New rules to allow mobile customers to limit their bills

28 September 2018

New rules have come into force that require mobile providers to give customers the option to limit the cost of their bills.

If you switch providers, renew your contract or enter into a new contract with your current provider from 1 October 2018, you can request a bill limit. This will be included in your contract.

You can choose the limit to set, depending on your needs. For example, you can set a ‘£0’ limit if you just want to pay your contract price and want to stop using your mobile services as soon as you reach your monthly allowance. Or you could set a limit for a little extra above your contract price, such as £5, if you want a bit of flexibility each month.

When you are setting a bill limit, think about the different types of mobile phone services that are covered. If you regularly pay for a mobile phone service in addition to your monthly contract price, such as additional calls, texts or data use, and want to continue to do so with a bill limit in place, then you should allow for these costs when setting your bill limit. Services provided by third parties, such as premium rate calls and texts, are not required to be covered by bill limits, but your provider’s charge for accessing these services are.

Speak to your provider to discuss what might be an appropriate limit based on your typical usage.

You can request a bill limit at any time. Ask your provider, or check your contract, to see how much notice you need to give before the bill limit will be activated. A reasonable notice period should be no longer than your bill period, which in most cases will be one month.

If you agreed to a bill limit before you took out your contract, it should be in place from the start.

Once you have a limit in place, your provider will let you know if you are likely to reach the limit before the end of your billing period. Your contract should explain how and when your provider will contact you for this – for example, you might receive a text to warn you that you’ve reached 80% of your usage.

You should also receive a further notice once you’ve reached the limit. And once you’ve reached the limit you might not be able to make calls, send text messages or use data. However, you can still access emergency services.

If your provider allows you to continue to use calls, messages and data services after your limit has been reached, they cannot charge you for this unless you have agreed.

Ofcom has put together some FAQs for consumers who want to find out more about how to request a bill limit from their mobile provider.

Our FAQs offer guidance for consumers who might want to set a bill limit, and include advice on how to go about it, what will happen when you reach your desired limit, and how it applies when roaming.