Is Tesco Mobile any good?

Last updated: 2 February 2021   By Samantha Smith

Tesco Mobile are a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) offering SIM only deals and a range of handsets on contracts up to 36 months.

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Tesco Mobile's customer service record is unparalleled, and it's matched by good pricing, speeds and coverage.


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Customer Service:

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Tesco Mobile offers the latest handsets alongside competitive SIM only tariffs for customers with their own devices.

When it comes to customer service, Tesco Mobile outperform all their rivals, and they also offer a Clubcard tie-in for loyal supermarket customers to enjoy.

Thanks to using the O2 mobile network, Tesco Mobile customers can enjoy high levels of coverage and good 4G speeds across the UK.

tesco mobile
Credit: chrisdorney/

Tesco Mobile's best tariffs

We go into more detail about Tesco Mobile's tariffs later, but here are some of their top SIM only deals:

Package Minutes Data Contract term Monthly price
Tesco Mobile 40GB 5000 minutes 5000 texts 40GB PAYG £20
Tesco Mobile Unlimited 5000 minutes 5000 texts Unlimited 18 months £28
Tesco Mobile Unlimited 5000 minutes 5000 texts Unlimited 12 months £30

How good is Tesco Mobile's coverage?

Tesco Mobile uses O2's mobile network, so the quality of their coverage matches theirs.

We have more detailed information on O2's coverage in our guide to O2's mobile network, but Tesco Mobile customers will benefit from 95% of 4G indoor premises coverage and 99% of 4G outdoor premises coverage. Both of these percentages put O2 joint first with Vodafone, so Tesco Mobile customers have excellent coverage.

Geographic coverage is a little trickier because it incorporates all those hard-to-reach areas, and O2 are lagging slightly on their delivery of 4G across the UK's landmass. They currently rank third out of four operators with 80% coverage, meaning Tesco Mobile customers in remote areas may struggle to get a signal.

The hard-to-reach locations not yet covered by O2 and other operators are being targeted in a Shared Rural Network (SRN) scheme. By 2026, we should see improved coverage from all networks, and that will benefit customers on Tesco Mobile as much as it will benefit those on O2's main network.

Right now, customers can check what the Tesco Mobile signal is like in their area by visiting .

Does Tesco Mobile offer 5G?

Tesco Mobile began offering 5G deals in March 2020, initially switching on the service in 24 locations.

Unlike some networks, however, Tesco Mobile do charge different rates for their 5G deals in comparison to their 4G ones. We cover those differences below when we discuss their tariff options.

Again, as Tesco Mobile use O2's network, the 5G coverage offered by the major provider will match what's available as a Tesco Mobile customer.

At the time of writing, O2 have 5G active in parts of 108 towns and cities across the UK, although this is hardly blanket coverage so customers should check their location area using the coverage checker mentioned above first.

There's more detail about 5G mobile broadband and where different networks are rolling it out in this guide.

Speed: how fast is Tesco Mobile?

Tesco Mobile's speeds on the O2 4G network are not the fastest 4G speeds available in the UK, but reports from RootMetrics and Opensignal indicate average speeds of between 15.1Mbps and 16.8Mbps.

There's no difference between the speeds offered to Tesco Mobile customers and those O2 customers receive as the infrastructure used is the same.

On the flip side, Tesco Mobile customers will be affected by any service issues on the O2 mobile network, as happened in December 2018 when the network went down over several days and caused widespread chaos.

Although such issues are rare, it's worth remembering that any problem with the O2 network will automatically affect Tesco Mobile customers too.

Tesco Mobile tariffs: SIM only and handsets

Tesco Mobile offer a range of 4G SIM only deals on 18-month and 12-month deals along with a variety of high-end handsets alongside other devices.

Customers looking for a SIM only deal can choose from the following:

Package Minutes Data Contract term Monthly price
Tesco Mobile 8GB data 5000 minutes 5000 texts 8GB 18 months £10
Tesco Mobile 15GB data 5000 minutes 5000 texts 15GB 18 months £12.50
Tesco Mobile 25GB data 5000 minutes 5000 texts 25GB 18 months £15
Tesco Mobile Unlimited 5000 minutes 5000 texts Unlimited 18 months £28

As the table shows, Tesco Mobile doesn't offer unlimited data and minutes with their deals, yet 5000 of each is likely to satisfy the vast majority of customers.

To put it in context, a customer would have to make calls for a total of three and a half days throughout a 30-day period to overshoot their inclusive 5000 minutes. In practice, that's rarely going to an issue.

