Compare EE pay as you go deals
- The UK’s best network for five years running
- Order a free EE SIM and top-up and buy a pack later
- Free data boosts
EE pay as you go explained
In this guide
- Why choose EE pay as you go?
- The EE mobile network
- Cost and expiry
- Best alternatives
- Frequently asked questions
There are a lot of providers vying for your pounds when it comes to pay as you go (PAYG) mobile, here in the UK. But perhaps somewhat surprisingly, not all that many of them offer PAYG SIMs at all.
As one of the UK's four network providers, EE does, however. But PAYG doesn't work like it used to. Instead of simply topping up with credit and using it when you see fit, these days it's much better to buy a 'pack' which contains a certain amount of texts, minutes and data and expires after 30 days (though data does roll over). Let's take a look at the ins and outs.
Why choose an EE pay as you go SIM?
Initially, you can sign up to a pack, chosen from the list above and depending on your needs in terms of data, minutes and texts. Or alternatively, you can simply order a free SIM from EE and consider what you need later on. Let's take a quick look at the benefits of choosing a SIM, along with a pack, from EE.
- Packs keep things simple – Within the 30 days for which the pack is valid, you won't have to worry about running out of data, minutes or texts. As long as you buy a pack which costs £15 or more, you will get unlimited minutes and texts (the cheapest pack costs £10 and offers 500 minutes and unlimited texts.
- Boosts after two months – If you buy a pack for two consecutive 30-day periods, you will receive 500MB of bonus data, each month for the next 12 months. Data rolls over, so this is quite a nice reward for being consistent with your usage
- 4G network speeds – All PAYG customers get to use EE's fast 4G data network when downloading, browsing or streaming on their mobile. EE has the fastest mobile network in the UK by quite a margin. EE doesn’t currently offer 5G access to pay as you go customers.
- Data rollover – If you don't use all your data one month, it will roll over to the following month, allowing you to purchase a smaller, and cheaper pack
- Choose how much data you need – Most packs have unlimited minutes and texts, so the choice will be down to how much data you use. Packs are available with 5GB, 15GB, 30GB or 100GB of data.
Is EE a good network?
Despite there being a very great many mobile providers in the UK, only four of them are network providers. That is to say, only four own and run their own physical network, whereas everyone else 'piggybacks' onto one of them. EE is one of the UK's four network providers, the others being Three, Vodafone and O2.
EE claims to offer the UK's most comprehensive coverage and best data speeds, thanks to its 19,000 '4G sites' – masts, basically. Independent sources such as OpenSignal agree with EE, showing that it is not only the fastest network, but the fastest by quite a margin. However, now that 4G reaches nearly everyone now, increases in coverage have slowed to a snail's pace. This could be important if you live somewhere with poor coverage and are hoping for things to improve in the near future.
Cost and expiry
EE PAYG SIMs aren't the cheapest out there. Perhaps they occasionally occupy that top spot during special offer periods, but most of the time you will be able to find more data and more minutes for less money elsewhere.
It's worth remembering, though, that there is more to a service than simply how much it costs. Quality of service, coverage, data speeds and other factors and features all play a part in helping you determine if what you're paying your provider is worth the money.
There are four ways into getting set up with EE PAYG. Mostly the same rules apply to each, but let's take a brief look at them to help you determine which method is right for you.
- Free SIM – As it sounds: Get a SIM for nothing, then decide later what pack you want to add onto it
- SIM with a pack – This is what you'll find listed on this page. The SIM itself, which comes pre-loaded with a 30-day pack containing your chosen amount of minutes and data
- SIM with phone – EE does offer some handset deals on PAYG, but bear in mind that you will, to all intents and purposes, be purchasing the handset outright and as such the better the handset the more your upfront outlay. The handsets offered specifically for PAYG are all cheap, low-end phones, handy for those on a tight budget. But you can of course buy any phone and pop a PAYG SIM into it.
- Switching to EE PAYG – You can switch to EE PAYG from any other service you might currently be on, provided your contract period is over with your existing provider. Switching, then, is the same as switching contract, where you can port your number across by obtaining a PAC code and contacting your new provider (EE)
Roaming and calling abroad on EE pay as you go
Not all pay as you go mobile deals feature roaming. Some cheaper options than those offered by EE eschew roaming to keep down costs. However, EE does allow you to use your packs abroad the same as you would at home, albeit only in certain countries. Since the UK’s exit from the European Union, mobile operators can once again charge roaming fees in the EU. However most, including EE have chosen not to for the time being.
Most of the countries where you can roam like home are in the EU, or are foreign territories of countries in the EU.
Calling abroad works somewhat differently on EE PAYG. You will need a special International PAYG SIM (or have this feature added to your existing SIM). With that, you can make free calls to landlines in 34 foreign countries. Be sure and check which countries are included on the EE website. Calls to other countries whether you have an International PAYG SIM or not will be charged at the standard for calling it.
Frequently asked questions
How does EE pay as you go work?
Very simply, you can pick up either a free SIM from EE, or one that comes preloaded with a 30-day supply of minutes, texts and data. At the end of the 30 days you can buy another such 'pack' from your top-up amount, which can offer the same allowances, or different allowances, depending on your usage.
When does credit expire on EE PAYG?
Top up credit on EE will never expire so long as you use some of it at least every 270 days. Packs, which you buy with top-up, are bundles of data, minutes and texts you buy with your top-up – these will always expire in 30 days.
How do I top up on EE PAYG?
You just need to call 150 from your EE phone or 07953 966 250 from any phone, and either register a card or use a card that is already registered to add money to your top-up amount. Some retailers will let you top up in-store too, so long as you have the top up card you received with your SIM.
Is EE PAYG cheap?
Not the cheapest, no. But then EE does offer the fastest data speeds and good customer service. It's also very reliable and has the greatest network coverage. So you may pay a little more for EE PAYG than you would with one of its ultra-budget competitors, but sometimes you get what you pay for.
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