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Thread: Prepaid SIMs in London?

  1. #1
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    Prepaid SIMs in London?

    We are taking an 8 day trip to London in a month, and I was hoping to use my unlocked phone while there. I know that there are "prepaid" SIMs available, but I have no knowledge of the costs and plans available. Does anyone have any experience with these? I'd like to know where I should go for one (buy it now or somewhere when I arrive?). Any insights would be appreciated.
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  2. #2
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    Just about cheapest and simplest:

    Virgin Mobile UK..

    Service Pack £10 with £5 worth of credit

    Calls within UK....15p a minute timed to the second for first 5 minutes of use each day...5p a minute thereafter.

    Calls from UK to US....20p a minute timed to the second...counts towards 5 minutes of use above

    No registering required....buy the service pack, insert the SIM card and you're in

    Disadvantage...useless outside UK.

  3. #3
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    Hi Yeti,

    Greetings from an American stuck in London lol I'm just kidding, I'm finishing my university degree at an American university here. Your best options for prepaid SIMs are as follows:

    As JEFFJAGUAR mentioned, Virgin Mobile UK cannot be beat.

    Here are the prices (these are pretty standard at all cellular retailers in London:

    Virgin Mobile UK: £9.99
    Orange: £29.99
    O2 UK: £29.99
    T-Mobile UK: £29.99
    Vodafone UK: £29.99

    The main cellular retailers in the UK are:

    The Carphone Warehouse: www.carphonewarehouse.com
    Phones4U: www.phones4u.co.uk
    Dixon's: www.dixons.com
    The Link: www.thelink.com

    You can also get the SIM card service packs (starter kits with just the SIM card at the respective provider shop i.e. Vodafone SIM service pack at one of Vodafone's own shops).

    You'll find the cellular retailers almost anywhere, your best bet is to check at the airport when you arrive. If you're arriving at Heathrow, you'll find the retailers represented there. Otherwise try Oxford Street in Central London all of the places mentioned above are located along Oxford Street.

    If you need any more advice, please feel free to post your questions here or send me a PM by clicking the PM button underneath my post .

    Enjoy your stay here in London !!

    Cheers
    Born/Raised: Redwood City, CA, USA
    Live in: Cologne, Germany (May 2004)
    German (Fluent) and English (Fluent)

    Nokia Series 40 and Series 60 Reset Codes:
    http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=640135

    Prepaid Options for Abroad:
    http://www.prepaidgsm.net
    http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=622551

    Worldwide GPRS settings:

    http://www.access-sys-eu.com/GPRS_Settings.95.0.html

  4. #4
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    Thanks, that sounds like exactly what I need. For 8 days, the cheaper prepaid plans are certainly going to be enough.

    I noticed that on some of the UK plans that incoming calls were free. Is that the case with the Virgin plan, or is that too much to hope for?

  5. #5
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    Virgin, is free for incoming calls. I used this on the advice of TriBand81. Got great service Virgin prepaid & my S40 unlocked. Saved mega bucks.
    Don't forget you need to buy the £10 starter pack, only available at Virgin Mega Stores or Cell/Mobile phone shops. After getting the initial starter pack/sim you can get Topup cards everywhere, Gas stations, candy stores & super Markets.

    Carphone Wharehouse also does a prepaid, but topup cards only at their stores, I think. Go Virgin.

    You cannot use the online or by phone topups with any company, without signing up. Uk Credit card etc.

    Good luck, have a great trip.

    Reg. Frank R.

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by yeti
    Thanks, that sounds like exactly what I need. For 8 days, the cheaper prepaid plans are certainly going to be enough.

    I noticed that on some of the UK plans that incoming calls were free. Is that the case with the Virgin plan, or is that too much to hope for?
    Hi Yeti,

    Incoming calls are free on all UK providers. This is a European wide feature. I am not sure but I believe it is tied to some EU regulation. As frrussre mentioned, Virgin is the best way to go. In order to top up with Virgin, you can get a £10 top up card at almost any retailer, gas station and at all Virgin Megastores. All you do then is scratch the covered panel on the back, call 789 free on your phone and follow the voiceprompts to top up your account. Sometimes if you call 789, it will also tell you your balance without you having to select the appropriate menu option. If it doesn't say it, you will have to go to the specific menu to get your current balance.

