10 Best UK Phone Providers For Students

If you’re looking for the best phone provider deals as a student at university, you’re sorted as we’ve done our research to help you find the right UK mobile network to suit you.

There’s so many mobile networks out there and it can easily become overwhelming.

By reading our guide you’ll have a comparison of their mobile coverage, price plans, network speeds, customer service and of course the deals and perks they offer.

After all, there’s nothing worse than signing up for what appears to be a good deal to then find out there was a better one out there.

Plus, now we’re amidst a cost of living crisis, it’s never been more important to save your pennies and make the most of perks where you can.

So don’t stop there, carry on reading to discover the 10 best UK phone providers for those living in student accommodation.

best phone providers uk

Best UK Phone Providers

To help you find the best UK phone providers that won’t break the bank and offer great deals for those studying, we’ve put together this top 10 list.

Check it out below…

Best UK Phone Providers 

1. Tesco Mobile

Kickstarting our list of the best phone providers for students in the UK is Tesco Mobile.

According to Ofcom’s latest customer service survey carried out in 2022, the best mobile network in the UK is currently Tesco Mobile.

The mobile phone provider had an overall customer satisfaction score of 96%.

Not only do they offer great deals both on SIM-only plans and monthly contract phones, but If you’re a student, you can save money on your mobile phone plan through signing up for their student discount – we’ll take that!

That’s not all either, you even get free Clubcard points every time you pay your phone bill which means you could get money off your grocery shop, fuel, or even use rewards.

Whilst you may not get the fastest 4G or 5G speeds with this phone provider, the tariffs tend to be a lot more affordable for students.

Head over to the official Tesco Mobile website to browse the mobile phones, phone contracts and SIM only deals they offer.

Tesco Mobile

2. O2

O2 is one of the main mobile network providers in the UK and is a great option for those at university.

Ofcom’s annual report in 2022 stated the mobile phone provider’s overall customer satisfaction score was 93%.

O2 runs 2G, 3G and 4G networks across the UK and also operates O2 wi-fi, with deals to suit everyone including a variety of phone contracts, 12-month and 30-day SIM-only deals and pay-as-you-go plans.

The mobile phone provider also has a great reputation for perks and discounts with their infamous priority app.

This exclusive app available to O2 customers can get you early access to concert tickets, priority booking at O2 venues, discounts on Greggs, entertainment experiences, and even cheap drinks deals at the pub, the possibilities are endless.

There are extra deals and discounts regularly offered by O2 which really help you out whilst at university like free subscriptions to Disney+ and Amazon Prime – yes please!

The only thing is, 5G might not be available where you live and it’s not the cheapest of phone providers out there, but nonetheless there are some great perks to make the most of.

best phone providers o2

3. Vodafone

If you want to switch mobile phone providers but aren’t sure which one to choose, Vodafone is a great choice for both UK students and international students.

Vodafone is another of the Big Four mobile phone providers in the country and had an overall customer satisfaction score of 92% in Ofcom’s annual report last year.

When signing up for a Vodafone 24-month contract, you can make the most of you can also receive free Spotify, Amazon Prime, or YouTube Premium.

If your university is signed up to the discount plan, you can also benefit from a 10% discount on selected airtime plans, pay monthly tablets and SIM only plans.

Although, not all UK universities are signed up, so it’s worth checking on the Vodafone website first!

Unfortunately, Vodafone isn’t praised on their value for money so if you want a cheaper option it may not be your best bet.

Although, they offer impressive 5G speeds and being the oldest UK phone provider, they’re reliable.


4. EE

If you’re studying in the UK, EE is a mobile phone provider that could be a good choice for you.

Another Big Four network, EE (Everything Everywhere) was created when Orange merged with another mobile Network firm, T Mobile.

The mobile phone provider is now owned by BT, making it the largest mobile phone provider in the country.

Similarly to Vodafone, EE scored an overall customer satisfaction score of 92% in Ofcoms annual report last year, but it scored slightly lower for value for money.

They are said to have the fastest and most reliable connection, as well as 4G coverage in more than 99% of the UK.

So, you can take advantage of fast speeds – it’s what you need whilst studying!

When signing up for this mobile phone network, you can make the most of a variety of different deals.

Including free access to the BT Sport app for the first three months, and ‘Smart benefit’ rewards when you set up a pay-monthly deal.

With a Student Beans account you’re also able to make the most of a 20% student discount off your monthly bill on a selection of phone plans, and on any SIM only plan which isn’t already on offer.

Head to the EE website to browse Pay Monthly Mobile, SIM Only, and other deals which they offer.


5. Three

Another of the Big Four companies, Three offers over 99% mobile network coverage across the UK and is an ideal choice for those studying here.

Three currently offers 5G broadband in some areas of London, however its mobile 5G throughout the country is still being developed, once it’s completed it’s said to be the UK’s Fastest 5G Network.

Although, in last year’s Ofcom report the mobile phone provider received an overall customer satisfaction score of 86%, which is significantly lower to that of the other Big Four providers.

