Recently, I took out a new mobile phone contract. The offer was good, for a fair price I get enough data volume directly from one of the major network operators. But the whole thing only became really attractive through a mix of bargain hunter tricks, as I have outlined them in detail here: On the one hand, a contract broker pays me a cashback, on the other hand, I get a bonus for taking my previous mobile phone number with me. And then there's a monthly discount as well as a doubling of the data volume because I currently have my landline Internet contract with the same provider.

This time I refrained from signing a contract with the addition of a smartphone, which I could have resold afterwards. With my last new contract, this approach, which was also combined with a bonus for number portability, had given me absurdly good conditions – but only for the first two years. And those were over now.

Admittedly, switching providers like my current one is time-consuming. Especially because, for example, the cashback and bonus are only available if I do several small things shortly after the start of the contract. For example, sending a certain text message and uploading my first monthly bill. At the same time, when it comes to mobile phone and Internet contracts, we are often talking about hundreds of euros that can be saved if you can get your butt up every two years and be able to write down two or three appointment reminders in a digital calendar.

Depending on the tariff and usage patterns, it is often worthwhile to switch much more simply, without any special tasks. For example, from an old contract with a network operator to a current tariff of a discount brand or vice versa.

Loyalty is rarely rewarded

The crux of many contracts is that providers like to lure new customers with free months at the beginning of the contract period, alternatively with heavily discounted prices that are only valid for the first twelve or 24 months. If you do not cancel in time, you will therefore pay more for the same service later than at the beginning of the contract term.

The intermediary Check24 has once again calculated what this can mean in concrete terms on the basis of Internet connections. "Tariffs with double or triple speed are often significantly cheaper than staying with the previous provider beyond the minimum contract period," it says, referring to an extreme example. "For example, if customers switch from a 50 Mbit/s tariff to a 100 Mbit/s tariff, they can save up to 706 euros by taking out a new contract."

Of course, there are exceptional cases in which a change only makes sense in theory, for example because only a certain provider provides the necessary Internet speed or connection quality locally. In such cases, it is worthwhile to ask the customer hotline for offers for contract renewals and to find out how soon you are considered a new customer again after termination. Basically, it can be said that better conditions, whether in the form of lower entry prices or higher data volumes, are much more likely to be offered to switchers and new customers in the area of mobile communications and the Internet than to those who swear loyalty to providers for years.

Enlarge image

Connections on a router: Changing an Internet connection is usually a bit more complex than changing a mobile phone contract

Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst / dpa

There are many myths

Especially since staying faithful is often an irrational decision. When I talk to friends or acquaintances about cancelling mobile phone and mobile phone contracts, I am always struck by the myths and misconceptions that persist on the subject. I want to clear up three of them here:

1. "I don't want to change my cell phone contract because I want to keep my cell phone number."

Arguing against a change in this way is nonsense. As a rule, your own mobile phone number can be easily ported to a new provider. Nowadays, the whole thing is even free of charge, many providers even give new customers a bonus if they bring their old phone number. If there are problems with the porting request, you can always "temporarily park" your favorite number with a third provider, as it is explained here, for example.

2. "My contract has been going on forever, I don't think I'll be able to get out of it anytime soon."

It's true that in the past, mobile phone contracts were often automatically extended for another year after the end of the minimum term. Since the end of 2021, however, the situation has been much better for telecommunications contracts: these can now be terminated with one month's notice after the expiry of the minimum contract period, as explained here. According to the Federal Network Agency, the new regulation also applies to contracts that were concluded before 2021.

3. "Cancelling a mobile phone or internet contract, that's really annoying. I don't want to call the hotline and stuff."

Here, too, the situation has improved in recent years. In the meantime, there is a menu item or button on the subject of termination on the websites of almost all providers. It makes it easy to find a cancellation form online that really works.

In some cases, however, it is also worthwhile to inform the previous provider of your willingness to switch. Be it on the customer hotline or by allowing him to contact him again after receiving the notice. For many companies, so-called customer recovery is important: Offers are presented to those who want to leave that do not appear anywhere in the app or on the website. Or the doubters end up getting a new customer offer, even though they are existing customers.

In this way, you may end up staying with your current provider, but you will have to pay less or get more service. And all this without the effort that a change of Internet provider in particular can entail. But be careful: If you let yourself be convinced by the provider with a new offer, the whole thing is often treated like a new contract: It is possible that a new minimum contract period will also start. Often, however, you are still better off with this than hanging in an outdated tariff for years – with a short notice period that you never make use of.

Our current Netzwelt reading tips for

  • "Espionage by thank you card" (five minutes of reading)
    Did the nephew and former secretary-general of the Prime Minister send spyware to influential people in the country? New revelations have left the Greek government in a difficult position to explain.

  • "Apple's Black Beauty" (seven minutes of reading)
    The M3 chip in the new MacBook Pro is intended to persuade Intel fans to switch to Apple's platform. Matthias Kremp's test shows how fast he really is and why other things are perhaps more important.

  • "A tragedy? Sometimes that's just the thing« (eight minutes of reading)
    Topics such as death and mourning are difficult for many people to bear. Jan Bojaryn presents five video games that may make it easier to deal with saying goodbye and one's own mortality.

External Links: Three Tips from Other Media

  • »Western Digital gambles away all trust« (two minutes of reading)
    The Western Digital subsidiary SanDisk has apparently had a serious problem with external USB SSDs for some time now. But as Mark Mantel comments on »Heise Online«, the company refuses to provide information and thus gambles away trust.

  • »YouTube's Crackdown Spurs Record Uninstalls of Ad Blockers« (English, five minutes of reading)
    YouTube has recently taken stronger action against ad blockers than before. "Wired" describes how users of the video platform are reacting to this – and how the manufacturers of such tools are looking at the situation.

  • "Dumb Money" (movie, about 105 minutes)
    Do you remember the sudden hype around the stock of the game retailer GameStop, fueled by a Reddit forum? Director Craig Gillespie has now retold the events from 2019 to 2021 in the form of a feature film worth seeing, which has been in cinemas since 2 November.

Have a good rest of the week,

Markus Böhm