Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel Technology
Reload this Page >

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

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

    Hide Wikipost
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
Wiki Link
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

Please add and edit!
Print Wikipost

Reply

Old Feb 12, 17, 4:49 am
  #406  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: LON, ACK, BOS..... (Not necessarily in that order)
Programs: **Mucci Diamond Hairbrush** - compared to that nothing else matters (+BA Silver)
Posts: 12,509
Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
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.
I'll second that suggestion about Three. The SIM should cost you no more than £1 any more than that and you're paying too much. They can be free with your top up. To use Feel at Home you need to make sure that you are on the 3-2-1 PAYG plan and have bought an add on which has minutes and data included, ideally before leaving the UK.
Jimmie76 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 12, 17, 5:44 am
  #407  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
Posts: 148
Nevermind... I called Three and got my questions answered. The "Get 3000 texts and 300 minutes plus 12GB data for just £20" sounded good to me.

They told me the the free Three SIMs are readily available at supermarkets and that I need to buy a top-up coupon, which I can buy with cash. And, they suggested I call them to make sure that it's applied towards the "Pay As You Go - All in One £20."

They confirmed "Feel At Home" is included in that. 12 gigs of data for the ~2.5 weeks I'm in Europe should be more than enough.

They said there are activation instructions on the back of the package.

Thanks for suggesting Three. The carrier and plan choices in the UK are overwhelming.

Last edited by cwerdna; Feb 12, 17 at 6:14 pm
cwerdna is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 12, 17, 8:50 pm
  #408  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
Posts: 148
To followup, thanks for suggestion of the 20 GPB Three SIM w/12 gigs of data and "Feel at Home". It was a great value.

It worked great! I did see the above 20 pound SIM for 30 pounds in a vending machine at Heathrow. I recall even seeing a store in the airport trying to sell it for even more. I balked.

Fortunately, I found a Three retail store in a mall (http://www.kings-mall.co.uk/shopping.html) near where I was staying and bought the SIM there w/no markup.

It worked fine in Germany, as well.

There are some caveats that I didn't know about though. Apparently, there are some UK laws re: "adult" content. So, even some sites that aren't explicitly "adult" like https://archive.org/ are blocked. I tried setting up an online account w/Three, PIN, password, etc. and tried to go through their validation procedure to prove I'm an adult. One involved entering a credit card #, which it'd reject.

I ended up calling them and unfortunately, I was told that it requires a UK credit card (I didn't have one) or going to a physical Three store for them to verify me (e.g. via passport). Unfortunately, I was already in Germany and had no plans to return to the UK. Oh well.

I tried using Opera VPN but it seems VPNs are blocked. I ended up using Opera Mini Browser (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oper...363729560?mt=8) on iOS to workaround it.

Lesson learned, if I go back to the UK, I need to have them validate me as an adult before I leave the UK.

Other caveat, Three's network has no 2G. My mom was looking to get an el cheapo feature phone for while we were in Europe as she has no smartphone nor a phone that'll work in Europe (Virgin Mobile which is CDMA, has no SIM slot). While browsing at Argos stores, virtually all the cheapo phones said they won't work on the Three network. They all happened to be what looked like 2G only.

Earlier, I'd spoken to the Three store reps and they mentioned whatever phone we get will need to support 3G. We ended up getting a cheapo 2G only phone and a SIM on another network that had 2G.
cwerdna is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 27, 17, 10:54 am
  #409  
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 200
Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR View Post
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.
Thank you JEFFJAGUAR! I used your advice to purchase Three SIMs from eBay and then went to the mobiletopup website to purchase top up credits. Did all of this for family of 4 prior to leaving for the UK, France and Belgium. Landed at Heathrow and cell phones worked perfectly. It was definitely worth the small fees to be up and running instead of having to spend time in London getting everything set up. As we traveled through UK, France and Belgium, everything worked...able to text each other, everyone had data, everyone happy! Had considered temporarily switching to T-Mobile, but using Three for four cell phones was so much more convenient and extremely affordable. (One hitch: the mobiletopup website only allows you to purchase three items in one transaction...so in order to buy four top up cards, I had to do it in two transactions...which cost a little extra.)
ebuck is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 29, 17, 5:46 pm
  #410  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Francisco/Sydney
Programs: UA 1K/MM, TK Elite, DL Gold, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum, IHG Gold, Hertz PC, Avis First
Posts: 6,510
Originally Posted by cwerdna View Post
Other caveat, Three's network has no 2G.
Yup, got caught by this a few weeks ago. Of more specifically, I got caught by the fact that my dual-sim phone only supports 2G on whichever SIM you're not using for data. As I was using my AT&T SIM for data (yay to an unlimited global data plan!), that meant that the Three SIM didn't work at all in that phone.

I'd never noticed this before as obviously the other places I'd used this phone with a local SIM all had 2G support, and given that I only use the local SIM for voice/SMS, it's always worked perfectly before.

Thankfully I had another small phone that I could use instead, but I did waste an hour or so trying to work out what was going on before I realized the limitation of my phone
docbert is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 30, 17, 1:54 am
  #411  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: LHR/SFO
Programs: 1K, *G, Global Entry, Hertz PC
Posts: 14,963
Originally Posted by docbert View Post
Yup, got caught by this a few weeks ago. Of more specifically, I got caught by the fact that my dual-sim phone only supports 2G on whichever SIM you're not using for data. As I was using my AT&T SIM for data (yay to an unlimited global data plan!), that meant that the Three SIM didn't work at all in that phone.

I'd never noticed this before as obviously the other places I'd used this phone with a local SIM all had 2G support, and given that I only use the local SIM for voice/SMS, it's always worked perfectly before.

