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Plusnet Mobile's Smart Cap Contracts explained: how they work

Plusnet Mobile logo and a SIM card

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Nobody likes surprise bills, so Plusnet Mobile offer capped mobile contracts called Smart Cap, which stop your spending over a set limit. Here's how they work. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 12th August 2019

How Smart Cap contracts work

Smart Caps prevent you running up bills for extra usage

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Set a limit on monthly overspendingGet a capped deal

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When you sign up to a pay monthly deal from any mobile network, you'll get a monthly allocation of minutes, texts and data to use for a fixed cost (your plan).

But it's still possible to spend more than the cost of your plan if you use any extras not included as standard, like international calls, premium texts or going over your data limit (see full list of extras and costs here).

Plusnet Mobile's Smart Caps put a limit on how much of an additional bill for these types of extras you can rack up on top of the regular cost of your plan.

If you hit the limit, Plusnet will automatically prevent you from doing anything on your phone that would increase your bill until the next month, while allowing you to continue with anything that doesn't cost extra.

Useful link: Read Plusnet's own guide to Smart Caps

Benefits of Plusnet's Smart Caps

You can set your own cap according to your budget

Screenshot of limit options

Set your spending limit in £1 incrementsHow to manage caps

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The best thing about Plusnet's Smart Caps is the ability to set your limit according to your precise budget. You can do this when you first sign up, or at any point during your contract too.

You can set the cap to zero, so that it's literally impossible for you to overspend. That way you know if you sign up to a £7.50 plan for example, your monthly bill will always be precisely £7.50.

Or you can set a limit anywhere between £1 and £30 in steps of £1. We think people will find that useful. Many will be happy to spend by a few pounds here and there but want to avoid larger amounts.

And you don't have to stick with the same cap if you set it at one amount and then find out later that it's unworkable. You can change it whenever you like online or using Plusnet's simple but useful mobile app.

Useful link: How to manage your Plusnet Smart cap

Everything that doesn't cost extra keeps working as normal

Plusnet Mobile Bolt-Ons banner

Buy bolt-ons to re-activate serviceLatest bolt-on costs

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The point of Plusnet's Smart Caps are to stop you overspending, not to stop you using your phone entirely. So if you hit your spending cap, they don't block all usage on your phone.

Instead, Plusnet will just stop you doing anything else on your mobile that would cost you more in extra charges. So if you ran out of data for example, you minutes and texts would still work.

And if you want to keep using extras before your next month starts, you can either buy so-called bolt-ons of minutes, texts or data outright (see costs here) or change your cap amount.

Capped contracts are a particularly good choice if you're handing over the SIM card to children or anyone else. You can be confident they're going to be able to use their phone but without costing you more than you expect.

Useful link: Compare Plusnet SIM only plans

Disadvantages of Plusnet's Smart Caps

You can't get rid of your Smart Cap entirely

Screenshot of Plusnet's FAQs

Plusnet's help section has more infoRead all FAQs

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Some people might actually be comfortable overspending each month, like if you regularly call abroad or spend lots of time travelling outside the EU. These people might find Smart Caps too restrictive.

The highest you can set your cap is £30 of monthly overspending. It's not possible to remove the cap to spend even more than that. Or set it to a much higher level.

We'd expect this to affect very few people. As overspending by more than £30 a month suggests you're probably not on the correct plan for your needs.

But the point remains for serial overspenders, you could end up frustrated by constantly having to get your phone unblocked by buying add-ons or making payments onto your Plusnet account.

Useful link: How much extra usage costs on Plusnet

Similar alternatives to Smart Cap contracts

Every UK mobile network now has to offer capped contracts

Ofcom logo and slogan

Ofcom regulate all mobile networksRead the rules

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Plusnet Mobile's capped deals used to be more of a unique selling point than they are today, because only a few other networks offered similar caps (iD Mobile and Tesco Mobile).

But in 2018, the government telcoms regulator Ofcom made it compulsory for all pay monthly mobile networks to offer customers the ability to cap overspending on their plan.

This means that all providers now effectively offer capped plans. Although most allow you not to have a cap at all. And not all of them make it obvious they offer this (networks like you spending more money).

So we'd say that Plusnet Mobile's spending caps should no longer be your sole reason to join them, because you can get them elsewhere. But our review still finds Plusnet a decent choice overall.

Useful link: Ofcom's rules on spending caps

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