ASDA Mobile has carved out a niche for itself as an affordable, no-frills provider, but will its range of Pay As You Go SIMs have you slapping your back pocket in delight?
ASDA Mobile was founded in 2007, as a subsidiary of ASDA, who are in turn owned by the US supermarket giant Walmart. ASDA Mobile is one of over 100 MVNOs operating in the UK today. MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) don't operate their own mobile network, but rather get their network coverage from one of the large providers, in this case EE. So what does ASDA Mobile have to offer and is it worth a punt?
As a Pay-As-You-Go SIM provider, ASDA Mobile doesn't deal in monthly contracts, so you won't find the latest iPhone, or a 24-month contract here. However, ASDA Mobile isn't really about that. Instead, customers order a free SIM, then buy bundles of minutes, texts and data according to their needs. The free SIM comes pre-loaded with 10 minutes, 10 texts and 10MB of data, so you can try before you buy.
ASDA Mobile Bundles range from the cheapest, which contains 125 minutes, 2000, unlimited texts and 250MB of data up to the premium option which comes with 15GB and unlimited texts and minutes. ASDA mobile doesn't offer an unlimited data option at the moment, but 15GB ought to be plenty for most people.
Customers looking for a more contract-like experience can set up a recurring monthly payment for their bundles. All ASDA Mobile SIMs are PAYG, so customers are not tied to a contract, and are able to leave, or change their bundle each time they top up. There are also various data-only, or minutes-and-texts-only bundles, which can be added if you run out before your next monthly payment.
ASDA Mobile's website includes an easy-to-use Bundle Calculator. This handy tool is great for figuring out which bundle to pick. The Bundle Calculator is essentially a series of sliders that are manipulated to reflect the customer's use of minutes, texts and data.
Top-ups can be bought over the phone, by text, by using a top-up card or in-store at ASDA supermarkets. If you want to top-up via phone or text message, you will need to register a credit or debit card by phone first.
ASDA Mobile doesn't offer contracts with handsets, and you won't find any handsets on its website. However, ASDA sells a limited range of mobile phones though its main website and in-store. You won't find the latest phones here, and the range on offer is fairly basic, serving the needs of customers on a budget. Available handsets include the Samsung Galaxy J3, Archos Access 18F and Doro 1360, all of which seem chosen for their affordability or in the case of the Doro 1360, their simplicity. You have to pay for the handsets outright – there is no option for a repayment scheme.
Back in 2013, ASDA Mobile had some well-publicised hiccups when a change of networks from Vodafone to EE created problems for some customers. Happily, these woes seem consigned to the past.
The industry regulator Ofcom doesn't have specific figures on customer satisfaction for ASDA Mobile, but EE is rated 92% for overall customer satisfaction by Ofcom. However this figure doesn't include information on how complaints are handled by ASDA Mobile. It's also worth noting that at the time writing, ASDA Mobile has 4 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, which is pretty special, considering people are much more likely to leave a review after a bad experience. Some very good mobile providers have scores of just 1 or 2 stars on Trustpilot.
Customers requiring help can contact customer service by phone, which is available 8am to 8pm on weekdays but has shorter hours over the weekend – closing at 6pm on Saturdays and 5pm on Sundays. The FAQ section of the ASDA Mobile website also answers a lot of common questions.
In line with ASDA's image, ASDA Mobile positions itself as a value provider. The theory goes that by letting network partner EE handle the infrastructure, ASDA Mobile can concentrate on offering great-value bundles to its customers. In practice, it does offer cheap deals, but you don't always get as much for your money compared to some of its competitors, particularly those with a similar business model.
The cheapest bundles from ASDA Mobile are reasonably good in terms of value, but a quick perusal of its mid-range and top-end bundles, along with a look at our comparison tool and some of ASDA Mobile's competitors, will unearth better deals elsewhere for the same money.
ASDA Mobile's website states that network partner EE provides a 96% success rate in connecting calls, which according to Ofcom rises to 98% in cities. Other findings from Ofcom show 85% of customers are satisfied by the mobile reception provided by EE, beaten only by Vodafone and O2 who reached 86%.
It's always important to check local coverage at your postcode, especially if you live in a rural or remote area. ASDA Mobile has a coverage checker on its website. It's also worth bearing in mind that while coverage may be generally good in your area, mobile signals can be blocked by tall buildings or the structure of your home. If you want to be certain, it may be a good idea to invite a friend with ASDA Mobile or EE to your home, to check they get a good signal. This advice applies to all mobile providers.
ASDA Mobile has set out its stall as a value-for-money provider and it does offer some quite good bundles at reasonable prices. The trouble is, competition has become pretty stiff at this end of the market. People who want a lot of call time and data at a good price can be better served by a different provider. On the other hand, if you don't need a lot of minutes and data, and it suits you to top up in-store, then an ASDA Mobile SIM could be a good choice.
If a PAYG SIM is what you need, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ASDA Mobile, but equally, there aren't any mind-blowing deals to recommend them over the best of the competition.