How to get cheap broadband

Do you need fibre? How to switch & much more

Way too many people stick blindly with their broadband and landline provider – and therefore overpay vastly. People on non-promo deals typically pay anything from £350/year to £600+/year for the big boys such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin, yet the deals below can save you big money.

To benchmark, those on standard out-of-contract pricing typically pay BT £45/mth and Virgin £40/mth.

Seven broadband need to knows

These are the golden rules to give you chapter and verse, but if you just want a quick comparison, try our Broadband Unbundled tool.

  • Broadband is the standard way to connect to the internet but the key differentiator is speed, measured in megabits per second (Mb). There are four main categories:

    • Standard – with top speeds of 17Mb. This is the basic level, sometimes called ADSL.

    • Fast fibre-optic broadband – max speeds of 52Mb (though some top out at 38Mb). This is delivered through more sophisticated glass or plastic wires before connecting to your home.

    • Superfast fibre-optic – max speeds of 76Mb. Uses the same fibre wires, it's just faster.

    • Ultrafast fibre-optic broadband – top speeds of 350Mb and above. This requires more sophisticated wiring usually direct to your home, and is only available from limited suppliers. 

    See our Broadband Unbundled tool for more ultrafast deals. 

    Do I really need fibre-optic broadband?

    Fast fibre is best for heavy users – if you do loads of streaming, online gaming, downloading or have multiple users in your home – as doing lots at the same time slows you down.

    Anything faster is very much a luxury – best if you've a large household with many devices, you stream 4K content or 'normal' fibre isn't fast enough for you.

    If you just use the web for basic tasks such as emails and the odd bit of browsing then an average of 11Mb speed should be fine.

    Quick questions
  • To help you navigate this postcode lottery, our Broadband Unbundled tool shows which best buys are available where you live. Standard speed broadband is available in the vast majority of the UK but there are still odd pockets where you can't get it.

    With fibre, it's still still being rolled out across the UK as only about 90% can get it. Most big cities have access but some rural areas may not. Ultrafast fibre with top speeds of 350Mb is only available to roughly 50% of the UK, while faster speeds are currently only available to a small number.

  • It varies, but plan for about 10 working days, though if you need an engineer it is partly down to your availability.

    And on the day itself don't worry if you fear Facebook withdrawal, you're only likely to be offline for a few hours, or maybe hardly at all – if you're at work you may not even notice it. Here are some more key details:

    • Often, there's no need for an engineer to come round. Only if you need a new line or on some fibre installations. Otherwise just plug any new kit you're sent in.

    • You don't usually need to tell your current provider. The new firm usually does the communication work unless if switching to or from Virgin – here, you must tell your old provider.

    • Many firms insist you pay to receive their router. Though the cost isn't usually prohibitive and we include router costs (where applicable) in all the deals below.
    Quick questions
    • Since you'll likely be signing a 12-month or 18-month contract, it's worth checking feedback before diving in. We include the results of our latest broadband customer satisfaction poll in all our best buys, so you can see how each provider ranked with other MoneySavers. For the full results see our latest Broadband customer service poll results.

      Our forum's Broadband Board also includes a wealth of feedback, as do sites such as ThinkBroadband and ISP Review.

    • You won't face extra costs if no longer under contract though you may need to give at least 14-30 days' notice depending on your provider.

      If you're still within the minimum term of your contract, you usually have to pay 'early termination fees' to leave. Each provider calculates these differently but it generally depends on the amount of time left on your contract. They should always be less than the cost of the remaining charges on the contract.

      Some providers may charge up to £30 if you're cancelling your broadband and not moving to another firm immediately or if you're moving to cable (although we've heard that some will waive this if contested). Your provider may also ask you to return its router or you risk incurring a penalty charge.

    • Under rules from regulator Ofcom, if the contract was taken out after 23 Jan 2014, if your landline, broadband or mobile (but not TV) firm raises prices without warning you before you signed up then you are allowed to leave penalty-free.

      But do check the T&C's as providers may state in there that they reserve the right to hike prices in line with inflation, which would count as a warning. 

      If it happens without warning all you have to do is tell your provider within 30 days of getting notification from it, and you can then leave penalty-free. That said, only do so if you can find a better price.

  • Maybe. It's important to understand that these advertised speeds are based on the average speed received by at least 50% of a provider's current customer base between 8pm and 10pm – when most people are online

    Most have signed up to a code of practice committing to give a personalised estimate before you sign-up. If you get 'significantly under-performing' speeds ask your provider to check for a fault – and get it fixed if so.

    If unresolved you may be able to exit your contract penalty-free. But the definition of 'significantly under performing' is where speed is slower than that received by 90% of the provider's customers on similar lines, so only the firm knows. If unhappy with your provider, try free complaints handling tool Resolver.

  • Most broadband packages require you to have a line as the broadband is ultimately delivered down it. However, most providers still make you take out a standard line rental deal as if you'd use the phone rather than a discounted price for broadband only.

    There are a limited number of broadband-only deals, mainly from Virgin Media, but these are usually expensive (though when it has a hot deal we'll feature it below) so it's almost always cheaper to get a broadband and landline package. Of course, you could just get the line and simply not use it.

  • We tend to feature only unlimited data deals below as hot promos almost always come with unlimited browsing. The fact the best deals have no restriction is good news given our data use has rocketed with catch-up TV, box sets and movie streaming gobbling it up – downloading an episode of Game of Thrones in HD uses up roughly 1GB.

    The other reason for cheer at the competitiveness of unlimited data deals is packages with download limits tend to have costly charges if you go over – BT charges £1.80/GB when you breach the limit.

    If you're unlucky enough not to find a hot promo deal, consider if it's worth paying a little extra for unlimited data to be safe. Our Broadband Unbundled lets you filter deals by the amount of data you require.

    Quick question
  • Switching usually nets you the cheapest prices, but if you are out of contract – or nearing the end – you could try to haggle your price.

    As there's stiff competition, companies are frantic to keep hold of customers. That is why in our polls on haggling with service companies, communication providers are frequently among the easiest to haggle with.

    In our most recent survey of 5,900+ MoneySavers, more than 80% who tried had success with Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin. For top tips, see our Haggle With Service Providers guide.

Best buys: Cheapest standard speed broadband & line rental

We've got all the best deals below, but to find out which are available in your area try Broadband Unbundled, our broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Broadband and line rental equiv £14.67/mth

Until Thu 1 Nov, newbies to Sky-owned Now Broadband* can get this 12-month unlimited broadband and line rent deal with average speeds of 11Mb.  

Existing Now TV customers are eligible, though not if you've currently got Now Broadband. It's available to 90% of the UK and depends on your postcode – you're told if you can't get it when applying (or use our Broadband Unbundled tool which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Broadband and line rent's £18/mth for 12 months. It'll rise to £25.99/mth if you stay. It's anytime calls package is also included 'free' for a year – see Now call costs.
  2. £9.99 to pay upfront. This covers router delivery and activation. Make sure you select the 'Saver' option or you'll be charged £50 upfront for the 'No Contract' option.
  3. Get a £50 Argos, John Lewis or Tesco voucher but you MUST claim it. Enter your name, email address and select your voucher before sign-up and within 90 days of your order you'll be sent instructions of how to redeem your voucher, it should then take 90 days to arrive.

- Cost analysis: You'll pay £225.99 for the year, equiv to £18.84/mth. But if you'd spend £50 at one of those places anyway then it's £175.99, equivalent to £14.67/mth. 

Anything else?

- Could Now Broadband hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do, but you may be able to leave penalty-free if it raises prices while you're in contract. 

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (eg, you've cable only), it's free with this deal.

Get deal*  

  • Can I add a calls package? This deal includes its anytime calls package for 'free', rather than you usually £8/mth. This gives you unlimited calls to UK mobiles and landlines, including 0870 and 0845 numbers.

    What are Now Broadband's call charges on its basic line rental option? An additional 19p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME, EVENING & WEEKEND MOBILE – DAYTIME MOBILE – EVENING MOBILE – WEEKEND
    14.65p/min 19.35p/min 17p/min 14.25p/min

    What's customer service like? In our last poll Now Broadband only received 52 votes but out of those 44% rated it 'great', 35% 'OK' and 21% 'poor'. 

Best buys: Cheapest fast fibre broadband & line rental

We've got all the best deals below, but to find out which are available in your area try Broadband Unbundled, our broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Though remember, as we've said earlier, think carefully if you really need fibre as if you simply use the internet for basic browsing and emails, standard speed may be fine. 

Available until Thu 1 Nov, this TalkTalk* fibre broadband deal - with average speeds of 36Mb - is open to new customers only (not currently with TalkTalk) signing up to a 18-month contract. It's worth noting that in our last customer service poll 38% scored it 'poor'.

