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Co-operative SIM-only bundles review

Co-operative Mobile (née The Phone Co-op) is part of the larger Co-operative family, and is run and owned by its members.

It has three customisable SIM-only plans, all of which come on rolling 30-day contracts, and calls to other Co-op mobiles are free. But there are a few drawbacks. The included allowances are low, and you can often find cheaper deals offering the same amount of minutes, texts, and data elsewhere. Here’s everything you need to know about the Co-operative Mobile’s SIM-only deals…

Cable.co.uk overall rating
2

The Co-Operative is not a cheap provider. Allowances are limited and you can get more for your money elsewhere. However, it is an ethically sound provider – a co-operative run and owned by its members. You can also make free calls to other Co-operative Mobile users.

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Coverage & data speed

Rating

2

As a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Co-operative Mobile relies on EE’s network to carry its phone calls, text messages, and mobile internet data. EE provides mobile coverage to 98% of UK homes and businesses. This is 3G coverage. You use 3G to get online with your smartphone. EE’s faster mobile network, 4G, isn’t available on Co-operative Mobile.

There's no official information on download speeds with Co-operative Mobile (your download speed determines how quickly webpages, online videos, and images load on your smartphone). However, we can look at the average speeds of the network it piggybacks upon (in this case, EE) for an idea of what to expect. EE’s average 3G speed is 7Mbps. It would be reasonable to assume that the Co-operative Mobile’s download speed won’t be any faster that this average, and may be slower.

3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
N/A
Average 3G speed*
Unavailable
Average 4G speed*
Unavailable
Call allowance
200 - 1200
Text allowance
Unlimited
Data allowance
500MB - 3GB
Minimum contract
From 30 days
Prices from
3G coverage 98%
4G coverage N/A
Average 3G speed* Unavailable
Average 4G speed* Unavailable
Call allowance 200 - 1200
Text allowance Unlimited
Data allowance 500MB - 3GB
Minimum contract From 30 days
Prices from £8 per month
Info

Scroll horizontally for more information.

Data usage

Rating

2

All Co-operative Mobile plans come with a basic 500MB of data. This is enough for light, infrequent use. You can increase this to 1GB or 3GB during the sign-up process, though this increases how much you pay for the plan. If you prefer to go the other way, and remove all mobile data, this will reduce your monthly bill payment by £2. If you go online with your mobile data allowance removed, you’ll be charged 7.2p for every megabyte used. A 10p charge per MB comes into effect when you go over your monthly allowance and continue using the internet, and is higher than the rate per megabyte that applies to Co-operative Mobile’s pay-as-you-go and pay-as-you-use plans.

You can tether on these plans. Tethering involves connecting other devices, like laptops and tablets, to your smartphone’s internet. You can’t tether using an iPhone though, due to an incompatibility with the Co-operative Mobile’s network.

Calls & texts

Rating

3

All plans come with unlimited texts. This means you won’t be charged for sending text messages. The plans also come with a set allowance of minutes – though compared to many other providers these allowances are somewhat limited. The basic option comes with 200 inclusive minutes. The top option comes with unlimited minutes. Calls made within these allowances are free, but there is a drawback. For each call, you have to hang up and redial before 60 minutes expire. If you don’t, you’ll be charged for the subsequent minutes of that phone call.

Standard rates for calls and texts are relatively low. For calls to UK landlines and mobiles, the charge is 20p per minute. For text messages sent to UK mobiles, you won’t pay a penny; all such texts are free.

Any call made to another Co-operative Mobile user is free. Again, the 60-minute limit applies.

Extra features

Rating

1

Co-operative Mobile plans come with few extras. If you join a SIM-only plan, and intend to use your existing handset, you will receive £10 off the advertised price.

If you have friends or family on a Co-operative Mobile plan, all calls and texts to them will be free of charge on SIM-only. The Co-operative Mobile calls this the ‘chat for longer’ service. If you go over 60 minutes while chatting on the ‘chat for longer’ service, the rest of your call will use the minutes included in your standard allowance. To avoid this, hang up and redial.

If you own a BlackBerry phone, you can add the BlackBerry Internet Service extra. This lets you access BlackBerry Messenger and receive emails on your handset.

Value for money

Rating

2

At first glance, the provider appears expensive for what it offers. However, when you apply the £10 discount for choosing a Co-operative Mobile SIM-only deal (as opposed to a pay monthly deal with handset) it becomes cheaper – but not considerably so. Many providers offer similar allowances for far less, and for the price you pay with the Co-operative Mobile’s cheapest options, you could get unlimited mobile data or unlimited minutes elsewhere.

All plans run for 30 days. This means you can cancel at any time without incurring penalty fees.

Co-operative Mobile is one of the few providers to offer a plan without mobile data. Furthermore, you receive a discount of £2 if you renounce your mobile data allowance. This could make it an attractive option for some.

Overall Rating

2

Co-operative Mobile feels like a budget provider, but comes with the price tag of a mid-range mobile operator. Allowances are limited, and you can get much more for your money elsewhere. However, the short contract lengths, the cheap out-of-allowance rates and the draw of a company owned by its customers may serve to appeal.

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