Tesco Mobile Review 2021: Low-cost network with O2 Coverage and Free Data!

Tesco may be the UK’s largest supermarket but they also have over 5 million mobile customers. Half Cooked gives you the full breakdown below.

tesco mobile review

Tesco Mobile is a low-cost mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with over 5 million customers. The low-cost mobile network is operated by British retailer Tesco, and it uses O2 as its network coverage provider. Tesco Mobile offers pay monthly 5G and 4G SIM contracts coupled with UK minutes and texts and other extras such as Tesco Clubcard points. They also provide a choice of PAYG bundles dubbed as Rocket Packs as well as a traditional pay as you go service. Their 5G service is also powered by O2, but in order to make use of it you’ll also need a 5G-ready phone.

Tesco Mobile’s price plans are competitive and offer great value, plus you can also enjoy double data from the carrier if you have Tesco Mobile Clubcard Plus. However, some key features like 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling are not included in any of the network’s tariffs.

Latest Offer: 8GB for just £10/month

Tesco Mobile January 2021 SIM OfferTesco Mobile offers 8GB of data for just £10/month, on an 18-month plan. The deal includes 5000 UK minutes & texts.

With Tesco Mobile’s you can save up to £40 in-store every month at Tesco. All you have to do is to choose and eligible pay monthly plan on Anytime Upgrade or SIM Only and Tesco will give you Clubcard Plus for free for 6 months! You’ll also get double data with Tesco Clubcard Plus.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at Tesco Mobile’s SIM-only plans, network coverage & data speeds. We’ll also cover the differences between O2 and Tesco Mobile, plus what extras you can get your hands on as a Tesco Mobile customer.

Pro’s

  • High value deals with Tesco Mobile Clubcard.
  • Competitive prices, great value SIM deals.
  • A wide range of pay as you go options.
  • 5G SIM-only plans.

 

Con’s

  • No data roll-over scheme.
  • No 4G Calling or Wi-Fi Calling.
  • No free Wi-Fi service..

 

Table of Contents

 

Plans & Pricing

At the time of writing Tesco Mobile offers two different types of pay monthly price plans. You can either sign up for a SIM only contract with the network, or get a pay monthly handset plan.

There are also two different Tesco Mobile PAYG options you can choose from. The one-month bundles are called Rocket Packs and the second option is their ‘Triple Credit SIMs’. Another alternative is using the network’s traditional pay as you go service, but we don’t recommend it unless you’re a light mobile data user. You can always read our ‘How much data do you need?’ guide to find out what type of mobile data user you are.

SIM Only Deals

If you’re already happy with your current handset, Tesco Mobile offers both 4G and 5G deals. The network’s pay monthly SIM only plans will lock you in for either 12 months or 18 months. Unfortunately, they don’t offer short-term contracts. You can check the table below to see what each SIM contract proposes.

Minutes & TextDataCost
4G - 12 Month Contracts
500 Minutes - 5000 Texts2GB£7.50
5000 Minutes - 5000 Texts25GB£15.00
5000 Minutes - 5000 TextsUnlimited Data£30.00
4G - 18 Month Contracts
5000 Minutes - 5000 Texts10GB£10.00
5000 Minutes - 5000 Texts15GB£12.50
5000 Minutes - 5000 Texts25GB£15.00
5000 Minutes - 5000 TextsUnlimited Data£28.00
5G - 12 Month Contracts
5000 Minutes & Texts6GB£15.00
5000 Minutes & Texts25GB£20.00
5000 Minutes & TextsUnlimited Data£30.00
5G - 18 Month Contracts
5000 Minutes & Texts10GB£10.00

Tesco Mobile’s unlimited data plans are available on both 5G and 4G SIM deals. If you don’t want to sign up for an unlimited data plan, you can get double data on all Tesco Mobile pay monthly plans by getting a Tesco Mobile Clubcard Plus membership. If you’re a Clubcard Plus member, you can benefit from special discounts and even pay your mobile bills with Clubcard points for half the price! Tesco Mobile’s family mobile plans are also a great option to consider as they offer a choice of monthly discounts.

The network also lets you set a safety buffer so that you won’t go over your monthly allowances. One could say this is a must-have, given how you don’t get unlimited UK minutes and texts as a Tesco Mobile customer.

