New rules mean broadband, TV and telecoms firms must now tell you when your contract is coming to an end- as well as the best deals available if you choose to stay with your provider.
The law-change – introduced by regulator Ofcom in February – should, in theory, protect the thousands of people who are currently out-of-contract and overpaying as a result of it.
"On February 15, the rules set by regulator Ofcom changed for all broadband, TV, mobile and home-phone firms," Martin Lewis explained on Monday's This Morning episode.
"Now, they must alert you by letter, text, email or phone 10 to 40 days before your contracts end, and each year they must keep reminding you if you stay out of contract.
"This is crucial as out of contract prices can be huge, eg BT standard is £45 per month (£540 per year) and fibre up to £52 per month (£624 per year).
"These alerts must include how to end your contract and crucially the alerts must include the best deals available to new customers," Martin explained.
Although the new rules will help bill payers know the best deals for new customers, they will not necessarily be able to access these deals.
He added: "They just have to tell you what they are so you can judge if you’re being overcharged.
"Though some of the bigger providers, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone have voluntarily agreed with the regulator that they will. So, at the very least you should switch to that.
"However there is a bit of a loophole here. For years I’ve been saying that the best deals are short term promotions, because they include big switch incentives paid for by marketing departments.
"These may be bill credits, Amazon vouchers, or prepaid Mastercard’s and can sometimes be £100s. Yet all you have to be told in the alerts is the cheapest tariffs available direct, not these incentives.
"My suspicion is this means firms will start to increase new customers tariffs costs, and increase the perks too, making hot promos even more attractive."
In order to get the best overall deal, bill payers should still use a comparison website, the expert suggested.
"Most are available across comparison sites, and they usually only last a week or two and change all the time,” Martin added.
"All broadband deals are postcode dependent, so to find your cheapest use a tool like Martin’s Broadband Unbundled which shows what you can get in your area.”
What are the cheapest deals?
Standard broadband and line
"Newbies to the Post Office can get average 11Mb speeds on a 12 month contract for £15.90 per month for broadband and line rental – though recently I've been getting poor reports on service," Martin said.
"Or, newbies to Plusnet (part of the BT group) can get average 10Mb speeds on an 18 month contract for £20 per month (or £360 over 18 months). But you also get £70 cashback – you need to claim it – so take that into account and it works out at equivalent to £16.11 per month.
"Via some sites there are deals as cheap as £12 per month in a 12 month contract."
Fibre broadband and line
"Again, newbies to Plusnet can get average 36Mb speeds with line rental for £23 per month on an 18 month contract, and claim £75 cashback making it equivalent to £18.83 per month.
"There’s also a Vodafone deal with similar speeds for £22 per month plus a £100 Amazon voucher you can claim making it £16.40 per month all in. The deal ends on Monday night though – and is only available via a range of comparison sites."
"Go online via Uswitch, Confused.com or Comparethemarket again by tonight and you can get a 63Mb average speed package with Vodafone for £24 per month, plus you can get a £100 Amazon voucher – which you must claim – making it equivalent £18.44 per month.
"And if you want over 100Mb, via some sites you can get it for as little as £21 per month, once you factor the incentives in over the contract.
"Remember all these cheap deals are either an 18 month or one year contract, so once it ends expect the price to jump, and be prepared to ditch and switch again."
By shopping around, bill payers can ensure they are getting the best possible deal – see our guide on broadband rights, here.
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