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Pay As You Go Cell Phones In London

How Do I Use My Cell Phone In London?


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A very good question was asked in the Forum about cell phone use in London. Firstly, you need to know that we call cell phones 'mobile phones' or simply 'mobiles' in London. The question was asking about Pay As You Go plans, which is very sensible for a short trip as most contracts are for 12 months. Pay As You Go mobile phones are very popular in London. You don't need a contract and you simply buy credit for the phone from newsagents or phone shops. (Look for the 'Top-Up' signs.)

If you already have a phone you may be able to just buy a new SIM* card (the telephone number and network information card that goes inside the handset) but it depends on the compatibility with your current network and the UK network you choose. I would recommend speaking to your current phone company and see if they know which UK SIM cards will work in your handset, then you're onto a winner as SIM cards can be picked from £5-£10 each. If you don't already have a handset then Pay As You Go deals are readily available with handsets and SIM cards (and often some free credit towards calls!). These are around £50-£100 each. The main mobile phone companies in the UK are: Vodaphone, Orange, T Mobile, O2, Virgin Mobile, and 3. Calls prices vary with each company so check what suits your requirements. Londoners are pretty big on sending text messages to save on our call costs! (Text messages are usually around 10p and a call can be 50p.)

To get more of an idea of what's available, check out these stores for Pay As You Go deals: Carphone Warehouse and Argos.

Cellular Abroad offer a World SIM that has a cheaper rate for calls overseas so would be good for staying in touch with home. The local rate is a bit higher so think about your needs before choosing a SIM deal.

About's African History Guide: Alistair Boddy-Evans, recommends the SIM card packages from Virgin he picked up on a recent trip to London. He says, "They cost somewhere between £5 and £10, and just fitted into our existing Nokia phones no problem. And when we go back, we have the SIM cards ready to be used again."

* For anyone interested, SIM stands for 'Subscriber Identity Module'.

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