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Pay as You Go Sim with Data Wiki

United Kingdom

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BasicsEdit

The UK has 4 network operators:

  • EE (Everything Everywhere)
  • Vodafone UK
  • O2 UK (by Telefónica)
  • 3 (Three by Hutchison)

GSM is on 900 and 1800 Mhz (except Three which has only 3G and 4G), 3G/UMTS on 900/2100 MHz. 4G/LTE has been started in 2013 in some cities. Frequencies on 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz bands have been granted. About 50  MVNOs operate on EE, Vodafone and O2 on 2G and 3G. 4G is offered so far only by Three for all its products and on some prepaid SIMs of EE and O2 too. Prepaid is often called pay-as-you-go in the UK.

ValidityEdit

Nearly all UK networks (primary and virtual) have an expiry policy of six months since the last balance deduction. Although this is the official policy, it is usually sufficient to receive a call every six months because this generates revenue, albeit small, for the network. The most notable exception is Lycamobile which operates a 90-day expiry policy since the last balance deduction in all of the markets in which it operates. For visitors, the easiest way to maintain validity while outside the UK, in order to keep both credit and the mobile number for future visits to the UK, is to send a roaming SMS.

"Content Lock"Edit

Prepaid SIM cards in the UK are delivered with a so called "Content Lock" in place. This is to protect children from accessing adult content. The problem is that a whitelisting approach is used for this, meaning that everything that has not been actively approved as non-adult will be treated as "adult".

This can seriously interfere with your 3G operation, e.g. I could not use my instant messaging services. Even email and all "non-moderated" forums like Facebook or Twitter can be affected. However this can be bypassed using a VPN or proxy app to conceal your identity

The usual way to disable is to enter credit card data to prove your age; but this only works with UK-issued credit cards, and as a tourist you probably won't have one of those.

Therefore when you buy a SIM card in store insist that the lock will be removed right away (takes 1 minute). For this you may need to provide some form of ID to prove your age.

RechargesEdit

Topping up your SIM can be done officially online only if you have a UK-issued credit card. Though they are some private service providers on the net who accept international cards and do it for a surcharge. If you don't have anyone with an UK-credit card, you need to buy top up vouchers which are widely available in shops throughout the UK, but refills from abroad not having one of these is tricky.

EEEdit

EE Logo

EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) was created in 2010 after the merger of Orange and T-Mobile UK to become the biggest operator in the UK. Their GSM is on 1800 Mhz, UMTS on 2100 MHz and they were the first to start LTE on 1800 MHz in 2013:

EE coverage map

Prepaid 4G offer

Their prepaid SIM is called "4GEE". LTE up to 60 Mbps is enabled free of charge.

Data feature packsEdit

There is no default rate as you don't get any data outside the add-ons.

Validity: 30 days
Price Volume
£3 100 MB
£6 500 MB
£10 1 GB
£15 2 GB
£20 4 GB
£30 10 GB

The packets are valid for 30 days or when the data allowance is consumed. You can buy another package right away, no need to wait till the 30 days are over.

AvailabilityEdit

  • Offline in EE stores:Store locator for free
  • The SIM can be purchased online to be sent to an UK postal address for free

SIM sizesEdit

Both combi micro/regular and nano SIM.

More infoEdit

  • APN: everywhere
  • T&Cs and further rates: EE

giffgaffEdit

Giffgaff is a wholly owned subsidiary of O2 (Telefónica) and operates as MVNO on O2 UK (for technical info see O2).

AvailabilityEdit

GiffGaff SIMs can be ordered online to a UK address for free (delivery can take between 4 to 6 days). Or you can order from any member and get £5 free credit on activation from any member of giffgaff. The member him/herself also receives 500 points worth £5 of balance on activation of the new SIM. If you would like to order from a member for UK delivery, here are some member links to choose from:

There are also a couple of members who can send a free SIM card (with the above £5 free credit deal) to an address outside the UK so that you already have your SIM before you travel.  We have provided the links for the order pages here:

RegistrationEdit

To activate your SIM on their website, you need a UK-issued credit card or will need to credit your account with a top-up voucher. You can buy credit from many UK convenience stores and almost all supermarkets and fuel stations (ask for giffgaff or O2 cards) and can also buy top up vouchers online at private facilitators like Top Up UK for a surcharge.

