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Is Tesco Mobile any good?

Wednesday, November 12th 2014

Tesco Mobile was the first supermarket to enter the mobile marketplace. It has an opt-in capping option to help prevent your bills getting too far out of control, and has just introduced 4G bundles.

However, Tesco Mobile deals lack an unlimited data plan, and there are no unlimited minutes or texts either. That's the long and short of it, but the devil is in the detail, so let's take a closer look.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • 4G at no extra cost
  • No nasty surprise bills
  • Clubcard points

Cons

  • Restrictive data allowances
  • No unlimited plans
  • 4G isn't available everywhere

What we like

4G at no extra cost

You can now use 4G on Tesco Mobile for no extra cost. With 4G, you can download information like maps, videos, music, and photographs far more quickly than you can on 3G. Tesco Mobile SIM-only deals offer a range of 4G data allowances, from 500MB up to a massive 8GB.

As a mobile virtual network operator, Tesco Mobile uses O2’s 4G network, so won’t be readily accessible to everyone until O2 finishes its rollout across the UK - so we recommend you use the Tesco Mobile coverage checker before you buy.

No nasty surprise bills

We all hate getting unexpected phone bills, but with Tesco Mobile phones you can reduce the chance of such shocks. You can sign up to the capped service, which lets you limit the amount of calls, text, and data that you can make on your mobile. This prevents you from accidentally going over the limit and incurring additional fees, some of which can add up to quite a significant amount.

These opt-in caps are different from the various tariff limits, which will simply charge you more if you exceed certain levels of usage.

Clubcard points

If you are a Tesco Clubcard member you can start racking up points as soon as you begin using the mobile service. The Tesco Mobile website allows you to link your mobile account to your Clubcard account.

Visit Tesco Mobile

What we don’t like

Restrictive data allowances

Every Tesco Mobile tariff has some level of data cap, so you’ll always be limited in what you do online, even if you sign up for 4G. The highest data limit on a pay-monthly deal is 8GB, which is enough to download quite a lot of data – but still isn't unlimited. If you want to stream HD video content to your mobile on a daily basis you're bound to come up against your allowance wall sooner rather than later.

No unlimited plans

We’ve already mentioned the restrictive data allowances, but the same applies for texts and calls. On Tesco Mobile there aren’t any unlimited plans; that means you can go over your monthly minutes and texts allowances, resulting in per minute (and per text) charges that could add up to a large bill, assuming you haven’t set a cap beforehand.

4G isn't available everywhere

With 4G your downloads will be faster, your uploads will zoom along, and your online performance will be as smooth as a soul singer's voice. But as great as 4G is, it's only available in a few urban areas, covering approximately one third of the total UK population. If you're outside of the range for 4G, you'll be bumped down to 3G. You'll still be able to get online, but downloads and uploads will be nowhere near as fast.

Coverage

You can check Tesco Mobile’s coverage, and see if you’re in the right area to receive 2G, 3G or 4G, by following the link to Tesco’s own coverage checker below.

Check coverage

Conclusion

A Tesco Mobile contract offers nice little benefits for those looking to take out a mobile service from a leading supermarket. The opt-in capping could potentially save you a fortune in sudden bills, and the new 4G bundles bring it in line with many of the bigger names out there.

However, the lack of unlimited plans is disappointing and seems a bit archaic when you consider that a 4G connection will give you super speeds that you won’t be able to do a whole lot with on a limited contract. Nevertheless, Tesco Mobile phone deals are a solid competitor in the mobile marketplace.

Visit Tesco Mobile

Comments (153)

Lord Draper
9 days ago

I took out a contract with Tesco. They assured me I would get around 80-95% coverage where I live. I, in fact get zero.I took out the contract last July, have only been able to make 3 calls when I am 12 miles plus away from my home. Tesco want me to pay the entire contract even though I cannot use the phone. Under the sale of goods act I am legally allowed to walk away from this contract and pay nothing. Also, I have been told by their technical department that the phone which is on 3G will not work in my area and it should be a 2G phone. They then told me the phone I have got cannot be changed from 3G to 2G. So firstly I have been mis sold a contract with no signal and a phone that won't work on the correct setting. Tesco have eventually told me they will charge me only £30 to leave and they will unlock my phone free of charge. This free of charge means I have paid 8 lots of £12.50 for a service I can't get, yet they say they will unlock it for nothing !! How does that work then?? If you do ever go with a phone company, make sure you can get a signal in your area, or definitely make sure you go back within the 2 week cooling off period or they will rip you right off. I have had exactly the same problem with T Mobile, and Vodafone. They are all a bunch of liars.-- Do not trust any of them.

kerry
12 days ago

rubbish after sales service. phone failed within first year and it took nearly 1 month to repair but I did have to send it all of 20 miles away. got told phone could not be repaired so offered an exchange which did not materialise then got pushed from pillar to post over the next three weeks. c*** after sales service use at your peril

julie
22 days ago

My upgrade was due so phoned Tesco mobile to upgrade to Samsung Alfa good, they said not in stock but on my screen it in stock, really frustrated I carried on with contract and basket (still stating in stock) so phoned tescos mobile stating all this, he said carry on with contract you won't be made to pay now it will be added to you upgrade also you'll keep your number, so finished contract phoned tescos back and a very unhelpful man said you have made new contract, this isn't an upgrade you will have to pay the £25. Payment! Still dont understand how my computer is saying the phoned in stock but they're computer is out of stock and now I have to pay for a new contract and not an upgrade as I was told on the phone. So angry and disappointed by Tesco to not update stock, also what's different to what's on my computer to theirs! Nasty!