Thankfully I had another small phone that I could use instead, but I did waste an hour or so trying to work out what was going on before I realized the limitation of my phone
Should have read the wiki
Silver Fox is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 25, 17, 5:09 am
  #412  
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: BKK / London
Programs: TG Platinum; SPG/Marriott Gold; Hilton Gold; Shangri-La Jade;
Posts: 139
Hi all,
I'm going to be in the UK for 35 days and need a plan.

- 8-12 GB of internet
- Want to call back home (Thailand) for a good price or would be great if included in the plan.
- Won't use texting and calling that much but would be good to have it in case of emergencies.

Thanks,
BennyW
tybo99 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 25, 17, 11:16 am
  #413  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: LHR/SFO
Programs: 1K, *G, Global Entry, Hertz PC
Posts: 14,963
Originally Posted by BennyW View Post
Hi all,
I'm going to be in the UK for 35 days and need a plan.

- 8-12 GB of internet
- Want to call back home (Thailand) for a good price or would be great if included in the plan.
- Won't use texting and calling that much but would be good to have it in case of emergencies.

Thanks,
BennyW
The wiki has a lot of links and "stuff to know" about the UK, so you might want to have a quick look there to see who the providers are and for the best rates.
Silver Fox is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 30, 17, 7:51 am
  #414  
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: BKK / London
Programs: TG Platinum; SPG/Marriott Gold; Hilton Gold; Shangri-La Jade;
Posts: 139
another question,

are there any carriers that will ship sim cards before I get to the UK (specifically to Thailand)? my Son (14 yr old) will be travelling to the UK alone for a summer camp and wants a sim but cannot buy one at the airport because of his age.

i've looked at the 3 pay-as-you-go sim card which is amazing value but 3 does not seem to ship sim-cards outside the country.

BennyW
tybo99 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 30, 17, 8:02 am
  #415  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,746
Originally Posted by BennyW View Post
another question,

are there any carriers that will ship sim cards before I get to the UK (specifically to Thailand)? my Son (14 yr old) will be travelling to the UK alone for a summer camp and wants a sim but cannot buy one at the airport because of his age.

i've looked at the 3 pay-as-you-go sim card which is amazing value but 3 does not seem to ship sim-cards outside the country.

BennyW
Check ebay listings. See if they ship to Thailand.
JEFFJAGUAR is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 30, 17, 11:41 am
  #416  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: NYC
Posts: 4,474
Originally Posted by BennyW View Post
another question,

are there any carriers that will ship sim cards before I get to the UK (specifically to Thailand)? my Son (14 yr old) will be travelling to the UK alone for a summer camp and wants a sim but cannot buy one at the airport because of his age.

i've looked at the 3 pay-as-you-go sim card which is amazing value but 3 does not seem to ship sim-cards outside the country.

BennyW
Giffgaff (an O2 mvno) has a program which lets UK people send out SIM cards and both the sender and you get a £5 credit. Many in the UK make a business of this.
richarddd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 30, 17, 2:58 pm
  #417  
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Menlo Park, CA, USA
Programs: UA 1MM 0P, AA, DL, *wood, Lifetime FPC Plat., IHG, HHD
Posts: 6,458
Originally Posted by BennyW View Post
another question,

are there any carriers that will ship sim cards before I get to the UK (specifically to Thailand)? my Son (14 yr old) will be travelling to the UK alone for a summer camp and wants a sim but cannot buy one at the airport because of his age.

i've looked at the 3 pay-as-you-go sim card which is amazing value but 3 does not seem to ship sim-cards outside the country.

BennyW
Historically I've had toggle send me sims to the USA. Don't see why they wouldn't ship elsewhere.
nmenaker is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 1, 17, 9:53 am
  #418  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Chicago
Posts: 217
Originally Posted by BennyW View Post
another question,

are there any carriers that will ship sim cards before I get to the UK (specifically to Thailand)? my Son (14 yr old) will be travelling to the UK alone for a summer camp and wants a sim but cannot buy one at the airport because of his age.

i've looked at the 3 pay-as-you-go sim card which is amazing value but 3 does not seem to ship sim-cards outside the country.

BennyW
Look at dataGo. I think they charge $9 for a blank three sim, but will ship it anywhere.
manda99 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 26, 17, 8:32 am
  #419  
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: OKC
Programs: AAdvantage Gold, IHG Gold, Choice Privileges, National Emerald
Posts: 1,267
UK SIM with Hotspot

Getting ready to head back to the UK for a bit - I have a SIMs from 3 and O2 that I've used in the past. Looking for one now that would allow hotspot usage on a pay as you go plan.

O2 site says that it works on prepaid/pay as you go service only for an Iphone (https://www.o2.co.uk/help/digital-se...rsonal-hotspot)

3 doesn't appear to support it at all on prepaid lines (http://support.three.co.uk/SRVS/CGI-...se=EXT(EM77180))

Anyone know of a UK prepaid SIM that allows hotspot usage?
bchandler02 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 27, 17, 12:13 am
  #420  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,273
Rundown here: http://kenstechtips.com/index.php/te...on-uk-networks

Giffgaff runs on O2 network and allows tethering if you've been happy with O2 coverage
https://community.giffgaff.com/t5/Le...y/ta-p/7816336
Giffgaff now send sims internationally (no 3rd party needed) and offers top ups with international credit cards
http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.c...Availability_5
We’ve got more good news for you. Because we aim to make life easier, all international joiners will be offered the option of activating their giffgaff SIM, topping-up and auto-recurring their goodybag using an international credit card.

This idea was originally posted by william_li and brought back to life by gsklb04

Last edited by freecia; Jul 27, 17 at 12:20 am
freecia is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: