Direct Save broadband review

Direct Save was created to offer UK households a budget-friendly alternative to the big brands, while still offering all the essentials to keep the modern household connected. A credit check isn’t required when joining Direct Save, and in tandem with no-contract options, it’s a good choice for people with challenging financial circumstances.

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What type of broadband does Direct Save use?

Direct Save Telecom offers ADSL, Superfast fibre and Ultrafast fibre broadband to its customers. It’s worth noting that fibre availability can be scarce, particularly for full fibre.

One-year contracts are standard for all three types of service. Direct Save offers its ADSL and Superfast Fibre broadband services contract-free for customers seeking a little extra flexibility, though at a slightly higher price.

Direct Save standard broadband (ADSL)

Direct Save Telecom’s broadband offerings begin with its 11Mbps broadband package, which is a suitable plan for smaller households who only use the internet for casual browsing. You’ll still be able to stream video in HD, though you may experience occasional lag. There are no set up costs with this plan, and your new wireless router will be free other than an upfront P&P cost of £9.95.  

Contract free ADSL

If you don’t want to be tied down to a one-year contract, you can opt for the same broadband plan outlined above, but contract-free. This does incur a set-up fee and a slightly higher monthly cost, but you’ll have the freedom to cancel or switch whenever you please. Plus, prices won’t rise after a year.

Costing a few pounds more than its contract equivalent, contract free ADSL could be appealing for anyone who wants that additional flexibility. This is a ‘no-contract’ plan, but you’ll be tied to it for 28 days, and a further 28 days’ notice is required to opt out.

Both plans will include one of three calling plans, which are discussed in more detail below.

Direct Save fibre optic broadband

There are two Superfast fibre optic packages offered by Direct Save Telecom, named after their average download speeds. Superfast Fibre Broadband 38Mb and Superfast Fibre Broadband 76Mb are both 12-month plans whose prices rise after the contract ends, though to a lesser degree than some other ISPs.

The only upfront cost involved in these schemes is a £9.95 P&P charge for a wireless router. As with ADSL, both of these plans can be bundled with calling plans, and both have no-contract options for people seeking short-term services.

An average 38Mbps download should be sufficient for most households, though this would struggle to support multiple HD video or gaming streams simultaneously. Few households would require a 76Mbps fibre connection, but it’s certainly worth considering when it’s only a few pounds more than the 36Mbps plan and should effectively eliminate buffering or latency. 

Direct Save full fibre broadband 

Being a budget brand doesn't mean Direct Save offers a limited range of options. They simply provide normal services in a cheaper and simpler way than competitors, without all the bells and whistles. They do offer Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband with speeds up to 300Mbps, which is more stable and faster than Fibre to The Cabinet (FTTC) connections. The latter terminate at the nearest pavement exchange and switch to ADSL-standard copper phone cables for the final leg of data’s journey into your home, effectively throttling achievable speeds.

FTTP extends directly to your home, albeit in a limited number of locations. There are around 150 mostly new-build developments from Aberdeen to Southampton which are cabled for Direct Save FTTP, with a choice of five packages ranging from 25Mbps to 300Mbps. Activation of FTTP broadband with Direct Save also incurs a fee, and a traffic management policy is employed despite each plan offering totally unlimited broadband.  

Direct Save Broadband call plans

Line rental is free with any Direct Save broadband plan, with a choice of three calling plans. You can opt for pay-per-use calls with no monthly charge, or pay a small monthly fee to add the company’s clumsily-named UK Calls Evenings & Weekends or Free UK Calls Anytime bundles.

Pay-per-use calls incur a 22p ‘setup’ cost per call, plus 13p per minute for UK landlines and 16ppm for UK mobiles. International calls can be added for £1.50 per month, while other additional features like voicemail and call barring can respectively be added for £4.05 and £3.15 per month. Other services like call waiting or three-way calling incur similar costs, as of January 2021.

Calling plans with Direct Save tend to be a lot cheaper than those offered by other providers like BT, unless you choose to include a number of add-ons which can quickly cause the price to escalate. 

Direct Save Broadband additional services 

As a self-proclaimed budget provider, you won’t find many extras and perks available with Direct Save broadband plans. The provider aims to offer simple, straightforward service without the frills often touted by larger ISPs, like quad-play services or public WiFi hotspots.

However, Direct Save does provide one extra in the form of membership of its ‘Discount Club’. Members receive exclusive offers and discounts from a number of shops, hotels, utility companies and more, including the likes of Apple, M&S, Boots, Hilton Hotels and Legoland. Membership is free for the first year for Direct Save broadband customers, costing £9.95 per year thereafter. 

Direct Save broadband speeds 

Actual speeds will inevitably vary, but the average download speed for at least half of customers between the peak period of 8pm to 10pm is 35Mbps for Superfast Fibre 38Mb, and 63Mbps for Superfast Fibre 76Mb. These average speeds are all relatively close to the maximum speeds advertised, a claim many larger ISP’s can’t match. 

Speeds fluctuate depending on circumstances like the proximity of your house to the nearest exchange, the quality of its cabling and even the time of day. 

Direct Save broadband reviews

A majority of Trustpilot reviews for Direct Save Telecom are positive, with a rating of 3.8 out of 5 and two thirds of reviewers giving the provider a score above average as of January 2021. Reviewers praise the simplicity of Direct Save’s packages, citing consistently stable connections and the presence of UK-based customer service. 

However, some customers say Direct Save’s customer service could do with some improvements, especially in terms of reaching them or achieving resolutions to complaints or issues. Some Trustpilot reviews report conditions or prices changing without notification, while other reviews say download speeds are not satisfactory. However, since most customers appear satisfied with Direct Save’s broadband speeds, these criticisms may involve external factors. 

Because it’s not a household name, Direct Save broadband reviews are scarce, and there are currently only 1,200 posted on TrustPilot compared to over 16,000 for Virgin Media – which admittedly scores a disappointing 1.2 out of 5.

Direct Save broadband pros and cons

Updated 21 January 2021
No contract broadband plans availableLimited availability for FTTP services
No credit checks requiredFew additional perks
Significant savings for ADSL contractsTraffic management policy
Consistent speeds match those advertisedCall extras quickly become expensive
Discount club membershipNo additional TV or mobile services
UK-based customer service
Cheaper than most major providers

Is Direct Save broadband any good?

While it frames itself as a budget option, Direct Save broadband plans aren’t priced too far below other ISPs, particularly in terms of full fibre options. The only significant savings come from Direct Save’s ADSL broadband plan, or telephone-only packages. The big-name brands participating in Direct Save’s Discount Club make this an attractive perk, adding some extra interest to an otherwise basic offering.

While contract-free plans are appealing, budget-conscious customers should be wary of upfront costs. Remember that cancellation fees will apply should you leave your contract early, or fail to provide the requisite 28-day notice period for no contract broadband. On the flipside, allowing customers to sign up without a credit check could attract potential customers facing financial hardship but needing to stay online.

Last updated: 21 January 2021