Customers looking at 12-month contracts instead of the 18-month deals listed above can usually expect to pay the same per month.

The major exception to this is the unlimited data deal:

Package Minutes Data Contract term Monthly price
Tesco Mobile Unlimited 5000 minutes 5000 texts Unlimited 12 months £30

Although the price difference is small, it's something to be aware of when choosing between 12-month and 18-month deals.

No-contract SIM only deals

Tesco Mobile offers no-contract SIM only deals with a system they call Rocket Packs.

Customers order a free SIM and add a Rocket Pack that expires within a month. Customers can set up a recurring payment if they want to add credit to their account on a set date or they can top-up and purchase a new Rocket Pack when they're ready.

These are the Rocket Pack options:

Package Minutes Data Contract term Price
Tesco Mobile 2GB 500 minutes 5000 texts 2GB PAYG £7.50
Tesco Mobile 8GB 5000 minutes 5000 texts 8GB PAYG £10
Tesco Mobile 15GB 5000 minutes 5000 texts 15GB PAYG £12.50
Tesco Mobile 25GB 5000 minutes 5000 texts 25GB PAYG £15
Tesco Mobile 40GB 5000 minutes 5000 texts 40GB PAYG £20

As we can see, there isn't an unlimited data option Rocket Pack, so customers looking for more than 40GB data on a Tesco Mobile SIM only deal will need to consider a lengthier contract deal instead.

5G SIM only deals

Tesco Mobile's 5G SIM only tariffs are slightly different to their 4G tariffs, partly because they are only currently available on 12-month deals.

Here are their 5G offers:

Package Minutes Data Contract term Monthly price
Tesco Mobile 6GB data 5000 minutes 5000 texts 6GB 12 months £15
Tesco Mobile 25GB data 5000 minutes 5000 texts 25GB 12 months £20
Tesco Mobile Unlimited 5000 minutes 5000 texts Unlimited 12 months £30

So, choosing the cheapest 5G SIM only deal costs more than a similar data package on 4G, although the unlimited plans are the same price.

It's something to bear in mind for customers with 5G-capable handsets.

4G mobile handsets from Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile don't have the same range of handsets as major networks do, although they do have a decent selection covering the various different price points.

As an example of how their prices compare to other mobile networks, let's take a closer look at the iPhone SE 2020 64GB across several networks including Tesco Mobile:

Handset Minutes Data Initial price Monthly price
Tesco Mobile iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) 5000 minutes
5000 texts
Unlimited Free £38.99
36 month term
Three iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) Unlimited Unlimited £29 £27
24 month term
O2 iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) Unlimited Unlimited £30 £40.95
36 month term
Vodafone iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) Unlimited Unlimited £9 £58
24 month term

With this being an older handset, it doesn't have the same huge price tags as the latest iPhone might, yet the differences between the networks are stark.

Thanks to the 36-month deals offered by Tesco Mobile (and O2), the monthly costs are lower compared to Vodafone, yet they don't offer the same cheap unlimited deals as Three do.

Tesco Mobile have taken their lead from O2 with these 36-month contracts split between airtime and the device itself, although Tesco's options are a little more prescriptive on the length of the contract: 12-month, 18-month, 24-month, 30-month and 36-month options are all available.

Customers can also select how much they want to pay upfront for the device, bringing down the monthly device costs. Again, this doesn't have the same flexibility as O2's plans, but it's a good way for customers to choose an option closer to what they can afford.

Search through all the handsets and deals Tesco Mobile offer by using our free comparison checker and selecting Tesco Mobile from the filters.

5G mobile handsets from Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile currently sell some 5G handsets from the big manufacturers, although they don't have the range of their rivals just yet.

Looking at pricing, Tesco Mobile is again very competitive if we look at their 36 month deals in contrast to typical deals from other networks. Here's the iPhone 12 128GB as an example:

Handset Minutes Data Initial price Monthly price
Tesco Mobile iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) 5000 minutes
5000 texts
Unlimited Free £56.49
36 month term
O2 iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) Unlimited Unlimited £29.99 £57.92
36 month term
Vodafone iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) Unlimited Unlimited £19.99 £78
24 month term
EE iPhone SE 2020 (64GB) Unlimited Unlimited £30 £79
24 month term

As we can see, the 36-month deals offered by Tesco Mobile and O2 offer markedly lower prices than the 24-month deals offered by Vodafone and EE.