    If you would like more info, go to www.virginmobile.com and have a look around to answer any questions you may have.

    Good Luck and have an enjoyable stay here in London

    Originally posted by frrussre Virgin, is free for incoming calls. I used this on the advice of TriBand81. Got great service Virgin prepaid & my S40 unlocked. Saved mega bucks.
    Don't forget you need to buy the £10 starter pack, only available at Virgin Mega Stores or Cell/Mobile phone shops. After getting the initial starter pack/sim you can get Topup cards everywhere, Gas stations, candy stores & super Markets.

    Carphone Wharehouse also does a prepaid, but topup cards only at their stores, I think. Go Virgin.

    You cannot use the online or by phone topups with any company, without signing up. Uk Credit card etc.

    Good luck, have a great trip.

    Reg. Frank R.
    Thanks Frank. I am glad I was able to help you.

    Take Care both of you

  7. #7
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    Virgin is definitely the way to go, as these guys have said. It's unbelievably easy to get set up, makes all the BS you have to go through in the US look ridiculous by comparison.

    My only advice is to buy at least a 10-pound top-up card when you get the phone so you're set for a while.

  8. #8
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    One other thing. When I arrived at Heathrow Term 3, I found the Link store upstairs. Problem they where sold out, of Virgin starter packs. I had to wait until I got to town, I found a local Cellphone shop & got the pack. Still saved $500, over AT&T.


    Virgin has a 180 day, use it or lose it (with some provisions). I'm hoping the leave & retrieve VM via landline will keep it live.

    Any info Triband or Carlos?

    Remember you were both up on this stuff.


    Reg. Frank R.
    Last edited by frrussre; 04-24-2003 at 05:12 PM.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by frrussre
    One other thing. When I arrived at Heathrow Term 3, I found the Link store upstairs. Problem they where sold out, of Virgin starter packs. I had to wait until I got to town, I found a local Cellphone shop & got the pack. Still saved $500, over AT&T.


    Virgin has a 180 day, use it or lose it (with some provisions). I'm hoping the leave & retrieve VM via landline will keep it live.

    Any info Triband or Carlos?

    Remember you were both up on this stuff.


    Reg. Frank R.
    Yes there is a 180-day provision for your account to stay active. You must make/receive a call or send/receive a text message once within 180 days otherwise the number will be disconnected. This is the same for all UK providers but certainly for Virgin as I read this the Virgin User Guide just some time ago (I still have it).

    Hope this, questions are always welcome so ask away!!

  10. #10
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    TriBand 81, I read somewhere (Chat room) that leaving a message on the VM & retrieving via Landline will/should keep the account active. I guess time will tell.

    Reg. Frank R.

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by frrussre
    TriBand 81, I read somewhere (Chat room) that leaving a message on the VM & retrieving via Landline will/should keep the account active. I guess time will tell.

    Reg. Frank R.
    No problem .

  12. #12
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    How is the quality of Virgin UK seems to be the best priced, but it one of those 'you get what you pay for'?

  13. #13
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    I personally found the service AOkay. Never had a problem making or receiving calls.

    Reg. Frank R.

    Siemens S40 (Manuafacturer Unlocked) & Virgin.

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by V205
    How is the quality of Virgin UK seems to be the best priced, but it one of those 'you get what you pay for'?
    In the 6 months that I used Virgin, I never had any problems with dropped calls/system busies. That doesn't really exist here since the GSM networks in Europe/Asia are a lot maturer than the new ones in the US. Coverage with Virgin is the same as T-Mobile UK since Virgin uses their network/towers. I always thought it was odd that my old SE T300 showed T-Mobile UK as my home network but then I read online that Virgin uses T-Mobile's network. So you get a good bargain for your money .


  15. #15
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    Thanks, safe to say i wont get ripped of when in in UK

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