How to get broadband with no upfront costs
When you're trying to save money on a broadband deal, one way to cut costs is to choose broadband with no upfront fee.
Although the monthly payment is the most significant expense and the figure you'll want to focus on, getting free setup helps too!
Why do some of the deals have setup fees?
You may see that some of the offers listed above do still have a setup fee. This is because broadband deals with no setup fee are not always available, so we also list packages with upfront charges of no more than £10.
But deals change all the time so if you don't see what you're after right now, check back later for the latest packages to discover what's available.
Which broadband providers offer deals with no setup fees?
The following providers frequently offer broadband with free setup:
EE Broadband. Some EE packages do not have a setup cost. There is a £50 charge if you need a new phone line.
John Lewis. There is no charge for setup or Wi-Fi router postage with any John Lewis broadband deal. But if a new line is required, you will have to pay £49.99.
Plusnet. You won't pay setup fees with Plusnet broadband unless you require a new phone line, in which case there's a £50 charge.
Vodafone. There is no charge for either broadband or a new phone line with Vodafone fibre.
TalkTalk. TalkTalk deals are often available with free setup, though TalkTalk broadband and TV bundles do include a charge for the TV box.
Some other providers do have setup fees normally but may offer free installation as part of a special offer.
BT does cut its setup fees from time to time, though more often you'll find BT offering free gifts like shopping vouchers and reward cards.
Sky might provide free setup for a short period, but it's also often available with other more valuable free gifts.
NOW: Sky's sister company usually have a small upfront cost, but this is sometimes waived as part of a promotion
Virgin Media only offers free setup on rare occasions. It does have higher setup fees than many, so this can be a nice bonus, but you might be waiting a while for this deal to show up.
What kind of upfront fees could I have to pay?
There are several different fees that may be payable when you sign up for a broadband package. To help you compare deals, Broadband Genie usually bundles them all into one, but if you break it down, upfront fees can include the following:
Some providers use these terms to mean the same thing; others may have slightly different definitions. But generally, these fees cover the administrative expense of signing up a new customer, including the activation of a broadband service (which sometimes may involve an engineer visit).
This usually refers to engineer works such as installing a phone line and configuring broadband Wi-Fi routers.
Read the small print carefully, so you know what you're paying — or not paying — for, and check it includes everything you require.
Phone line installation
There is often no cost for phone lines because many homes already have an active phone line, and it's merely a case of switching to a new provider.
But if you do not already have an active phone line, you will usually have to pay an additional fee to have this fitted (or re-enabled, if it was previously deactivated).
The cost varies widely depending on the provider, from as little as £20 to more than £100. This is only relevant in a small minority of cases, however.
It's important to note that this charge can still apply even if the broadband package is advertised with free setup. See below for our tips on how to work out if you need to pay:
- If you have a phone line and you are already making calls or using broadband, you won't need to pay.
- If your current supplier uses the Openreach network (i.e. most major providers apart from Virgin) and you are moving to another Openreach provider, the likelihood is you won't need to have a line installed.
- Virgin Media will need to install its own lines. But if there is already a Virgin Media Line box in your property, you probably won't need to pay to have a Virgin Media line installed.
Some providers charge a small fee for delivering the Wi-Fi router (usually in the region of £5-£10).
TV box delivery
Like the router, there may also be a fee for the delivery of a TV box. Sometimes there is a small charge to go toward the cost of the box.
First month's payment
Many providers may ask for your first month's payment upfront — so not an extra cost, but a further potential upfront payment. This will usually require a card payment, as your direct debit will likely not have been approved at this stage.
Sold on free installation? Here's how to get the best deal
As with any type of broadband deal, those with no upfront costs have certain things to look for when buying:
- Unlimited broadband: We always recommend an unlimited broadband connection, and every provider on Broadband Genie will be unlimited. Many will be truly unlimited.
- Broadband speed: As a rule of thumb, ADSL/standard broadband (average speed around 10Mb) is suitable for an individual with light usage (browsing or 1 device streaming). 35Mb fibre is a good option for households with 2-3 devices likely to be streaming/video calling simultaneously. Faster fibre (~65Mb) is best for 4-6 devices; ultrafast/full-fibre (100Mb+) is what you'll need if you have even more than this.
- Contract length: A longer contract is often a really good option to get the best value, as these deals usually have the lowest setup costs and monthly fees. Alternatively, a cheaper contract means you can switch sooner — perhaps saving even more.
When it comes to value, there are a few things you should also consider when thinking about upfront costs.
- Upfront costs: As mentioned above, we'll lay out all the upfront costs we can with a deal in the 'Set-up costs' portion of each deal. But the best deals don't necessarily have £0 setup.
