How can we spend less on everyday services? We’re always looking for ways to do this. Bargain-hunters seek out special offers. You might spot ways to save just by looking at how you pay your bills. Others may use comparison sites.

This lesson explores different ways to help you do this. You’ll learn how to use digital tools to cut costs and find deals. We’ve also got plenty of hints and tips on how to get the most out of these tools.


  • Review your spending
  • Save with your current providers
  • Know how and when to switch

Read time:

9 mins

Chapter 1

Look at how you spend

Read time:

1 min

What do you pay for each month?

Before you think about paying less, you need to know what you’re paying now. So start by looking at your regular payments. Go through your bank statements over the past few months.


Look out for:

  • Monthly Direct Debits and Standing Orders - Check that you know exactly what’s going out of your bank account every month
  • Other regular payments – You may have payments going out every 3, 6 or 12 months for some services
  • Your essentials - This should be the things you always need to pay. Like rent/mortgage, utilities, loan/debt repayments, tax payments, etc
  • Other services – These might include mobile phone contracts, TV packages and other subscriptions
  • Services that overlap – Say you’re paying £15 a month for a movies package as part of your TV service. You also have a Netflix account, so do you need both?
  • What you could drop - Be realistic and honest about which payments could potentially stop. Is there anything you don’t need or use?

Help for you to manage your bills

It can be hard sometimes to manage all our bills. The MoneyHelper site has a useful video to help you work out your first steps to doing this.

Chapter 2

Work with your current providers

Read time:

4 mins

Look at what you pay

Think about how long you’ve been with your gas company, your broadband provider, your streaming sites. What do you pay them now, compared to when you started?

Costs go up over time. Let’s look at how you could keep these as low as possible, for as long as you can.


Introductory offers … and beyond

Many contracts for utilities and household services offer lower prices for an initial period. During this time, they may limit what changes you can make and when.


For example:

  • Broadband – some offer bundles that include pay-TV services for 18 months
  • Utilities - fixed price for 12 months
  • TV - free movies package for 6 months
  • Mobile - a package including minutes, texts and data – perhaps the phone itself – for 18 months


Once the offer period is up

After this initial period, the price is likely to increase. If you do nothing, this will usually happen automatically.


There are a few things you can do:

Check their offers

Get in touch

Shop around


Check what they offer

Usually, they’ll let you know as your special offer period is coming to an end. Look at the options they give you next. There may be a package or deal that works for you.

Get in touch

Do you feel all their options are too expensive? It’s always worth asking if they can improve on their offer.

The consumer group Which? asked broadband and pay-TV customers about this. They found most people who discussed options with their providers did benefit. This included incentives, discounts and better deals. The best savings came through agreeing a deal with fewer TV channels or a lower broadband speed.


They found these people saved, on average:

£90 a year

for TV and broadband packages

£150 a year

by downgrading their broadband

£213 a year

by downgrading TV and broadband

Shop around

It’s good to do this as your offer period or contract comes to an end. See what others are charging. You may be able to use this to get a better deal with your provider.


You may be unhappy with the service, or know you can get a better deal elsewhere. If so, switching could be the best option. We’ll look at this option in more detail in the next section.

Before you end your contract

Do check your contract period and terms to find out if you need to pay a cancellation fee.

Social tariffs

Many broadband providers offer cheaper deals for customers on a low income. These are social tariffs, also known as ‘basic’ or ‘essential’ packages.

They’re often just as fast and high quality as other deals – just cheaper. That includes no or low start-up costs and no mid-contract price increases. Your provider won’t charge you to switch to their social tariff, or to leave it before your contract ends.

So, who can get this package?


You may be able to get it if you claim:

  • Universal Credit – Or someone in your household claims this
  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Housing Benefit


The exact requirements here will vary from provider to provider. Check this list to see who offers this tariff. Then follow the links to see who is eligible.


Millions of households could save around £200 a year by switching to a broadband social tariff

Ofcom Opens in a new tab

Other social tariffs

Most social tariffs are for broadband. There are some for water services and SIM or mobile phone packages, too. If you’re on Universal Credit, it may be worth looking at these deals.


Make the most of what you get

So we’ve looked at how you could reduce the cost of these services. Now it’s time to make sure you’re getting all the perks that come with them. These include free stuff, special offers and even money back.


Discounts, rewards and gifts

Does your broadband provider or energy company have a rewards scheme? They may have let you know about this when you signed up. Often, we forget about these. Meanwhile, we’re earning more points or rewards with every regular payment we make. So take time to see what you’ve earnt – and how to redeem those points.

Check out their websites and apps. Some perks are ‘online only’ or ‘app only’. Plus, redeeming points can be easier to do online.


Are you due a refund?

Our energy use goes up and down throughout the year. Smart meters help us see how much we use. They also help our suppliers work out how much our regular payments should be. They should adjust these so we’re not paying too much or too little. Sometimes though, our payments are higher or lower than our energy costs.

When we overpay, our energy bills can show as ‘in credit’. It’s a good idea to keep some credit in your account, to cover you during the winter months. If you end up with a lot of credit, you may decide to ask for a refund.

Some suppliers refund this credit automatically every year. Most don’t, though. So it’s worth seeing if you’re in credit, how much this is and if it’s worth asking for a refund. Ofgem’s guide can help you do this.

Chapter 3

Check other options

Read time:

3 mins

Comparison sites

If you’re unhappy with your current service, you may decide to look elsewhere. Comparison sites can help you do this. They can make finding a deal that’s right for you much quicker.


This is how they work:

Step 1

Tell them what you need

Step 2

They search and show the best deals

Step 3

You can compare and view the details


Check out this list of Ofcom-accredited comparison sites for broadband and phone deals.

What do you need before you start searching for a new deal?

Do speak to your current provider and ask them for their best deal. Even if you know you want to switch, it’s good to have these details. Then you can compare what they offer with what else is out there.


Make a note of:

  • Your current provider’s best price
  • What you want to compare – For example, internet speed, amount of data, unit rates
  • The date you can leave without any charges or cancellation fees


Look at the search results

You’ll see options from big name providers that you will recognise, plus some that you won’t. Either way, it’s good to research them, to see what other people think.

Compare like-for like

if you can. Look at what’s included and any limits

Where can you switch?

 On the comparison sites or with the provider

Check the switch date

to match with your current contract end date

Read terms carefully

Check you're happy with the switch process


Sometimes your new provider will manage the switch. You may still need to contact your current provider yourself to cancel.

Switch to a new service

Once you’ve found a deal that works for you, it’s time to switch. This can be easy and there are plenty of sites to help you:

  • Some comparison sites will help you switch
  • Ofcom has a guide to help switch mobile, broadband or landline providers
  • Switching energy supplier? The consumer group Which? has helpful information for you


Questions about switching

Chapter 4

More help

Read time:

1 min

Where else can I find help?

Sometimes, it’s hard to keep on top of bills. You may find you need more support or advice.


Here are some useful sites to help you:

  • Ofcom – For advice if you can’t pay your phone or broadband bill
  • Which? – This page lists grants and discounts on fuel bills
  • Money Helper – They give support and advice on a range of money issues
  • Citizens Advice – For help with the cost of living, bills, benefits and more

Related learning link


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 20th December 2023.