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 Jul 28, 17, 4:06 pm
  #421  
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: OKC
Programs: AAdvantage Gold, IHG Gold, Choice Privileges, National Emerald
Posts: 1,267
Originally Posted by freecia View Post
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
This is perfect, thanks. Just ordered a giffgaff SIM, should have it in a week or so. Worst case, I still have a 3 sim (which apparently doesnt allow it) or my regular Verizon sim for service if needed, but from what I remember, O2 was pretty solid in the past.
bchandler02 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 11, 17, 5:55 pm
  #422  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SNA
Posts: 16,408
After reading a ton on this thread and elsewhere I think we've decided on for EE my teen who's headed to St Andrews in about 4 weeks. She'll be there about 8 months a year for 4 years. We're going to keep her on the minimum plan on our US family plan for when she's here. The only thing I can't decide is whether pay as you go or monthly is better. Any thoughts?
VickiSoCal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 11, 17, 9:17 pm
  #423  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Long Island, NY
Programs: Marriott Titanium Elite/Lifetime Titanium, Delta Platinum Medallion, Hertz #1 Gold
Posts: 559
Originally Posted by VickiSoCal View Post
After reading a ton on this thread and elsewhere I think we've decided on for EE my teen who's headed to St Andrews in about 4 weeks. She'll be there about 8 months a year for 4 years. We're going to keep her on the minimum plan on our US family plan for when she's here. The only thing I can't decide is whether pay as you go or monthly is better. Any thoughts?
Maybe I'm wrong on this... but how will she have any credit history in the U.K. ?
Prepaid is probably your only option.
IslesFan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 11, 17, 10:43 pm
  #424  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SNA
Posts: 16,408
Originally Posted by IslesFan View Post
Maybe I'm wrong on this... but how will she have any credit history in the U.K. ?
Prepaid is probably your only option.
She will be opening a bank account as soon as she arrives, likely the same day as she signs up for cell service. I am told the cell providers in St. Andrews (there is an EE store in town) are ok with the international students doing a SIM only monthly plan with their documentation from the university.
VickiSoCal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 16, 17, 8:56 pm
  #425  
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 VickiSoCal View Post
She will be opening a bank account as soon as she arrives, likely the same day as she signs up for cell service. I am told the cell providers in St. Andrews (there is an EE store in town) are ok with the international students doing a SIM only monthly plan with their documentation from the university.
I would personally check coverage of her accommodation and university with the various networks before signing anything. The coverage checkers that the networks have are not always reliable and individual buildings can prove to be effective at blocking mobile phone signals from networks.
Jimmie76 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 17, 17, 5:34 pm
  #426  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: LHR/SFO
Programs: 1K, *G, Global Entry, Hertz PC
Posts: 14,963
Originally Posted by Jimmie76 View Post
I would personally check coverage of her accommodation and university with the various networks before signing anything. The coverage checkers that the networks have are not always reliable and individual buildings can prove to be effective at blocking mobile phone signals from networks.
Usually, but not always, if there is (in this case EE) a mobile phone shop in the town it is usually a good sign that they have signal there. But you are right about the providers coverage checkers, do not trust them at all.

Also a good idea is to look at providers that provide wifi calling and EE is one of them if you have certain phone models.
Silver Fox is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 17, 17, 6:38 pm
  #427  
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
Usually, but not always, if there is (in this case EE) a mobile phone shop in the town it is usually a good sign that they have signal there. But you are right about the providers coverage checkers, do not trust them at all.

Also a good idea is to look at providers that provide wifi calling and EE is one of them if you have certain phone models.
Whilst I can't disagree with that, I have had a situation where I worked where the signal from O2 didn't penetrate the building very well. Outside there wasn't a problem but inside nothing in most places. It's the same at my folks house which is a large stone building and no mobile signal comes in.

