What is the cheapest SIM card in the UK?

cheapest sim uk

Recently, I found a long expensive phone contract coming to an end. I had finally paid off my Huawei P20 Pro – a phone that I’d replaced due to ongoing problems with wearables that made it a tricky handset for any tech reviewer to stick with.  

Anyway, given I’d already bought a newish SIM-free handset, my immediate instinct was to drop to a SIM-free deal with a healthy amount of data. This offer from Virgin Mobile seemed tempting for £9, offering 8GB of monthly data that would be more than enough for me.  

But then I asked myself why I was doing this. With coronavirus running wild, the government’s current advice is to be out of the house for under an hour a day if humanly possible, so how would I get through 8GB data in that time?

I decided to do some digging to find something cheaper.

What is the cheapest SIM card in the UK?

That little mascot is, rather cutely, called “Penny”

After a fair bit of research, I ultimately plumped for 1pmobile. And yes, “1p” does indeed stand for 1 pence. The company makes Pay-as-you-Go SIM cards that have a flat cost: 1p per minute, 1p per text and 1p per megabyte of data, making it the perfect SIM card for these locked-down times. 

On my state-mandated daily house exits so far I have spent precisely 18p on mobile data, which is a big improvement on the £35 a month I was paying before. And if you’re wondering about coverage, 1pmobile uses the EE network, which means it’s about as reliable as you could hope for, too.

1pmobile: What are the drawbacks?

Drawbacks? Not too many in my current situation, I have to say. However, if you’re a big data user, then this clearly isn’t a smart option. 250MB of data for £2.50 is competitive, but as soon as you hit 1GB for £10, then it’s patently obvious that there are far cheaper options available. Not least the Virgin Mobile option I considered before.

Secondly, while that 1p per minute call rate covers calls to UK mobiles and UK landlines starting in 01, 02 and 03, calls to more expensive lines (084, 087, 09, 118, etc.) cost considerably more. Picture messages and premium SMS lines are also more expensive, but to 1pmobile’s credit, they’re pretty transparent about these ‘hidden’ costs.

Thirdly, this is a PAYG SIM and you need to top up at semi-regular intervals. If you don’t, 1pmobile reserves the right to cancel your SIM card. How regular? Every 120 days if you top up £10 a time, but the time increases if you top up by more, all the way up to 600 days if you drop £50 at a time.

To be clear, that means you can pay just £2.50 per month over the course of 20 months. And you can spend those one pences whenever you like.

1pmobile is transparent about the way its top-up system works, and it will send you email reminders so you shouldn’t be caught short.

1pmobile: Verdict

1pmobile isn’t right for everyone, but my experience so far has been positive. If you’re near the end of your contract and happy enough with your current handset, then I’d recommend it as an easy way to save money – at least until we’re allowed to leave the house again.

Image: CC BY 2.0

About the author

Alan Martin

Alan has been writing about tech professionally for a decade, and answering tech questions to family members on a voluntary basis for even longer. That should make him an ideal fit for Big Tech Question, then...

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