There are many mobile phone network service providers and calling plans to choose from in the UK. You should read contracts closely and take the time to investigate your options. Check the rates for both UK and international calls when purchasing a plan as these can vary substantially.
Pay as you go
'Pay as you go' means that you add credit to the phone and use it until it runs out.
- You can 'top up' your credit whenever you like.
- There is no monthly commitment and you only pay for the calls and texts that you use (but credit can sometimes 'expire'
- You can buy credit in many shops and at cash points.
If you opt for pay as you go, you usually need to buy a phone. If you already have a phone, you may be able to buy a pay as you go SIM card to use with it, as long as the card is compatible. Check this before buying the SIM card.
A rolling contract is somewhere in between pay as you go and pay monthly.
- SIM-only plan with no fixed end date; you must let your network provider know 1 month in advance that you want to cancel your contract.
- Payment is taken by direct debit so you will need to have a UK bank account and credit or debit card.
- You do not usually have to undergo a rigourous credit check.
If you opt for a rolling contract you will need to buy a phone. If you already have a phone, you may be able to buy a pay as you go SIM card to use with it, as long as the card is compatible. Check this before buying the SIM card.
- You will have a minimum monthly payment and will be required to keep the contract for a set period of time (normally one or two years).
- You will have to undergo a credit check
- It is not possible to avoid the monthly fee, even if you do not use the phone.
- Providers usually offer a free or heavily discounted mobile phone as part of the package.
In order to sign up for a monthly contract, you are likely to need
- Your exact UK address, room/flat number and post code
- A UK bank account and the relevant details (sort code, account number, and/or credit card details.)
- It is almost impossible to break a mobile phone contract once you enter it, so you must review the contract very carefully before you commit.
- International students may have difficulty setting up a pay monthly contract as some providers will refuse to set up a contract with someone who is in the country on a temporary basis, or someone who does not have an established credit history in the UK.