It really does depend on what you’re after from mobile phone networks though!

Three offers exceptional value for money with a variety of exclusive student discounts.

Such as, 6 months half price on unlimited data tariffs and a free gift, as well as a unlimited SIM Only plan for £9.50 a month – you can’t complain there really.

Moreover, the mobile phone provider offers Pay Monthly (including SIM-only) and Pay As You Go customers exclusive deals on their app Three+ with tons of different perks from big brands like Uber Eats and Cineworld.

Check out the Three website to browse deals from the UK’s Best Network for Data!

Three mobile

6. Sky Mobile

Another student-friendly mobile phone provider is Sky Mobile. 

Sky Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with its services running on the O2 network, which means the coverage is the same.

Sky Mobile plans are good value for money whilst at university with the provider offering a range of flexible data plans, including pay-as-you-go and monthly contracts.

You’re also able to easily switch between plans or upgrade to a new device hassle free!

Unlike some other providers you can roll over any data you don’t make use of to the next month or ‘piggy-bank’ all your unused data for up to three years.

Of course, unlimited streaming on Sky apps is included so you can watch all your favourite films and TV shows.

The Sky VIP app comes as standard too, which offers a range of exclusive benefits like free cinema tickets, early access to watch films and TV shows as well as other perks.

The only thing is, Sky Mobile doesn’t offer any unlimited data plans.

If this is a make or break for you, you might want to look elsewhere.

sky mobile

7. Giffgaff

There are tons of mobile phone providers in the UK, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, another we would recommend to students is giffgaff.

Giffgaff, like Sky Mobile, is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which uses O2’s network so you can expect all of the same coverage and network quality.

The mobile phone provider scored 95% in overall customer satisfaction in last year’s Ofcom report and offers flexible, affordable plans with no contracts, as well as allowing customers to earn credit by referring friends.

Giffgaff offers a range of flexible and affordable mobile plans, including pay-as-you-go, pay-monthly, and SIM-only plans. As a customer you can earn credit by referring your friends too.

This mobile phone provider is a great choice for those on a budget with plenty of low-cost tariffs to choose from.

They also have fixed UK prices until the end of 2023, meaning you can stretch your student loan that little bit further.

Giffgaff offers some good student discount deals through the UNiDays app, so go check them out!

giffgaff best phone providers

8. ASDA Mobile

If you’re a student on the hunt for an affordable mobile network operator that provides good coverage and customer service, ASDA Mobile is an option you should consider.

ASDA Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which operates on the EE network, meaning customers can expect good call signals and 4G coverage.

The mobile phone provider offers a range of pay-as-you-go and monthly contract plans, including unlimited data plans which is ideal to get you through the academic year!

ASDA Mobile offers no contract 1-month plans so you can change your plan whenever you want to without being tied down.

Sadly though, they don’t offer student discounts or any other perks, but for a cheap and cheerful provider whilst at uni, you can make the most of low cost deals.

You can use their app to manage your account, buy bundles and top up, check your balance and change preferences though!

ASDA mobile best phone providers


Want to make the most of social media without eating up your data?

Well, when you choose VOXI as your mobile phone provider you can!

As with other mobile virtual network operators we’ve mentioned, VOXI uses Vodafone’s network with 99% 4G coverage throughout the UK, with 5G also available in certain locations.

VOXI offers flexible mobile plans that don’t require a contract and come with unlimited data for both social media and streaming services.

Yep, that’s right it won’t use up any of your data allowance!

We think this perk is enough to get us to sign up alone, but that’s not it.

There’s free gifts available when you refer someone else, great coverage and download speeds, as well as affordable plans.

As a customer, you can also purchase additional data or upgrade your plan at any time if you change your mind or find a better value for money.

Despite being fairly new compared to other UK phone providers, we reckon VOXI is a super good choice whilst at uni, and you don’t even have to have a credit check either.

VOXI best phone providers

10. Lebara

Last but by no means in our post to the best phone providers for students is Lebara.

Lebara is an ideal option for international students studying in the UK with flexible monthly plans and pay-as-you-go options so that you can stay in touch with your family and friends with ease.

Their plans are designed to be affordable and flexible with an array of different options to suit your needs and budget, as well as being 30-day rolling, meaning you can change or cancel anytime.

Again like many other mobile virtual network operators, Lebara uses Vodafone’s 5G service so customers can benefit from reliable and fast coverage – it’s what you need for all that hard work!

Currently, they are offering 50% Off SIM Only Deals for students so make the most of some money off.

Lebara mobile phone provider

In conclusion, the best mobile phone provider to suit you will be down to your specific needs and preferences, so it’s important to do your research and compare the different plans out there.

You should also make sure to check the coverage of your chosen mobile phone provider in your area before you sign up!

Let us know what you think the best mobile phone provider is for you whilst at uni @universalstudentliving.

Check out next: 8 Motivational Podcasts For Students To Listen To.

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