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Co-operative pay-as-you-use review

There’s something altogether curious about the Co-operative Mobile’s pay-as-you-use plans…

They require a line rental payment. And they’re tied to a 30-day contract. And while they sound like pay-as-you-go, they aren’t – at least not entirely. Essentially, they’re the bizarre love-child of pay monthly plans and pay-as-you-go plans. But while they’re a bit odd, they do have fairly cheap call and text rates and coverage is strong throughout the UK.

Cable.co.uk overall rating
2.8

Are the Co-operative Mobile’s pay-as-you-use plans worth your money? They have good coverage, data bundles, fairly cheap per-minute and text rates, and there are benefits for Co-op members. But they require a 30-day contract and £2 per month line rental, data rates are expensive, and there’s no 4G.

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Coverage & data speed

Rating

3

Data speed on a pay-as-you-use tariff isn’t quite as important as it would be on a SIM-only or pay monthly plan as faster internet means you will eat through your mobile credit more quickly. As a result, it isn’t such a problem that there is no official information on the speed you can get with Co-operative mobile.

Saying that, it’s worth noting that all Co-operative pay-as-you-go plans are 3G. There are no 4G plans. This means mobile internet will be relatively slow, especially when compared to 4G-focused providers like Three, EE, or Vodafone.

3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
N/A
Average 3G speed*
Unavailable
Average 4G speed*
Unavailable
Call allowance
From 4p per minute
Text allowance
From 7p each
Data allowance
Bundles; or 7.2p per MB
PAYG handsets
Yes
Prices from
3G coverage 98%
4G coverage N/A
Average 3G speed* Unavailable
Average 4G speed* Unavailable
Call allowance From 4p per minute
Text allowance From 7p each
Data allowance Bundles; or 7.2p per MB
PAYG handsets Yes
Prices from Free
Info

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Data usage

Rating

2

When it comes to data you have two choices with Co-operative Mobile pay-as-you-use: you can either choose a data bundle, or just pay as you go.

If you choose to pay as you go, you have to pay 7.2p per MB of data used. At this price, you won’t be able to browse the mobile web for long without racking up a large bill.

If you go for a data bundle, there are three to choose from, each containing a different amount of mobile data to use within a 30-day period. For £2 extra per month you get 500MB, for £5 extra per month you get 1GB, and for £12 extra per month you get 3GB.

These bundles, while they look attractively priced, come with a hidden sting. Once you’ve consumed your set allowance you will be charged 20p for every additional MB used. At that rate, your credit is unlikely to last long.

Calls & texts

Rating

4

Co-operative Mobile offers two pay-as-you-use tariffs.

One is tailored towards people who make more calls to landlines than to mobiles. This tariff, imaginatively named ‘Option One’, costs £2 per month and ties you in to an automatically recurring 30-day contract. Calls to landlines with Option One cost 4p per minute, calls to mobiles cost 11.5p per minute, and texts cost 7p each.

The other tariff, Option Two, is tailored towards those who tend to make calls to mobiles rather than home phones. Again, this costs £2 per month and ties you in to a 30-day contract. Calls to mobiles through Option Two cost 7p per minute, texts cost 7p each, and calls to landlines will set you back 7p per minute.

Whichever option you choose, Co-operative Mobile’s standard pay-as-you-use rates for calls and texts are slightly cheaper than many of its pay-as-you-go competitors.

Extra features

Rating

2

The biggest (and only) extra is restricted to those who are existing Co-operative members. If you have a membership and you take out a Co-operative Mobile pay-as-you-use plan, you receive an extra 10% of credit each time you top up. So if you top up £10, you get £11 credit in total.

There are many other benefits to joining the Co-operative (like more affordable loans), but as these aren’t focused on the mobile service itself, we’re passing them by.

It’s worth mentioning that you can top up your credit in several ways: online, in store, or by calling 1250 from your Co-operative Mobile SIM.

Value for money

Rating

3

The Co-operative Mobile, while cheap, isn’t the cheapest provider around. Three, for instance, is significantly cheaper. But while the standard rates per MB are particularly high, especially if you go over your bundle allowance, the standard per minute and per text rates are relatively affordable.

So if you’re looking for the cheapest option, it’s best to look elsewhere. But there are a few less obvious benefits that make it an attractive – and inexpensive – option.

If you don’t want to spend big money on a SIM-only plan, but also dislike the need to constantly top up credit manually, these £2 tariffs offer a cheap and simple solution, with calls costing as little as 4p per minute. Without wishing to pigeonhole, we’d suggest that this is a good option for elderly relatives.

If you’re a member of the Co-operative, you get an extra 10% credit with all your top-ups. This gives the Co-operative Mobile a boost in terms of value for money – but only a little one.

Overall Rating

2.8

If you don’t use your mobile all that often and just want a simple phone plan, then a Co-operative Mobile pay-as-you-use plan should keep you quite happy. Coverage is strong, call and text rates are fairly cheap, and line rental is only £24 for the entire year. It’s also a good option for elderly relatives who may have difficulty topping up credit or maintaining a SIM-only subscription.

But if you’re hungry for internet data or you make calls on a regular basis, we recommend you look at alternatives (Three is a good option). The Co-operative Mobile has a range of SIM-only bundles that may pique your interest.

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