When you sign up for your new contract the network that you sign up to puts you on one of its tariffs. Every time a retailer signs a new customer up to a new tariff, the network gives the retailer a fee. These fees can get extremely high for retailers who generate lots of new sign ups each month so the more customers that a retailer can sign up the better. To try to get as many customers to buy from them as possible the retailer often offers free gifts such as Bluetooth headsets or memory cards, though increasingly they are offering further discounts from your line rental cost (the standard price that the network charges you each month for your inclusive calls and text messages).
Almost every reduced line rental, half price line rental, free line rental or cashback deal that you see all work in the same way. They are all essentially ways of describing a cashback deal and they work in the following way.
After signing up for your contract the retailer sends you your mobile phone handset and tells the network that you signed up to your details so that they can connect you. The retailer has no control over how the network sends you your bills so they have to give you your cashback by sending you a cheque for the amount owed. In order for the retailer to be able to refund you, they need to know that you are connected to the contract for the entire term (whether that is 12 months, 18 months or any other period). In order to make sure you are connected for the entire contract term the retailers need you to send in your mobile phone bills in intervals throughout the contract length. They then send you a cheque for the amount that they owe you.
You sign up to a new contract through a retailer called PhoneTrout which gives you a free Mototastic L1 mobile phone handset connected to the Polkaphone network on it's Talktime 300 plan. The Talktime 300 plan costs £30 per month and is a 12 month contract. In order to encourage you to buy this deal from them, PhoneTrout offers you 12 months free line rental.
When PhoneTrout send you your new mobile phone they will also enclose some paperwork detailing when they want you to send in your bills that you receive from Polkaphone. Usually this will be something like you send in you first 4 bills just after you receive your fourth bill, your next four just after you receive your eighth bill, and the final four bills just after you receive your twelfth bill. After they receive the bills each time they will write a cheque for the equivalent of the line rental you have paid in that period (so four months at £30 per month would be £120) and send it back to you by post. In all you would receive three separate cheques over the course of your 12 month contract for £120 each, totaling £360 which is a refund of the entire line rental you have paid to Polkaphone.
International roaming charges for using your phone abroad can come as quite a shock and rates can vary enormously.
Make sure you are fully aware of the cost of international calls by asking your network provider. Calls are more expensive because users are charged by two providers, once by the roaming network from the country in which the call is made and also by the home network. Profit margins are then added on.
Your provider may offer special roaming bundles (a set amount of calls and texts for a set price) or other opt-in discounts but you might need to actively seek them out.
Another option is to take your handset with you and buy a SIM card whilst travelling therefore keeping the costs to a minimum. To do this you will need to make sure your handset is unlocked (You may have to ask your network provider to do this for you.)
When you arrive, all you need to do is nip into a mobile phone store and purchase a local SIM card.
If you aren't comfortable with visiting a mobile phone store and making a purchase while you are away, or you need to use your phone as soon as you land don't panic. There are several online retailers who sell foreign SIM cards for the majority of countries, so you can buy before you go.
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