What is the best phone contract for kids?

All parents know that soon enough the question will be asked! We know that the time will come when we need to start researching the various options to find which type of contract will be best for our child’s phone.

At ParentShield, kids phone contracts are all we do, but there are lots of types of phone contracts for kids so we thought we should discuss the various options that you have, what’s good about each one, and what the potential pitfalls are.

Types of child mobile phone contract:

  • Pay as you go contract
  • Monthly rolling contract
  • locked-in SIM-Only contract
  • Family additional-SIM contract
  • Phones on contract ( Hardware Rental )

Pay as you go cell phone contract for kids

From our experience – PAYG – Pay as you go is often many parents’ first thought. It’s easy, you can pick up a PAYG SIM card over the counter at any supermarket or corner shop. No commitment, no fuss, just pop the SIM in, register your credit card and Bob’s your uncle.

Unfortunately as a kid’s cell phone contract goes, pay as you go has little else to commend it. It will need topping up with £10 or £15 or even £25 to get a bundle of calls and texts and data. Should they not be used in a month they will almost certainly ‘expire’ and should they be used up, it becomes necessary to top up again. Calls and texts are typically charged at the highest rates – 25p / minute and 15p / SMS if they’re out of bundle so any balance on the card will drain away *very* quickly.

But for a child’s phone contract, the problems are compounded because it’s quite possible that the user might use up all the available minutes, texts, or data and then be unable to call home. You have to either place the means of topping up with the child – basically give them your debit card – or risk that they’ll be unable to call home when needed. In our view, the best SIM card for kids wouldn’t be a pay as you go one.

SIM-Only Kids Phone Contract

There are two modern types of SIM-Only. You’re either on a rolling Monthly Contract “GiffGaff Style” kids’ phone contract, or a tied-in contract for 12,18, 24 or even 36 months. For a child’s first mobile phone contract it’s understandable that many parents would be wary of the latter. While the monthly charge will almost certainly be lower, it means that should the child ( and this happens, believe it or not ) lose their phone or have it taken away for several months, or simply not use the phone for month on end – you are tied into the contract for the duration. It will almost certainly be subject to a credit check as well. Possibly even some finance agreement.

We are seeing some very dodgy deals out there with a huge monthly fee that is then provided with ‘cash-back’ if you post a copy of your contract and the monthly bill to an obscure address on a certain day of the month. Really, read the small print. There really shouldn’t be much.

A rolling-monthly SIM-Only contract would almost certainly better suit a child’s needs. At ParentShield we regularly suspend and reactivate contracts for children as needs, and maturity levels change.

Family extra-SIM contract for kids

This is a relative newcomer to the game. You have a mobile phone and it’s quite common to want the same network on your child’s phone. There’s something reassuring about that familiar logo at the top of the phone, and you know where all the best signals can be found! Your mobile provider will happily provide you an extra SIM for a child and ‘share’ your data and allowances with them – cheap cheap. What’s not to like?

Well actually, there is less to like than your generous mobile network lets on. Let’s talk about ‘breakages’. And We’re not talking about someone dropping their phone out of the top window of the Number 38 Bus.

Breakages, in mobile-telecoms jargon, is the term for the extra earnings that a mobile company can make. Think of the Colemans Mustard analogy. If Colemans ( other mustards are surely available ) was to only charge for the mustard that was eaten, their mustard would be VERY expensive as 80% of it is left on the plate. They charge per jar, you eat 20% and the 80% is breakages.

Very similarly, if you top up a PAYG SIM with £15 and make 2 calls ( value 30p ) and then the monthly bundle expires, the mobile company has made £14.70 in breakages. Mustard!

The second most common type of breakage comes from ‘flat tariff – lumpy usage’. If you are paying £20 per month for your mobile contract, the mobile company makes breakages if you use £10 worth of services, and should you reach your tariff cap and need to top up or pay extra ‘out of bundle’, the mobile company makes money from those breakages. There is a nice bell curve where, either side of the peak, the mobile company makes money, and a very thin line down the middle where they lose money.

