EE and O2 mobile phone customers will be hit with monthly contract price rises of 1.1% from March or April, but if you're one of them there's little you can do to leave your contract penalty-free.

Here's what you need to know if you're an EE (which includes Orange and T-Mobile) or O2 mobile customer. You can also see our Cheap Mobile Phones guide to see if you can cut costs and find a better deal.

EE contract price rises

  • EE pay monthly customers, who joined or upgraded before 11 February 2015, but not between 23 January 2014 and 25 March 2014: Prices will rise by 1.1% – in line with January's Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation – from 26 March.

  • EE pay monthly customers who joined or upgraded on or after 11 February 2015: These customers won't be affected by the price change. This is because customers already signed up to a new contract so they will only see price rises from March 2016.

  • EE pay monthly customers who joined or upgraded between 23 January 2014 and 25 March 2014: These customers won't be affected by the price change. This is because they signed contracts with conditions that meant EE could not change prices mid-contract.

EE says the move will add around 31p/month to the average bill, although its pay-as-you-go mobile customers and its broadband users are unaffected. It adds that there are no other changes to costs.

The provider last announced price hikes in April 2014 (see the EE mobile customers face 2.7% price rise in May MSE News story).

EE adds that all customers have now been alerted about the price rise via text message or email and the changes will also be displayed when customers sign in to their accounts online.

O2 contract price rises

  • O2 pay monthly, O2 Refresh (airtime plan only), SIM only, and mobile broadband customers: Prices will increase by an inflation-linked hike of 1.1%, which customers will see in their April bills.

O2 says the change will add around 19p/month for those on its a pay monthly tariff and adds that affected customers should have already received a text or email about the price rise. Pay-as-you-go mobile customers are unaffected.

O2 call costs price rises

The telecoms provider has also confirmed it's increasing some out of bundle call charges. Here's what's changing:

  • UK voice calls: Will rise to 45p/minute from 1 April, up from 40p/minute.
  • International calls: Will rise to £1/minute to call Europe, USA, Alaska and Canada, up from 60p/minute and to call Eastern Europe and worldwide, it will also cost £1/minute, up from 80/minute.
  • Text to Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man: It will now cost 20p/message from 14 May. Previously this was included in bundles.

If you make a large number of international calls or send a large number of texts to Jersey, for example, you could use this as an argument to leave your contract penalty free. See below for more on this.

But be warned that O2's international call prices are hefty – even before the price rises take effect – so if you're making calls abroad, use our International Call Checker first to find the cheapest way to do so.

Can I leave my contract penalty free?

You may be on the cheapest deal around for your needs meaning a small monthly price increase won't have much of an impact.

However if you're not and you're unhappy with the price rise, Ofcom rules, which took effect last year state that customers can leave mobile, landline or broadband contracts penalty-free if a provider ups prices mid-term – but only where it hadn't warned you about the rise when you bought the contract on or after 23 January 2014.

This means:

  • I signed up or upgraded pre-23 January 2014: Old Ofcom rules apply here – these state that you can leave your contract penalty free if you can prove that the price rise will cause you "material detriment" – although there's no set definition of what constitutes material detriment.

  • I signed up or upgraded on or after 23 January 2014: You can only leave penalty free if your provider didn't tell you it would up prices mid-way through. O2 says it warns about this in its ts&cs, while EE says anyone who took out a new contract from 26 March 2014 onwards would also have had this detailed in their contract.

However Ofcom has also today confirmed that if out-of-bundle price rises are of material detriment to you and you were not forewarned of these at the time of buying, then you can argue to leave your contract penalty free as a result. It says complaints will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

First complain to your provider. If you don't get a satisfactory response from O2 or EE within eight weeks, you can then take your complaint to the communication ombudsman CISAS.

EE and O2 say customers can leave their contract mid-term, but only when they pay an early exit fee. The price of this depends on the length of the contract and how much customers pay each month.

'Absolutely disgusted'

Angry mobile customers have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration over the price rises. Here are some of the tweets we've seen:

  • @JAmeyMedia tweeted: "I do love getting news of an @O2 price rise on my contract. Fantastic news, can't wait."
  • @WJFleming tweeted: "Price rise again from @O2 Legally it is doing nothing wrong but morally a contracted price should remain until the initial contract is up."
  • @abridgetv tweeted: "Just had an ANNUAL price rise from @EE, only been with it three weeks."
  • @gallifrey50 "@EE absolutely disgusted by your latest price rise, loyal customer for 10 years and never once had a reduction, will be changing networks."

'We work hard to offer the best value'

An EE spokesperson says: "We work hard to offer the best value on the UK's biggest and fastest network. The price of our Pay Monthly plans increase by RPI each year and we're currently getting in touch with customers to remind them of this. This year the typical increase will be 31p a month."

An O2 spokesperson says: "We've adjusted our monthly tariff charges by 1.1% in line with the RPI rate published in February (other companies offering communication services have recently increased their monthly rentals by up to 6.5%).

"This adjustment happens annually – our terms allow us to apply a price adjustment to monthly subscription charges to reflect the RPI not more than once every twelve months – and will help us to continue to invest in our network and the services that matter to our customers while still offering great value for money."