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Surprise ‘out-of-tariff’ mobile charges cost users £800m extra per year

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Over the past 12 months, Brits have spent a combined £811m on top of their monthly mobile tariff owing to data limit breaches and expensive premium rate numbers.
Surprise ‘out-of-tariff’ mobile charges cost users £800m extra per year

More than four in 10 mobile users spend an additional £40 a year on out-of-tariff costs which suggests millions may be on the wrong deal for their needs.

Research from price comparison site found that many users are caught out with mobile roaming costs and exceeding their call allowance, while other also make calls overseas on their handsets.

Worryingly it also revealed that 37% are completely unaware of the difference between SMS and MMS message. A text (SMS) is usually included as part of your text message bundle while multi-media messages (MMS) include photo messages, texts including emoticons and messages sent as group chats to more than one recipient.

These are usually charged separately and can cost up to 45p each. The below table lists all the different out-of-tariff costs:


Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at, said: “The really frustrating thing is these charges could easily be avoided. Billpayers are spending three quarters of a billion pounds on out of tariff charges, suggesting many people are languishing on the wrong mobile deals.

“Smartphones have made us all hungrier to surf, stream and search online and exceeding your data limit is the biggest culprit when it comes to excess charges.

“Getting your tariff right plays as much a part in keeping bills down as understanding any hidden costs. If you’re not sure where you are overpaying, look at your bills over the past 12 months and see where your usage is heaviest. This will help you work out where you are being caught short.”

He added that customers need to speak to their current network to see if there’s a tariff better suited or if you’re out of contract, consider switching to a new provider as you can save an average of £100 by doing so.

If you regularly receive excess charges, Doku said it’s worth exploring a pay-as-you-go option, such as giffgaff, as its out of bundle charges are notably less than those offered on a pay-monthly contract from the big four providers.

You should also consider switching to messaging apps that use data to send photos and texts instead of SMS or MMS. Skype is good for overseas calls and if you’re heading abroad, check out roaming bundles to save you money.

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