If you want O2 coverage, but Tesco Mobile’s deals don’t meet your criteria, you can have a look at giffgaff’s no credit check SIM only plans or Sky Mobile’s high value SIM contracts. Both MVNOs are using coverage from O2, plus they also offer 5G download speeds. You can read our giffgaff Review 2021 and Sky Mobile Review 2021 to find out all you need to know about them.

Pay As You Go

At the time of writing, Tesco Mobile offers two different PAYG services to choose from. You can either top-up and use your credit to get a Tesco Mobile Rocket Pack that’s valid for 30 days or choose the network’s traditional pay as you go service and just pay for what you use.

Rocket Packs

Tesco Mobile’s Rocket Packs are their pay as you go bundles that give you an inclusive allowance of minutes, texts and data. They last for 30 days, but you can renew your Rocket Pack early if you’re running low on data. You can get a new one straight away, nothing is stopping you.

You can always check how much is left of your data, minutes and texts using My TescoMobile, which also shows your renewal date. If you want to cancel your Pack, make sure to do it 48 hours before your renewal date though. Tesco Mobile may automatically take the cost of your next Rocket Pack if you don’t.

Minutes & TextDataPrice
500 Minutes & 5000 Texts2GB£7.50
500 Minutes & 5000 Texts8GB£10.00
500 Minutes & 5000 Texts15GB£12.50
500 Minutes & 5000 Texts25GB£15.00
500 Minutes & 5000 Texts40GB£20.00

You’ll also be rewarded with Tesco Clubcard points whenever you top-up your Tesco SIM. The network gives you 1 Clubcard point for every £1 spent. Rocket Packs are prepaid deals, so you don’t have to undergo a credit check. However, giffgaff’s goodybags usually beat Tesco’s PAYG offers, plus giffgaff’s golden goodybags offer 5G speeds and coverage, which is absent on Rocket Packs.

Triple Credit SIM

Alternatively, you can use Tesco Mobile on a traditional pay as you go basis. Plus the network rewards you with triple credit, if you top-up £10, £15 or £20 in one go. Bonus credits are valid for 30 days from when you top-up and they can only be used for UK calls, texts and data. You’ll always use your triple credit bonus first and then fall back to your regular credit.

Top-upTesco Gives YouTotal Amount
£10.00£20 free credit£30.00
£15.00£30 free credit£45.00
£20.00£40 free credit£60.00

You also get to choose a free bonus bundle when you top-up £10 or £15 in one go. Top-up for £10, you can choose between 50 extra texts, 75 extra minutes or 250MB extra data. Top-up for £15 and you’ll get to choose between 5000 texts, 200 minutes or 1GB extra data.

The table below shows how much credit you’ll use on minutes, texts and data when you’re using Tesco Mobile’s traditional PAYG service.

Calling Rates
Voice Calls25p/minute
Messaging Rates
Text Message (SMS)10p/text
Data Rates
Data10p/MB

Pay Monthly Phones

You can find flagship phones and some of the older handsets from major manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia on Tesco Mobile’s online store. However, the network is a bit poor when it comes to variety. Their selection isn’t wide compared to most other networks. If you don’t already have a handset, it may be cheaper to buy a new one from a mobile phone retailer or getting a refurbished phone deal from somewhere else.

Tesco Mobile’s ‘Anytime Upgrade Flex’ scheme allows you to split your bill into two parts. One for your phone and one for your airtime, almost identical to their parent network O2’s Custom Plans. You can choose your monthly phone payments and how long your mobile contract will be (12, 18, 24, 30 or 36 months). Your airtime bill will be a separate monthly rolling contract. You can jump between any available Tesco Mobile SIM plans, but you can only do it once per month.

Tesco Mobile also has a range of pay as you go phones, and at times you may be able to find the latest phones at discounted prices.

Network Coverage & Data Speeds

4G Coverage

Tesco Mobile is using the network O2 as its carrier, so it’s pretty reliable. Since Tesco and O2 share the same infrastructure, they offer identical 4G network coverage and 4G data speeds. According to Opensignal’s April 2021 speed test results Tesco Mobile’s average download speeds are around 17.3Mbps and upload speeds were around 6.7Mbps. Keep in mind that the exact 4G download and upload speeds you get are dependent on the time of day, your location and many other factors.