- Line installation: Are there already active lines or a network box at your property? It would probably be cheaper to go with a provider that will use these, rather than install new equipment.
- Monthly charge: Often, the key to value is simply the amount you're paying each month. Again, even if you're looking for free-setup broadband, you may want to consider a small upfront fee if the deal offers a low monthly price. This could save you money in the long run.
- Rewards: Free gifts such as vouchers, reward cards or pre-paid Mastercards can be a crucial factor when looking for the cheapest deal. it can often be worth sacrificing free installation for an amazing reward.
Can I get a broadband and landline phone deal with no activation fee?
Yes! It will not usually cost any more upfront for a broadband and phone deal than it would for the equivalent package without calls.
Can I get a broadband and TV deal with no installation fee?
Broadband and TV packages are more likely to have setup fees than other deals because the providers will often charge for the TV box. But that doesn't mean you can't get them.
Some options for broadband and TV with free setup include:
- EE. Some EE broadband packages include an Apple TV box without an upfront cost. However, while Apple TV is a great streaming device, it doesn't provide access to Freeview broadcasts.
- TalkTalk TV. Some TalkTalk TV and broadband bundles do not have a setup fee. But these tend to include a basic TalkTalk TV box, which will provide access to the same channels and extra services but lack the recording feature of more advanced TalkTalk TV boxes (for which you will usually have to pay an upfront charge).
Pros and cons of free setup broadband
- No upfront costs mean you can save straight away.
- Many providers offer these, so you'll have a great selection of options across the broadband market.
- You may miss out on amazing deals that sometimes have a small setup fee.
- Phone line installation may still be a 'hidden' upfront cost in a small minority of cases.
- You more than likely won't be able to get a top-end TV deal and pay nothing upfront.
What happened to free broadband deals?
We sometimes get people coming to the page looking for free broadband deals. They, unfortunately, don't exist anymore (in fact, they never really did).
In the past, you may have seen offers such as 'free broadband for the first six months. But the catch with these types of deals was that you still had to pay for phone line rental, so these services weren't completely free of charge.
Providers are no longer permitted to split the cost of phone and broadband, which has put an end to these sorts of special offers.
But that doesn't mean that you can't still get a very similar deal. Many cheap broadband packages cost a comparable amount to the old "free" broadband deals when you take line rental into account.
Frequently Asked Questions about broadband with free setup
Will I get a router with free installation broadband deals?
Almost all broadband deals come with a free Wi-Fi router, and that includes deals with free setup.
If there is a cost for the router, we will include it in the setup costs section on our comparison table, and mention it in the offer details.
Can I get broadband with free installation if I have bad credit?
Getting broadband when you have bad credit can be tricky because some providers may not accept you.
However, you can get broadband without a credit check from Direct Save Telecom, NOW Broadband, and Plusnet, all of which also offer free setup deals.
Another option would be a mobile broadband deal, with Three, EE or Vodafone, who do not require a credit check.
Read our guide to broadband without a credit check for further help.
Can you get fibre broadband with no upfront fees?
Yes! Most of the providers we mentioned above offer fibre optic broadband without setup fees.
Will I have to pay installation fees if I don't have a phone line?
If you do not have a phone line and the service requires a line to operate, there will almost always be an additional fee for phone line installation regardless of whether the provider offers free setup. There are sometimes special offers that waive this cost, but they are rare.
If you want broadband without a phone line, then Virgin Media can provide this service. But as we mentioned above, Virgin does usually charge a setup fee.
Can I get full-fibre broadband with no upfront costs?
Yes, this is possible. However full-fibre (FTTP) broadband does still require a line. So even if you have an active phone line, you may need a new fibre line to be installed. Many providers charge for this, although some offer free installation.
Will free setup cost more in the long run?
Just because you're getting free setup, you shouldn't find any hidden fees down the line.
This doesn't mean that broadband with no upfront fees is always the best value. When comparing deals on Broadband Genie, check the offer details for a breakdown of all costs and rewards and an effective monthly cost calculation that takes it all into account.
Is no upfront cost broadband cheaper?
This is not always the case, there are many other factors you want to consider with broadband when you are looking at getting the cheapest broadband. See below for more.
How do I get cheap broadband deals?
Begin by entering your postcode into our comparison table to see what's available in your area.
You can then compare monthly prices to quickly see the cheapest deals.
But also pay attention to special offers with free rewards, because these can add a lot of value and make the effective monthly price (the overall cost of the package over the length of the contract including the free gift) cheaper than other deals.
For more help, see our guide to cheap broadband
How long does broadband installation take?
Broadband installation typically takes around 14 days from the time you sign up for the service. It can be longer if the provider or engineers are very busy, or if there is an unexpected issue that requires more work.