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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 (90)

5 days ago

I bought a Sainsbury's Galaxy S3 so that I could connect to the internet when a WiFi access point is not available. Sadly it simply can't connect. Full stop. I spent fifteen minutes with their custoomer advice who gided me to the APN and explaied how to edit the Access Point. There was no facility to access it. The phone is useless to me without this. It is a big FAIL, and I am baffled that they would sell a phone in this state. I will be taking it back and won't touch their phones again!

7 days ago

Hi Steve, Yes you can contact Germany but calls and texts are not included in your bundle and will be charged extra at 15p per minute and 20p per text. You can find more information here. Hannah R - Cable.co.uk

steve kell
10 days ago

hi can I text someone else out side England on pay as you go I just got a bundle today just my brother is in germany

Julie Wareham
17 days ago

I set up a sim only deal for my mum and registered on line. We made a recurring top up (with my dad's debit card with his consent), but then forgot the online password. A link should have been sent to reset. This did not happen after telephoning & emailing. Customer services do not work with details regarding online account. Customer services said on the telephone they would only speak to my dad about the account and had no recognition of my mother as the registered owner? I found them to be lapse, unprofessional and very frustrating.

When I had not received the link, they said it could take forever. I have since been emailed after re-sending and was told we would have to cancel the online account and re-register because they were unable to send a link. I told them to advise their staff on the other end of the phone, rather than telling customers they may have to wait forever. Their not "on the same page," their on "different books."

I am not going to re-register as customer services will not have a record of this registration, only payment details. They should only request to speak to my dad (or any other cardholder) to authorise a payment, and should discuss the account with whom it was registered. Although the account was registered to my mum (and confirmed by online support) by telephone they have no record of her AT ALL??

Absolute nightmare if you forget your password or have any dealings with customer services/support.

Melanie oxley
17 days ago

I just tried to get the sim deal. Which was sim free+£15 bundle including 800 minutes, unlimited text& 2GB data with the unique online code could you let me know if my request was successful please and also what network sainsbury use thank you

17 days ago

Hi Errol, You can check out the international calling fees for different countries here (it looks like Giffgaff is cheaper for the Philippines) Hannah R - Cable.co.uk

17 days ago

What are Mobile by Sainsbury’s international rates, for instance i tend to phone the Philippines how much would it cost to phone there. On Giff Gaff it is on 10 pence per minute which is very good.

18 days ago

Hi Steve,

We’re a little unclear on what your specific question is, but here’s some details that should help with your decision on whether to join Mobile by Sainsbury’s.

•Mobile by Sainsbury’s SIM cards are available for free from the website or in any Sainsbury’s store or petrol station. There’s several ways to top up, outlined here: http://www.phoneshopbysainsburys.co.uk/mbs-top-up •You need to have enough credit on your account to buy a bundle. Each bundle lasts for 30 days and you can’t carry over any unused minutes, texts or data allowance. •If you use up your allowance within 30 days, you’ll need to top up again and then you’ll be charged Mobile by Sainsbury’s standard rates of 8p per minute, 4p per text and 50p per day for 25MB of data. •You can queue up one bundle to start when your current one expires after 30 days. •You’ll need to link your Nectar Card to your Mobile by Sainsbury’s account in order to collect points from top-ups and bundles. Everything you need to know about collecting and spending your Nectar points is outlined here: http://www.phoneshopbysainsburys.co.uk/mbs-nectar-terms

Hannah R – Cable.co.uk

steve kell
18 days ago

ive seen your plans on sainsburys pay as you go it sounds good just want to no if I get a 15 pound package on pay as you go and don't use every thing up plus if I put 5 pounds one week on after the 15 went on I have to put a tenner on to get the 15 package again they take that off my credit plus where can I top up from too and want can you spend your rewards on could I spend it on booze for xmas on the rewards to save money on the nectar points so I just give my card to the assistant at xmas then im paying 20 a month I m on 02 so I just go to my local Sainsbury and ask to go on these to get a new number then thanks steve

graham coxon
25 days ago

Reply to Alan Pugh... just dial 40775 (Free call) this tell you your balance

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