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The best phone contracts with no upfront costs in September 2021

Phone contracts with no upfront costs have, for as long as we can remember, been a common feature in the phone market. Allowing you to get a new handset without having to pour in money at the start.

And luckily for anyone that is interested in said phone contracts with no upfront costs the market is full of options right now. Whether you're looking for the cheapest of budget phones or the flashiest of flagships, you can find most devices without that starting cost.

In fact, we often see some of the best price points on these free upfront plans. Whether it be the latest iPhone 11 Pro deals and Samsung Galaxy S20 deals or the budget Moto G7 Power, no upfront cost phone contracts are rife right now.

While there are plenty of them out there, floating around the market, the hard part is tracking them all down in one place. Some retailers have specific pages dedicated to them, others have them scattered across their site.

With that in mind, we've created sets of custom-made price comparisons below for you to find your ideal phone contracts with no upfront costs. There are three separate charts for you to look through: budget, mid-range and flagship.

Compare flagship phone contracts with no upfront costs:

Looking for the best of the best? These handsets are the top dogs from the main phone providers. That means they either feature on our best smartphones guide or they've proven in our time reviewing them that they are giving you the best specs possible. Of course, they will all come with relatively high prices but the lack of upfront costs helps knock it back down.

Compare mid-range phone contracts with no upfront costs:

Not everyone is fussed about having the best phone out but if you still want something impressive, a mid-range phone could do well for you. Mid-range handsets are exactly what they say on the tin, meeting the middle-point of specs and price. 

Many of the handsets are more affordable versions of the devices seen above that retailers release as an alternative. And of course, even with the reduced prices, there are still no upfront costs.

Compare cheap phone contracts with no upfront costs:

Finally, the budget phones. With options dropping below the £20 a month-mark, these phone contracts with no upfront costs are for those not interested in flashy specs and tech tricks with their phone, just something cheap and cheerful.

What's the difference between cashback and cashback by redemption?

You'll likely notice from the charts above that when it comes to free upfront mobile deals, a lot of them tend to have cashback on top. However there are two forms of cashback - instant and redemption - but what's the difference?

Instant cashback:
It's exactly what it says on the tin. You buy your brand new phone contract with no upfront costs and then you get some cashback. While 'instant' or automatic as it is also called is the easier of the two options, it does still take up to 90 days to arrive from most retailers.

Cashback by redemption:
This is the more complicated form of cashback but if you're committed, it could be the bigger pay-off. That's because this form of cashback tends to be pretty high, often saving you a few hundred on your phone. However, to get that higher cashback, you have to claim it back in instalments.

That means sending your phone bill to the retailer you bought it from a few times throughout your contract and getting your cashback is individual smaller lumps.

Is it cheaper to get phone contracts, no upfront costs?

This completely depends. These kind of deals are not necessarily cheaper but if you find the right option, you could end up saving big overall. Obviously you'll not have to worry about spending at the start but due to the lack of upfront costs you could well end up getting hit with some large monthly costs. With that in mind it is good to see what the average overall cost of different contracts is to get an estimation of whether you're getting a good price or not.

Can I just get a phone without a plan?

While phone contracts with no upfront costs are a great way to drastically reduce costs, some people may just want to completely skip out on a contract. The only way to do this is to buy a SIM-free mobile phone and either go PAYG or get a SIM only deal.

Which networks offer free upfront phone plans?

Honestly, pretty much all of them. You'll find that the four main networks - EE, O2, Vodafone and Three - often have the largest quantity of these deals but the likes of Sky, Virgin and Tesco often get involved as well.

However, with the likes of Sky and Virgin, you will likely be ending up with a 36 month contract to get those free upfront bills.

Are there any downsides to phones with no upfront costs?

The only real downside here is that you are consolidating all of your costs into a monthly spend. Normally an upfront cost would help to alleviate some of the financial pain but if you find the right offer, this shouldn't be an issue!

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Alex Hughes

As the editor of all things broadband, SIMs and phone contracts, Alex is constantly scouring the internet to land you the best prices. Whether that be with the latest iPhones, breaking down how broadband works or revealing the cheapest SIM plans, he's got the know.