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Pros and cons of EE's no-contract SIMs: EE Flex Plans explained

EE logo and a SIM card

The retailers featured on this page may compensate us when our readers follow links to their websites and make a purchase. More

We walk you through EE's 1-month Flex SIMs, look at their benefits, disadvantages and how they compare with other networks. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 15th December 2020.

Our verdict

SIM Sherpa rates EE Flex SIMs as a very good option ★★★☆☆ (3/5, very good)

EE Flex phone

Get a free SIM

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

"EE's Flex Plans aren't bargain basement cheap but they do offer a rare, fairly-priced way to get on the UK's biggest and fastest 4G network, without having to commit to a long contract.

We think customers will appreciate the freedom to switch, pause or stop plans altogether without giving any notice. And many will benefit from not having to pass a credit check to join."

To help you decide if they're the right choice for you, keep reading our guide, which will take you through EE's Flex SIMs, how they work as well as their pros and cons.

The 3 best bits

1) Lots of flexibility
2) Data rollover and free data boosts
3) Join without credit check

The 3 worst bits

1) WiFi calling not offered
2) 4G speeds are capped and no 5G data
3) No access to EE's pay monthly extras

EE Flex SIMs: How they work

EE Flex Plans are 30-day no strings bundles

EE Plan banner

There's no contract to sign at allRead Flex SIM FAQs

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Simply said, EE Flex Plans are just SIM only plans, where you pay up front for your minutes, texts and 4G data to use up within 30 days - with no contracts or any strings attached.

You can choose from four basic plans - starting from £10 a month. And you get more minutes and data with each bundle, which will suit most people’s needs.

You can currently get triple data for up to six months on any Flex Plan with a great spread of data allowance from 6GB to 60GB. But to keep receiving triple data after the first month, you’ll have to buy a bundle at the same price or higher.

Your plan will automatically renew every 30 days once activated and will keep rolling until you say stop. You can also change to a different plan. Both can be done right up until renewal day.

It is very straightforward with no contracts, direct debits or credit checks. Plus there are no bills or unaccounted-for extra charges. Keep reading to find out how you get a Flex Plan and how to manage it. You can see more benefits below.

Useful link: See all Flex Plan options

Order a free SIM card and pay by debit or credit card

Debit card and an EE Flex SIM card

It's completely free to order with no commitmentOrder free SIM card

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

All you have to do to get an EE Flex SIM card is to go to their order page here at EE.co.uk. They’ll ask you to enter some basic details and then send you your SIM card through the post. There’s no commitment to use it and it’s totally free to order.

Once you’ve received your SIM card, simply follow the instructions in the pack to go online and activate your SIM card and set up your account. But if you’re not ready to switch straight away, then you can hold off as it doesn’t need to be done immediately.

To pay for the plan, you’ll need to register a UK debit or credit card. And as everything is paid up front, you don’t give EE your bank details or set up a direct debit.

All that’s left is to choose the plan that you want and you’re good to go. EE guide you through every step of the simple process. To manage your account online, go to the My EE area.

Useful link: EE's guide to getting started on Flex

EE Flex SIMs: The benefits

Access EE's quality network on a short-term plan

EE's coverage map

EE is the UK's biggest / fastest 4G networkCheck your signal

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

EE have the fastest on average 4G network in the country and the largest one too. There aren't actually many direct or indirect ways to get on their network on a 1-month deal:

Two providers that use EE’s network - BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile both only offer 12-month SIMs or longer. And EE's own 30-day contracts are actually quite expensive. The only provider on EE’s network that offers competitively price 1-month deals is Plusnet Mobile.

EE's Flex Plans therefore fill the gap and provide a lower-cost option for you to get on EE's quality network. And all without having to commit to a long-term contract.

When looking at typical download speeds on Flex SIMs, we’d expect them to be around 31 Mbps. This is mid-range fibre home broadband fast and will comfortably support data-heavy activities like HD video streaming without buffering.

Useful link: About EE's 4G speeds

No need to pass a credit check to join EE’s Flex Plans

Debit card and an EE Flex SIM card

Paying by card upfront avoids credit checksHow billing works

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

As you’re billed for extra usage at the end of each month, most pay monthly mobile networks including EE require you to pass a credit check to be accepted for their SIM only plans or phone contracts.

They want to make sure that you can keep up with your bills and therefore check that their customers have a good record of paying telecoms and other providers.

Saying that, with EE Flex SIM plans you pay for everything up front, and there’s no risk of you running up extra expenses without buying add-ons up front. For this reason, EE don’t need you to pass a credit check.

This provides a great option for anyone who’s new to the UK, young people with no credit history, or people that don’t have the best credit history.