Default rateEdit

  • 20p for the first 20 MB, then 20p / MB for further usage that day.
  • 6p text
  • 10p per minute domestic calls

Data feature packsEdit

  • £5 for 500 MB per month
  • £7.50 for 1 GB per month
  • £12.50 for 3 GB per month
  • overuse: 2p per MB
  • standard phone and text rates apply (see above)

Combined bundlesEdit

Price UK calls domestic texts data
£5 60 min 300 20 MB
£7.5 200 min unlimited 250 MB
£10 500 min unlimited 1 GB
£12 250 min unlimited unlimited
£15 500 min unlimited unlimited
£20 2000 min unlimited unlimited
  • All bundles are valid for one month.
  • Calls amongst giffgaff numbers are free.
  • No "fair use policy" applies meaning unlimited data are unlimited.

SIM sizesEdit

Both "hybrid" micro/normal and nano sim sizes can be ordered from the above options. 

TetheringEdit

Tethering is not allowed on the bundles that have unlimited data included but is allowed on the other bundles.

Technical infoEdit

  • APN: giffgaff.com 
  • Username: giffgaff or vertigo
  • Password: password

Email enquiries@gg-sim-order.co.uk for enquiries and further information.

3 (= Three) UKEdit

3 (Three) has the smallest network of all operators in the UK but the most agressive pricing. Three is a 3G and 4G network only with no fall back to 2G. As this is not so important for data, the text and call coverage is much worse on the countryside compared to the three big ones.

3 coverage map You need to have a 3G UMTS phone on 2100 Mhz and for 4G a device which can transmit on 800 and 1800 Mhz. 2G phones don't work on Three.

Three has launched 4G services in late 2013 charging the same for 4G as it does for 3G, unlike the other three primary networks which all surcharge for 4G.

The SIM card is given out for free. They have different products for phones and computers.

Pay as you go on ThreeEdit

This product is for smartphones only and does not include tethering. It will be blocked if detected. For computers see the Mobile Broadband offer.

Default rateEdit

1p per MB

Data feature packsEdit

  • daily rate: 120MB valid for 1 day for £0.5
  • monthly rate: 500MB valid for 30 days for £5
  • free internet with every top up: 150 MB are added
  • all-you-can-eat data (no limit or fair use policy applies) in 30 days for £15

When data is used up you are free to buy another pack without waiting until the end of the previously bought add on pack. After data add-on is used up charges revert to £0.30 per MB if another add on is not bought.

AvailabilityEdit

Purchase from a Three store for £10 which includes £10 credit, also available online. Extra credit can be bought from anywhere displaying the green 'top up' logo.Vouchers are available for £10, £15, £20, £25, £30 and £50 and must be activated within 90 days of purchase online or by calling 444. Credit doesn't expire on Three SIMs.

Mobile BroadbandEdit

Theiir Mobile Broadband pay-as-you-go SIM is a data only SIM for tablets, modems or routers. They are often sold as ready-to-go kits with the data preloaded

  • daily rate: pay-per-day: 500 MB for up to 48 hours: £2.99
  • 1 GB in a month: £10
  • 3 GB in a month: £15
  • 7 GB in a month: £25

"Feel like home" option Edit

This roaming option is available to all pay-as-you-go SIMs of Three UK and is valid in Austria, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, Norway. Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and in the USA (on AT&T and T-Mobile networks!!). It is enabled automatically when entering one of these countries above with a Three UK SIM on roaming and means that data is charged the same as in the UK with no roaming surcharges at all. Feel like home

Further infoEdit

  • SIM sizes; mini SIMs as standard. micro and nano SIMs may be available on request
  • APN: three.co.uk
  • Three price list: 3

VodafoneEdit

Vodafone
Vodafone UK has a very good coverage on 2G and 3G nationwide: Vodafone coverage map

Their 4G/LTE network is not accessible for prepaid customers up to now.

They are running a very complex scheme of prepaid cards with "rewards" for top ups not debited and data add-ons.

