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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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