Best phone contracts with no upfront cost

No upfront cost phone icon

Contract deals on mobile phones are great. They mean you can get a top smartphone for a far, far more affordable price by paying it off over two years - and on some deals, you don't even have to pay anything upfront.

Best buy deals
  • Galaxy S10 (128GB Prism Black)
    Galaxy S10
    • 15GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Manage your bills with My Vodafone app
    • £50.00 per month
    24 month contract From Affordable Mobiles
  • iPhone XR 64GB Black
    iPhone XR
    • 60GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Priority ticket booking for O2 venues
    • £45.00 per month
    24 month contract From
  • Mate 20 Pro (128GB Black)
    Mate 20 Pro
    • 30GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Priority ticket booking for O2 venues
    • £40.00 per month
    24 month contract From
  • Galaxy S9 (64GB Purple)
    Galaxy S9
    • 30GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Free BT Sport and Apple Music
    • £36.00 per month
    24 month contract From Metrofone
  • iPhone 8 64GB Gold
    iPhone 8
    • 30GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Manage your bills with My Vodafone app
    • £42.00 per month
    24 month contract From
  • P20 Pro 128GB Black
    P20 Pro
    • 15GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Priority ticket booking for O2 venues
    • £34.00 per month
    24 month contract From Affordable Mobiles

Contract phones with no upfront fee

It couldn't be easier to find a mobile contract with no upfront cost. Just use our comparison grid.

First of all, select 'free' under the 'phone cost' filter on the left hand side. This will make sure we only show you deals with a free device.

Browse and compare all the phones available, or pick a handset you want from the filters at the side. Remember you can also select the minimum internal storage you want, as well as your favourite colour.

You can pick the allowance you want, too - you'll need enough to cover how much you use your phone in a month. You could go for 1GB data or less with a few minutes if you're a fairly light user, or spring for unlimited data if that's more your jam. Just remember that higher allowances come with higher monthly costs, especially if you're not paying anything upfront.

And finally, select everything else in the toggles that matters to you. That could be a network you like, 4G-only deals, a monthly budget you can afford, or a particular contract length.

No upfront cost iPhones

iPhones don’t come cheap - this we know. Going for a slightly older iPhone model can often save you money, as each time Apple launch a new phone, the older models come down in price. So, you may be surprised at the reasonably-priced mobile contracts available on models such as iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Spread over 24 months, there’s no upfront cost to pay and you’ll have a nice, new iPhone in your hand without forking out a large lump sum at the start of your mobile contract.

No upfront cost Samsung Galaxy contracts

As with the latest iPhone models, mobile contracts for Samsung Galaxy handsets are often on the expensive side - after all, these are quality, premium phones with prices to match.

One way to better manage your costs is to go for a mobile plan with no upfront cost. By doing this, you spread the cost of the phone over the length of your contract.

While you will pay a slightly higher monthly fee, all in all it’s a more affordable way of getting the phone you want.

'Free' contract phones explained

We're afraid that a 'free' mobile deal, or a plan with a 'free' device is a bit misleading - most of us can't get a brand new mobile phone completely free of charge.

What it really means is that you sign up to a contract that has no charge today. The phone itself is given to you 'free' - that is, you get it without paying anything upfront right now.

Instead, the cost of the phone is spread out over the course of your contract. It's incorporated into your bill along with your monthly tariff on a SIM.

Sometimes, the bill is even split up in two, so you can see how much you've paid towards the handset and pay it off whenever you like. O2 Refresh, Sky Mobile Swap, and giffgaff contracts work a little like this.

What are the best 'free' phone deals?

It doesn't get much better than 'free', but the best mobile deal for you all depends on what you're looking for. That's where our comparison tool comes in.

There are a few things you can do that will keep costs down, though. You can:

  • Go for a small network or MVNO - Such as giffgaff or Virgin Mobile. These tend to charge less than the big boys and you still get the same great service. Compare mobile networks.
  • Find an existing customer deal - A lot of mobile networks offer discounts or special deals if you're already a customer, or even if you have their broadband or TV services. EE and BT Mobile offer something extra in this way.
  • Buy through a reseller - Resellers like Carphone Warehouse buy phones and networks' SIM plans in bulk, then sell them onto you at a lower price.
  • Pick a refurbished handset - A refurbished or reconditioned phone may have had a previous owner, but has been given a refresh and a spring clean before getting passed on to you - at a nice discount, natch.

Contract phones with no credit check and no upfront fees

Unfortunately, most networks perform credit checks on anyone signing up for a mobile contract that includes a handset. However, if you are concerned about your credit history, you’ll have more luck with a contract on a cheaper phone. A good rule of thumb: the more expensive the phone is, the harder it will be to pass a credit check.

If you do find a cheaper phone you like, use our comparison table to find the best available deals - and see which deals come without an upfront cost.

It’s worth noting, you may have more luck with deals from resellers, rather than direct from a network. If you try and fail to sign up to a contract because of your credit history, however, the best thing to do is save up and buy a phone outright - and get a SIM deal to go with it.

Cheap contract phones with no upfront cost

Mobile contracts on the latest iPhone or Samsung models with no upfront cost will push up your monthly costs - as you’re essentially spreading the cost of the phone over the course of your contract.

But... there are cheaper contracts available on a variety of phones. Check out the no upfront cost contracts on handsets such as:

Contract phones with no upfront cost by network

If you are looking for a mobile contract with no upfront cost, there are some excellent options open to you on a variety of phones - from the latest iPhone to more mid-range handsets from Huawei. Mobile networks such as O2, EE and Three offer a good selection of plans, with different allowances of minutes, texts - and perhaps most importantly - data.

Keep an eye on the perks each network offers its customers, such as:

  • O2 - priority tickets; prize draws
  • Three - unlimited music and TV streaming; roaming benefits
  • EE - free Apple music; data gifting

What's good about no upfront cost?

  • You can get a phone straight away without breaking the bank
  • They make the cost of expensive phone more affordable
  • There's lots of choice
  • Special offers and deals are often available

What's bad about no upfront cost?

  • Monthly bills are higher
  • They can cost more in the long run - it's better value to buy a phone outright and go SIM-only
  • Long contracts - they usually last two years
  • Plans aren't very flexible

Go SIM-only

If you're happy with your current phone and would like to hang on to it, we have some excellent SIM-only deals to check out.


You could also trade in your current smartphone and put the money towards one of the newer models. It's a quick and easy process with Depending on what model you have, and how intact it is, you’ll be surprised at what you can get.