Tesco Mobile’s 4G network covers 99% of the UK’s population and their geographical coverage is above 90% at the time of writing. Plus the network can fall back to 2G for voice calls and texting if necessary. If your device and plan supports VoLTE, you’ll be using 4G to make and receive calls. If you want the best that 4G can offer, EE is unrivalled in the UK. The network offers the fastest 4G data speeds and the best 4G network coverage by a long shot. You can read our O2 vs EE Review and discover how these two networks compare.

5G Coverage

5G is significantly faster than 4G, plus your connection is more stable and it offers much better latency. The network uses O2’s underlying infrastructure to provide 5G coverage in 155 cities and towns. Their 5G download speeds are around 124Mbps, making them the second-fastest 5G network in the UK, per Opensignal. You can read our detailed Tesco Mobile: 5G Review and learn everything you need to know about the network’s 5G service.

At the moment, Three offers 5G in 194 cities and towns, plus their average 5G download speeds are around 116Mpbs, meaning they’re one of the fastest 5G operators in the UK. On top of that, 5G is available to all Three customers, even if they’re only using the network’s traditional PAYG service. Read our extensive Three Review and find out more or have a look at our O2 vs Three comparison and see which network is more suitable for you.

Voice Call Quality

Independent testing bodies such as umlaut, Open Signal and OOKLA say that O2 improved their voice call quality considerably in 2020. Open Signal’s and umlaut’s latest network tests still rank O2 as the third best mobile network with a score of ‘satisfactory’ but at least they’re catching up. They were previously ranked fourth, but they overtook Three towards the end of 2020.

Test results indicate that the call setup times of Tesco Mobile (O2) are a little longer than EE and Vodafone.

Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling

4G Calling is also known as VoLTE. It eliminates blackspots where you can’t normally stay connected or get bad reception due to the limitations of 3G and 2G. You can also continue getting 4G data speeds whilst you’re on a call. Calls made over 4G are much clearer and higher in quality.

Wi-Fi Calling uses an available Wi-Fi network to keep your handset connected, even if there’s no phone signal in the area.

4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling are not offered by Tesco Mobile, at least not yet. If Tesco Mobile offers 4G Calling (VoLTE) and Wi-Fi Calling we’ll update our articles.

Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

Even though Tesco Mobile’s parent network O2 offers over 16,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots, the mobile virtual network operator doesn’t provide any exclusive free Wi-Fi hotspots to its customers. Free Wi-Fi can help you save your mobile data, and keep you connected in more locations. However, you can still use O2 WiFi and Sky Mobile’s The Cloud services for free, just sign up and you’re good to go. Just know that these two services are available to all UK mobile customers, it’s not a Tesco benefit.

Also, to clear any confusion we’d like to underline that O2 Wi-Fi Extra and O2 Wi-Fi are two different services. The latter is a free service available to all, meanwhile Wi-Fi Extra comes with (as the name suggests) extra benefits exclusive to O2 customers.

Tethering

Tethering refers to turning your mobile phone into a personal hotspot, a mobile router. It lets you share your mobile data allowance with other devices such as laptops, tablets, other smartphones etc.

When you’re tethering your data will get eaten up at a much faster rate though, simply because more devices will be actively using the internet. You should always be extra careful and watch your data allowance when tethering, especially if you’re using a light data plan. You can tether when you’re using Tesco Mobile’s traditional PAYG service at the network’s standard rates, but we don’t really recommend tethering if you’re a pay as you go customer unless you really have to.

We always recommend signing up for an unlimited data plan if you plan to tether regularly. If you’re looking for a cheap SIM deal with limitless data, SMARTY might be the best network for you. Make sure to read our SMARTY Review or check our SMARTY Unlimited Data Review before you make your final decision though.

International Roaming

Tesco Mobile’s international roaming scheme is pretty standard, there’s nothing special about it. Tesco Mobile calls their roaming feature ‘Home From Home’ and it lets you take your UK calls, texts and data with you to 48 destinations in Europe. Tesco Mobile’s fair usage limit is 15GB of data in the Republic of Ireland and up to 7GB while roaming in the EU.

If you’re travelling outside the EU zone we strongly recommend you check Three’s Go Roam or Vodafone’s Global Roaming Plus. The latter roaming scheme is the best in the UK, but it’s only available to Vodafone Unlimited Max customers. This deal also allows free roaming in Turkey, which isn’t possible on any other network anymore.