Karl
23 days ago

As I was going close to my data limit for the month I ordered a 500mb bundle for £5. It turned out that I didn't need it but I'm still to be billed for it. Called CS to ask if they would refund me but they said nothing they can do. isn't this theft? PAC code obtained as I'm off to another provider!

Paul
23 days ago

@Lin ... try setting your 'phone to 2G/GSM for the time you are in Devon ... it may help.

Lin
24 days ago

I have been happy with my PAYG phones for about 5 years and the Top Up deal has been great value for me. I have had trouble with the signal in some areas, however. I go to Devon on business and never have a good signal there. On my last visit (1-3 Feb 2015) I was receiving calls and texts but could not return either. Quite frustrating.

rob
25th January 2015

Tried them out on pay as you go and found them excessively expensive.

They send countless SMS messages about free time and double top ups but these simply never materialaze.

£100/GB data is higher than some providers bill for roaming data and Tesco bill that for regular UK usage.

If you're a heavy data user, look elsewhere

An
24th January 2015

I have been with Tesco Mobile for a year and half (probably exactly- it was around the 20th day of July 2013) and it's great. Much better than vodafone (which was the network I was with previously) in terms of customer service. Vodafone was unwilling to cancel my contract, and made me pay an extra month's worth of the contract that I wouldn't even use apart to let everyone know that I was getting a new number. Cheap contracts as well (though the 4g at no extra cost is a lie because you have to pay an extra £2.50 for a £10.00 contract compared to a 3g £7.50 contract, which is the only 3g one, to be actually able to use 4g).

There are some bad things like expensive phone contracts (around this time last year the iPhone 4s one was £30+ p/m) and if your phone is locked to tesco then you can't use an o2 sim in it, unlike you can with o2- i know this because my iPhone is locked to o2 from a previous owner of it, and it works with my Tesco SIM).

I'm planning on switching networks again in the near future because of a great iPhone contract, that's an o2 one (£23 p/m iPhone 5s with £170 to pay upfront- better than a lot I have seen). I wouldn't be if my current iPhone wasn't slowly failing on me, but it's life. Apparently o2's customer service is bad but I'll have to wait and see. All the reviews were on a basically biased website anyway- one where people go to complain usually. I mean, how could it just have 1 star reviews, with only about 5 star one?)

Paul
16th January 2015

@Howard Parker ... have you tried changing your 'phones to use 2G instead of 3/4G? It might possibly get you a better signal for the moment so that you can make calls and send/receive texts . I know it ain't providing you with what you are paying for but it's something worth trying anyway. It worked for me when I had transmission problems. Good luck.

Howard parker
16th January 2015

I highly recommend that you do not get involved with tesco mobile, 2 month in a 24 month contract I started having problems, not gettin signal and wen I did it would be one poss two bars but then still couldn't understand the person on the phone, Internet never works and never has. But the annoying bit of this is that it buffers were trying to use it and this some how shows up as me using my data,( real con). Did everything i was told like the usual turn on and off try a new sim had a step by step walk through of settings God know how many times and still nothing. I got two phones at once with them one for me and my wife, and we can barely send messages to each other she sends me one and I get it hours if not days later. Having two small children this is unexceptable, this morning for example,my 18 month boy at nursery, they couldn't get hold of me to tell me that he had to come home as he was extremely poorly so they eventually got though to y wife who was in meetings most of the morning and she had to go collect him but should of been me. Not acceptable. I was told over a year ago that their was nothing they can do and if I wasn't happy then to buy myself out of. The contract. Furiously I declined this option as could not afford to do that. So left it and smuggled on with the phone. Had bout a new phone the same as original and still the problem continues. So NOT THE PHONE. Earlier this week I losta job because aclient could not reach me to agree a contract so they went ahead with somebody else. Now losing work I rang them again to try start the fight again. Same old thing new sim turn on off reset configuree this and that. Then offerd to take of a third of the termination fee but as six month left for two contracts I can't afford this so nothing else to do but put up with it. Also 7 months ago my card stopped working for themonthly payments so set it up again and every month from then my phone cuts off because the bill hasn't been paid ring back up to register it again and same again doesn't get paid phone cuts off. Money in the account so no reason to not get paid. JOKE. All I whnat is for this unexceptable behaviour to stop. Cancel my contracts so I can get a new one and shut me up if anything. DO NOT USE TESCO MOBILE AS YOUR PHONE PROVIDER!!! RUBBISH, USELESS AND REALLY BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE. THANKS FOR 18 MONTHS OF HELL TESCO.

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