Mobile phones and calling home

If you’re coming from outside of the UK, getting a UK mobile phone SIM could save you money.

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Mobile phones

If you’re arriving from outside of the UK, you should check the cost of using your mobile phone in this country with your provider. Some may allow you to use your data/minutes without charge, however, this only applies for short visits to other countries and not for extended stays, which could include your time in the UK as a student. Also, some mobile phone companies apply a ‘fair use’ policy, limiting the amount of data/minutes that can be used.

In most cases, a monthly or pay-as-you-go/pre-pay contract with a UK mobile network will be cheaper.

There are several mobile network providers in the UK, including  EE, O2Tesco MobileThree, GiffGaff and Vodafone, who provide similar services in different packages. SIM cards are readily available to buy at major airports, in supermarkets and many local shops.

SIM only 

If you’re happy to keep your current phone then a SIM-only deal is usually the cheapest way to go. Your phone may need to be unlocked – check with your current provider.

You can buy a SIM card and a 30-day contract with it, which you can choose to extend or opt-out of.

Two ways to pay for mobile phone service in the UK

Pay monthly

If you think you’ll need an unlimited amount of minutes, texts and a large data allowance this may be the best deal for you.

Paying monthly means taking up a 12-36 month contract, so you should think about if you want to commit to this length of time.


Pay-as-you-go means buying a handset then topping up with credit as and when you need it.

This means you can track how much you spend; however, if you need to use the internet on your phone it may work out more expensive than pay monthly.

Keeping in touch with home

Being able to contact home whenever you want is important. However, making international calls and sending texts outside of the UK can be very expensive if you don’t look for a mobile deal that offers them as part of their service.

Companies such as Lebara and Lycamobile specialise in international calling and texting packages. Many UK providers also offer international call packages, which can be added to their mobile phone contracts.

With free Wi-Fi on campus and in Goldsmiths-managed accommodation, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and other messaging apps offer free or inexpensive alternatives for contacting home from the UK.