Features

Tesco Clubcard Plus

This is a great feature, especially if you shop at Tesco regularly. Tesco lets you collect 1 Clubcard point for every £1 you spend on your Tesco Mobile bill. You also get double the value of your Clubcard vouchers, if you spend them at Tesco Mobile. Just convert your Clubcard vouchers into Tesco Mobile partner vouchers in the Clubcard app or on the Clubcard website. You can read our Tesco Clubcard Plus Review to find out more about what other benefits await you.

Family Perks Rewards

In the UK, getting the family onto Tesco Mobile can help you save a little more each month and you can also enjoy other benefits while saving. Tesco Mobile family SIM only plans are decent, but they’re not the best on the market.

If you have more than one plan on your account, you’re eligible for Tesco Mobile’s Family Perks scheme. Each family member (or friend too) can choose their own free monthly perk that suits them. The owner of the main account also has the benefit of managing everyone’s accounts in one place. This may be a deal breaker if you want to use Tesco Mobile with friends, but for a family we believe it’s a great option to have.

Each family member/friend can choose one of these free perks to get every month.

    • 250MB – 1GB data
    • 50p – £2 off your bill
    • 75p – £2.25 off Tesco Mobile Protect insurance*
    • 50 – 200 Tesco Clubcard points
    • 150 – 500 minutes to any network
    • 500 Tesco Mobile minutes

The amount you get in each perk depends on your monthly tariff price. Your Family Perk is free every month & you can also switch to a new perk after your old one expires.

Recommend a Friend

You can recommend Tesco Mobile to a friend via a unique referral link and in return, Tesco will knock up to £20 off your bill. The same will apply to your friend’s bill too. The best part is, this includes their family mobile plan too. The extra lines you have on the same account can get you a discount.

Get your friends, your partner, your family member onto Tesco Mobile and the network will give you up to £20 off your bill. At the time of writing, Tesco Mobile allows you to recommend up to five friends or family per month.

Tesco Mobile Protect

If you are buying a new smartphone or upgrading your old one with Tesco Mobile, you’re eligible for the network’s worldwide insurance service: Tesco Mobile Protect. If you’re in the UK and your phone is lost, stolen or damaged, Tesco Mobile will get a replacement out to you the next day.

This service is available on most of Tesco Mobile’s pay monthly phone deals. You can choose from two types of cover, depending on your budget and what you’d like cover for.

Anytime Upgrade Flex

If you’re planning to purchase your handset from Tesco Mobile, you can have your mobile phone contract tailored specifically for you. The network will allow you to change your tariff any time (up or down, up to you), by splitting your phone bill and airtime bill.

Tesco Mobile Anytime Upgrade Flex also allows you to upgrade whenever you’re ready. However, this doesn’t mean you can upgrade without consequences. You are still subject to credit checks.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

Tesco Mobile is a decent MVNO, but they have a few shortcomings. They don’t offer unlimited UK minutes or texts, their plans don’t provide 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling and some of their SIM only deals are a bit on the expensive side compared to most other MVNOs.

However, if you’re a regular Tesco customer picking up a Tesco Mobile SIM can save you a considerable amount of money. Plus, all the extras, perks and benefits add great value to their SIM only plans.

Half Cooked’s overall rating for Tesco Mobile: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Tesco Mobile Frequently Asked Questions

Does Tesco Mobile have 5G?

Yes, Tesco Mobile offers 5G SIM only and phone plans. The network uses O2’s 5G network.

Does Tesco Mobile offer 4G Calling/VoLTE?

No, Tesco Mobile customers don’t get 4G Calling (a.k.a. VoLTE).

Does Tesco Mobile offer Wi-Fi Calling?

Sadly, no. Tesco Mobile doesn’t offer Wİ-Fi Calling to their customer, at least not at the moment.

Is O2 faster than Tesco?

No, O2 and Tesco Mobile have identical download and upload speeds. The same applies to their network coverage for both 5G and 4G.

Do I have to pass a credit check to join O2?

Only if you’re applying for a mobile phone contract or a pay monthly contract. Tesco Mobile’s pay as you go plans are commitment-free.

Does Tesco have a family mobile plan?

Yes, you can add extra lines to your account and manage all of them in one place. You get free perks every month and you can save a significant amount of money, if you’re using their family/friends deals.