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All good things must come to an end, including your mobile contract.

mobile phone laptop notification

Once your contract ends, your phone will work just the same but you could save money by switching to a new plan or a new network.

Once you've paid off the cost of your handset, you're typically free to switch networks or plans if you wish. Otherwise you might still be on an outdated plan that costs you more than you need to be paying.

But if you're unsure of when you first signed up for your mobile phone contract, don't worry. Your network needs to send you a remind in the form of an end-of-contract notification.

What are end-of-contract notifications?

An end-of-contract notification (ECN) is an alert sent by your network provider to let you know you are nearing the end of your contract. To get the best deal and to save money, it’s important to keep an eye out for your ECN. It will be sent even if you’ve opted out of marketing, as it’s a legal requirement.

How do I find out when my phone contract ends?

Your provider must contact you with an end-of-contract notification between 10 and 40 days before your contract ends. The notification must include the date that your contract ends. These rules were put in place by Ofcom. Your ECN can be sent by text, email or letter – whichever is your chosen contact method.

Always keep an eye out for your ECN so you can take action before you go out of contract. If you can’t find the text, email or letter, you can contact your provider and ask them when your contract ends. Or, if you have an online account, you’ll find details of your contract dates there.

What information is included in end-of-contract notifications?

As well as the date that your contract ends, the notification will also include: The price you’ve been paying until now and what you’ll pay when your contract is up. Any notice period for leaving your provider. Your provider’s best deals, including any prices only available to new customers.

Details of other contracts that are taken as part of a bundle, including the end dates of any commitment periods for those contracts. You can use this information to make a decision about what to do next.

When will my provider send my end of contract notification?

Providers are legally obligated to send the end-of-contract notification between 10-40 days before the end of your contract. Ofcom put these rules into place in 2020 to stop network providers overcharging customers once their contract ended.

It found that some customers were paying more than necessary because they didn’t know the status of their contract. The rules also apply to broadband, home phone and pay-TV contracts.

End-of-contract notifications vs out-of-contract notifications

ECNs notify you of the date your contract ends, while out-of-contract notifications inform you that your contract has already expired. If you’re out of contract but haven’t made any changes to your mobile plan, you’re likely to be paying higher prices. This is because providers tend to offer new customers a discounted rate for their initial contract period, but once this is over, the discount ends.

What are my options once I receive my end-of-contract notification?

You typically have 3 options once you receive your end-of-contract notification:

1. Switch to a new provider

If your provider isn’t offering the best upgrade deal once your contract has ended, you can leave and go to another provider. Around 1 in 5 people have never switched mobile network, despite the savings on offer – around £200 a year in some cases.

Do your research and see what mobile contracts are on offer elsewhere. Find the best deal for you and your circumstances, but don’t forget to let your current provider know that you’re leaving or thinking of leaving. They might offer you better deals so that you stay with them.

2. Call your provider

Speak to your provider about the options given in your ECN. There may be additional deals they can offer you. It’s worth considering whether you want to upgrade to a new phone or move to a SIM only plan. Upgrade contracts tend to be for 24 months and there might be an upfront cost for the new handset. SIM only deals offer a package of minutes, texts and mobile data for a monthly cost.

However, you don’t get a new phone included – you just get the SIM. It’s ideal for those who don’t want to sign up to a longer-term phone contract and are happy with their current phone. A SIM only deal is also cheaper as you’re not paying for the phone, so it can help you save money.

Compare SIM only deals

Now is also the time to make any tweaks to your plan that you may have been considering. For example, if you didn’t use much data on your recent contract, you might want a new contract with less data. The opposite applies if you realised halfway through your current contract that you actually needed more data than was included.

3. Stay put

Of course, you have the option to do nothing and move onto the deal your provider is offering you. It’s thought that around a fifth of people choose this option. However, most people find that this is the more expensive option.

When will my provider send my end-of-contract notification?

Provider End-of-contract notification sent
"With EE, you’ll get a text at least 14 days before your contract ends. The notification will include details on offers, deals and tariffs available to you. ,,If you want to cancel your plan at the end of your 24-month contract, you’ll need to give a minimum of 30 days notice. You can do this from up to 45 days before the end of your contract"
"Although O2 doesn’t provide an exact timeline, they do mention that they’ll get in touch with you near your end date via email or text. ,,You can also see your contract end date in the My O2 app."
"You’ll receive a text or email from Vodafone near your contract end date with 3 options – carry on with your current plan, upgrade it or cancel. ,,You can also use the Vodafone chatbot to find out when your contract ends."
Tesco Mobile
Look out for a text from Tesco Mobile near your end date. The message will contain options to either upgrade to a new tariff or to cancel your contract and find a new contract elsewhere.

Table showing when 4 major network providers send their end-of-contract notifications

Happy with your handset? Switch to a SIM only deal and save on your monthly bill.

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