How to choose the best way to pay for your TV licence

A standard TV licence is £159, but you can choose different ways to pay it to suit your situation. Here’s a breakdown, taken from the TV Licensing site, of what you need to know to make the right decision in your flat or house share.

How you can pay your TV licence

Make a one-off, annual TV licence payment

You can choose to pay your UK TV licence once a year with a one-off, up-front payment of £159.

You can pay either through direct debit or using a bank card. You’ll be charged for a new licence automatically every year with direct debit. That may not be the most convenient option for students staying in a houseshare for only one year.

However, if you can afford it and you know that you’ll be with your flat or housemates for at least a year, a yearly payment can help you avoid extra charges for a more regular payment through direct debit. Plus, you can split the payment between everyone.

However, if you prefer to spread your costs over the year rather than coughing up all that money in one go, this may not be the right choice for you.

Paying for the TV licence quarterly

The next option is to pay quarterly, at £41 every three months. This may help with your cash flow, but it may depend on what other bills you pay, and when. If you prefer to pay for bills monthly to manage things more easily with your flatmates, then this may still not be ideal.

You’ll also see an extra £5 charge over the course of the 12 months if you choose to pay by direct debit – a small amount, but lots of small, extra amounts can add up.

Paying on a monthly basis

This option seems the best at first glance. The monthly amount is around £13.25 per month. In theory, that’s a manageable price on a monthly basis, and easy to split with housemates along with your other bills.

However, the catch is that you’ll pay double for the first six months, via direct debit or in cash instalments at around £26.50 per month.

This pays for one full, 12-month licence within the first six months. Then you’ll continue paying £13.25 per month for the next six months with no break, meaning your payments in the first year will be £238.50. You’ll be spreading the costs, but end up paying more over the course of the first year.

This is because you’re paying for six months before your next licence is due to begin and you’ll continue into the next year for the six after it’s started.

This could be a frustrating option, especially when you have a shorter tenancy and don’t want to pay for more than 12 months of TV Licence in total.

Paying with a TV Licensing payment card

If you want even more flexibility, you can apply for a licensing payment card for free. You’ll get the flexibility to pay weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, starting from around £6. You can then choose to pay online, your mobile, or over the phone, by text, or in person.

To pay weekly and fortnightly, you’ll pay for the first licence over 26 weeks with 26 payments. You’ll then move to paying fortnightly instead.

To pay monthly through the payment card, you’ll normally pay for your first licence within six months – as is the case for a direct debit. When your renewal date is around six months away, you’ll then move to paying smaller amounts over 12 months instead.

You’ll get a payment plan to help you plan ahead and organise your payments, and text reminders to pay on time. However, you may find that shouldering extra payments in year one is too much of an investment to make.

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