The deal's available to 83% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying if you can't get it (or use our tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode). Here's how to get it:

  1. Unlimited fibre broadband and line rent's £22.50/mth for 18 months. It's then £33.50/mth after the contract ends. You get a 'free' compulsory router. No calls are included, see TalkTalk call charges.
  2. Nothing to pay upfront. Delivery costs and setup fees are 'free' with this deal.
  3. Get a £70 Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster voucher but you MUST claim it. Enter your email address when asked on the voucher page, before you go through to sign up and you'll be sent instructions of how to select your Amazon, Tesco, Argos or Ticketmaster voucher within 90 days. You'll then have three months to claim it.

- Cost analysis: You'll pay £22.50/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £405 over the 18-month contract. If you'd have spent £70 with the above stores anyway, factor the voucher in and it's an equiv £18.62/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line or only have a cable one (or in a few cases other lines), installation's free with this offer.

Could TalkTalk hike prices? Telecoms firms often do, but TalkTalk says its prices are fixed for the duration of the contract.

Read more about TalkTalk.

  • Direct debit is the only way to pay. This is compulsory – there's no alternative.

    What are TalkTalk's call charges? An additional 20p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls. TalkTalk also applies a £100 unbilled calls limit – this means if you make more than £100 worth of phone calls, further outgoing calls will be stopped until the amount you owe on calls is reduced to under £100. Calls over 60 mins are charged so hang up and call back.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    13.5p/min 13.5p/min 13.5p/min 13.5p/min

    What's customer service like?

    TALKTALK BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great 26%
    OK 35%
    Poor 38%
    Aug 2018 | Voters: 885

Fibre broadband & line rent £21/mth

New Vodafone customers can get an 18-month contract with Vodafone Broadband*, which includes line rental and unlimited downloads with average speeds of 35Mb. If you're an existing Vodafone mobile customer you can sign up to the same deal for £20/mth. 

Vodafone also guarantees that the speed to your router won't drop below 25Mb. You can check it by downloading the Vodafone Broadband app and running a speed test. If it's lower than 25Mb then you can apply for an instant 15% discount which will be applied to your next monthly bill, and will remain until your min speed is above that 25Mb. Note: The guarantee covers the speed to your router, not to your devices.

The deal's available to 94% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying if you can't get it (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Broadband's £21/mth. After the 18 month contract, this will increase to £24/mth.
  2. Vodafone doesn't charge line rental on its fibre products. So line rental is 'free' with this package. No calls are included, see Vodafone call charges.
  3. Nothing to pay upfront. Usually £20, the cost of activation and router delivery is 'free' with this deal.

- Cost analysis: It's £21/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £378.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (eg, you've cable only), installation's £60. You'll know if you need to pay it before committing.

- Is the price fixed during the contract? Technically no, but if it does raise prices, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

Cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but sometimes on different deals.

  • What are Vodafone's call charges? A 19p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    11.5p/min 11.5p/min 11.5p/min 13p/min

    Anything to watch out for? When you pay upfront, there's always a risk you'll lose cash if the provider goes bust. The risk's bigger with smaller companies than it is with Vodafone.

    If you take this deal and leave during the contract you may be liable for early termination fees.

    Will I have to pay the £60 new line fee? If you don't have a line, or you're switching from cable, you'll need to pay for a new line. If you have a BT line but are with another provider, eg, Sky or TalkTalk, you may also have to pay but you'll be told this during the sign-up process before you commit to the deal.

    What if I want calls? You can pay an additional £4/mth for free evening and weekend calls, £5/mth gets you 300 minutes of calls per month to international numbers in some countries, and £8/mth gets you anytime UK landline and mobile calls.

    What's customer service like?
    VODAFONE BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great 43%
    OK 28%
    Poor 29%
    Aug 2018 | Voters: 244

Best buys: Cheapest superfast fibre broadband & line rental

If you're happy to pay more, you can fibre with max speeds of 100Mb and above. Let's make no bones about it, this is the luxury end of the market, and isn't MoneySaving, but if you've a large family with many devices, or you're into streaming 4K content, or you're just impatient, this could be for you.

We've got our top deal below, but to find out if it's available in your area, or other options, try Broadband Unbundled, our broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Fibre & line rent £25/mth

This TalkTalk* fibre broadband deal - with average speeds of 63Mb - is open to new customers only (not currently with TalkTalk) signing up to a 18-month contract. It's worth noting that in our last customer service poll 38% scored it 'poor'.

