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Prepaid SIM - UK/Great Britain/England/Scotland/Wales

Prepaid SIM - UK/Great Britain/England/Scotland/Wales

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Old Jul 26, 17, 10:07 pm   -   Wikipost
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This is a stub Wiki for this thread - the idea is that any member can edit it to keep it up to date as a distillation of the best info from the thread.

3 - 200MB Free data SIM
3 - 15 pounds for 300 minutes, 3000 texts, and unlimited 3G data for a month (http://store.three.co.uk/view/searchSimOnly?tariff=112) The deal might not be dead but to buy the addon you need to switch WiFi off (!!) and open http://three.co.uk/my3 on your device as this unlinked support page says. Three customer service and store both says this doesn't work with tablets -- however customer service are idiots and doesn't know what is a tablet only knows phones and iPads (both phone and chat -- this is apparently company level). Tread carefully. Anyways, this method still worked on January 13, 2015.

Note the GBP15 all you can eat deal has now been pulled(Note 8/3/16: All in one with All you can eat data is now GBP25): http://www.threemicrosites.co.uk/AIO20B

If you don't want to buy a bundle or a plan, Three's flat rate for calls is now 3p per minute. The expiry time of one month or three months for topups has now been removed. So you pay only 3p per call minute for what you use.

Three's data is only 1p per MB, and you can buy packages (eg 500MB for 5 pounds). The packages ("add-ons") may not save money directly, but those data packages are eligible for use in "Feel at Home" countries (Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia, Macau, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, USA) at no extra charge. See http://support.three.co.uk/SRVS/CGI-...se=EXT(EM11925)


EE: http://shop.ee.co.uk/price-plans/free-sim

Vodafone: https://freesim.vodafone.co.uk

O2: https://www.o2.co.uk/freesim/

giffgaff: www.giffgaff.com/orders/affiliate/nfh (£5 free credit) or www.giffgaff.com/orders/free-sim (no free credit)

Three: https://www.three.co.uk/Support/Free_SIM/Order

How do I top up with an overseas card, or can I use PayPal?

Strangely, some firms insist that you must use a UK issued credit card to topup. Some do take PayPal:

Giffgaff
Vodafone

But it is not as prevalent as it should bein this day and age admittedly. There is a firm that some people have reported success with and they are:

https://www.mobiletopup.co.uk/

What frequencies are used in the UK?

There are a total of 5 different frequencies used in the UK used by the mobile networks to deliver their 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services.

800MHz (Band 20)
900MHz (Band 8)
1800MHz (Band 3)
2100MHz (Band 1)
2600MHz (Band 7)

Here's a chart for iPhones and which bands each model can use. http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/

If you're not sure which model you have, look on the back of your iPhone or go into Settings-->General-->About-->Legal-->Regulatory

iphone 5 users note that: iPhone 5 cannot get 4G/LTE on the 800MHz or 2600MHz frequencies but it can on the 1800 frequency.

For other users there are a number of resources to check the frequency your phone supports including:

Global Certification Forum

As an example this is the data for a Samsung J1 Ace SM-J111F

GSMARENA

What frequencies do the different operators use?

Each operator in the UK utilises different frequencies to deliver their mobile networks with the core networks being EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. Then there are also operators, called mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), who utilise the backend of the core networks to offer their own services.

The frequencies used by the major UK networks are:

EE (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 1800MHz & 2600MHz

O2 (2G) 900MHz & 1800MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

Vodafone (2G) 900MHz & 1800MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz & 2600MHz

Three (2G) N/A (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz & 1800MHZ



The frequencies used by UK’s MVNO’s are listed below:

Asda Mobile (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) N/A

BT Mobile (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz, 1800MHz & 2100MHz

iD Mobile (2G) N/A (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 1800MHz

Freedom Pop (2G) N/A (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz & 1800MHz

GiffGaff (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

Lebara Mobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) N/A

LycaMobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

TalkMobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) N/A

TalkTalk (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

Tesco Mobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

The People’s Operator (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz, 1800MHz & 2100MHz

Virgin Mobile (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz, 1800MHz, & 2600MHz

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Old Jul 31, 16, 4:05 pm
  #361  
 
Join Date: May 2009
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
So how is that billed if you buy, say, the 10GBP plan. Does it reduce your data or voice faster? Or do they charge extra?
I'll answer my own question. On 3, you're prepaying 10GBP that you can use for 1MB/p, 1 text/2p, 1m voice/3p. International to US is also 1m/3p.

