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Is Mobile by Sainsbury’s any good?

Monday, February 24th 2014

Sainsbury’s is the most recent supermarket to join the mobile phone ranks, offering a small selection of Pay As You Go (PAYG) deals aimed primarily at families. The provider offers a choice of call, text and data bundles starting at just £10, as well as bonus Nectar points for cardholders.

So Mobile by Sainsbury’s ticks the affordability box but how does it compare on other key issues? Let’s find out in our independent review of the new addition to the UK mobile market.

Pros and cons


  • Good coverage
  • Earn Nectar points
  • Good value bundles


  • Fair usage policy on texts
  • No pay-monthly deals
  • No track record

What we like

Good coverage

By utilising Vodafone’s mobile network infrastructure, Mobile by Sainsbury’s enjoys 99% network coverage across the UK, plus more than 200 countries worldwide. However, that’s where the relationship with Vodafone ends, because Mobile by Sainsbury’s is not linked to Vodafone’s new superfast 4G network.

Earn Nectar points

Customers can collect double Nectar points when buying phone top ups, equal to four points per £1 spent. Bundle customers also receive double points on Sainsbury’s shopping and fuel for the 30-day life of the bundle, although certain products and services are excluded in the terms and conditions.

You’ll just need to link your Nectar card to your mobile account when you sign up. Points can take up to up to 30 days to be added and you’ll receive text updates of your balance. Up to 10 mobiles can be added to one Nectar card, so there’s the potential to build up a sizeable stack of points if you get all of your family involved.

Good value bundles

Mobile by Sainsbury’s has repriced its three 30-day pre-pay bundles recently to make them better value for money and put itself on a par with the likes of Virgin Mobile and Three. If you’ve used up all of your credit, you can also ‘borrow’ £1 from the provider to make a quick call or send a couple of texts until you buy your next bundle. This is handy if you’re in a fix and perhaps don’t have the funds to top-up until payday. You’ll be charged 10p for the privilege, which will be deducted from your next top-up.


Visit Mobile by Sainsbury →

What we don’t like

Fair usage policy on texts

Despite claiming to offer unlimited texts on all bundles, this isn’t quite the case. There's a cap of 5,000 per 30-day bundle in the fair use policy. That sounds like a lot, but frequent texters could blow through this limit fairly easily.

No pay-monthly deals

Mobile by Sainsbury’s only offers Pay As You Go tariffs (with a phone or SIM-only), and no pay-monthly deals. This move makes it a pricey option if you need a new handset and fancy a swanky smartphone, as there’s no subsidy and you’ll need to fork out the full cost outright.

No track record

Sainsbury’s has a solid reputation for its supermarket and financial services provisions, but there’s little to go on in the way of telecommunications here. There’s no mobile customer service record for the phone service so new customers are expected to take a leap of faith.


Click the button below to see if you can get Mobile by Sainsbury’s in your area.

Check coverage →


Mobile by Sainsbury’s seems to measure up to its goal, offering straightforward and affordable phone plans with no lengthy contracts. The bonus Nectar points will attract families who regularly shop at the supermarket, and the broad UK coverage means you can expect a pretty good signal wherever you are.

Visit Mobile by Sainsbury →

Comments (101)

1 day ago

Once your credit has run out, you will still be able to receive incoming calls and texts. However, if the SIM isn't used to make a chargeable call within 180 days then it will be disconnected from the network.

If we suspend or disconnect the SIM because it has not been used for 180 days, if you ask us (within 90 days of the suspension) we can reconnect the services and you will be able to use any credit you had on your account prior to the suspension. If you've not used the services for 270 continuous days we won't be able to re-credit your account. Where the services are suspended (for any reason) we may have to give you a new mobile number and SIM before we can reconnect you. I hope this information helps.

1 day ago

Hi Andrea,

As the other users have helpfully explained, you don't need to have credit to receive calls and texts on PAYG, but it's advisable to make a call or send a text at least once every few months to avoid your account becoming dormant and Mobile by Sainsbury's disconnecting you.

Hannah R - Cable.co.uk

2 days ago

andrea, if you buy a bundle it's only valid for 30 days.

If you are a low use user it's probably better to go for PAYG. If you don't use the phone for 6 months you may be disconnected but you can request to be reconnected. If you don't use your phone for 9 months you will lose any PAYG top up credit. I'm not sure what they mean by "use" but it's probably a good idea to make at least one chargeable call every six months!

It's all in the Terms and Conditions (7.5 and 7.6) on the web site.

Keith Bird
2 days ago

Reply to Andrea

I think that you would continue to receive calls for a while (usually 6 months) but unless you make outging calls or texts the number would be seen as dormant and closed down by the provider. If you make a text every 3 months then the no. remains active.

2 days ago

does the sim need to be topped up every month to recieve incoming calls or txt or can I use up all credit and still recieve incoming for ever without topping up to call out. ??

6 days ago


Re: the APN try...


This FAQ page may also help:


9 days ago

I just thought that I would let you know that Mobile by Sainsburys does do contracts and sim only contracts and at a very competitive price across their 20 something stores! With contracts starting at just £13.99 with fantastic free phones, you can't really go wrong! :)

9 days ago

just got sainburys sim card what APN to i connect to it gives me the option of ASDA mobile, BT mobile, Lebara, Talk Talk mobile, Talkmobile, vodafone PAYG (which dont work) YES telecom anyone know which i use????

13 days ago

Another few of points:

1) On the basic PAYG you get charged for receiving voicemail. So if you miss a call and the caller leaves a message, it will cost you!

2) I don't think there's an option for slam down notification, as you'd get with Vodafone.

3) There's no itemised billing.

13 days ago

I like the Sainsburys mobile PAYG because it uses the Vodafone network. Vodafone is all I can get in the rural area I live. However I have had a couple of issues:

I tested the SIM prior to moving my existing Vodafone number over. To do this I added some credit in-store using the swipe card. However, when I later tried to add further credit via the swipe card it kept getting rejected. A manager in Sainsburys told me that I wasn't the only person to have had the problem that morning, so I put it down to I.T. However, I had the same problem when I tried again a few days later. In the end I discovered that the swipe card was still registered to the number allocated by Sainsburys, not the Vodafone number I'd moved over, and it wasn't possible to change it. I'd have hoped this would have been included in the number transfer process. I had quite a lot of hassle with this. Finally, in desperation, a store manager ripped out a swipe card from a new SIM package and gave it to me. I was able to register the new swipe card with my old Vodafone number and perform the topup.

Another problem concerns the use of international barring functions. If you travel abroad you have probably put +44 in front of the UK contact numbers in your phone, to ensure your can dial them correctly when away. However, if you do this and set the network to bar outgoing international calls (or simply "outgoing international calls except home”), this not only bars outgoing international calls but also calls to numbers preceded with +44. I have never had this problem with my contract or PAYG phones with Vodafone. This sounds like a bug with the Sainsburys setup. I've tried several times to resolve this with Sainsburys but never managed to get through to anyone sufficiently technical and felt I was hitting a brick wall.

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