Last edited by Jimmie76; Aug 17, 17 at 6:46 pm
Jimmie76 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 17, 10:35 pm
  #428  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 31
I wonder if anyone can answer this question. I live in the US but I'm English so travel back not infrequently but sometimes there is a year or more gap. I've purchased PAYG sims before but the one problem I haven't to date been able to solve is keeping the sim active when I'm out of the UK, so I lose my number and have to start all over again. It occurs to me that if I use three, I could use the feel at home option to send a text back to the UK on, say, a 3 monthly basis just to keep the number alive. Any thoughts on this.
missionpa is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 17, 10:48 pm
  #429  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: MSN
Programs: AA, BAEC Gold
Posts: 3,031
Originally Posted by missionpa View Post
I wonder if anyone can answer this question. I live in the US but I'm English so travel back not infrequently but sometimes there is a year or more gap. I've purchased PAYG sims before but the one problem I haven't to date been able to solve is keeping the sim active when I'm out of the UK, so I lose my number and have to start all over again. It occurs to me that if I use three, I could use the feel at home option to send a text back to the UK on, say, a 3 monthly basis just to keep the number alive. Any thoughts on this.
I am in the same position and Three don't seem to expire the numbers very soon. As you say it is cheap to keep them alive anyway.
MADPhil is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 17, 11:50 pm
  #430  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 31
Originally Posted by MADPhil View Post
I am in the same position and Three don't seem to expire the numbers very soon. As you say it is cheap to keep them alive anyway.
Any idea how long? I've had some last over a year and some expire in less than 6 months. And will texting (or calling) the UK keep them alive? I'm assuming so. What about just using some data? Will that do it? And what is the maximum period? 3 months? 4, 5?
missionpa is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 21, 17, 11:20 am
  #431  
 
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 missionpa View Post
I wonder if anyone can answer this question. I live in the US but I'm English so travel back not infrequently but sometimes there is a year or more gap. I've purchased PAYG sims before but the one problem I haven't to date been able to solve is keeping the sim active when I'm out of the UK, so I lose my number and have to start all over again. It occurs to me that if I use three, I could use the feel at home option to send a text back to the UK on, say, a 3 monthly basis just to keep the number alive. Any thoughts on this.
are you having trouble remembering to take an action, or do the companies not offer an option to extend?

Companies like toggle (which I can't really recommend anymore since they don't have european data option) offer the ability to have a permanent number for 7$ extra a year which keeps it in place and doesn't then require the frequent extensions. Maybe Three offers similar?

Historically, I just do a text to my google voice number once every 85 days (I setup a calendar reminder - one could probably just setup a programmed email to text and set the delivery dates) that keeps things alive for the ones that require some use.
nmenaker is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 21, 17, 11:21 am
  #432  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: London and Zurich
Programs: AA, BA, Mucci: Sir Roger des Directions Routières, PCR
Posts: 13,608
Originally Posted by missionpa View Post
It occurs to me that if I use three, I could use the feel at home option to send a text back to the UK on, say, a 3 monthly basis just to keep the number alive. Any thoughts on this.
I wouldn't do that. If your only use over a period is outside the UK, they may suspect you're not a UK customer. ('At home' option is intended for UK phones temporarily abroad.)

OTOH, my wife and I both use 3-2-1 PAYG. When we check balances, there is always the message 'Information... Your credit will not expire'.
Roger is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 21, 17, 11:31 am
  #433  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: London and Zurich
Programs: AA, BA, Mucci: Sir Roger des Directions Routières, PCR
Posts: 13,608
Originally Posted by nmenaker View Post
Companies like toggle ... offer the ability to have a permanent number for 7$ extra a year which keeps it in place and doesn't then require the frequent extensions.
On a detail, the permanent numbers are 'foreign'. In my case, I have permanent US and Swiss numbers @ £5 each p.a.. The permanent UK number for me is my Toggle number, which of course means maintenance, a call or text now and again, for example.

I wonder if missionpa were a US customer, would s/he then qualify for a permanent UK number?
Roger is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 21, 17, 2:29 pm
  #434  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SNA
Posts: 16,408
Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
Usually, but not always, if there is (in this case EE) a mobile phone shop in the town it is usually a good sign that they have signal there. But you are right about the providers coverage checkers, do not trust them at all.

Also a good idea is to look at providers that provide wifi calling and EE is one of them if you have certain phone models.
Thank you. Students she has met online are saying EE has best coverage in town, but since her accommodation is a very old building it may have spotty coverage AND spotty wifi. May actually set up a small hotspot in her room if that is allowed, via her wired connection so that she can use laptop in bed, or other wifi devices in her room. Not clear whether it is or not.. or if not officially allowed if we can do it on the down low.

EE store is first stop after we get bank done. Going to be a very busy two days of setting her up.
VickiSoCal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 21, 17, 6:28 pm
  #435  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: MSN
Programs: AA, BAEC Gold
Posts: 3,031
Originally Posted by missionpa View Post
Any idea how long? I've had some last over a year and some expire in less than 6 months. And will texting (or calling) the UK keep them alive? I'm assuming so. What about just using some data? Will that do it? And what is the maximum period? 3 months? 4, 5?
I haven't pushed it beyond about six months as far as I can remember. I don't know that an occasional text in the US will upset them as long as the rest of your use is in the UK. I do get back there a lot more than you do.
MADPhil 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: