Dan Howdle | May 15th, 2023
Vodafone is one of the four major mobile network providers in the UK, and is known worldwide for its mobile phone services. Vodafone’s popular unlimited data plans offer customers unlimited data, calls and texts, for a set monthly fee. Pay monthly unlimited data plans are offered on new handsets with 36-month contracts, while SIM-only unlimited data is available on a 12-month contract. Vodafone offers a range of unlimited data plans that vary depending on usage needs or download speed requirements.
With unlimited SIMs available from more providers than you can count, choosing the right provider and package can be a bit overwhelming. Vodafone is one of many service providers offering unlimited data in the UK, and we’ve put together this handy guide so you can decide if it’s the best provider for you.
Here's a brief overview of the main features to consider when shopping around for unlimited data SIMs.
|Monthly data usage
|Roaming data usage
|30 days, 24 months, 36 months
|99% of UK population
|Yes (on select plans)
Unlimited data SIM plans let you use your mobile data to your heart’s content, so you won’t have to worry about unexpected charges for exceeding your monthly allowance. Ultimately, unlimited data gives you peace of mind, so you can use as little or as much data as you want or need to, without incurring extra charges. Unlimited means truly unlimited, so you can stream, surf, text, post, and game as much as you like without any usage restrictions. Deals offering unlimited data are reasonably priced, and they’re widely available from both large and small mobile service providers.
Unlimited data offers more than just binge-streaming your favourite series or watching every challenge video available on TikTok. Having access to unlimited data means you can access your files, photos, and all your cloud content from anywhere, which might come in handy if you’re out and about. Mobile data without limits also means you can stay connected if your broadband connection goes down, or if you’re out of reach of a wifi connection. Plus, you can choose to create a hotspot with your mobile data and share your connection with trusted people and devices without having to worry about data caps or costs as a result.
Vodafone’s 4G network covers more than 99% of the UK population, and the network also offers tiered roaming packages in over 200 destinations. Vodafone’s 5G coverage is now available in 124 UK cities and continues to expand, available at no extra cost for customers with a 5G phone. On top of that, the entire network is now powered by 100% renewable electricity.
You can check the status of Vodafone’s network anytime and find out about coverage available in your area, including 5G, with Vodafone’s Network Status Checker.
Depending on which unlimited package or SIM-only deal you choose, you may or may not have to deal with data caps. Vodafone caps the speeds available on its entry-level plans, such as Unlimited Lite, so even if you have unlimited data, you won’t necessarily get the quickest speeds available. Higher-priced plans like Unlimited Max offer uncapped speeds and unlimited data, so you can get the fastest 5G speeds available in your area.
Rival network Three reigns supreme in having the fastest 5G download speeds available in the UK, with a score of 228.4 Mbps, a whopping 75% faster than EE who came in 2nd. Vodafone and O2 came in third and fourth with scores of 105.2 Mbps and 92.3Mbps respectively in recent 5G speed tests conducted by Opensignal Opensignal.
Vodafone offers roaming in over 200 destinations worldwide, but not all destinations are available on every plan. Pricing is broken down into four zones for pay monthly customers, with different destinations included in each, while pay-as-you-go customers are offered zones A, B and ‘around the world’. Zone A includes free roaming in the Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland as standard on all pay monthly and pay-as-you-go plans. The cost of roaming beyond Zone A will depend on where you're travelling to and which plan you choose.
Pay monthly customers have a wide range of roaming options to add on to their unlimited data plans. Select Unlimited data Xtra plans offer inclusive roaming in up to 83 countries. There are also optional add-ons for different zones, depending on where in the world you want to use your mobile phone.
Pay-as-you-go customers have to buy one of Vodafone’s 8-day Europe Extras to make calls or use their data in Zone B, which essentially covers Europe. For roaming further afield, PAYG users will need to purchase Around the World Roaming Extras, which offers a set allowance of data, calls and texts to use in 73 additional destinations worldwide. This applies to all PAYG customers, including those on unlimited data plans.
Vodafone has a roaming fair usage policy for all pay monthly customers, which limits your usage abroad to 25GB, if your UK allowance is 25GB or higher, and this applies to unlimited data plans as well. Any usage outside of your agreed roaming allowance will incur charges, so it’s best to avoid data-heavy activities like streaming or tethering while you’re abroad.
Customers on pay monthly or PAYG unlimited data deals can enjoy a range of extra features and benefits when signing up with Vodafone.
Unlimited data deals have become pretty common now, and all major UK mobile providers (Three, EE, O2), and even the smaller MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), including Smart, iD Mobile, giffgaff, and supermarket providers like Tesco Mobile and ASDA Mobile, offer unlimited data.
Since unlimited data plans have become so common, the cheapest deal may not necessarily be the best option, because there may be speed caps, or limited roaming,for example. That being said, if you are happy with unlimited data and don’t need any bells or whistles, you’ll find offers for around £20 per month from the likes of Smarty, iD Mobile, Three, and Tesco Mobile. Vodafone’s unlimited plans tend to cost a bit more because they add in extras, but if you just want unlimited data, there are cheaper options available.
If you don’t mind 4G speeds, or don’t have a 5G device yet, supermarkets like ASDA and Tesco offer affordable unlimited data deals. You might be subject to speed caps, but you’ll still have unlimited usage.
Want the best freebies? Some of Vodafone’s competitors may be more appealing depending on what you’re looking for. Generally speaking, if something is offered to you for free, chances are the cost is covered in your package, but it might still be worth taking a look around. Three offers truly unlimited data without speed caps or limits, and has a generous rewards app. O2 has customisable contracts, and some plans include up to six months’ free of Disney+, Prime Video, or Audible and more.
Virgin Mobile customers can text, tweet and post as much as they like using WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter, without eating into their monthly data allowances. EE offers six months of free Apple Music, discounts on broadband packages, and more. Your best bet is to compare what’s on offer with and without perks, and decide if the extra cost is worth the benefit on offer before you sign up.