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EE pay-as-you-go review

EE’s mobile network is the largest in the UK, and also the fastest, with its rapidly-growing 4G coverage. Its pay-as-you-go (PAYG) service offers a commitment-free way of signing up, with free SIMs that can be preloaded with bundles of texts, minutes and data that last for seven or 30 days.

However, with cheaper PAYG services available with other providers, does EE offer enough to the customer to warrant its comparably higher prices?

Cable.co.uk overall rating

To get the most from EE’s pay-as-you-go service you need to choose one of its various bundle offers. These get you a better rate on minutes, texts and internet data. Without an add-on, you’re restricted to calls and texts, and regular, long-term use is likely to cost you more than necessary.

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Coverage & data speed



EE had a head start rolling out 4G in the UK. As a result, it currently has the widest coverage in the nation at 99%. The main draw of a 4G network is how fast it relays information to and from the internet. This means that web pages open more quickly, online videos play instantly and files (music, movies, images) generally download faster. The average download speed of EE’s 4G network is recorded at 33Mbps That’s faster than many standard home broadband connections and means you could download a complete album in less than a minute.

For those who don’t lie within the extent of its 4G network, EE’s 3G coverage is available to 98% of UK premises. Although it is the slower of the two technologies, 3G was designed for the mobile internet. On average, downloads over 3G reached 7Mbps. If you are using 3G you can expect slightly longer download times, with web browsing not quite as responsive as on 4G or home broadband. If you’re watching videos online, playback may not be instantaneous and could be temporarily interrupted part way through (known as buffering).

3G coverage
4G coverage
Average 3G speed*
Average 4G speed*
Call allowance
As per add-on/pack or 30p per minute
Text allowance
As per add-on/pack or 12p per message
Data allowance
As per add-on or pack
Minimum contract
*According to Ofcom
Prices from
3G coverage 98%
4G coverage 99%
Average 3G speed* 7Mbps
Average 4G speed* 33Mbps
Call allowance As per add-on/pack or 30p per minute
Text allowance As per add-on/pack or 12p per message
Data allowance As per add-on or pack
Minimum contract N/A
Prices from Free
*According to Ofcom

Scroll horizontally for more information.

Data usage



EE doesn’t have a standard tariff rate for data. To get online with your PAYG SIM you’ll need to purchase a pay-as-you-go pack or a data add-on with your available credit. With an add-on, you can add between 100MB and 10GB of data to use over 30 days or until it runs out. Prices start at £3 and increase depending on how much data you want. It’s impossible to go over your limit so you’ll never be charged extra. EE will notify you when you’ve used up 80% of your add-on so you can buy another if needed.

Pay-as-you-go packs add a set airtime allowance for you to use over seven or 30 days. Two of these have been designed specifically for data and add 100MB or 1GB of data to your SIM. Packs renew automatically every seven or 30 days – providing you have enough credit – until cancelled. If you want more than 1GB of data, you can buy a data add-on to use in conjunction with your pack. Alternatively, you can choose an Everything Pack. These combine up to 4GB of data with unlimited texts and up to 1,000 minutes to use over 30 days.

Calls & texts



At EE’s standard rate, calls are charged at 30p per minute and text messages are 12p each. With a £10 top-up you will be able to send a little over 80 text messages or make a half-hour phone call before having to top up again. If you use your phone often, the cost will mount up quickly. You can get a better rate on both calls and texts with either an add-on or pay-as-you-go pack. Minutes and text add-ons let you put a portion of your credit towards up to 3,000 texts or up to 500 minutes to use over 30 days. Prices start at £2. If you exceed the add-on limit, continued use will be charged at the standard network rate

EE’s pay-as-you-go packs start at £1 and give you a set allowance to use over seven or 30 days. There are two categories to choose from: Talk and Text Packs and Everything Packs. With a Talk and Text Pack you can add up to 750 minutes and unlimited texts. Everything Packs offer unlimited texts with up to 1,000 minutes and between 500MB and 4GB of data to use over 30 days. You can choose a pack when you first sign up for a PAYG SIM or at a later date using My Account, the My EE app or by texting ‘ALL PACKS’ to 150.

Extra features



EE’s 2-for-1 cinema ticket offer (a.k.a. Orange Wednesdays) was discontinued in February 2015, but there are a few other extra features on offer. Customers receive discount rentals from the EE Film Club between Monday and Wednesday each week, free wi-fi on the London Underground, and pre-sale ticket offers for sports and live events.

Adding a pay-as-you-go-pack to you PAYG SIM consistently for three months will make you eligible for a Free Boost. This will add more minutes, texts and data to your future packs at no extra cost. It’s possible to earn multiple boosts if you continue to purchase a pack. EE will text you to let you know when you’re eligible for your Free Boost, or you can track your own progress with the My EE app, your online account, or by texting ‘BOOST’ to 150. Further details are available here.

Value for money



The standard tariff rate of 30p per minute and 12p per text is comparably more expensive than some other providers. Three, for example, charges 3p per minute for calls and 2p per message for texts. Without one of EE’s add-ons or pay-as-you-go packs, a standard top-up of £10 won’t last long.

With no standard rate for data, EE’s PAYG customers are pushed to purchase an add-on or pay-as-you-go pack. For an airtime balance that suits regular use, the cost is between £15 and £25 every 30 days. If you’re prone to talk, text and use mobile internet regularly, you may want to consider a SIM-only plan.

Overall Rating


EE has the widest 4G coverage in the UK and the fastest recorded mobile internet speeds. However, accessing the mobile web on EE’s pay-as-you-go plans isn’t as straightforward as sending a text message or making a phone call. The necessity of one of EE’s add-ons or pay-as-you-go bundles for getting online prevents excess usage, but may constrict overall usability for some. With prices that are considerably higher than some other providers, it’s worth comparing EE’s PAYG offering with alternatives on the market before you sign up.

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