You can also buy add-ins that give to a bucket of data+minutes+texts starting at £10.

Last edited by drewguy; Aug 1, 16 at 5:28 pm
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Old Aug 1, 16, 2:27 pm
  #362  
 
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
I'll answer my own question. On 3, you're prepaying 10GBP that you can use for 1MB/p, 1 text/2p, 1m voice/3p. International to US is also 1m/3p
You also get 150MB of free data when you buy any top up.
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Old Aug 3, 16, 10:54 am
  #363  
 
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Originally Posted by IslesFan View Post
Did three uk get rid of all you can eat data on prepaid? The link in the wiki advertises 300 minutes/3000 texts/12gb data for 20quid a month.
Should have done a little more homework. All you can eat data looks like its 25gbp/month now. The link in the wiki points to it(also edited it to denote that).

Last edited by IslesFan; Aug 4, 16 at 8:59 am
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Old Aug 4, 16, 6:58 am
  #364  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Originally Posted by IslesFan View Post
Should have done a little more homework. All you cat eat data looks like its 25gbp/month now. The link in the wiki points to it(also edited it to denote that).
What does this have to do with cat food?
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Old Aug 4, 16, 9:01 am
  #365  
 
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Originally Posted by weekilter View Post
What does this have to do with cat food?
http://blog.three.co.uk/2014/02/19/cats-vs-selfies/

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Old Aug 13, 16, 3:11 pm
  #366  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: MCO
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SIM card for UK and Austria

We will be spending 4 days in the UK followed by 4 in Austria and then 1 more in UK before returning to USA.

My wife and I both have unlocked iPhones and were looking to get SIM cards for our phones. Looking over the choices here, I'm ready to go with three, whom we've used before and were satisfied with the service and price.

I'm looking for simple data usage, Email, Facebook, checking directions and reservations. She'd possibly need a little more data for some FB live videos and the like. The Feel at Home roaming is a nice feature as it means we'd be able to only pick up 1 sim card for our whole trip instead of having to get another one in Austria.

Looking over the plans, I'd think the All in One 10 would be good for me and the 20 would be better for her. I'm a bit confused about what they mean about top up. How do I purchase this? Do I need to get a sim separately? Do they sell these packs as marked or do I just buy 10 or 20 GBP of credit and then convert it to these plans? How???? The website doesn't do much to help *they seem to think everyone knows how the system works already*

Thanks for any help.
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Old Aug 13, 16, 9:20 pm
  #367  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
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Originally Posted by Joe758 View Post
We will be spending 4 days in the UK followed by 4 in Austria and then 1 more in UK before returning to USA.

My wife and I both have unlocked iPhones and were looking to get SIM cards for our phones. Looking over the choices here, I'm ready to go with three, whom we've used before and were satisfied with the service and price.

I'm looking for simple data usage, Email, Facebook, checking directions and reservations. She'd possibly need a little more data for some FB live videos and the like. The Feel at Home roaming is a nice feature as it means we'd be able to only pick up 1 sim card for our whole trip instead of having to get another one in Austria.

Looking over the plans, I'd think the All in One 10 would be good for me and the 20 would be better for her. I'm a bit confused about what they mean about top up. How do I purchase this? Do I need to get a sim separately? Do they sell these packs as marked or do I just buy 10 or 20 GBP of credit and then convert it to these plans? How???? The website doesn't do much to help *they seem to think everyone knows how the system works already*

Thanks for any help.
Some of the SIMs come with prepaid air time but the usual thing is to get a SIM at, e.g. W.H. Smith, and buy a top up at the same time. The top up just comes as a code on a register tape and you enter it through the phone. You can then use some of it to buy an add-on such as the plans you are considering. The SIM will come with an instruction card and, when I bought one, cost 99p. You can also get them from 3 delivered to a UK address free. Note that a top up automatically gets you 150MB of data free.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 1:18 am
  #368  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
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Originally Posted by Joe758 View Post
We will be spending 4 days in the UK followed by 4 in Austria and then 1 more in UK before returning to USA.

