Tesco Mobile SIM only deals
- Compare the best Tesco Mobile SIM only deals for January 2020
- Limit your monthly spend with bill capping
- Double up your Clubcard vouchers at Tesco Mobile
Tesco Mobile SIM only deals explained
In this guide
- Why choose Tesco?
- Is it a good network?
- Data and calling features
- What are the alternatives?
- Frequently asked questions
Tesco is one of two British supermarkets – alongside Asda – to offer mobile deals and is the only one to offer a full range of pay monthly SIM-only and phone contracts. Tesco Mobile has been around a while – since 2003, in fact – and is a joint venture between Tesco and O2.
There’s plenty about Tesco Mobile that makes it stand out from the crowd, such as the chance to earn Clubcard points and the fact you pick up a SIM deal while you do your shopping, so let’s take a look at what exactly the provider has to offer.
Why choose a Tesco Mobile SIM only deal?
Tesco Mobile stocks a pretty wide range of handset deals but if you’re happy with the phone you’ve got, or prefer to buy one outright, then a SIM deal is for you. All of Tesco’s SIM deals come with an allowance of data, calls and texts, but what else do you get for your money?
- Capped contracts – Tesco Mobile gives you the option of capping your contract so there’s no bill shock at the end of the month. You can set the cap at £0 so you’ll only ever pay your monthly tariff, or factor in a safety buffer to cover things not covered by your allowance, such as picture messages, calling premium rate numbers or making international calls.
- Family Perks – Family perks is a reward scheme open to anyone with two or more Tesco Mobile pay monthly contracts. Each month, you get a ‘Family perk’ for every Tesco Mobile contract you have. Perks include up to 1GB of data, up to £2 off your bill and up to 200 Tesco Clubcard points – and you can change your perks each month.
- Clubcard points – Tesco Mobile allows you to earn Tesco Clubcard points by paying your mobile bill. You get one point for every pound spent.
- Tariff Promise – Tesco Mobile’s Tariff Promise is that the price of your tariff won’t increase for the length of your contract. This is because Tesco doesn’t go in for inflation-based mid-contract price hikes like other providers.
Is Tesco Mobile a good network?
Tesco Mobile runs on the O2 network. There are only four mobile networks operating in the UK – EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three. Other providers, such as Tesco Mobile, are MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), which means they offer their services by piggybacking on another network.
O2’s 4G network covers 98% of the UK population and the operator is constantly investing in its infrastructure. Since 2013, O2 has spent more than £1.5m a day on its network and has brought 4G coverage to more than 17,000 towns, villages and hamlets.
O2 is also preparing its network to be ready for 5G – the next generation of mobile technology – and is working on providing more capacity in areas where its network gets particularly busy, like in city centres and train stations. As it uses the same network, Tesco Mobile benefits from all of this investment.
Data and calling features
This is a quick rundown of some of the features that are becoming increasingly common on mobile contracts. How does Tesco Mobile measure up?
- 4G data speed – The latest report by analysts Opensignal shows O2, which operates the network used by Tesco Mobile, to be lagging a little way behind its rivals in terms of download speed. That said, an average speed of 14Mbps is easily fast enough to pretty much anything you’re going to do on your phone.
- Data rollover – Tesco Mobile doesn’t offer a data rollover feature. If this is important to you, try Virgin, Sky or iD Mobile.
- Tethering – Tesco Mobile allows you to use your phone as a wifi hotspot and allow other devices to get online, a process known as tethering. Any data in your allowance can be used to ‘tether’ another device at no extra cost.
- Wifi calling – Tesco Mobile is yet to offer wifi calling, a technology that lets you make calls over wifi in places where you have no 3G or 4G signal.
- Data gifting – Tesco doesn’t allow you to share your data with family members, but the Family Perks feature does let you give a family member a data boost at the end of the month as long as they’re on a Tesco Mobile contract, too.
- Data caps – You can stop yourself going over your data allowance by setting a bill cap of £0 when you sign up with Tesco Mobile. You can also choose to have a safety buffer of, for example, £5, that would give you a bit of flexibility should you need it but stop you going too far over your monthly tariff.
