Asda Mobile SIM only deals explained
In this guide
- Why choose Asda Mobile?
- Top-ups and bundles
- Asda network and coverage
- Alternative providers
- International roaming
- Frequently asked questions
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.
Why choose Asda Mobile?
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.
- No contract – No one really likes being tied into a contract. It's just something we all accept as there are often no other choices, or at least the alternatives are far less appealing. Asda Mobile strikes a nice balance between cost and flexibility with its PAYG 30-day bundles
- Change your bundle every 30 days – Asda Mobile bundles contain minutes, texts and data allowances. You can choose a new one every 30 days depending on your needs, or if you're sure you've hit the right balance you can easily set-up a bundle rollover, which will automatically renew the same bundle every 30 days without your input
- Long/indefinite top-up expiry – The relationship between 'top-up' and 'bundles' (they're not the same thing) is somewhat more complicated than it needs to be, and explained in detail further down. For now, know that your top-up will never expire so long as you use your phone in a way that spends some sort of allowance (a text, a call, some data) at least once every 180 days
- Roam abroad – Asda Mobile bundles offer something called 'Roam like you're home'. This offers you the same calling, texting and data terms as you would have if you were in the UK, albeit from a list of 50 specific countries, mostly in Europe. Those countries are listed further down. Outside of these countries or if you're using top-up rather than bundles (more on this next) you will be paying a variety of different rates, depending on the country you're in
Asda Mobile top-ups and bundles
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…
- Will last forever – Provided you use some credit, even if it's just a single text, call or data amount, every 180 days, your top-up will never expire
- Is treated like money – If you top up £10, say, you will then have £10 credit on your account. Once you have top-up available, you can start making calls, sending texts and using data. Your top-up amount will be charged depending on what you use
- Can be used to buy bundles – To buy 30-day bundles of minutes, texts and data, you will use top-up. Once you've bought a bundle, your usage will come out of the bundle, rather than directly from your top-up account. You do not have to buy bundles
- Doesn't offer free roaming – If you choose to use top-up directly for minutes, texts and data instead of buying a bundle, roaming will get very expensive
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…
- Expire after 30 days – Top-up technically lasts forever, but bundles, which offer better value on the minutes, texts and data you buy, last for 30 days, then expire. That's the trade-off
- Can only be bought with top-up – You can't buy bundles directly, only with top-up you've added to your account by card or in-store. Asda does allow you to simplify this process somewhat, though. If you set up a recurring 30-day bundle (automatic renewal) the whole process of adding top-up to buy the recurring bundle can be automated into one process
- Offer better value than top-up – You'll get a lot more minutes, data and texts with a bundle than if you're simply using your top-up directly. Of course, at the risk of labouring a point, top-up doesn't expire. Bundles do
- Offer free roaming – Asda's 'Roam like you're home' feature allows you to use your phone with exactly the same costs you normally pay, whether through a bundle or regular top-up, in 50, predominantly European countries. You can see precisely which countries in the dedicated roaming section further down this page
Asda Mobile network and coverage
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.
What other mobile providers offer similar deals?
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.
- Vodafone – Not as cheap as Asda Mobile, but Vodafone's PAYG SIM deals have a way of compensating for that. It won't let you spend more than £1 per day. Whatever you use over and above that is free with its 'Pay as you go 1' deals
- Three – Will send you a free SIM card, and offers some of the lowest rates in the business for calls, texts and data. Still not as cheap as a contract deal, or as cheap as an Asda Mobile bundle, but fairly close, so Three gets points for trying
- O2 – Offers some of the best customer service in the business, so it's a good pick if that really matters to you. Its PAYG tariffs are on a par with Three's, while in addition you will have access to O2 wifi hotspots nationwide, which have the potential to hugely cut down your chargeable data usage
- giffgaff – Is on the O2 network. While its PAYG rates are far from the lowest, it offers customers a way of earning back credit by giving advice to fellow giffgaff community members
Roam like you are home: Asda Mobile's international roaming
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.
Frequently asked questions
What is Pay As You Go (PAYG)?
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.
Can I call abroad from the UK on Asda Mobile?
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.
How long does it take for Asda Mobile credit to expire?
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.
Can I keep my existing mobile phone number with Asda Mobile?
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.
Do bundles automatically renew?
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.
How do I check my balance?
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.
Is 4G available for Asda Mobile SIM customers?
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.
Can I tether from my phone using an Asda Mobile SIM?
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.
What types of SIM are available?
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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