My wife and I both have unlocked iPhones and were looking to get SIM cards for our phones. Looking over the choices here, I'm ready to go with three, whom we've used before and were satisfied with the service and price.

I'm looking for simple data usage, Email, Facebook, checking directions and reservations. She'd possibly need a little more data for some FB live videos and the like. The Feel at Home roaming is a nice feature as it means we'd be able to only pick up 1 sim card for our whole trip instead of having to get another one in Austria.

Looking over the plans, I'd think the All in One 10 would be good for me and the 20 would be better for her. I'm a bit confused about what they mean about top up. How do I purchase this? Do I need to get a sim separately? Do they sell these packs as marked or do I just buy 10 or 20 GBP of credit and then convert it to these plans? How???? The website doesn't do much to help *they seem to think everyone knows how the system works already*

Thanks for any help.
Originally Posted by MADPhil View Post
Some of the SIMs come with prepaid air time but the usual thing is to get a SIM at, e.g. W.H. Smith, and buy a top up at the same time. The top up just comes as a code on a register tape and you enter it through the phone. You can then use some of it to buy an add-on such as the plans you are considering. The SIM will come with an instruction card and, when I bought one, cost 99p. You can also get them from 3 delivered to a UK address free. Note that a top up automatically gets you 150MB of data free.
The key thing to be aware of is that it is usually a 3-step process as Phil pretty much described:
1. Buy a sim
2. Buy a top-up/refill
3. Need to explicitly find the code or website to "enable" the all-in-one add-on. Otherwise you'll be left with a high balance and the default 3/2/1 pay as you go pricing.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 6:39 am
  #369  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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In general, the sim itself is free when purchased in the UK either at a company store or placs like Carphone Warehouse but they required a minimum top up (usually £10). You can have sims sent to you via ebay for a couple of bucks if you need to know your UK number before leaving. I did find a web site that allows you to top up UK sims online for an additional fee of 99p. You can also have free sims by almost all the major UK companies sent to your hotel address (await for arrival). You then go out to one of the many places, after inserting the sim, such as Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury, Carphone Warhouse to purchase a top up which was described. You then comply with the instructons of the company to choose what is referred to as the add ons. Once I had topped up with my sim so I paid an additional $3 for the sim and 99p for the top up I was able to from home either on line or via following procedures. I did this 10 days out from my trip so I had 20 days of service as most of these plans have a 30 day limitation.

One of my big gripes with the British telcoms is they don't allow you to use a credit card issued outside the UK to top up directly on their web sites. That is very idiotic for small £10 top ups as I understand fraud occurs but usually not for such trivial amounts. Now if only I could remember the web site I used to top up; perhaps somebody here knows it. Online shops allow customers to spend hundreds of dollars, euros, pounds online. They can easily use paypal as does mobile top up. Makes little sense to me.

Ah ha...I found it. www.Mobiletopup.co.uk

Last edited by JEFFJAGUAR; Aug 14, 16 at 8:49 am
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Old Aug 14, 16, 10:35 am
  #370  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR View Post
You can have sims sent to you via ebay for a couple of bucks if you need to know your UK number before leaving.

I did find a web site that allows you to top up UK sims online for an additional fee of 99p.
Ah ha...I found it. www.Mobiletopup.co.uk
Thanks to everyone for the help. We aren't truly strapped for time when we get there. We are staying near a train station so it shouldn't be a problem to pop in to a store and pick up and sim. Since we are topping up at the same time, it shouldn't cost anything extra.

I don't need to know my number in advance. Only a few people we'd need to contact and we can text them or FB the number when we get it.

