Lebara Mobile offers SIM-only plans, with a focus on migrant communities, looking to keep in touch with home. It operates around the world and offers plans with decent international call allowances included. Lebara Mobile's plans currently allow in-plan calls to 40 international destinations.
Lebara Mobile is an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which has been around since 2001. MVNOs don't own or operate their own network infrastructure, instead they use the infrastructure of one of the UK's main providers; in the case of Lebara, that's Vodafone.
Lebara Mobile offers a range of plans with various mixtures of data, UK minutes and international minutes and is relatively cheap in the UK mobile market. As a rule, customers will get either a larger amount of international minutes with less data, or a larger amount of data but fewer international minutes. If you use all your monthly data allowance, you can buy a 1GB bolt-on.
Lebara Mobile's SIM-only plans are designed for migrant workers, international communities and travellers who need to call home. The plans are weighted accordingly, so you can expect international calls to be quite a lot cheaper than rates offered by other providers. Lebara Mobile offers a variety of plans with different allowances for international calls, as well as the usual UK minutes and data allowances.
Its most popular plan is good value for the price, with unlimited UK minutes and a 6GB data allowance. However data isn't the focus of Lebara Mobile's service. The unlimited international calls in this plan offer excellent value for customers calling its 42 included destinations. In addition to the usual European Union countries, you can call destinations including the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
There are also specific plans for Nigeria and Ghana, both of which are in its more expensive price range. The Ghana plan includes 140 minutes for calling Ghana, while the Nigeria plan offers 250 minutes of calls to Nigeria. Both plans have no UK minutes or data included, so you will need a second cheap UK SIM deal for making national calls.
It's worth noting that Lebara Mobile's plans auto-renew every 30 days. This is a good thing if you want a more contract-like experience, but if you don't, it could catch you out. Details of how to opt out of this are on Lebara's website.
Lebara Mobile is a SIM only provider that doesn't offer handsets so you will need to have a phone already. All its SIMs are of the 3-in-1 type, which means they will fit any handset.
If you are changing to Lebara Mobile from another provider, your handset may need to be unlocked. You can arrange this by contacting your old provider.
If you have an query or a problem with your Lebara Mobile plan, you can contact customer service by phone between 9am and 5.30pm daily. There is also an online chat service, although this is not available in the evenings. In addition to the customer service phone line, you can contact Lebara Mobile via email, Facebook or Twitter, or you can look at the FAQ section of its website which deals with most common issues.
As one of the smaller providers, Lebara Mobile doesn't figure in Ofcom reports. However, at the time of writing, there are over 1000 reviews of Lebara Mobile on the Trustpilot website. Of those reviews, 38% rated the service from Lebara Mobile as excellent, 19% as great or average and 42% as poor or bad. Overall, its Trustpilot score is 3 out of 5 stars, which is not bad at all compared to scores for many other providers.
The value for money of Lebara Mobile's plans depends entirely on how many international calls you make. If you regularly call one of the countries included in its plans, then the value is great. If, on the other hand, you rarely make calls abroad, you will be better served by other providers. Free calls to other Lebara Mobile mobiles is a bonus, though not particularly unusual in the mobile market.
The value represented by Lebara Mobile's international call allowances is really very good. You will need to check which countries are covered, but as long as your destination is on the list, the calls will be a lot cheaper than those offered by other most providers.
Lebara Mobile uses the Vodafone network. According to Ofcom, 86% of Vodafone customers said they were satisfied with the reception they receive, which is also the industry average.
Vodafone has 3G coverage on a par with most other providers, but its 4G network is sightly less extensive. Vodafone's coverage checker will give you a good idea of signal quality in your area but bear in mind that local geographical features, such as hills or buildings, can affect your reception.
Lebara Mobile is not like most SIM-only providers, in that it has a very specific type of customer in mind, and has tailored its service accordingly. If you are looking for a SIM-only deal with great allowances for international calls, then Lebara Mobile's offer is very attractive. For everybody else, more appropriate deals can be found from most other providers.