Looking to buy a new broadband plan with no upfront cost?
In this buyer’s guide, we’ve reviewed the top 5 broadband deals with no setup fees.
After, we’ve explained a bit about these types of broadband deals, and how to choose the right package for your specific needs.
Quick comparison table
Superfast Fibre Plus
Best broadband deals with no setup fee
Let’s begin our reviews.
Below, we’ve looked at 5 of the best broadband deals with no setup costs available in the UK right now.
Shell Energy has a range of different broadband deals available, each of which has no upfront cost.
Superfast Fibre Plus is the best value of their plans, offering a 67Mbps download speed for a very low monthly cost. However, there is a 38Mbps option as well if you don’t need this much bandwidth, and Shell even offers ultrafast broadband with nothing upfront.
No matter which plan you choose, you’ll have to sign an 18 month contract. It’s not a long-term 24 month contract, but it’s still a decent commitment to make.
You’ll also get access to exclusive rewards as a Shell Energy Broadband customer, such as discounts at Shell petrol stations, and on Shell Energy. No other providers are able to offer these types of benefits to their customers at the moment.
Overall, if you’re looking for good-value broadband with no setup fees and a reasonable monthly cost, Shell Energy Broadband is definitely worth checking out.
Overall value rating
With Plusnet, you can get superfast broadband with no upfront costs, for a very reasonable monthly cost.
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre offers a 36Mbps average download speed, on an 18 month contract. This is probably the best value broadband plan with no upfront cost that you can buy in the UK right now.
New customers also get a Plusnet reward card. which you can use just like a debit card. Typically, this reward card has quite a lot of value – it’s normally enough to pay for two months of the contract.
Plusnet’s customer support is also very good, especially given their monthly costs. They have a UK-based contact centre, and their support is very responsive.
Line rental is included in the price, and there are cheap add-ons you can choose if you want anytime calls, or evening and weekend calls to UK numbers. Even without a call package addon, calls to Plusnet landlines and Plusnet support are included for free, which is a nice touch.
Overall value rating
Although Vodafone’s broadband plans can be quite confusing, they have a range of deals available that offer great value, with no activation fees.
Essentially, Vodafone has three tiers of broadband packages – Broadband, Pro, and Pro Xtra. Each is available with a range of different speeds – you can get Pro Superfast 1 and Pro Xtra Superfast 1, both of which offer a 35Mbps average download speed.
The difference between the three tiers is, with Pro and Pro Xtra, you get a heap of benefits and free gifts that can actually prove quite useful. For example, depending on the package you choose, you can get a discount as a Vodafone mobile customer, a free Apple TV 4K, and a 4G broadband backup, ensuring you never go offline.
No matter which plan and average download speed you choose, Vodafone don’t charge any upfront costs, which is great.
There’s just one downside – you have to sign a 24 month contract to join Vodafone Broadband.
Overall value rating
John Lewis offers cheap, simple broadband with no upfront costs.
There are three packages available, offering average download speeds of 10Mbps, 36Mbps, and 66Mbps. Each of these deals comes with a 12 month contract, meaning you don’t have to lock in for a long time, but there are no ultrafast fibre deals available.
“Fibre Broadband” is the 36Mbps option, and it’s very reasonably priced. Each John Lewis broadband deal has quite a low monthly cost, given the speeds on offer. You also get evening and weekend calls included for free, which is useful if you use your landline.
This broadband deal also comes with John Lewis reward card, which you can use at John Lewis and Waitrose stores. It’s typically enough to pay for about 2 months of the contract, making this gift card offer quite a nice touch.
It’s important to know, John Lewis Broadband is actually provided by Plusnet. By signing up with Plusnet directly, rather than John Lewis, you can often get a lower monthly cost, albeit on an 18 month contract. Therefore, these deals are only really worth looking at if you want a 12 month broadband deal.
Overall value rating
If you’re looking to get online for less money, and avoid paying an upfront cost, you could consider Three’s 4G or 5G broadband solutions.
Rather than using your landline to connect you to the internet, with Three, you use their mobile network to get online, just like on your phone.
As a result, you don’t need to wait around for an engineer to come and get you set up – you just plug in the router, and you’re ready to go. Plus, Three offers very reasonable monthly costs compared to traditional fixed-line broadband, and they have no setup fees, as long as you choose a 12 month or 24 month contract.
The downside of using mobile broadband is your latency will be higher. If you play a lot of online games, you will lag a bit more.
However, if you’re looking for a cheap, easy way to get online, Three is a great choice. They even offer faster download and upload speeds than most broadband providers in some areas, especially if you can get 5G where you live.
Overall value rating
How to choose a no setup fee broadband deal
In this section, we’ve explained how to choose the right no upfront cost broadband deal.
We’ve explained how these types of deals work, which providers offer them, and whether or not it’s a good idea to avoid paying an upfront fee when buying broadband.
How do broadband plans with no setup cost work?
As the name implies, broadband plans with no setup cost do not have a specific upfront fee that you must pay before you can get online.
Instead, you must sign a contract, and pay for the first month of broadband. Then, your broadband provider will help you to get set up.
Despite having no upfront cost, most of these types of broadband deals will still come with everything you need to get started, including a free Wi-Fi router.
