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Most network operators in the UK offer wallet-friendly pay monthly contracts, but you’ll have to undergo a credit check and if you’re a student you’re unlikely to have much of a credit history. This will make it difficult to get a hold of a SIM only contract.
Thankfully, you’re not out of options, because there are many mobile virtual network operators with no credit checks, as well as major carriers offering PAYG deals. These prepaid SIM only plans work by customers paying up front for their monthly usage and can be set to be manual renew or auto renew. On top of that, since they’re monthly rolling plans, you can leave the network anytime you want, so you’ll have full flexibility and freedom.
Like we said, having no credit history makes things harder, but not impossible and if you want a new smartphone then it might be a better idea to consider a long term contract. Plus some network operators give you up to a 20% discount on their plans.
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A student’s life in the UK can be expensive and EE understands that. The UK’s largest network offers a 20% student discount off your monthly plan, as well as extra 500MB of data each month. You also get six months of free Apple Music and three months of free BT Sport. To benefit from this offer you’ll need a voucher code from Student Beans. All you have to do is enter the student discount code at checkout and 20% discount will apply to your tariff.
The UK’s oldest mobile network gets that a student needs data, minutes & texts more than most, as a result Vodafone is offering a 10% student discount on pay monthly SIM plans. The discount also applies to pay monthly phone and tablet plans and some accessories too!
First things first though, you’ll need to check if your university is signed up to Vodafone’s discount plans. If the answer is yes, you can simply apply for the 10% student discount. If you’re eligible, Vodafone will contact you by your chosen method and inform you.
If you’re a student and want to get an O2 plan, then you’re in luck! However, there’s a catch. While O2 proposes a 20% student discount, it only applies to O2 Refresh plans. This means you can’t get a SIM only deal and a student discount at the same time, you’ll also have to purchase a new handset directly from O2.
There’s one more thing we’d like to underline, the discount will only apply to your airtime plan which covers your calls, texts and data. You won’t be getting any discounts for your device plan. To get the 20% student discount you’ll need to sign in to your UNiDAYS or TOTUM account and get a unique code and use it when purchasing the device and plan.
If you’re looking for a large data or unlimited data deal then look no further, because Three offers students 20% off with their student SIM only deals. The carrier already proposes three unlimited data deals and another three 30GB data plans. You can sign up for 1 month, 12 months or 24 months and of course the longer your contract the cheaper your monthly bill is.
If you opt for a device plan, then you get 10% off, but the discount only applies to selected phones and you’ll have to sign up for 24 months. Most offers only allow you to pick a 30GB data deal, but in some cases you’re also given the option to opt for an unlimited data plan too.
Regardless of your choice you’ll get ‘Go Roam’ (which is the best base international roaming feature in the UK), ‘Go Binge’, 4G Calling, Wi-Fi Calling and 5G coverage at no extra cost with these plans.
Technically SMARTY doesn’t offer any exclusive discount to students, but we think the network should still be included in this list as they offer you money back for unused data and their prices are super competitive.
Using Three as its network provider SMARTY offers decent 4G coverage, but you won’t be getting any 5G service, at least not yet. You can also get your money back on SMARTY’s data discount plans, which are already fairly cheap and student-friendly. The network also offers the cheapest unlimited data plan at the moment, and it doesn’t require a credit check.
Make sure to read our SMARTY Review to learn all about what the network offers.
If you’re studying in the UK from abroad, Lebara might be a good choice for you. The network wants to keep you in touch with your loved ones and also give you as much access as possible to help with your studies. You can claim a 50% student discount via TOTUM on all Lebara SIM only plans.
The network also gives you £10 worth of free credit when you transfer your phone number to Lebara.
Lebara is using 2G, 3G and 4G coverage from Vodafone and some of their offers are quite student-friendly.
SIM Only Offers with No Credit Checks
Powered by Vodafone, VOXI works on a prepaid basis and offers four different plans to choose from with no credit checks. VOXI’s plans are not the most student-friendly price-wise, but their endless social media perk sure helps save a lot of data. Make sure to read our VOXI Review to learn more!
