With the cost of living crisis putting a bigger strain on wallets than many can bear, we’re all looking for ways to save money. BT is one of the few broadband providers that offers cheaper internet for those on benefits.
Anyone on Universal Credit (as well as other benefits) in the UK can get BT’s Home Essential broadband internet (plus phone calls) from only £15 per month. The discounted rate is reduced from the usual price of £27.99 per month. All you pay on top of that monthly charge is a £9.99 postage fee to send out the BT Smart Hub router. The router itself is included as part of the plan.
Both new and existing BT customers can sign up for 12-month contracts without any early exit fees, and you’ll pay the discounted rate even if you come off benefits during that period. After 12 months, your eligibility is reassessed.
BT’s research found that 74% of Britons would struggle to improve their financial well-being without internet access, while 79% of “financially vulnerable people” needed broadband access to maintain their household finances. The reduced tariffs, which BT says are being provided “at cost”, offers savings of over £330 per year – a welcome amount to those hit hardest by the increased energy, fuel and food prices.
Vodafone has just launched a very similar offer, which costs only £12 per month and has roughly the same download speed. The difference with BT’s offer is that it also includes 700 minutes of calls to UK landlines and mobile phones, but Vodafone’s does not.
Also, BT has a second option for those wanting faster download speeds and have the budget to stretch another £5 per month. For £20 per month, then, you get up to around 70Mbps, which is twice as fast as the £15 per month package, plus unlimited phone minutes.
The actual download and upload speeds you’ll get are dependent on your postcode: the figures in the image below are simply an example.
BT Home Essentials is available to those:
On Universal CreditReceiving Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)On Jobseeker’s Allowance (you must be eligible)On Income SupportOn Employment and Support Allowance (you must be eligible)
Unlike BT’s Basic plan initiative that offered jobseekers reduced telephone call rates, the new scheme also includes those who are on a low income.
If you’re already using BT broadband and are eligible for the reduced rate, you should be able to switch to the new plan right away, without any additional costs.
What is BT’s Home Essential broadband, and how much does it cost?
£15 per month for 36Mbps average download speed, with 700 minutes of calls to UK landlines and mobiles or;£20 per month for 67Mbps average download speed, with unlimited calls (to UK landlines and mobiles)£9.99 postage and packaging costNo additional line rental costs12-month access even if benefits endNo early exit fee
Sign up for BT Home Essentials broadband
You’ll need enter your postcode on BT’s website to see the maximum speeds available in your area. Find out which speed is right for you in our broadband guide.
BT’s Unlimited Fibre Essential broadband package offers average download speeds of 35-36Mbps, upload speeds of 8-9Mbps and typically costs £27.99 per month. That’s plenty for day-to-day browsing, streaming one or two HD video streams, social media, and video calls.
BT’s reduced pricing drops the rate to £15 per month and includes 700 minutes calls to UK landlines and mobiles.
There aren’t any line rental fees either, only a £9.99 postage and packaging cost to receive the router. You could alternatively opt for a call-only plan for £10 per month with unlimited minutes too, a service that otherwise costs £39.05 per month – that’s a £348 saving in a year. However, this isn’t particularly competitive when many SIM-only deals offer mobile data alongside unlimited minutes for £10 per month.
Eligible customers who require faster broadband speeds can opt for the Unlimited Fibre Plans. This offers average download speeds of 67-73Mbps upng 17-18Mbps upload speeds too, with unlimited calls, for £20 per month.
This package effectively combines BT’s Fibre 2 broadband plan, which costs £33.99 per month, with the unlimited phone plan that costs £39.05 per month. Again, the price includes line rental and there isn’t a minimum term. The reduced rate saves you £636.48 per year.
The higher speed is more appropriate for moderate- to high-usage households, especially with five or more people. You might be using multiple devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops all at the same time.
Speeds vary by postcode, so head over to BT to see the speeds available in your area. BT will even give you £20 back if it doesn’t meet its guaranteed speeds for your postcode.
See the best broadband deals available right now.
When can you sign up for BT’s Home Essential plan on Universal Credit?
BT launched the plan towards the end of June 2021, so you can sign up to BT Home Essentials broadband right now.
How to sign up for BT Home Essential on Universal Credit
To sign up online, enter your postcode on BT’s website to see what’s available at your address. You’ll need to provide your date of birth and National Insurance Number so BT can check your eligibility.
If you are eligible, you’ll get access to Home Essentials for a year, even if your benefits end before that period. BT will run another eligibility check after a year to see if you’re still eligible for the reduced rate and will get in touch if anything changes.
You can pay your BT bill via:
Direct DebitDebit or credit cardPhone, using a debit or credit cardBank transferA PayPointWhere else can I get reduced broadband rates with Universal Credit?
BT isn’t the first to offer reduced pricing for Universal Credit recipients. Virgin launched a similar tariff that offers 15Mbps for £15 per month. You can sign up for Virgin’s service here.
Vodafone’s new Essentials Broadband is the better alternative, offering download speeds up to 38Mbps for just £12 per month.
15Mbps is slower than BT’s Unlimited Fibre Essential Plan, of course.
If you are a single-person household, you may prefer to share your smartphone’s internet connection and use it like a mobile router. See affordable SIM-only deals, along with the best SIM-only deals for kids.
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