AvailabilityEdit

You can purchase a SIM card online or from any Vodafone store for free. You can recharge it at their stores or many other kiosks or convenience stores throughout the country. This SIM needs to be activated by gonig online or calling 4354. Then you have to choose one of their "freebee" schemes all valid for one month:

Freedom FreebeeEdit

top up domestic calls domestic texts internet data
GBP 10 150 minutes unlimited 250 MB
GBP 20 500 minutes unlimited 1 GB
GBP 30 unlimited unlimted 1 GB
GBP 40 unlimted unlimited 2 GB
  • Internet overuse is charged with £1 per day for 25 MB up to a maximum of 125 MB per day then charged at 4p per MB thereafter.
  • An extra data add-on is offered for another 250 MB for 5 GBP by calling 34441

Freebee DataEdit

  • a £10 top up gives you 500 MB data "reward" thus not debited on the top up
  • a £20 top up gives you 1 GB data reward
  • overuse is charged like on Freedom Freebee (see above)
  • extra data add-on like Freedom Freebee (see above)

Data packEdit

 You can convert your SIM to a data card too. Thus no calls or texts are possible anymore.

  • £5 data pack for 250 MB
  • £10 data pack for 1 GB
  • £20 data pack for 3 GB
  • when used up, you can buy a new pack ahead of time

SIM sizesEdit

Standard SIMs are freely available and can easily be trimmed down with scissors to fit the iPhone.

Technical infoEdit

  • APN: internet  
  • further infos: Vodafone

T-MobileEdit

T-Mobile UK has now been merged to EE (see above). T-Mobile prepaid costumers can now use the whole 2G and 3G infrastructure of Orange and T-Mobile together but not 4G/LTE. T-Mobile still sells its own pay-as-you-go products in EE shops. Their default prepaid "plan" is called "everyday plan" which has no data at all.

Data feature packsEdit

Data must be booked with add-ons T-Mobile calls "boosters":

  • 5 days: £2.50. activation: text WEB to 441
  • 1 month: £5. activation: text MONTHWEB to 441
  • 6 months: £20. activation: text 6MONTHWEB to 441

Fair use policy: 500 MB maximum. Boosters don't renew automatically.

Further info:Edit

  • recharge at their shops or stores and supermarkets throughout the country, as international credit cards are not accepted online
  • standard is a micro-SIM which comes in a mini-SIM spacer. EE offers nano-SIMs on request, but this are exclusively nano-SIMs in size, no breakouts/spacers for micro- oder mini-SIMs.
  • no 4G/LTE use for pay-as-you-go. See prepaid offer of EE instead.
  • tethering possible, but profile disenabled for Apple devices like the iPhone
  • Skype and other VoIP providers are blocked
  • APN: general.t-mobile.uk

OrangeEdit

Orange UK has now been merged to EE (see above). Orange prepaid customers can use the combined 2G and 3G infrastructure of Orange and T-mobile but not 4G/LTE. Orange still sells its own pay-as-you-go products in EE shops.
Orange UK

AvailabilityEdit

The SIM card is given out at EE stores for free. It must be topped up by vouchers if you don't have a UK-based credit card (see above). Their prepaid "plans" are all packages called according to animals: Dolphin, Canary, Racoon or Camel. Data can be "rewarded" for top ups, thus not debited or simply be booked on the packs.

Dolphin planEdit

On this plan you get pretty high calling rates combined with included data as "rewards":

  • for a top up of GBP 10, you get 1 GB data rewarded
  • for a top up of GBP 15, you get 2 GB data rewarded
  • for a top up of GBP 20, you get 3 GB data rewarded

Racoon planEdit

On this plan you have only half as expensive call rates compared to the Dolphin and can add internet as packages which will be debited from your top up (not like the rewards as add ons for top ups on Dolphin):

  • 500 MB in a month for GBP 7.50, activation: text WEB 7.50 to 6620
  • 1 GB in a month for for GBP 12, activation: text WEB 12 to 6620

Camel planEdit

On this prepaid plan you can book the same internet packages as on the Racoon plan. You get more expensive domestic calls like on Dolphin but for every top up free international minutes as "rewards":

  • for a top up of GBP 10, you get 60 free international minutes
  • for a top up of GBP 15, you get 120 free international minutes
  • for a top up of GBP 20, you get 240 free international minutes

Further info

  • Prepaid price list: orange
  • APN: orangeinternet

O2Edit

O2 UK has good coverage nationwide using 2G GSM on 900 and 1800 Mhz, 3G UMTS on 2100 Mhz and has started LTE on 800 Mhz. O2 coverage map

Like EE it has opened some of its prepaid products to 4G/LTE with a surcharge. This gives a great variety of prepaid products on offer.

