When Does a Phone Contract Actually Start?

by - Last Updated on September 12, 2016

Today’s question comes from BradleyCFC who wants to know when a phone contract actually starts. He asks:

I am confused about when a phone contract actually starts?

If I bought a phone today, would the contract start today?

Or do you have to activate it first before it starts? So if I didn’t want to use it for a couple of weeks, then I could just start it when I wanted?

My second question is – if I take out a 24 month contract, is data done by calendar months?

For example, today is the 19th, so would I only be getting 23 1/2 months contract and 23 1/2 months worth of data? Will they refund me for that half month loss?

If you’re buying a phone online or over the phone then your contract starts the day the phone is dispatched or the day it was delivered. Some networks vary slightly but if you order a contract phone online, you’ll get an email saying your bill is ready to view on day of delivery.

For example, if your phone was dispatched on 20th January 2016 and delivered on the 21st Jan 2016, your bill date is usually the 21st of every month thereafter.

There is no way of delaying activation or halting it for a couple of weeks, you’ll be paying for it as soon as it’s dispatched.

As for data, it’s the exact same period as your billing dates, not done by calendar months. If you’re billed on the 21st of one month, your data usage allowance resets on the 21st of the next month. And on a 24 month contract that’s how long it will run for.

You may notice your first bill may be a bit higher than you expected in some cases. This is because many networks will:

  • Charge ‘part month line rental’ fee covering the time between the day you signed up and the day we sent your first bill
  • Your line rental fee for the month ahead – you always pay line rental one month in advance
  • Any charges from the day you were connected to the day they sent your first bill, like calls, texts and bundles