What Are Special Promotions for Mobile Plans Really Worth?

November 9, 2021 - Ralf Beyeler

Swiss mobile service providers make heavy use of special promotional offers for mobile plans. analyzed mobile plan offers just ahead of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday discount binge to create an overview of the actual value offered by special promotions.

Over the first ten months of 2021, the online comparison service recorded no less than 387 special promotional offers from Swiss mobile service providers. The Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are yet to come. This abundance of promotions encouraged telecom expert Ralf Beyeler to analyze the special offers which have run in 2021.

For its evaluation, accounted for all promotions which offer a discount off the standard fee and were published on the company’s website. Promotions which could not be accounted for include youth plans, prepaid offers, data-only offers, one-time allowances, higher data allowances, dynamic discounts, and discounts which are valid for a period shorter than the minimum contract term. After exclusions, the study still included 317 unique promotional offers.

51-percent discount, on average

The average discount across all analyzed promotions is around 33 francs. But there are big differences between individual offers. Depending on the plan in question, promotional discounts range from just 3 francs to 84 francs off standard prices.

The average discount is 51 percent off the standard price. The biggest discount is 70 percent off. The smallest is 15 percent off. “Special promotional offers are not limited to groceries, but are also common for mobile plans. But as with special offers in supermarkets, you have to take a closer look at mobile plans to make sure you are not buying an expensive bargain,” says telecom expert Ralf Beyeler.

Which mobile services offer the biggest discounts?

The highest discount in terms of percentages is offered by Swisscom subsidiary Wingo. The average discount across 21 of its special promotions is 58 percent. The average discount of Yallo promotions is slightly lower at 54 percent, while Lebara’s is 52 percent. Salt’s promotions deliver an average discount of 50 percent. Less generous service providers include M-Budget at 45 percent, Coop at 43 percent, Sunrise at 40 percent, and Lidl at 35 percent.

The biggest discount of all was offered by Wingo, knocking 49.60 francs off the standard monthly fee. Yallo is next in line, with a monthly discount of 36.60 francs, followed by Sunrise at 33.30 francs and Salt at 32.65 francs off standard monthly rates. Lidl takes the tail with just 8.45 francs off the standard monthly fee. But it is important to look at the size of standard price tags in order to correctly evaluate the benefit of discounts. Service providers which charge high standard fees can afford to offer higher discounts.

Which is the cheapest unlimited flat fee offer?

The most widely used mobile plan in Switzerland is a flat fee offer from Swisscom which costs 80 francs per month. But there are many offers which are cheaper than this. Lidl has the cheapest standard price tag for a plan with unlimited calls and data for a flat fee, at 29.95 francs per month. Unlimited plans with flat fees below 30 francs are offered through special promotions from Yallo, Salt, Lebara, Sunrise, Das Abo, Lidl, Wingo and Coop, among others.

“20 francs per month could be considered a very good price for a plan which includes unlimited calls within Switzerland and unlimited data,” says Beyeler. “But offers like that rarely come up. Only Das Abo, Digitec, Lebara, Lidl, Salt and Yallo occasionally offer plans for that price.”

Your actual needs are more important than promotions

While service providers may advertise big discounts, it is more important to consider your actual needs when looking at mobile plans. Many mobile plans and promotions include numerous services like data roaming, call roaming, and international calls. These plans are ideal if you actually use these services regularly. But most people do not travel to other countries often enough to make these offers worth it. Telecom expert Ralf Beyeler explains that “customers using these offers pay money every month for services which they do not need.”

“Mobile plans which include small roaming allowances can make sense in some cases, such as for users in border regions whose phones occasionally connect to a foreign network even when they are in Switzerland. Offers like this can be found for around 25 francs, and in some cases as little as 20 francs,” as special promotions.

The expert offers these three tips to mobile users:

  1. Pay attention to total monthly costs.
  2. If possible, use promotions with discounts that apply for unlimited lengths of time.
  3. Avoid offers with long minimum contact terms as much as possible.

The same plan with different promotional prices

Because special promotions are so common, in some cases the same plan is offered at different promotional prices over the course of a year. The Europe plan from Salt is an extreme example, being offered at no less than seven different promotional prices. Its standard price tag is 79.95 francs per month. But throughout 2021 it has been offered at promotional prices of 29.95 francs, 31.95 francs, 34.95 francs, 39.95 francs, 47.95 francs, 49.95 francs, and 59.74 francs.

“This plan is a good example of mobile providers’ love for special promotions,” comments Beyeler. “If you bought the plan on promotion at the wrong time, the nearly 60 francs per month you pay would be twice as much as if you had gotten the best promotional offer.” Calculations from the telecom expert show that “the differences are massive. Over a 24-month contract term, you would pay 718.80 francs in total if you got the best promotional price, 1433.76 francs if you got the worst promotional price, and 1918.80 francs if you paid the standard price. That is a difference of 1200 francs.”

A flood of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday period, during which service providers battle to offer the best promotions, will be upon us shortly. Swiss telecom service providers will likely launch numerous special promotions during that time. But as you can see in the examples above, not all promotional offers are equal, so you should avoid being bedazzled and take a closer look. To help you out, put together an overview of the promotional prices which different mobile plans have been offered at this year. This can serve as a yardstick to help you determine how good Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals really are.

Big differences between service providers

There are big differences between service providers. On the one hand, some run special promotions more often than others. On the other hand, the length of time over which promotions are run also varies. Some service providers typically run promotions for just a few days. Other telecom companies keep promotions running for many weeks.