AvailabilityEdit

The SIM cards are for free ordered online or bought at their stores. Top up cashcards can be found all over the country.

3G Data SIMEdit

It's called 3G iPad or Tablet SIM and is data only on 2G and 3G:

  • GBP 2 for a daily (= 24 hrs) rate and 250 MB
  • GBP 10 for monthly 1 GB
  • GBP 13 for monthly  2 GB

4G Data SIMEdit

It's called 4G iPad or Tablet SIM and is data only on 2G, 3G or 4G

  • GBP 15 for monthly 3 GB
  • GBP 25 for monthly 5 GB

3G Pay & Go Go GoEdit

  • £10: 250MB + 500 texts and 75 mins
  • £20: 500MB + 2500 texts and 250 mins

4G Pay & Go Go GoEdit

  • £15: 1 GB + 2000 text and 200 mins
  • £20: 2 GB + 4000 text and 400 mins

Fair use policy and default rateEdit

Unclear. The terms and conditions state that there is an excessive use policy, but not how much or for how long. Be aware that outside of the bundles you surf on a ridiculous default rate of 3 GBP per MB!

SIM sizesEdit

Standard, Micro SIMs and Nano SIMs are all available online via O2 website. However, if a nano SIM is needed then you can use online live-chat function to specify the required SIM type to the agent.

TetheringEdit

Possible on Android phones, but not available with iPhone.

APNEdit

  • APN : payandgo.o2.co.uk
  • User Name: payandgo
  • Password : password

ASDA MobileEdit

ASDA
ASDA Mobile is a MVNO which used to operate on the Vodafone network. In April 2014 they have migrated to the EE net (see above, no 4G/LTE on ASDA mobile).

ASDA Mobile SIM cards can be bought online on their website or in many ASDA supermarkets and grocery stores throughout the UK: store locator

BundlesEdit

price UK calls domestic texts data activation SMS
GBP 5 100 min 2000 SMS 100 MB 5 to 2732
GBP 10 250 min 2000 SMS 250 MB 10 to 2732
GBP 15 500 min 2000 SMS 500 MB 15 to 2732
GBP 20 1000 min 2000 SMS 1 GB 20 to 2732
GBP 5 ----------- -------------- 500 MB DATA to 2732

All packages are valid for one month.

Overuse and out of bundle fees are: 8p per min for domestic calls, 4p per SMS for domestic texts and 5p per MB for data.

SIM sizesEdit

Stock standard SIMs.

APNEdit

  • APN: everywhere

Virgin MobileEdit

Virgin Mobile is a MVNO that operates on the EE network on 2G and 3G only (see above)

AvailabilityEdit

Virgin mobile SIMs can be ordered online for free or in shops e.g. the Virgin megastores store locator. SIMs are also sent to hotel adresses.

Default data rateEdit

The "starter tariff" has a data rate of GBP 1 per 100 MB

Data feature packsEdit

"Big data and texts" rewards (meaning doesn't debit) you with

  • for a top up of GBP 10 with 3000 texts and 1 GB of data
  • for a top up of GBP 15 with 3000 texts and 3 GB of data
  • overuse rate is the default data rate (see above)
  • to activate call 789 and press 3

SIM sizesEdit

Stock standard SIMs & Micro SIM

TetheringEdit

Tethering (at least on Android phones) and VoIP possible

NoteEdit

If you want to use the Virgin Mobile SIM in a 3G Wifi Router, be aware you'll need to call the company through the SIM you're about to use for data (to activate the Big Data Pack). This may cause problems since routers are not made to call someone (duh!) Furthermore, if your 3G Router needs another SIM format than your phone, you might also encounter problems to activate the tariff.

