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O2 custom plans explained: how they work and their benefits

O2 logo and magnifying glassVisit O2.co.uk

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We explain O2's new customisable phone plans, see what advantages they bring and calculate if certain combinations get you a better deal. Last updated: 3rd December 2021

How O2's custom plans work

O2’s custom plans: what they’re all about

O2 customisable phone plans banner

Tweak your plan to your likingRead O2's own guide

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

O2 used to offer their Refresh scheme which allowed you to upgrade your phone early, without the need to pay termination fees or give up your phone. Their new scheme gives you even more flexibility than before:

In short, they let you choose a contract length between 3 and 36 months to pay off the cost of your phone. You can also choose to pay some of it upfront to lower the monthly cost.

You can still upgrade early too. But you get even more flexibility, as they let you change your data plan every month if your budget or usage changes. O2 call this flexing your data.

We’ll list the pros and cons of this scheme and give you all the information you need to help you build your ideal plan.

Useful link: O2's full length guide to custom plans

The benefits: build a phone deal that suits your budget and your needs

A phone and contract option sliders

Set contract lengths and upfront costs as you wishSee the phones

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

First you choose the model you want from O2’s pay monthly range here, then you can play around with upfront costs, contract lengths and data allowance to see how much you’ll pay per month.

You can shorten the length of your contract, which will increase the monthly cost but means you’ll pay off your phone sooner, freeing you up to upgrade or switch networks.

Or you can choose a longer contract in order to spread the cost of your phone over more months and bring down your monthly bill. This does mean you’ll have to stay on O2 for your phone and usage for longer.

You can choose a higher upfront cost to reduce how much you’ll pay per month. Or you can lower it (though their is a minimum depending on the phone) if you want to pay less right away.

Useful link: Change the data in your plan month-to-month

Disadvantage: it makes it difficult to compare phone prices on O2

O2 custom plan calculator

Use O2's calculator on each phoneChoose a phone

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

The main problem with this is that the ridiculous amount of flexibility makes it difficult to compare phone prices against each other and make a decision on what’s best for you.

For every phone there’s a potential choice of 33 different contract lengths (3 to 36 months) and anywhere up to 100 different choices for upfront costs for your device.

Just for one phone there’s thousands of combinations that will affect your monthly bill.

We don’t usually see flexibility as a bad thing, but it is an issue when it makes it harder to know whether the combination you’ve taken is actually the right one. Our best price comparison section further down helps clear this up.

Useful link: See latest O2 phone pricing

Calculating the best prices

The overall device cost will always remain the same

Device cost slider and phone

You’re paying the same amount no matter whatO2's full guide

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

O2’s phone contracts are split between a loan for your phone (paid per month until it's paid off) and your usage of mins, texts and data which is bundled into your monthly bill.

No matter how you set up your phone contract, you’ll always be paying the same total cost for the device. Whether you choose 3 months or 36 months or if you choose a larger or smaller upfront cost, it’s all the same in the end.

The monthly cost of your usage plan will also stay the same, no matter how you choose to pay off your device. It’s added on top of the cost of your phone per month:

It’s good to know there’s no “right” or “wrong” combination of contract lengths or upfront costs that will leave you paying more or less. It’s always the same. So, what are your options?

Useful link: Read all benefits to O2's custom plans

Shorter contract lengths: pay more per month for greater flexibility

A short contract option

Your per month bill will be higher

On the most basic level, reducing your contract length means your contract will be paid off sooner. But what does that actually mean for you? Well, it means you’ll be free to move on sooner.

It means the phone becomes yours sooner, giving you complete freedom to either upgrade (while keeping your old one), take out a new phone deal, switch to a SIM only plan or even leave O2 altogether.

You can also only leave your usage plan of mins, texts and data when your contract is up, so the sooner it’s paid off the sooner you can change.

But you’ll have to make sure your budget can support the higher monthly costs you’ll have to pay. The total cost of your phone is still the same, you’ll just have to keep up with higher costs for the short term.

Useful link: O2's help section on credit agreements

Longer contract lengths: less to pay per month, less flexibility

Longer contract option

Spread your costs thinner

If you’ve played with the sliders, you’ll see that a shorter contract length means a higher monthly cost. This can be intimidating to those who can’t quite fit it into their budget.

The great thing about O2’s plans is that you can split the cost of your device over a longer period if you’re concerned about your monthly budget. Longer contracts mean lower monthly payments.

It’s a trade-off, as you’ll be getting lower monthly bills at the cost of having to stay on your plan for longer and continuing to pay for your airtime for a longer period as well.

O2’s plans are on the pricier side, meaning that by going with a longer contract you could be paying more than you may need to as you won’t be able to switch to a cheaper deal until your contract is up.

Useful link: Compare phone contracts from all networks

Our verdict on O2's custom plans

Best strategy: pick the shortest deal to suit your budget

O2 Pay Monthly phone range

Make sure you can afford your monthly costO2's phone range

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

If you really want to reduce the amount you’re spending, then the best strategy is to go for the shortest possible contract that you can support on a monthly basis.

While you’ll be paying the same overall cost for the phone, you can switch your usage plan earlier. So if you switch to a cheaper plan (or a cheaper network altogether) you’ll be paying less of a combined cost.

But do be careful to choose a plan you can actually pay. Missing a payment can negatively affect your credit score, making it harder to get a phone contract in the future. You don’t want this.

Same goes for upfront costs. We’d suggest paying as much as is feasible upfront to pay less per month for the rest of your contract. Again, make sure it fits your budget to do so.

Useful link: Pick a phone at O2.co.uk

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