- A YEAR'S BT line & fibre b'band for £285 plus get a £100 Sains vch
- A YEAR'S Plusnet line & standard b'band for £111 (equiv £9.24/mth)
- How Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk custs can leave or slash £100s off costs

Broadband's now an essential utility like energy or water, and it costs almost as much too. Standard deals with BT, Sky & TalkTalk are all £300+ a year all-in. So the key to saving is grabbing short-lived hot promo deals.

This content originally appeared in the MSE weekly email on 18 November 2015.

The results can be powerful, eg, Stuart tweeted: "So pleased I moved - £270/yr cheaper and faster too." And even our energy analyst MSE Fraser's mum told us: "Switched from BT to Sky, now saving £540/yr – unbelievable."There are full options in our Cheap Broadband guide, but here are my key need-to-knows...

  • ENDS TODAY (Wed).  Top fast FIBRE b'band & line deal, £285/yr from BT after cashback, plus £100 Sains vch. Factor that in & it's equivalent to £15.44/mth.

    For once BT's blitzing the best-buys with a 1-year contract line rental & unlimited up-to-38Mb Infinity fibre broadband deal (avail to 75% of the UK - you're told when applying). Yet current BT broadband customers sadly CAN'T get it. Here's how to do it... (BT itself doesn't communicate this well, but it does work.)

    1. Sign up by 11.59pm Wed. Go via this specific BT link*.
    2. Opt to pay line rent upfront during application (if you can afford to). It's £194.28 for 1yr (equiv £16.19/mth). If not, it's £17.99 monthly.
    3. Fibre b'band's £10/mth during the 1yr contract. There's also a £39 activation fee, plus a 'free' BT Infinity Hub router, though you pay £6.95 p&p. If you stay after the contract the broadband jumps to £23/mth.
    4. MSE Blagged.  It sends a cheque for £75 within 30 days of installation. We've blagged that if you use the link above you get cashback (if you've ad or cookie blocking software, turn it off or it mightn't track).

    After the cashback, the total's £285.23 for the year, equivalent to £23.77/mth (£306.83 if you pay line rent monthly – equiv £25.57/mth).

    5. You can CLAIM a £100 Sainsbury's in-store gift card. At least 5 days after installation fill in this online claim form* to get it and it'll be sent within 30 days. Do make a diary note with a copy of this link - it WON'T remind you. 

    If you were going to spend that at Sainsbury's anyway, factor it in and it's £185.23/yr, equivalent to £15.44/mth - cheaper than BT standard line rent alone. (It's £206.83 if you pay line rent monthly - equiv £17.24/mth.)

    - What about calls? Wknd calls to UK landlines included - see BT costs
    No line/switching from cable? Installation is free.
    - Want BT Sport? Lite's included –the full shebang with all sports channels is £5/mth or free with TV.

    PS. Virgin’s £224 for a year deal is cheaper if you don't factor in the Sains voucher, and you're in a Virgin area and happy to switch to cable.

  • ENDS TUE.  Top standard line & broadband, £111 for a year (after cashback), from BT-owned Plusnet – equiv £9.24/mth.

    Plusnet (part of BT) does well in our cust service polls (69% rate it 'great', 7% 'poor'). This 1yr contract deal's avail to 90% of the UK (it'll tell you during application). You can't get it if you're already specifically with Plusnet (or were during the last month). Here's what to do.

    1. Sign up by 11.59pm Tue 24 Nov. Go via this specific Plusnet link*.
    2. Opt to pay line rent upfront during application (if you can afford to). It's £185.88 for 1yr (equiv £15.49/mth). If not, it's £16.99 monthly.
    3. Unltd up-to-17Mb broadband's included free during the contract. After, it jumps to £9.99/mth or £17.49/mth depending where you live. 
    4. MSE Blagged. It sends a cheque for £75 within 60 days of activation. We've blagged that if you use the link above you get this cashback (if you've ad or cookie blocking software, turn it off or it mightn't track).

    So after the cashback the total cost's £110.88 for the year, equiv to just £9.24/mth (£128.88 if you pay line rent monthly, equiv £10.74/mth).

    - What about calls? None included - see Plusnet call costs
    No line/switching from cable (or some Sky custs)? Installation's £49.99.
    - Need a router? There's an optional 'free' one avail, but p&p's £6.99. 

    PS. TalkTalk's £198 for a year + £100 Love2Shop vch deal is slightly cheaper if you factor in the voucher as cash. Yet its customer service review is substantially worse, and that was before the recent hack.

Plus 9 cheap broadband tips and tricks

1. You no longer need to contact your old provider to switch. It was a faff, but new rules since June mean (unless Virgin's involved) it's your new supplier's responsibility to inform your old one you're leaving. Switching usually takes two weeks, and service shouldn't be disrupted. See switching help FAQs.

2. 14 tricks to boost your CURRENT broadband speed. If speeds seem slow, first do a 2-min speed test*. Then see our 14 Broadband Speed Boosting Tricks to see if you can boost the way it works.

3. Free TalkTalk upgrade to try to stop you taking a WalkWalk. TalkTalk's taken huge flak after the high-profile hack last month – from 1 Dec it'll offer all customers a free upgrade, eg, TV content such as movies & sport, a free Sim, or unlimited calls. We'll assess it when full info's out. If you still want to leave TalkTalk find out if you can quit penalty-free.

4. Urgent. Ditch your Sky & Virgin contract penalty-free. If you're out of contract you can always leave penalty-free. Yet right now as Sky & Virgin are hiking most costs, most customers have an option to leave penalty-free within 30 days of being notified (or use it as an excuse to haggle). See our Virgin price hikes and Sky price hikes full help.

5. "I was paying £100/mth for TV, b'band & phone. I haggled – it's now £57." If you're happy with your provider and nearing end of contract, try to haggle, as Lee did:   "Thanks Martin. I was paying £100/mth for broadband, TV, and phone – after one polite phone call I now pay £57/mth for the same." See our haggling guides for SkyVirginBT, & Plusnet. For other providers, see Broadband Haggling.

6. Slash BT Sport costs. BT Sport now shows the Champions League, some FA Cup and Premier League games. For BT customers it's £5/mth, but for BT fibre users there's a trick to get it for £10 FOR A YEAR. For Sky customers it's £20/mth, our switch broadband for cheap BT Sportnote may cut your costs.

7. Don't expect the advertised speed. Shockingly, when providers promise 'up to' speeds the rules say only 10% of customers need actually get that speed. Yet during the sign-up process most providers give you an estimated actual speed tailored to where you live. You can also use Streetstats* to tell you what other people near you get from each provider.

8. Sorry, but you'll pay MORE for broadband with no phone line. 51% of people we polled say they don't use a home phone. Yet while there are some b'band-only deals, they usually cost more than getting a line too - so you may as well get a line even if you don't plug a phone in.

9. What's all this "available to 90% of UK" stuff? Firms tend to be only able to give the really cheap prices if they have their own kit in exchanges (I'm oversimplifying, it's called 'unbundled exchanges'). Otherwise it's usually either not available, or at a much higher price.