The deal's available to 83% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying if you can't get it (or use our tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode). Here's how to get it:

  1. Unlimited fibre broadband and line rent's £25/mth for 18 months. It's then £38.50/mth after the contract ends. You get a 'free' compulsory router. No calls are included, see TalkTalk call charges.
  2. Nothing to pay upfront. Delivery costs and setup fees are 'free' with this deal.

- Cost analysis: You'll pay £450 over the 18-month contract before any call costs. 

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line or only have a cable one (or in a few cases other lines), installation's free with this offer.

Could TalkTalk hike prices? Telecoms firms often do, but TalkTalk says its prices are fixed for the duration of the contract.

Read more about TalkTalk.

  • Direct debit is the only way to pay. This is compulsory – there's no alternative.

    What are TalkTalk's call charges? An additional 20p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls. TalkTalk also applies a £100 unbilled calls limit – this means if you make more than £100 worth of phone calls, further outgoing calls will be stopped until the amount you owe on calls is reduced to under £100. Calls over 60 mins are charged so hang up and call back.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    13.5p/min 13.5p/min 13.5p/min 13.5p/min

    What's customer service like?

    TALKTALK BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great 26%
    OK 35%
    Poor 38%
    Aug 2018 | Voters: 885

Are you desperate to get or stay with BT?

BT often isn't the cheapest provider but we know a lot of you like the security of being with a big name, so if that's you, use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best BT package for you.

If you're already a customer, it's worth using the tips above to benchmark the best deal and then try to haggle to knock down your price. BT is one of the easiest firms to haggle with. In our most recent haggling poll, 80% of its customers who tried to haggle had some success. For top tips on how to do it, see our Haggle With Service Providers guide.

Best buys: Short-term contract broadband

If you're planning to move home soon, live in student accommodation or want the freedom to leave with a short, no-penalty notice period, the deals below allow you to sign up on a monthly rolling contract, which although more expensive, can be cheaper than paying penalty charges to get out of a standard 12 or 18-month contract.

However, if you are planning to move, first check if your new contract's 'portable', meaning you can take it with you. Some providers will let you do this, but it's on a case-by-case basis.

B'band & line rent from £21/mth on a 1mth rolling contract

New and existing customers can get any of SSE's unlimited broadband packages* on a one-month rolling contract. You have the choice of average 11Mb speed standard broadband, average 35Mb speed or an average of 63Mb speed fibre broadband.

Standard speed is available to 90% and fibre options are available to 83% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying whether you can get the deal (or use our tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

1. Unlimited average 11Mb speed broadband and line rent's £21/mth. It'll then rise to £30/mth after 12 months unless you're an SSE energy customer whose broadband prices are frozen for 3 years. No calls are included, see SSE call charges.

- Average 35Mb fibre broadband costs £24/mth (£33/mth after 12mths for non-SSE custs)
- Average 63Mb fibre broadband costs £30/mth (£39/mth after 12mths for non-SSE custs)

2. £30 set-up costs. This covers activation and router delivery. There's no charge if you're an existing SSE energy customer.

- Cost Analysis: It's £21/mth for standard speed broadband and line rental before any call costs, so including upfront costs you pay £282 for the first year, equivalent to £23.50/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you're switching from a provider not on BT Openreach, or if you need a new line entirely, it's £60 .

  • Anything to watch out for? You can get the deal if you're in contract with SSE broadband but check if you're liable for termination fees before switching..

    What are SSE's call charges? An additional 20p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls.

    What if I want more calls? The 'Anytime Landline' calls package costs an extra £7/mth and includes 1,000 minutes or 150 calls to UK landlines. You can add 'Anytime Plus' for £12/mth, which gives international landline calls to 35 extra countries.

    Landline – daytime Landline – evening Landline – weekend Mobile – anytime
    12p/min 12p/min 12p/min 15p/min

    How do I know I need a new line? If you're already with a provider on the BT wholesale network (everyone but Virgin) then it's likely you won't need a new one.

    What's customer service like?

    SSE BROADBAND
    CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great
    68%
    OK 22%
    Poor 10%
    Aug 2018 | Voters:72

Rolling 28-day contract, equiv £32.03/mth for first 12 mths

Newbies to Direct Save Telecom's* can get its unlimited average 11Mb speed broadband and line rental on a 28-day rolling contract (its standard contract length is 24 months) for an equiv £32.03/mth. It's available to 90% of the UK. It depends on your postcode – you're told when applying

Not heard of Direct Save Telecom before? Read on for more.