There is no other way to activate the option than calling Virgin through the SIM. You cannot activate it via their website or SMS. In this case make sure you have an old phone available to activate the desired option.

Tesco MobileEdit

Tesco
Tesco Mobile is the MVNO of Britains leading cash'n'carry supermarket chain operating on the O2 network.

Their SIM can be ordered online or can be bought at Tesco megastores: Tesco store locator for free.

Default Data RateEdit

10p per MB

Data feature packsEdit

  • GBP 5 for 500 MB per month
  • GBP 7.5 for 1 GB per month
  • overuse is charged by the default rate (see above)
  • the bundles must be subscribed online

NoteEdit

The T&C don't allow P2P, VoIP, continuos streaming and tethering
APN: prepay.tesco-mobile.com   Username: tescowap   Password: password

Lebara mobileEdit

Lebara logo
Lebara mobile is Britains leading ethno market provider operating on the Vodafone network (see above) on 2G and 3G only.

The SIM card can be bought or onlineor offline at stores for free.

Default Data RateEdit

15p per MB charged if no data bundle is booked or used up

Data feature packsEdit

  • 500 MB in 30 days for GBP 5, activation: text WEB500 to 65088
  • 1 GB in 30 days for GBP 7.50, activation: text WEB1GB to 65088
  • 2 GB in 30 days for GBP 10, activation: text WEB2GB to 65088
  • 3 GB in 30 days for GBP 12.50, activation: text WEB3GB to 65088

You may only have 1 Data Pass active at any time. If you consume all of your Data Pass allowance, you will be charged  the default rate. Data Passes auto-renew on expiry. If you don’t have sufficient credit, Lebara will try to auto-renew for 7 days or until you cancel auto-renewal. To cancel auto renew text WEB500*STOP or WEB1GB*STOP to 65088 or opt-out via your MyLebara account.

Further info

  • APN: uk.lebara.mobi    Username: wap    Password: wap
  • Lebara mobile UK SIMs are distributed abroad by Travelers Mobile

LycamobileEdit

Lycamobile
Lycamobile is the main competitor of Lebara on the ethno market. It is a MVNO on the O2 UK network in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE. The SIM is sold online or offline at stores for free.

Default Data RateEdit

9p per MB charged if no data bundle is booked or used up

Data feature packsEdit

  • 500 MB in 30 days for GBP 5, activation: text 5001 to 3535
  • 1 GB in 30 days for GBP 7.50, activation: text 7001 to 3535
  • 2 GB in 30 days for GBP 10, activation: text 1001 to 3535
  • "unlimited" in 30 days for GBP 12, with 4G/LTE, including 500 domestic minutes and unlimited texts, activation: text 11244 to 3535

Effective 1/5/14 Lycamobile is the first MNVO on O2 which makes 4G accessible on the "UK PLAN 12". "Unlimited" means that speed is reduced to 2G/EDGE when you comsume more than 10 GB per month.

Lycamobile will automatically renew your bundle once it expires. Charge for the bundle will be deducted from your main balance at the time of auto renewal of the bundle. To cancel the auto renewal dial *190# before the expiry date and follow the instructions or call Customer Services for free on 353 before the expiry date.

  • APN: data.lycamobile.co.uk
  • Username: lmuk
  • Password: plus

Vectone MobileEdit

Abba
Vectone Mobile is a MNVO using the EE network on 2G and 3G only (see above).

Their SIM can be purchased online or in many supermarkets, petrol stations and kiosks throughout the UK. Mini and micro SIMs are free, but nano SIMS need to be ordered online for GBP 1.

Default rateEdit

  • 9p per MB. A minimum balance of 50p is required to use data.

Data feature packsEdit

Price Volume Valid for Dial to activate
£1 125 MB 24 hours *125#
£2.50 250 MB 7 days *250#
£5 1 GB 30 days *8811#
£12 3 GB 30 day *8812#

Data pack will be auto-renewed once the validity expires. To opt out, call Customer Service on 322 or 020 7179 0134. Overuse is charged by the default rate.

Technical infoEdit

  • APN: webuk.mundio.com
  • Internet cannot be used with Blackberry phones

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