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uk mobile phones

We know you can’t live without your mobile phone (or cell as some of you like to call it). So whether you’re bringing one with you or want to purchase a new one in the UK we’ve answered the basic questions below, to make it a stress free experience, as we wouldn’t want you to be without your most prized possession!

What's the difference between Pay Monthly and Pay & Go?

Pay & Go

A Pay & Go plan means you buy ‘credits’ for calls and messages in advance, either directly from the network (e.g. O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile, EE) or in the form of vouchers, which are sold in most newsagents and supermarkets. When your credit runs out you can simply top it up with more.

The advantages of using Pay & Go, include:

  • You don't have to sign a long contract
  • You can use your existing phone and just replace the SIM card
  • You can get one immediately as you don't need to provide ID
  • You can get cheap international calls to mobiles and landlines, included in your monthly allowance
  • You only pay for what you use

Pay Monthly

A pay monthly plan, sometimes called a ‘contract phone’, involves signing up with a mobile phone network, which essentially means agreeing to use the network’s service for a minimum period (usually 12 or 24 months) for a fixed monthly rate. You’ll usually be offered a free phone or a phone at a discounted price with it, as well as a monthly allowance for calls and texts.

The advantages of having a monthly plan include:

  • You’ll be able to choose from the latest handsets and get an upgrade every year
  • You can choose to have a SIM only contract, if you've brought a phone with you
  • Your calls and data will most likely be charged at a cheaper rate than using a Pay & Go
  • You don't have to top-up your credit, if you go over your monthly allowance. You'll get a text advising you've done so but you can continue using your phone and pay for the extra amount as an addition on your monthly bill
  • You can pay by direct debit


What ID do I need to sign up for a monthly contract?

With most mobile phone network providers you’ll need to provide proof you’ve been in the country for a minimum of six months, provide a utility bill with your name on it and take in your ID.


How is the payment taken for a monthly contract?

Normally the mobile phone provider will take payment in the form of a direct debit, which is when the money is automatically taken out of your account on an agreed date. You will receive a monthly bill by post or via email advising you of the amount that will be debited from your bank account.


How do I purchase a SIM or mobile phone?

It’s really easy to purchase a sim or mobile phone. You can do it online, over the phone or at a mobile network shop, which can be easily found in most town and cities in the UK.


Other ways to keep in touch


You can’t beat keeping in touch for free, so as long as you and the people you want to chat to have a computer and a broadband you can use Skype, which allows you do talk to your friends and family online. Skype also allows you to buy credits if you want to ring a landline or mobile via your computer at preferential rates.

International calling cards

A good way to save the pennies when making long-distant calls is by getting a prepaid international phone card, but remember to compare the rates offered by different companies because they differ quite a lot!


Smartphones have so many applications [apps] to help you save money communicating with friends here and back home. GB Mag suggests using any of these apps:

  • WhatsApp Messenger, which allows you to text internationally for free. You can also send free UK texts!
  • Viber, which allows you to text AND call for free. And it just runs off your wi-fi connection or 3G network.
  • eBuddy Mobile Messenger pulls all of your contact lists from Yahoo!, MSN, Facebook, AIM, ICQ, MySpace and Google Talk and combines them into one instant messenger service.