However, you can’t get short-term 30 day broadband deals without an upfront cost. To avoid setup fees, you’ll need to sign a 12 month, 18 month, or 24 month contract.
Is it cheaper to buy broadband with no upfront fees?
It’s not always cheaper to buy a broadband deal with no setup cost, as opposed to a plan with a setup fee.
There are many cheap broadband deals on the market that have an upfront cost. For example, NOW Broadband is often one of the cheapest providers at any given moment, and they charge a £5 shipping fee, as well as a very low monthly cost.
If you wouldn’t necessarily mind paying a setup cost, it might be good to consider some other broadband packages as well. However, if you’d prefer to keep your cash on hand, at least for the time being, it’s perfectly fine to avoid broadband packages with an upfront cost.
Advantages of no setup fee broadband
The obvious advantage of buying a broadband deal with no setup fees is you get to keep your cash for longer.
Rather than having to pay £60+ upfront (for example, it might be a £30 setup cost and £30 monthly cost), you’ll just have to pay for the first month of broadband. You can save the cash in the bank for use on future monthly payments, or spend it on something else.
If you’re short on money at the moment, broadband plans with no upfront costs are a great way to get online for cheap, provided you can afford to pay the remaining monthly costs over the life of the contract.
And if you’re currently with a broadband provider and you’re out of contract, you might be able to significantly reduce your monthly cost by switching to a different company. By choosing a broadband provider with no setup costs, you’ll immediately begin saving money on your broadband bill, with no upfront investment to make.
Disadvantages of no setup fee broadband
However, there are a few disadvantages to buying broadband with no setup costs.
The first issue is, you’re restricting the number of broadband providers that you have available to choose from. Some providers always charge an upfront cost, including some quite good options, like Sky Broadband.
Also, if you don’t want to pay an upfront fee, you won’t be able to get a broadband and TV deal. Sky and Virgin Media for example both charge an upfront cost on their broadband and TV bundles, because of the cost of sending you a TV box.
It’s a similar story when it comes to ultrafast fibre broadband plans. Many ultrafast broadband providers charge an upfront fee, due to the cost of activating your fibre broadband connection.
Therefore, broadband with no upfront costs is best if you’re looking for a cheaper, relatively basic broadband plan.
This doesn’t mean that you’re restricted to slower broadband providers – you can still get superfast broadband with nothing upfront. However, the choice of providers available is reduced somewhat.
To view all of the best broadband deals available right now, including some with activation fees, read our broadband deals guide.
Which British providers offer broadband with no upfront cost?
Currently, there are a few different British broadband providers that offer plans with no setup costs.
- Shell Energy Broadband
- BT (sometimes, they re-added upfront costs in April 2022)
- Direct Save Telecom
- Hyperoptic (on their two fastest, most expensive plans)
Why do some broadband providers charge a setup cost?
There are a few different things that upfront costs can cover when buying a new broadband plan.
- The cost of your new Wi-Fi router, and shipping it out to you. Some ultrafast fibre broadband plans come with much more expensive routers, which is why they sometimes have a high setup cost.
- The cost of sending an engineer to your address, to help you get set up. The issue is, most of the time you won’t need an engineer – the upfront cost helps to cover the cost of helping those customers who do need help.
- The administrative cost of activating your service.
- The cost of your new TV box, and shipping it to your address.
How much are broadband setup costs, in general?
It’s normal to see broadband providers charge a setup cost of £5-£40. Some providers might call it a “shipping fee”, a “connection charge”, or an “activation cost” – they all work the same way.
The lower the monthly cost and the more basic the broadband plan, the lower the setup cost will be, in general.
Typically, you’ll pay about £5-£10 upfront with most cheap broadband plans, to help cover the cost of shipping the router to you. On the other hand, you might pay £30 or more to activate a more expensive broadband plan with a better router, and a higher download speed.
Does “free broadband” still exist?
In the past, some telecommunications companies would use “free broadband” as a marketing tactic.
Essentially, they would bundle a few months of free broadband with something else, like a TV or phone deal. This broadband service would have no monthly or upfront cost.
This practice has been banned in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), because it was found to be misleading. Therefore, no-cost broadband no longer exists in this country.
Can you get broadband with no upfront costs and no credit check?
Broadband deals with no activation costs typically require that you sign a long-term contract. Therefore, you will often need a credit check before buying.
If you are looking for broadband with nothing upfront and no credit check, Plusnet is likely your best choice. They don’t currently do credit checks for new customers, and they also offer a Plusnet reward card when buying, which is nice.
TalkTalk is another provider that is more flexible for those with an imperfect credit history. They do perform a credit check, and they currently charge a small setup fee, but they’re worth looking at if you’re in this situation.
Also, there are mobile broadband providers who offer more flexible contracts, and might not require a credit check. These types of providers use 4G or 5G signal to provide a broadband connection.
This is the end of our guide to the best broadband providers that don’t charge a setup cost.
Remember, these types of broadband deals are best if you want a more basic internet package. If you’re looking for ultrafast broadband, or broadband with TV channels, then you might have to pay an installation fee to get started.
If you’re not sure which broadband package to choose, feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll get right back to you.
About the author
Tyler built his first PC at the age of 12, and since then, he’s become obsessed with all things networking and internet-related. He’s a massive gamer, loves Rocket League, and also plays Sunday League football.