By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, March 12th 2019
Forget about handsets and monthly contracts. Unlike most other UK mobile providers, Asda Mobile (of supermarket fame) does one thing and one thing only: SIM-only pay-as-you-go (PAYG) deals. There's some nuance there, which we'll get into further down, but ultimately that's all Asda's got, so if you choose Asda, that's what you'll get.
You're going to need your own handset, which is going to need to be unlocked. You're also going to want to be in a position where PAYG makes more sense than a regular pay-monthly deals both financially and from the point of view of your usage. Let's take a look at the details.
For a pure PAYG provider, Asda Mobile is cheap. Not as cheap, perhaps, when compared to like for like data, minutes and texts from some mobile contract providers, but with Asda Mobile's flexible bundles (where you can change the amount of minutes, data and texts you have available every 30 days) you have a better chance of only paying for what you use than you do with a contract SIM.
Perhaps the most unnecessarily confusing aspect of Asda Mobile is how the provider chooses its terminology. Bundles and top-up are not the same thing, and yet you need one to get the other, and they operate quite differently. Bear with us while we explain it in as simple a way as possible.
Top-up is money you add to your Asda Mobile account. You can top-up in-store using your Asda Mobile card, which you'll get with your SIM, by purchasing top-up vouchers (also in-store), or by attaching a credit or debit card to your account and paying directly using texts to Asda Mobile. Top-up…
Bundles contain an amount of minutes, texts and calls and expire after 30 days. Unlike top-up, which you can buy directly with cash or card, bundles can only be bought with top-up. You can also set bundles to automatically renew every 30 days if you can't be bothered with all the faff. Bundles…
Asda does not run its own mobile network. There are four mobile networks in the UK offering country-wide coverage. They are: EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. All other UK mobile providers aren't actually mobile network providers (MNOs), but mobile virtual network providers (MVNOs). Jargon aside, this means they 'piggyback' their service on one of the four main networks.
Asda Mobile is on the EE network, which as EE is at pains to point out, has the best coverage of the four, though its lead is marginal. To find out what sort of coverage you can expect where you live and work, you can use Asda Mobile's coverage checker, which is basically a duplicate of EE's.
When it comes to PAYG mobile deals, Asda Mobile is, of course, not the only game in town. Most mobile providers, in fact, offer some form of PAYG – it's just that Asda Mobile specialises in it, making it somewhat hard to beat. Were there a gun to our head and we were forced to pick viable alternatives, however, the following four providers would be our top picks.
Asda Mobile's 'roam like you're home' feature allows you to use your phone exactly as you would in the UK, in 50 mainly European countries, with no additional charges or inflated rates.
They are: Andorra, Austria, Azores, Balearic, Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City
If you're travelling somewhere else, check on the Asda Mobile website for the rates you're going to pay prior to your departure. Depending on where you're going, things can get expensive.
Pay as you go refers to a mobile deal where you pay only for what you need. Broadly speaking, you add amounts to a sum known as 'top-up' and from this top-up only the calls, texts and data you used are charged. Traditional SIM only deals will tie you into a contract, but as such generally cost a lot less on a per call/text/GB basis. Some PAYG providers such as Asda Mobile allow you to buy contract-like monthly bundles that offer better value usage without tying you into a contract, but at the cost of a short (generally 30 day) expiry.
Yes, though the rates vary. You should refer to Asda Mobile's website for information on rates for specific countries before making any calls. This way you can evaluate whether you're going to get good value by doing so, or if you're better off with some other solution such as an international calling card.
180 days. However, if you send even one text, make one call or use 1MB of data, that 180-day period renews, meaning that so long as you use your phone once in a blue moon, credit will never expire.
Yes. Just ask your current provider for a PAC code. You can often get this by logging into your account online alternatively. Once you have your Asda Mobile SIM, call its customer service number and give Asda your PAC code. Number transfer usually takes 24-48 hours.
No, not without your instructions first. If you want to automatically renew simply add AUTO before the bundle package you want to buy. So, for a £10 bundle you would text AUTO 10 2732. To stop the renewal in the future you simply text STOP AUTO to 2732.
Simply text BAL to 2732 or call this number and listen to the balance checker automated service. Remember, any outstanding balance will expire at the end of 30 days.
4G is available to all Asda Mobile customers at no extra cost. You will need to ensure both your SIM and your handset are 4G-enabled. You can check the coverage in your area using the Asda Mobile coverage checker. Once you receive your 4G-enabled SIM, call 2732 and speak to an agent who will activate it for you.
As long as your device allows you to use your phone as a personal hotspot, you’re able to use your Asda Mobile data for tethering.
Asda Mobile can provide a ‘multi SIM’, which contains three types of SIM – standard, micro and nano. You can request this from the SIM order page.
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