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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
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: Silver Fox
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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 Nov 24, 16, 7:33 am
  #391  
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Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR View Post
Why would the person want to buy a phone for secondary use in the UK? The prices for smartphones on ebay are much lower than buying a brand name in the UK which would also include VAT? With an unlocked smartphone bought on ebay, getting a UK sim card is a piece of cake. The only thing you have to watch is whether the phone you purchase will have all the 4g bands used in the UK and there is a web site, I think it's willmyphonework.com, that will help you with that.
I know that. He mentioned it, I am giving him a price point and places he can look. Alright?
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Old Nov 24, 16, 8:05 am
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Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
I know that. He mentioned it, I am giving him a price point and places he can look. Alright?
I wasn't trying to be argumentative. This is a place for the exchange of ideas and having a contrary opinion doesn't mean one does't respect the opinions of others.
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Old Nov 24, 16, 8:34 am
  #393  
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I have updated the wiki with all the bands for the UK.
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Old Nov 27, 16, 8:32 pm
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Ok, so i continue to be confused.
I can buy an unlocked phone in the usa (for example, google pixel).
i want to use the phone for data and calling in the UK. Such as uber, texting, etc. I would like to have a UK phone number.

i can buy a three sim card on ebay with 30 pounds of credit. I assume i can pop that into my unlocked phone and use it right when i land in the uk.

DO I NEED a uk credit card, or a us credit card is ok (I am a US resident)

Can i top up these sims with purchase from a us credit card while in the uk?

This is all very confusing to me. It seems so complicated.

Thanks for the guidance.
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Old Nov 27, 16, 8:48 pm
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Originally Posted by sambb View Post
Ok, so i continue to be confused.
I can buy an unlocked phone in the usa (for example, google pixel).
i want to use the phone for data and calling in the UK. Such as uber, texting, etc. I would like to have a UK phone number.

i can buy a three sim card on ebay with 30 pounds of credit. I assume i can pop that into my unlocked phone and use it right when i land in the uk.

DO I NEED a uk credit card, or a us credit card is ok (I am a US resident)

Can i top up these sims with purchase from a us credit card while in the uk?

This is all very confusing to me. It seems so complicated.

Thanks for the guidance.
Before you buy a new phone, find out how to unlock the one you have. Just call AT&T. They should tell you how.

Once you've done that, you can pop in a UK SIM.
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Old Nov 28, 16, 12:48 am
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There are other solutions in this thread which might answer your questions.

I haven't checked ebay lately. But a couple of months ago, I got a three sim card with no credit for 99p (about $1.22) and this particular vendor ships to the USA for 99p or at least did at that time. Go back through this thread for that link.

Now the idiots at 3, like many of the other British telcoms do not allow topping up with credit cards issued outside the UK nor do they take paypal for that. That was also discussed here. However, there is a web site, www.mobiletopup.co.uk that will allow you to top up UK sim cards online and will take paypal for a 99p surcharge. They email you the top up code and after you insert sim card and the phone registers on a US roaming partner (either T Mobile or AT&T) you follow the directions and can top up and have a fully functional phone as soon as you arrive in the UK. or

You can go to the three web site and, again at least they have in the past have them post to your hotel address 1 or 2 sim cards for free. Upon arrival, you insert the sim cards then go out to either a grocery chain, a service station or a drug chain (Boots or Superdrug for example) and tell them you want a top up. They will process it at the register, absolutely honor your US credit card, and then you enter the top up code as above. All this is free. or

You can go into a phone store, say Carphone Warehouse, upon arrival in the UK and they'll take care of all the details. The sim card is free with a minimum £10 top up.

All these methods will work fine. The advantages of doing it here for the small surcharges is you know your number in advance in case you want friends and relatives to have it and you have a fully functioning UK mobile phone as soon as the plane hits the runway at Heathrow or Gatwick (nobody pays any attention to the old rules to keep mobile phones off until inside the terminal although in the USA they've given that up and now tell you on flights you can turn on your cell phones while the plane is still taxing to the gate don't know about the UK airlines).