Users are always afraid of paying the high charge penalties that come when you hit your limits, so they ‘level up’ to give themselves a higher ceiling and the comfort of not receiving any unexpected bills. This is actually insurance that people are buying, and not a mobile network service.

Adding a child, and gifting them your spare data allowance, is a guaranteed sure-fire way of reaching a point very quickly where your whole family’s data allowance is gone, and you need to upgrade, ‘power up’ , super bolt-on, or whatever up to the next level. This will push your flat tariff up – raise the mobile company’s “ARPU” – that’s their “average revenue per user”, and that’s Gold!

It also ramps up the ’emotional cost’ of the possibility that your child will be nagging about needing more data, minutes, texts etc. Making the levelling-up insurance easier to swallow and justify.

A Kid’s mobile contract actually needs completely different features to your mobile contract. Although the familiar features of your own contract seem appealing – the fact that you will be able to dial premium rate numbers, send expensive MMS images, text premium-rate numbers etc, should be a concern to any parent. From a financial perspective even if not a safeguarding one.

Children's phone contracts

Adult phone contracts, even if they’re advertised as a “capped kids phone contract”, simply aren’t suitable for children to use – particularly younger children. It’s very common for adults to fall into the trap of thinking that all they need for their kid’s mobile phone , their first mobile phone probably, is a cheap SIM card.

Peace of Mind With a special Kids’ phone contract

A brand new phone contract for kids has recently launched called ParentShield. It is designed to allow children to have the independence of their very own phone contract but with the strongest parental protection.

The network provides a powerful SIM which can be used in any unlocked mobile phone. It works exactly like any normal sim card, and has great coverage all over the UK through use of network roaming. Every feature of the network is designed to be child-safe from the spending controls, through to the call controls, alerts and monitoring capability.

Best of all your child can have the right phone for their age and the one they will be proud to show to their friends! There are special parental control phones available but what child wants to show their friends that?

A ParentShield child phone contract also assumes no authority or control on behalf of the phone user. Every other network has features easily accessible from any of the contract phones – increase limits, top up data, buy bundles, change passwords, access settings etc. ParentShield has none of that. Every setting and control is made by parents from within their own Parent Portal.

Unique Features of ParentShield Children’s Mobile Phone Contracts

  • Use your choice of phone that your child will be proud to show off and is of the right level.
  • Records all calls and texts to and from the sim card
  • All texts and calls can be viewed in online ‘parent’ portal – Even ‘Deleted’ ones
  • Unwanted texts or calls can be blocked at the touch of a button
  • Internet can be turned on or off
  • Free calls to home numbers and parents’ mobiles
  • Time controls stop calls and texts after bedtime or during school time
  • Adjustable security options so that your child can be given more freedom as they grow
  • No advertising or encouragement to spend more is ever targeted by ParentShield at the user
  • All premium-rate or extra-cost services are permanently blocked.

You should aim to be honest with your child about the risks of owning a mobile phone as well as the abilities of a ParentShield SIM – this encourages your child to be honest with you if they do face any problems. Having their own phone contract is a big development milestone and, planned carefully and correctly, a child’s phone contract provides a great leaning opportunity.

You’re in control with a ParentShield kids phone contract from ParentShield– so you know they’re safe. Try ParentShield here or on the link below to find the best safe SIM contract for your children.

Choose The Age of Your Child To Find the Best Mobile Phone Contract for Kids:

Choose Child Age for Mobile Phone
What is the right age for your child to get their first mobile phone?

Choosing a phone to use with your Kid’s mobile contract

Once you have decided on your child’s phone plan – there is of course the small matter of the handset to go with it. We have a bit of discussion about the right phone to use at what age elsewhere. Thanks for reading!

Looking for a template contract between a parent and a child? Download our parent-child phone contract samples here. It’s a good start when making your own phone contract between you and your child.