How to keep control of costs when buying your child a mobile phone

Here’s Anthony Hill from with some tips on buying mobile phones for children:

If your children run up a huge phone bill, your credit rating could be affected

If your children run up a huge phone bill, your credit rating could be affected

At what age should you buy your child a mobile phone? It’s probably not a question your parents had to consider. However, a recent study by, where you can now compare mobile phones as well as TV and internet deals, found 90% of kids aged 8-14 have one and, on average, are just 10 when they get their first handset.

But before you go signing up to a phone plan for your kids, you should think carefully about how you’re going to keep control of costs, because if they run up a phone bill you can’t afford to pay, it can have far-reaching consequences. Your credit rating could be affected, which could in turn mean you struggle to get a phone contract at all when it’s time to upgrade.

So, with that in mind, here are our top tips to help you make the right choices when it comes to buying mobile phones for your children.

Choosing a mobile phone If you buy your child an expensive smartphone, it’ll cost a lot more to repair or replace should it get broken or lost. Rather than run the risk, a lot of parents first buy their children a cheap, basic handset and get them to ‘earn’ a better phone by proving they can take care of it. You might even have an old mobile they can begin with.

Beware! Data usage The internet’s great for children, but if they’re using it on their phone it’ll end up costing you extra if they exceed their monthly data allowance. However, most smartphones have a setting that lets you limit the amount of data they can use, so check that any handset you’re considering getting for your child has this.

Pay-as-you-go vs pay-monthly When you compare mobile phones for your child, a pay-as-you-go could be the best option if you’re worried about additional costs, as this type of plan means your child can’t incur them. It also means that, if the phone is lost or stolen, there’s no risk of anybody running up a massive bill in your name like there is with a pay-monthly plan. 

Capped contracts These are worth considering if you’re getting your child a mobile phone. Basically, they combine the best of both pay-monthly and pay-as-you-go – the cost of the phone itself is included, so you don’t have to pay for one outright, as with the former, and you can limit your child’s spending in the same way you can with the latter.

Paid-for apps If you get your child a smartphone, make sure your payment details aren’t saved on it. Buying a single app from the likes of Apple’s App Store or Google Play can mean your details are stored to allow ‘one-click’ payments in future. So, check whether this is the case, as well as disabling in-app purchases where possible, before handing it over to your child.

About Anthony Hill
Anthony Hill is a writer for where you can compare mobile phones, TV packages and broadband bundles from all the major providers.

4 thoughts on “How to keep control of costs when buying your child a mobile phone

  1. phil

    Be aware , if children are accidentally clicking adds in apps ,no terms and conditioning are shown but they may have singed up to £0.99 taken out of their contract every service provider will not refund or stop this. You HAVE to text stop in a message received. This scam not stopped in the UK ,,turns your mobile number into a credit card number. If crooks wanted to take £100 s out of you account via your number they could. Check your bill for that (not easy to see) £0.99

  2. John

    With regards to the app purchasing…….Our kids both have ipads where they can search through apps and download very easily. We have made sure that our bank details are not on there, instead we top up their accounts with pre paid app store cards which can be brought from most shops. That way they can download what they like but once they have used up all there credit they will have to wait until we decide to top it back up for them. This is by far the best way to do it for any parent to avoid any huge bills at the end of the month.

    1. CreditExpert Neil

      Hi Lorie, thanks for your comments. If you would like to get in touch our contact details are available here.
      Kind regards
      CreditExpert Neil


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