider. They must provide you with a flawless handset that works perfectly and serves the purpose right.

So, it is better to ask the representative or go through the mobile network’s terms & conditions to know what you’re entitled to in case there’s a fault in the phone. In case of an unforeseen event like damage or defect, you should be able to get a repair or replacement as part of the contract.

If you find a defect in your handset within the first month of getting the cell phone, you can get a full refund by returning the device. However, in this case, you’ll have to prove to the service provider that you didn’t do any damage.

Also, your handset should be within warranty to claim a refund or a replacement device. Usually, most handsets come with a warranty of one year. If, during this period, the phone develops a fault or breaks, the manufacturer must repair it free of cost or provide you with a replacement handset.

Some networks even repair or replace the phone even if it isn’t under warranty. However, the consumer must pay for this service. So, if your phone breaks or starts malfunctioning within the contract period, contact your service provider.

Do I Need a 5G Phone?

Yes, you require a 5G-enabled phone to use a 5G SIM. Also, these days, most contract phones with no upfront costs are 5G compatible. The SIMs are also 5G ready at no additional charges. So, if you are going for the latest premium phone, you will most likely benefit from the 5G connectivity.

However, it depends on the area you reside. For instance, if you live in a locality without 5G coverage, you cannot use 5G. Still, we suggest you go for a 5G handset, and the SIMs are already upgraded to 5G. Soon, every city in the UK will have 5G coverage so anyone can experience blistering fast data speeds and seamless communication.

How Do I Get My Cashback?

If the contract has a cashback condition, you’ll get cashback from the retailer. This amount is given a few months after the contract starts. You’ll receive it in instalments at the given time or a lump sum amount as described in the deal.

There are two ways to get the cashback.

  1. Automatic Cashback
  2. Redemption Cashback

Automatic Cashback

In this method, customers usually get the money after 4-6 months – based on the T&Cs mentioned in the contract. There’s no need to claim the amount as the customer can get lump sum amount, via cheque or money credited directly to the customer’s account.

Redemption Cashback

If this is the form of cashback mentioned in the deal, the customer must claim it by sending bills to the network. This must be done via email or through the network provider app. Every time the customer makes a claim, a cashback will be sent to them.

Note: In both forms of cashback, it is necessary that you pay monthly premiums on time without any late payments and lapse.


Phone contracts with no upfront costs offer a practical solution for those seeking affordable access to the latest smartphones without the burden of a hefty initial payment. These contracts provide flexibility by allowing customers to spread the cost over the contract duration, making premium devices accessible to a broader audience.

While they may result in slightly higher monthly bills, the convenience and accessibility they offer make them a viable choice for many consumers. It is essential, however, to carefully consider contract terms, coverage, and additional fees to ensure the right fit for individual needs and budgets.


Here are some of the most asked questions from our experts regarding contract phones with no upfront costs.

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