Of course, the flip side to that is customers are tied into a contract for an extra year, so it's worth playing around with the contract length and upfront cost options to find a deal that works.

One final point: Tesco Mobile are slightly cheaper than O2 in both of the examples above, so if it's a straight choice on price alone, choosing the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) over the mobile network itself is better.

But how do Tesco Mobile fare when it comes to other elements of their service?

Perks available with Tesco Mobile

As we'd expect from supermarket giant Tesco, there is a tie-in between their mobile service and their supermarket business in the form of Clubcard Plus.

Clubcard Plus is a subscription service costing £7.99 per month (with the first month usually free) and the perk it gives to Tesco Mobile pay monthly customers is double data every month and double Clubcard points.

This could be a neat way of adding extra inclusive data every month, but check it's financially worthwhile and that the other benefits included with Clubcard Plus are going to have some benefit too.

Family Perks

Tesco Mobile are keen for customers to take multiple phone contracts from them, so Family Perks is designed to encourage households to do just that.

As well as being able to manage every family member's account in one place, customers can choose from the following perks depending on the price of their monthly tariff:

  • Between 250MB and 1GB extra data
  • Between 50p and £2 off their bill
  • Between 75p and £2.25 off Tesco Mobile Protect insurance
  • Between 50 and 200 Tesco Clubcard points
  • Between 150 and 500 minutes to any network
  • 500 Tesco Mobile minutes

Apart from the Protect perk, these can be chosen every month, so, for example, customers could choose to boost their Clubcard balance in the run up to Christmas or reduce their bill on a lean financial month.

Anytime Upgrade Flex

Tesco Mobile has taken their lead from O2 in another area by offering anytime upgrades on some of their tariffs.

It means customers can downgrade and upgrade their tariffs whenever they want to, along with accessing an upgrade whenever they're ready.

The catch here is that customers will need to pay off the remaining device costs for their current handset before they upgrade, so, in practice, few customers will be willing or able to do that.

Is Tesco Mobile's customer service good?

Tesco Mobile are customer service champions, routinely coming top in research and keeping their complaint figures at remarkably low levels.

We chose them as the winner when we examined mobile customer service in-depth in December 2020, and the following statistics are part of what recommends them to customers:

  • 97% of Tesco Mobile customers are satisfied with the service received, 5% higher than the industry average of 93% and the highest of all networks
  • 92% of their customers are satisfied with the reception or signal strength they receive compared to an average of 85% across all providers (including, curiously, O2)
  • 97% of customers say they are satisfied with the value for money Tesco Mobile provide, again the highest figure and 10% ahead of the average
  • Calls to Tesco Mobile's customer service lines are answered within 35 seconds, just 1 second shy of BT's industry-leading figure
  • Only 3% of their customers had a reason to complain, in line with the average

Tesco Mobile are one of only two networks more likely to be recommended to friends, and their complaint levels in Ofcom's Comparing Service Quality reports were the lowest for three consecutive years up to 2019.

They carried this excellent record on in 2020, with figures for Q2 2020 showing them drop to 0.4 complaints per 100,000 customers, quite an unusual feat.

If customers are looking for a mobile provider with a stellar customer service record, Tesco Mobile is the undisputed champion right now.

Our verdict: excellent mobile network

Tesco Mobile have so much to recommend them, not least their superb customer service record. With the power of O2's network behind them, Tesco Mobile offers a quality alternative to the major networks.

Tesco Mobile are a top mobile network because:

  • They have an excellent customer service record
  • Their coverage is good thanks to O2's network
  • They offer 5G plans
  • 36-month contracts mean cheaper monthly prices
  • Clubcard Plus allows customers to double their data
  • Family Perks are a good incentive for multiple household contracts

There are a couple of caveats potential customers should be aware of:

  • O2's 4G speeds aren't the fastest around and that impacts on Tesco Mobile customers
  • Shorter contracts can be very costly
  • 5G plans are currently more expensive than 4G ones
  • Their handset range isn't as comprehensive as the main networks
  • If something goes wrong with O2's network, Tesco Mobile is affected too

Even with these caveats in mind, we think Tesco Mobile are an excellent choice for customers searching for a good deal away from the major networks, especially for 4G SIM only deals.

Find out which networks offer the cheapest mobile phone deals in the UK.


Carl sennett
24 April 2021

I have tesco mobile along with several colleagues in work and our data connection is none existent but other colleagues in the same building on o2 have no problem connecting to data any ideas why this is?

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