About Vodafone SIM only
In this guide
- Why choose Vodafone SIM only?
- Is Vodafone a good network?
- Data and calling features
- Frequently asked questions
As such, you'll find pretty much every telecoms-related product you can think of available from Vodafone, from land lines to broadband, to mobiles, tablets and of course SIM deals. Of course, there are a lot of providers offering SIM only deals right now, so how does Vodafone stack up against them? Let's find out, shall we?
Why choose a Vodafone SIM only deal?
Vodafone is really pushing its unlimited data plans at the time of writing. So much so, in fact that its limited-data SIM only deals look quite unappealing by comparison. There are also some things you can bolt onto your plan if you so desire. Let's take a look at Vodafone SIM only's main features.
- Unlimited data – Still a relatively new concept here in the UK, unlimited data is now being offered at all levels of Vodafone's SIM only offerings. You could save a couple of pounds a month on a limited plan if you like, still, but it's clear they won't be available for very much longer
- £2 a month off Vodafone Broadband – Vodafone Broadband is already cheap, but if you want it really cheap you can, at the time of writing, get pay less each month if you sign up at the same time as getting your SIM
- Bolt on entertainment passes – For a little extra you can bolt on a 12-month subscription to Amazon Prime, Spotify, NOW TV or Sky Sports Mobile TV
- Unlimited Max plan is ready for 5G – Provided you have or are getting an extremely expensive 5G phone, and you live in the middle of a large city where 5G rollout is most likely to hit first, you can receive 5G from Vodafone SIM only
- VeryMe Rewards – All Vodafone customers will have access to the VeryMe rewards program with will periodically dish out money off coupons and such via the app
- The My Vodafone app – In this app – downloadable for free, usable by all Vodafone mobile customers – you will be able to check your bills, your usage and get immediate help if you need it
- Free roaming to 48 countries – We'll cover this in detail further down, but basically there are 48 countries you can use your allowances the same as at home at no extra charge (up to 25GB of data), and a load more countries where you can pay an additional daily fee to do the same
Is Vodafone a good network?
Vodafone is one of four UK mobile networks, the others being EE, Three and O2. All other UK mobile providers are actually MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that piggyback onto one of these four.
Vodafone’s 4G network covers 99% of the UK population. Note that is population, not landmass, which means you will still find not-spots (where you can get no signal) out in the sticks, as with all of the UK's mobile networks. In the latest analysis published by OpenSignal, Vodafone's 4G network was given a 83.4% availability score, meaning OpenSignal’s testers could get a 4G signal just over four-fifths of the time.
Data and calling features
- 4G data speed – You won't find any problems with the data speeds being offered by Vodafone. However, it's worth noting that they are third place – behind EE and Three – in terms of their average speeds
- Data rollover – Is where you get to roll unused data over to the following month. Vodafone does offer this on its PAYG 30-day bundles, but not on its contract SIM only offerings. With the move now well underway to all packages offering unlimited data, this is unlikely to change
- Tethering – Is where you use your phone's internet connection and data allowance to supply another device. Your phone becomes a router, basically. You can tether on any Vodafone service whether SIM only, PAYG or mobile package, and there are no limits or restrictions on how much data you can draw using other devices
- Wifi calling – Is where your phone uses your local wifi to send and receive voice calls instead of your mobile signal. Can be helpful when you don't get the best reception indoors. Vodafone offers wifi calling included in all its SIM only deals
- Data gifting – Is where you can give away some of your data allowance to another Vodafone user who needs it. There are ways you can pool data allowances in families with Vodafone, but no way to literally gift data
- Data caps – A data cap allows you cap spending on your Vodafone SIM plan to ensure you don't accidentally incur any outlandish charges from data over-usage or doing things you may not be aware you are being charged extra for. Data capping is available on all Vodafone SIMs, but you will have to remember to set it up yourself
Roaming on Vodafone
Roaming is where you travel abroad with your mobile, and describes what additional charges, if any, you will incur for using your phone while you're away. Most providers offer free roaming, where you will pay no more than you do at home and where your allowances of calls, data and texts can be used at no extra charge.
Vodafone offers two levels of roaming. Basic 'roam like you are home', where you won't have to pay anything extra to use your phone abroad, is applied across all its SIMs and mobile deals, even PAYG.
On Vodafone, you can roam like you are home in Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (incFaroeIslands), Estonia, Finland, France (incCorsica), French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, SanMarino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (incBalearicIslands), St Martin, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Vatican City.
Meanwhile, countries that come under Vodafone's 'roam further' plan will incur a flat daily charge on any day you happen to use your phone. You won't need to sign up for this in advance if you're visiting one of these countries, it will simply be applied.
Vodafone roam further applies to Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lesotho, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saba, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
Which providers offer good alternatives?
Being one of the UK's four network providers, and one of the largest providers in the UK, alternatives to Vodafone could probably be restricted to the other three network providers: Three, O2 and EE. However, since everyone else piggybacks on one of those networks anyway, your options in terms of alternatives are far wider. Let's take a look.
- BT Mobile – Runs on the EE network (BT owns EE) and offers SIMs and phones that will be especially appealing to BT broadband and home phone customers
- EE – Of the four UK network providers, EE has marginally the best coverage and 4G data speeds. It operates on its own network of course, and offers everything from SIMs to iPads and more
- giffgaff – Is somewhat unique in the mobile provider world as the majority of its customer services are taken care of by its own customers via its unique community. Giffgaff runs on the O2 network and offers SIMs, phones and more
- O2 – Is another of the UK's four network operators, and like the others it obviously runs on its own network and offers a bit of everything
- iD Mobile – Is the in-house provider brand for Carphone Warehouse. It runs on the Three network and offers decent deals on phones, SIMs, tablets, the lot
- Plusnet Mobile – Is a SIM only provider running on the EE network. You can't buy a phone from Plusnet and you won't find any deals with huge data allowances, but it is rather cheap in the grand scheme
- Sky Mobile – Is really only recommended potentially for Sky TV and broadband customers as its SIM and phone deals are a bit pricey. It runs on the O2 network
- SMARTY – Is a sub-brand of Three. If you get a SMARTY SIM, you're really getting a Three SIM, albeit with fewer frills and almost certainly paying a bit less
- Tesco Mobile – With ASDA Mobile its only supermarket competition, and with ASDA only offering PAYG SIMs, Tesco has this niche to itself. Tesco Mobile operates on the O2 network and offers a bit of everything
- Three Mobile – Is the last of the true network operators in this line-up. Like the others, it has its own network and offer anything you could think of that's mobile-related
- Virgin Mobile – Also offers unlimited data deals, if you're a Virgin Media broadband and/or TV customer. Even if you're not, Virgin Mobile – which operates on the EE network – usually has some canny deals