  1. Sign up directly. Go via Direct Save Telecom*
  2. Broadband and line rent's £29.95/mth. Direct Save Telecom could increase prices at any time, but as you're not tied into a long contract, you're free to leave by giving 28 days' notice. No calls are included – see DirectSave call costs.
  3. You need its router. It's 'free' but you'll need to pay £24.95 for activation.

- Cost analysis: The total for unlimited broadband, line rent, router p&p and activation cost for the first year is £384.35, equivalent to £32.03/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (eg, you've cable only), it's £29.95 – you'll be told before you commit.

  • Who is Direct Save Telecom? Direct Save Telecom is a low-cost broadband and home phone provider. It isn't as big as other providers so we don't have feedback on its customer service but it's been around since 1995 and has been providing line rental since 2004.

    It offers 24-hour UK-based customer service.

    What are Direct Save Telecom's call charges? A 15.1p call set-up fee applies for all chargeable calls.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    9.5p/min 9.5p/min Inclusive 12.35p/min

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

Full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

Problems with getting an MSE Blagged deal?

If you signed up to an MSE Blagged deal – a best-in-market offer we've negotiated exclusively – which involves you being sent a voucher, we'll always do our best to ensure you get the voucher.

But as we warn above, there can occasionally be problems with the deal tracking. In particular, if you were running ad-blocking software or cookie blockers when you signed up for the deal, or exited your browser while in the process of signing up, this can stop it tracking correctly.

Key tips

  • Many vouchers are supposed to arrive within three months of installation (see each deal for specific details). If it hasn't been that long yet, please be patient.

  • If you're waiting for an email voucher, please do check your spam folder regularly in case it's been diverted there.

  • How do I claim the Mastercard or voucher or cashback? To get the Mastercard you must fill in this online form and this online form for the voucher, to claim cashback it's this online form. Make sure you do this once your broadband service has been installed as you can't do it before. You'll need:

    • Your BT order number, which begins AJM (it'll be in your confirmation email).
    • The postcode where your broadband has been installed.
    • An email address to confirm your claim.

    Once you've submitted your claim forms your Mastercard and voucher will be sent separately to the address your broadband was installed at within 45 days. You must claim them within three months of installation and activate the Mastercard within three months of receiving the activation code.

    If after 45 days of your broadband going live you haven't received your Mastercard, please contact BT via this online form.

    If after 45 days of claiming you've not received your cashback voucher, please fill out this BT form. Make sure you include your full name, BT user name, order date, connection date and the email address you signed up with.

    If you're still having trouble email voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com and, if you're eligible, we'll do our best ensure you get it.

    Please note, that vouchers may have to be claimed so please ensure you've done that and waited the specified amount of time before getting in touch.

  • The EE broadband deals sometimes come with a prepaid Mastercard or a voucher of varying amounts. If you've had any problems getting your Mastercard contact the EE Reward Card team on 0800 587 2297 or email broadbandhelp@eecard.co.uk. If you're having trouble getting your Amazon voucher please contact Marketing Lounge Partnership Customer Service team on 01565 656251 or email broadbandinfo@myeeoffers.co.uk.

    If you're still having trouble please email voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com.

    When emailing, please make sure you include your full name, order date and connection date, the email address you signed up with and your order reference (this'll start with DKI, followed by several numbers, usually seven – it's on the PDF EE sent you, or call EE customer services). This info will help ensure you get a quick response.

  • Plusnet broadband deal sometimes come with cashback. If your cashback still hasn't arrived after 60 days, please email voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com.

    When emailing, please make sure you include your full name, Plusnet user name, order date and connection date and the email address you signed up with. This info will help ensure you get a quick response.

  • If you're having issues with a TalkTalk deal we've featured, please email   voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com.

    When emailing, please make sure you include your full name, order date and connection date and the email address you signed up with. This info will help ensure you get a quick response.

  • We have an email address exclusively for MSE users: customerquestions@sky.uk. If you experience difficulties after emailing Sky, let us know at  voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com and we'll push Sky to sort it.

How to complain about your broadband provider

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver can escalate it to the free Ombudsman Services (or CISAS if you're complaining about Virgin Media).

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing  voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that's usually quicker.

SPOTTED OUT OF DATE INFO/BROKEN LINKS? EMAIL: BROKENLINK@MONEYSAVINGEXPERT.COM