Stopping somewhere to buy additional isn't a problem since I don't think we'll need to or can always stop by somewhere during the day. If we are going over, I'll keep the website handy to buy online.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 10:36 am
  #371  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Take a look at

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Three-Nano-M...3D222174119784

Sim card is 99p...shipping to US is 50p

Use above noted web site, www.mobiletopup.co.uk to top up £10. 99p surcharge

Both of coursr take paypal

You will then arrive in the UK with your number. As I said, if you're staying less than 30 days, top up about 10 days before arrival and choose whatever add on you want after doing the research of the 3 web site. Similar deals are available for the other uk mobile companies on ebay. I have dealt with these web sellers and this is not a troll and they and ebay and paypal are totally reliable. But you have to decide if the extra 99p for the card, 50p for shipping and 99p for topping up (the last is totally unnecessary as the British telcomes should take paypal but they don't for some reason I can't fathom. All this, of course, can be done for free (with the £10 top up of course) upon arrival in the UK.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 10:57 am
  #372  
 
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Originally Posted by Joe758 View Post
Thanks to everyone for the help. We aren't truly strapped for time when we get there. We are staying near a train station so it shouldn't be a problem to pop in to a store and pick up and sim. Since we are topping up at the same time, it shouldn't cost anything extra.

I don't need to know my number in advance. Only a few people we'd need to contact and we can text them or FB the number when we get it.

Stopping somewhere to buy additional isn't a problem since I don't think we'll need to or can always stop by somewhere during the day. If we are going over, I'll keep the website handy to buy online.
Good show and believe me I'm not trying to disuade you but let me throw out one other possibility; probably not likely but it happened to me several years ago. If you have your heart set on 3, you go into say Carphone Warehouse and the clerk out of nowhere tells you they're out of 3 sim cards but he can sell you a O2 card with a similar plan. Of course, being a cynic, he may be telling the truth or his coompany might be telling him to push O2 as they get a larger commission.

Of course, probably the easiest and least troublesome is to go to the 3 web site and ask them to send you 1 or 2 free sim cards to your hotel of arrival. Then upon arrival, you can go into any place that does top ups, top up for £10 and add on the extra you want. Just so many easy ways to deal with UK PAYG sims and for us Americans there is one big advantage you can't quibble with. In the UK, the language they use is English, a close variant of course of American. You should have little trouble communicating with clerks to get what you need although you might be surprised at the number of foreign students working in these jobs whose English is limited. But you shouldn't have all that many problems.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 1:56 pm
  #373  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR View Post
Take a look at

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Three-Nano-M...3D222174119784

Sim card is 99p...shipping to US is 50p

Use above noted web site, www.mobiletopup.co.uk to top up £10. 99p surcharge

Both of coursr take paypal

You will then arrive in the UK with your number. As I said, if you're staying less than 30 days, top up about 10 days before arrival and choose whatever add on you want after doing the research of the 3 web site. Similar deals are available for the other uk mobile companies on ebay. I have dealt with these web sellers and this is not a troll and they and ebay and paypal are totally reliable. But you have to decide if the extra 99p for the card, 50p for shipping and 99p for topping up (the last is totally unnecessary as the British telcomes should take paypal but they don't for some reason I can't fathom. All this, of course, can be done for free (with the £10 top up of course) upon arrival in the UK.
Figured it was worth having 1 less thing to worry about to order the sim. I bought from Carphone Warehouse last trip but I had to wait 2 hours from my arrival time for the store to open. We are arriving late this time and some places might be closed. For 99p and 50p shipping, it's worth it. I wouldn't think it would be worth trolling for 99p at a time. :-)

I'll see about buying the top up package closer to our trip.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 5:41 pm
  #374  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
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I'm in the same boat--trying to decide which sim to buy.

Looks like Vodafone is the best option for me, as I will be calling back to Canada.

Thanks very much for the responses, and in particular the suggestion to buy the card/top-up in advance.

Surprising to me that there aren't stores at (in my case) Gatwick that sell them. Most places I've been, I just take my phone to a booth, tell them roughly what I need, pick the best match, then stand there twirling my luggage while they put the new card in.

I guess it's time I learned to fend for myself.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 8:51 pm
  #375  
 
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Originally Posted by kalderlake View Post
I'm in the same boat--trying to decide which sim to buy.

Looks like Vodafone is the best option for me, as I will be calling back to Canada.
I don't know what Vodafone charge but Three is 1p per minute if you dial a prefix code first. A nuisance but it brings it down from 56.2p per minute!
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