BT SIM only deals explained
In this guide
- Why choose BT Mobile SIM only?
- BT Mobile network
- Data and calling features
- Best alternatives
- Frequently asked questions
BT Mobile hasn't actually been around all that long. It was thought, back when BT bought EE that it wouldn't bother with its own mobile brand. But here we are in 2019, and BT Mobile now offers a wide range of SIMs and handsets at relatively inexpensive prices.
The biggest draw to BT Mobile is going to be for BT broadband customers. The fewer bills you ultimately get, the simpler your life to some degree. That's why lots of folks who are with BT for the broadband, landline and/or TV choose to go with BT Mobile for their mobile needs. So what about SIM-only? Let's take a look.
Why choose a BT Mobile SIM only deal?
According to BT Mobile there are a number of reasons you should choose it over any other. We admit, though, that many of these pluses you will also find among other providers.
- 4G in more places than O2, Vodafone and Three – Is a brag BT itself adopt when advertising its SIMs. What it really means is that BT Mobile piggybacks onto the EE network, which has better 4G coverage than its competitors. Marginally so, but according to independent reports, this is the case
- Worry-free returns – BT Mobile is so certain you will be happy with the service it offers that if you're not, it will give you your money back any time during the first 30 days of use
- Roam like home – You can use your BT Mobile SIM abroad with no additional charges in a whole bunch of foreign countries – mostly in the EU. You can see the full list in the roaming section further down the page
- Add more SIMs and save – If you have other family members who also have phones, you can save money getting additional SIMs from BT Mobile. Its Family SIM plans add additional discount for up to four additional SIMs
- Offers and rewards frequently available – Often, depending on when you look, BT Mobile will offer incentives to sign up, such as gift/reward cards and/or free gifts
Is BT Mobile a good network?
Not all mobile networks are actual networks, technically speaking. There are actually only four separate networks in the UK, and even they share many of the same masts. They are Three, O2, EE and Vodafone. All other providers – BT Mobile, for example – 'piggyback', or borrow capacity, from one of those four networks.
BT Mobile piggybacks on the EE network, which BT indirectly owns. Happily, EE offers the widest coverage and best data speeds of all of the four network providers, so you are in good hands. EE covers over 99.9% of the UK population with its signal, and offers data download speeds between 8 and 10Mbps in most places, with speeds up to 40Mbps where you are able to get a particularly good signal.
Data and calling features
There are a standard set of desirable features you should look for on any mobile provider you are considering signing up to. BT Mobile is no different. Let's see how it does.
- 4G data speed – Being on the EE network means BT Mobile shares the best coverage and data speeds with EE. BT also owns EE, by the way. You can find BT Mobile's data speeds in the section above
- Data rollover – BT Mobile, at the time of writing, has no data rollover scheme. That means unused data at the end of the month essentially disappears for good
- Tethering – This is where you use your phone's data allowance and connection to the internet as a mobile broadband router, allowing you to connect other devices. BT Mobile allows unlimited tethering up to your data allowance
- Wifi calling – EE has been a pioneer in wifi calling – that is, using your home wifi to make calls where signal might otherwise be weak. As such, wifi calling is available on all BT Mobile SIM deals
- Data gifting – This is where you can transfer unused data allowance to a friend or family member on the same network. Sadly, BT Mobile is not a provider which offers it
- Data caps – This is where you can set a defined limit on the amount of data you wish to use across a given period. Rather than allow you to cross this limit, your provider will cut off your data to prevent you from spending money you would rather not. All BT Mobile SIMs offer the option of spending caps, which are the same in all but name. Rather than set a data limit you can tell BT you never want to spend more than X amount on your monthly bill. This will protect you from accidental spending if abroad or calling numbers not included in your free minutes
Roaming on BT Mobile
The term 'roaming' refers to going abroad with your phone and the rules that may or may not apply, depending on where you go. Most providers offer roaming terms to a limited number of countries where you won't pay any more than you do at home. Nine times out of ten those countries are either EU nations or territories of those nations elsewhere in the world.
On BT Mobile you will be able to roam like home in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guinea, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy (St. Barts), San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Czechia, The Netherlands, The French Antilles and Vatican City.
If you're travelling somewhere else, rates for data, minutes and texts will vary depending on the country and where you are calling. It's always best to check with any provider the exact situation in the country you are visiting prior to departure.
Which providers offer good alternatives?
The truth is that if you're simply looking for an alternative to BT Mobile in terms of SIM-only deals, you're going to have almost any other choice available. Most providers do a few things to differentiate themselves from the others, though we suspect most choosing BT Mobile do so because they are already with BT for some of their other services. No matter. Here are the alternatives we recommend, which network they are on and what marks them apart from the others.
- EE – Operates on its own network – same network as BT Mobile – and offers pretty much anything you could possibly think of, from mobile phone deals to SIM only to tablets and more
- giffgaff – Is run, in part, by its community, which means the SIMs, phones and bundles it offers tend to be very good value for money. Not for everyone, but dearly loved by its customers, giffgaff is on the O2 network
- O2 – Runs its own network and like EE, Three and Vodafone, offers pretty much everything
- iD Mobile – Is the mobile provider brand that operates in-house for the Carphone Warehouse. It offers pretty much everything – SIMs, PAYG, handsets and tablets, and operates on the Three network
- Plusnet Mobile – Only offers SIM-only deals on rolling 30-day contracts. No phones, no PAYG. It operates on the EE network
- Sky Mobile – Rather like BT Mobile, the best reason to go with Sky Mobile is if you're already a customer. Outside of that, Sky, which operates on the O2 network, is rather expensive compared to the competition
- SMARTY – Is a sub-brand of Three, which offers bargain bucket SIMs on the Three network
- Tesco Mobile – Is the only Supermarket provider in this line-up – since ASDA Mobile only does PAYG. It operates on the O2 network and offers phones, SIMs, tablets, the lot
- Three – Is another of the UK's four network providers and offers a wide variety of SIMs and phones. It was the first to offer unlimited data on some of its deals, though EE is now getting in on that action at the time of writing
- Virgin Mobile – Runs on the EE network and offers a good range of SIMs and phones, with unlimited data on offer if you're also a Virgin Media broadband and/or TV customer
- Vodafone – Is the last of the UK's four mobile network operators in this list, offering pretty much everything
What else is available from BT?
Frequently asked questions
Which network does BT Mobile use?
Is BT Mobile any good?
You can read our full review of BT Mobile as a provider by simply following the link.
Can I get a SIM card for BT Mobile?
Yes. Any of the deals available on this page will net you a free SIM from BT Mobile. Simply head to the comparison portion of the page to see what's available. Listings are updated daily.
Are BT Mobile SIMs all 4G?
Yes. 3G does still exist in some areas as a fallback – if you can't get 4G where you happen to be at a given moment your phone will try to find the best signal available, and that may be 3G. However, so long as your signal is good, you will be getting the fastest 4G from BT Mobile, via the EE network.
How do I cancel BT Mobile SIM only?
You can cancel your BT Mobile SIM deal any time in the first 30 days after signing up. Alternatively, if there is some sort of reception issue that manifests thereafter and BT Mobile is unable to get it fixed, you can also leave before the end of your contract.
Can I use a BT Mobile SIM in an EE locked phone?
Yes, in the sense that you can get your phone unlocked prior to putting in the new SIM. No, in the sense that if you just put it in prior to unlocking it won't work. Even though BT Mobile and EE share the same network, it doesn't follow that you the SIMs are interchangeable on locked phones.