Yallo has run the most promotional offers this year, with 129 different offers. Salt comes next with 56, then Lebara with 55 and Sunrise with 48, Das Abo with 27 and Wingo with 21 promotions. You can find evaluations of each service provider in the overview below.

Overview of mobile service providers:

  • Coop: Coop Mobile is powered by Swisscom, which offers mobile plans in partnership with the Coop retail group. Coop rarely runs special promotions for ist mobile plans. A disadvantage of Coop promotions is that the discount only applies for 12 or 24 months. The benefit is that you do not have to subscribe to contracts with very long minimum terms.
    In 2021, Coop launched promotions which gave subscribers a one-time bonus of 1000 gigabytes of data. The sticker program currently being run by Coop is also interesting: When you make purchases worth 180 francs or more at Coop supermarkets and collect the stickers you receive, you can subscribe to a Coop mobile plan at a 15-franc discount on its standard monthly price. But the price you pay is almost identical to other special promotions for the same plan. But the sticker promotion does also let you earn a 100-franc Coop gift card. These promotions were not included in the evaluation because they have their own set of criteria.
  • Das Abo: Salt’s budget brand Das Abo no longer has an official standard price. For this reason, its plans could not be included in the evaluation. Plans are always offered at promotional prices, but these prices are variable. The difference between the best and worst price is 25 to 40 percent, depending on the plan. Customer-friendly advantages include the absence of minimum contract terms, and a “lifelong discount.”
  • Digitec: What is special about promotions from this online retailer is that discounts are given in the form of vouchers which subscribers can buy and redeem individually. You pay for these in full in advance (240 francs for unlimited calls and data for 12 months, for example). The benefit is that existing customers can also buy these vouchers. Unlike most other offers in this price range, the cost, which comes to 20 francs per month includes 1 gigabyte or data roaming in Europe. Because the basic fee for the Digitec offer varies and customers get dynamic discounts with some promotions, these offers could not be accounted for in the evaluation.
  • Lebara: Sunrise budget brand Lebara has already run numerous promotions. Lebara is very customer-friendly in terms of its fine print. There is no minimum contract term, and the discounts apply indefinitely. Lebara has also run promotions which give subscribers higher data allowances. These could not be accounted for in the evaluation.
  • Lidl: The mobile offer from discount retailer Lidl in partnership with Salt gives you unlimited calls and data for a flat fee of 19.95 francs per month. Normally, contracts do not have minimum terms, and discounts do not expire.
  • M-Budget: Swisscom offers M-Budget Mobile plans in partnership with the Migros retail group. M-Budget runs few special promotions, and when it does, it is usually a half-price promotion. The promotional offer with the cheapest basic monthly fee is offered by M-Budget. The Mini plan is sometimes offered by Migros for 9.50 francs, but it only includes a limited data allowance. Contracts normally do not have minimum contract terms, but the promotional discounts usually expire after 24 months. M-Budget is one of the service providers which sometimes offers higher data allowances as part of special promotions. These kinds of promotions were not accounted for in the evaluation.
  • Quickline: Quickline offered all of its mobile plans free of charge in June, Jul, and August. The catch: The plan is only free for 12 months, but the contract term is at least 24 months. What this means is that in effect, you pay half of the standard price for the first 24 months. In concrete terms, you do not pay at all for the first 12 months, but you pay full price in the second year. This promotion was not included in the evaluation.
  • Salt: Salt runs promotional offers very frequently. The prices for the same plan vary broadly between individual promotions. If you subscribe to the most expensive special offer, you could pay up to twice as much as you would if you get the plan during the cheapest promotion. A disadvantage is that Salt generally only offers contracts with a 24-month minimum term, and promotional discounts normally expire after 24 months.
  • Sunrise: Sunrise stands out because it only runs promotions for its more expensive plans like the We Mobile lineup, but not for its cheaper plans. Sunrise is also the only mobile service which offers its existing customers better promotions than it offers to new subscribers. The disadvantages: The promotional discount is only valid for 24 months, and the minimum contract term is 24 months as well. When you get Sunrise plans at standard prices, there are no minimum contract terms.
  • Swisscom: Telecom giant Swisscom is one of the few telecom companies which offers promotions that expire before the end of the minimum contract term. These promotions are not included in the evaluation. Swisscom has few interesting promotional offers. For example, you may pay 40 francs per month for the first 12 months, and 80 francs per month for the next 12 months of the minimum term. So your average monthly payment would be 60 francs, which is much more than you would pay with special promotions from many other service providers.
  • Wingo: Budget brand Wingo runs much more attractive promotions than its parent company Swisscom. Wingo has numerous promotions with customer-friendly terms and conditions. There are no minimum contract terms, discounts do not expire, and existing customers can take advantage of special promotions as well. Wingo offers the biggest discounts, averaging 58 percent. With some Wingo plans, the basic monthly fee varies depending on how much data is used. This means the discounts provided are dynamic, so could not account for them in the evaluation.
  • Yallo: Sunrise’s budget subsidiary Yallo is almost permanently running at least one promotion. Normally these offers only run for a few days. The same Yallo plan may be offered at different promotional prices. For example, in 2021 the swiss flat plan (standard price: 58 francs per month) has already been offered with six different promotional price-tags: 20, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 29 francs. Yallo has customer-friendly terms and conditions. There are no minimum contract terms for mobile plans bought on promotion, and the promotional discount applies throughout the life of the plan.

More on this topic:
Overview of all mobile plan promotions (German PDF)
Mobile plan comparison

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.