Running on the O2’s network, giffgaff comes with a unique offer called goodybags. These work on a prepaid basis and last for 30 calendar days, however, you can always purchase a new bag if you run out of data. No credit checks, no contracts and you can switch between different goodybags. If you’re interested in the carrier, make sure to read our extensive giffgaff review too!
Another student-friendly network piggybacking on Three’s infrastructure is iD Mobile and they regularly offer amazing discounts on their monthly rolling price plans, but most of them require you to undergo a credit check. However, the network also offers PAYG deals that come with decent amounts of data and minutes. Make sure to check out our iD Mobile Review to learn more!
Tesco Mobile doesn’t offer any 30 day rolling, no credit check SIMs, but they propose multiple PAYG options and we think some of them could be good alternatives to other networks’ student plans. For instance, if you use Tesco Mobile as a traditional PAYG service and top-up £10, £15 or £20 in one go, the network will reward you with triple credit. Alternatively you can purchase a Tesco Mobile Rocket Pack.
You want access to perks beyond standard data plans, but you’re concerned about a credit check? Don’t worry as O2 offers PAYG bundles that come with O2 Priority and O2 WiFi perks and on top of these you also get a data rollover feature. However, you’ll only benefit from the latter perk if you continue to purchase the same bundle and renew it on the very same day. If you like going out to live events & concerts O2 Priority is a must.
Read our O2 Review to learn what else you might be able to claim with O2 Priority.
If you’re not qualified for the 20% student discount due to a failed credit check, you can still benefit from EE’s No. 1 4G coverage in the UK. As a student you can purchase an EE PAYG pack or EE Flex plan without having to undergo a credit check. They may not be the cheapest deals out there, but they surely deliver top notch quality network coverage and offer great value. Plus the amount of data you get isn’t that bad either.
Check out our detailed EE Review, if you’re interested in learning more.
Vodafone’s PAYG deals don’t require a credit check so anyone can purchase them on a monthly basis. You won’t get any special benefits with a Vodafone SIM but there are two Vodafone PAYG bundles that come with 5G coverage (one offering 100GB data and the other is unlimited).
Alternatively, you can use the network as a traditional PAYG service and stay connected with your loved ones. You’ll need to top-up once every six months to keep your SIM active, that’s all. Read our detailed Vodafone Review to learn more about the oldest mobile network provider in the UK.
The network offers four SIM only plans and the network doesn’t ask for a credit check. If you’re a regular Superdrug customer then we’d strongly recommend checking these deals out by reading our Superdrug Mobile Review. The network uses Three as its provider, and offers one of the cheapest unlimited data deals in the UK.
The carrier gives you double Health & Beautycard points on all your Superdrug shopping and you’ll get the cost of your first month’s plan back in BC points when you start using your SIM card.
1p Mobile offers 99% population and 90% landmass coverage in the UK thanks to EE’s amazing infrastructure, but this is not even their most outstanding feature. The network proposes the cheapest PAYG rates in the UK with 1p a text and 1p a MB!
Don’t forget to read our extensive 1p Mobile Review and discover everything the carrier offers!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which network offers the best student discount in the UK?
This is a tough one to answer, because it’s almost impossible to single out a network at the moment. They all offer similar discounts and quite honestly, we think your main focus should be getting decent 4G coverage and if possible 5G too. With bad coverage any network can become insufferable so make sure to check their coverage maps first. After that, it depends on what you need from your network. Unlimited data? Go for Three. Amazing deals and rewards, make sure to check out Vodafone. High street discounts, tickets to live events? O2 will suit you the best. Want to watch the Champions League on BT? EE’s student discount offer will cover that for you. The list goes on.
How do no credit check SIMs work?
Credit checks are done in case a customer with a poor credit history racks up a large bill and then fails to pay, but many network operators in the UK now offer alternative plans with no credit checks. A customer can simply avoid a credit check by paying for a SIM plan up front.
Can I use a family plan with a student plan?
Unfortunately, no. Family plans have to be under one main account and most networks in the UK don’t allow combining two different types of special discounts. You might still get a juicy discount on a family mobile plan though!
Can I get a phone with a student discount?
Yes, all major networks in the UK offer student discounts for phone deals. We strongly recommend you to check out O2 Refresh deals. Alternatively you can look for EE’s phone deals, as the carrier offers lifetime warranty!