Hope that helps.

PS...Here's the link for the 3 sim card. http://www.ebay.com/itm/UK-Three-UK-...oAAOSwP~tW3qFf

The postage to the US is only 75p not what I gave you.

Last edited by JEFFJAGUAR; Nov 28, 16 at 3:51 am
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Old Nov 28, 16, 3:31 am
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Giffgaff now takes paypal.
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Old Nov 28, 16, 3:52 am
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Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
Giffgaff now takes paypal.
Good to know. BTW, so does Vodafone UK.
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Old Nov 28, 16, 5:27 am
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Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR View Post
Good to know. BTW, so does Vodafone UK.
I have added a new section and updated the wiki and if you know of others then please add them there.
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Old Nov 29, 16, 3:56 am
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is it advantageous to get a sim from three, since i am in the usa and i can use it from the usa as a test before i go to the uk? it seems like their plan allows one to roam in the usa
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Old Nov 29, 16, 8:16 am
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Originally Posted by sambb View Post
is it advantageous to get a sim from three, since i am in the usa and i can use it from the usa as a test before i go to the uk? it seems like their plan allows one to roam in the usa
The main advantage is that you will know your UK number in advance. I also find it useful to be able to give the airline one number for the trip. The roaming charges are fairly reasonable and the "At Home Abroad" deal is even better. It is intended for UK residents who will be abroad temporarily but, if not abused, can be useful.
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Old Nov 29, 16, 8:24 am
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You don't really have to complete a call. Almost all the UK telcoms allow roaming in the USA although 3 has the best plan. But I think, as I remember, the duration of that plan is limited to something like 30 days. But you can easily dial your home mobile number, see if the call is completed and see the number of the calling phone in the caller ID which should assure you the thing works.
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Old Nov 29, 16, 8:33 pm
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i understand, but costs being nearly equal, it seems like three is the best choice to try out calls etc before i go, isnt it? I need to make sure the phone works right when i land.
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Old Feb 12, 17, 2:02 am
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Originally Posted by bkafrick View Post
You dont even need a store. There's a vending machine in the arrivals terminal 2 that has a zillion sim card options. Its on the way into Immigration.
Originally Posted by AllieKat View Post
At significantly inflated prices...
I'm arriving at Heathrow I think in terminal 2 (flying in via United). I have an iPhone 6 A1549 that I've confirmed is properly unlocked (was carrier locked on AT&T originally due to contract that's over now; I confirmed a US T-Mobile SIM works for both voice and data in it after unlock).

Are there stores within Heathrow that would be better choices, preferably in terminal 2?

I plan to take the tube straight from LHR to my hotel in the Hammersmith area. I arrive at LHR on a Sunday morning (Feb 19th). It's too late for me to order something from the UK and have it arrive in the US in time.

I'm mainly looking for data. Don't care about texts and barely need any voice minutes, if any. I think 1 GB should be enough if I use the SIM only in the UK.

On the Feb 25th, I'm flying to Germany where I'll be thru March 5th.

If there's a SIM that would be good for me in both those countries, that'd be great. If not, I can buy another SIM in Germany.

Don't care much about speed. Even 2G is ok. My last resort was to add on a line temporarily to a work T-Mobile account (I'll pay for that add on) and take advantage of their free 2G speed roaming (https://www.t-mobile.com/optional-services/roaming.html). This might be much pricier than buying SIMs in the UK and Germany.
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Old Feb 12, 17, 2:21 am
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In that case I would try to get a Three SIM so you can use the "Feel at home" feature of it. I come through T2 a lot and I kow there is a vending machine at baggage reclaim, I am not sure about the shops though. If it were me I would wait until I was at my hotel. Most corner shops, petrol (gas) stations, supermarkets, Poundland, all will have SIMs that you can buy.
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