Roaming on Tesco Mobile
All mobile providers have to let you use your phone’s data, calls and texts throughout the EU as you would in the UK – it’s the law. But some providers offer more than the bare minimum – Tesco Mobile offers its ‘Home from Home’ service in a number of other European countries.
You don’t need to do anything when travelling to any of these countries, other than checking in your phone’s settings that you have roaming enabled. When you arrive, just use your phone as you would in the UK. And if you use up your allowance, you’ll either pay standard UK rates or you can use the Tesco Mobile app to add a data bundle.
The 48 countries included in Tesco’s Home from Home service are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Azores, Canary Islands, French Guyana, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Madeira, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Norway, Reunion, San Marino, St Martin, St Barts, Switzerland and Vatican City.
Which providers offer good alternatives?
Of course, Tesco Mobile isn’t the only provider of SIM-only deals in town. If you’re unconvinced, here’s a rundown of what Tesco’s rivals have to offer.
- ASDA Mobile – Tesco’s supermarket rival only offers pay as you go mobile deals, giving you the choice of standard pay as you go rates or 30-day bundles. ASDA Mobile runs on the EE network.
- BT Mobile – BT Mobile’s SIM-only deals often come with reward cards, you get access to loads of wifi hotspots and certain plans even come with free BT Sport. BT runs its mobile service on EE’s network.
- EE – EE offers six months of free Apple Music with its SIM only plans, as well as offering data caps. You can choose from a range of 12-month and 30-day SIM only plans.
- giffgaff – giffgaff, which like Tesco Mobile runs on the O2 network, offers a range of no-contract SIM plans. As there’s no minimum term, you can change or cancel your plan at any time.
- iD Mobile – iD Mobile is owned by Carphone Warehouse and runs on the Three network. It offers data rollover and bill capping with its 30-day rolling SIM only deals.
- O2 – O2’s SIM deals come with free O2 wifi as well as all the rewards, offers and opportunities that come from the O2 Priority app. Selected plans offer inclusive roaming in 75 destinations.
- Plusnet Mobile – Plusnet Mobile runs on the EE network and offers both 12-month and 30-day SIM only contracts, with the option to set a cap on your bill and bolt on extra data if you need it.
- Sky Mobile – Sky Mobile, which uses O2’s network, lets you store your unused data for up to three years and use it whenever you like. And Sky TV customers can watch on the go without using up any data.
- SMARTY – SMARTY runs on the Three network and offers no-contract SIM plans that give you a discount based on any data you haven’t used. It even has an unlimited data plan.
- Three – Three offers a range of SIM plans including one with unlimited data. Selected plans include the Go Binge feature, which lets you use streaming apps including Netflix and Apple Music without eating into your data allowance.
- Virgin Mobile – Virgin Mobile, which runs on the EE network, offers data rollover, an optional spending cap and data-free messaging on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter.
- Vodafone – Vodafone has a range of 12-month SIM-only plans, some of which include a subscription to your choice of Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, NOW TV Entertainment Pass or Sky Sports Mobile TV.
Frequently asked questions
Does Tesco Mobile offer unlimited data?
No, Tesco Mobile doesn’t currently offer any unlimited data packages. If that’s what you’re after, take a look at Three, SMARTY or Virgin Mobile, which offers an unlimited data plan just for Virgin TV and broadband customers.
What size SIM will I get from Tesco Mobile?
As with other providers, if you order a SIM from Tesco Mobile you’ll be sent what it calls a Tri-SIM. This contains a standard SIM, a Micro SIM and a Nano SIM – you just need to pop out the one that’ll fit in your phone and you’re good to go.
Can I keep my number when switching?
Yes, and the first thing to do is to request a PAC number from your old provider. Then when you have your Tesco Mobile SIM, text PORT to 23424. You’ll get a text asking you to reply with the mobile number you want to keep then another asking for your PAC number. Tesco will then let you know when your number will be transferred across – this usually takes less than two working days.