Useful link: Compare all no credit check SIMs

Your unused data can be added to the next month

EE data rollover

Unused data is added to next month's allowanceHow it works

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Nobody’s data usage ever stays the same. It varies month-to-month depending on where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing. Some months you’ll use more, some you’ll use less.

On typical pay monthly deals, you’ll lose any data that you haven’t used up by the end of the month when your allowances refresh.

But EE Flex SIMs come with data rollover, which means that any unused data gets added to your allowance for next month. You don’t lose out and you get a second chance to use it up.

Data can only be carried forward for one month (on some networks it’s longer), so it doesn’t just keep building up. But a month is better than nothing, so we think it’s a good feature on Flex.

Useful link: EE's full guide to data rollover

You have the freedom to change, pause or stop plans

Change, pause and stop words and icons

More flexibility than a SIM only contractHow to stop your plan

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Flexibility is what EE's Flex Plans are all about. And when looking at similar 1-month or 30-day contracts, EE’s Flex are actually even more flexible in comparison. Here's why:

You have complete freedom when it comes to changing, pausing or stopping your EE Flex SIM. You can do this anytime and really easily by logging into your account.

Changing your EE Flex Plan is very simple. You might find your deal to be too expensive or you might want more of everything. All you have to do is just log in, choose a new plan and decide when you want it to start.

To pause or cancel, simply log-in again, hit Pause Plan and EE won't take further payments the next time that your plan is up for renewal. Everything will work as usual until that date.

Useful link: Guide to managing your EE Flex Plan

Disadvantages

EE’s Flex Plans don’t offer WiFi calling

EE WiFi calling banner

Doesn't work on EE's Flex SIMsRead WiFi calling guide

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

With EE’s Flex Plans, you don't get the usual network extras that come with a full EE SIM only contract. WiFi calling is one of them. In a nutshell, EE's Flex Plans are basically no-frills.

This would let you connect to EE’s mobile network for calls via a WiFi connection rather than a conventional mobile signal. This useful feature allows you to make calls without any extra apps or doing anything additional yourself.

And it would help in situations where you’re trying to make a call but you struggle to get a decent mobile signal in the building (read our indoor coverage guide here).

EE’s 4G calling service (VoLTE) is also not available on Flex Plans. Only EE’s pay monthly customers can benefit from this service, which offers improved HD audio call quality and better coverage for calls.

Useful link: How we rate each network's WiFi calling schemes

EE's new 5G service is not available on Flex

Map of UK with 5G locations

You still get a 4G/3G/2G serviceRead latest 5G news

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

When it comes to 5G, EE were the first mobile provider in the UK to offer it out in a few selected cities around the country. But you can’t get their faster data technology on all of their products.

With 5G you get even greater data speeds and reliability. Saying that, most people currently don’t have phones that support it. And 5G coverage is still pretty limited.

So, not getting 5G on EE's Flex Plans isn’t actually going to be a big issue for most. We think that 4G up to 60 Mbps is more than enough for anyone apart from real early adopters.

And, having the freedom to stop, pause or cancel your Flex Plan, you can always switch to 5G in the future when coverage and support has improved.

Useful link: EE's 5G rollout latest news

EE's Flex SIMS don’t come with any pay monthly extras

EE Entertainment Subscriptions

No extra freebies on EE Flex PlansSee pay monthly extras

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

When looking at the differences between EE's Flex SIMs and their contract SIM only plans, you’ll notice that there's a fair amount of added extras that you won't get on EE Flex:

For example, you don't get any of EE's Smart Benefits, which is a choice of extras like extended roaming, free data for video or audio streaming or BT Sport subscriptions that you can add or remove from your account whenever you like.

You also can’t claim a free trial of four different entertainment services with your Flex Plan. Only EE's pay monthly customers can get this (6 months of Apple Music, Apple News+, BritBox and 3 months of BT Sport App). And EE even give them, completely free of charge, the data they use during the trial.

But, we doubt you’ll miss those services if you’re looking for a no-frills deal with minimal commitment and often cheaper pricing than EE's pay monthly contracts.

Useful link: All EE Pay Monthly benefits

Similar deals on other networks

Other networks with similar plans

These providers offer similar deals to EE's Flex

SMARTY are on a different network and often cheaper

SMARTY coverage checker

Check your coverage

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in new window)

SMARTY offer very similar deals to EE’s Flex. You can get pre-paid bundles at pay monthly prices - with no credit checks. But there are some advantages and some disadvantages when comparing the two networks.

When taking your phone out and about, you might not have as good 4G coverage with SMARTY as they use Three's network, which is smaller than EE's (check SMARTY signal here). 4G speeds are also likely to be lower.

And you can't ring SMARTY like you can on EE. You’ll only get online customer service. But that’s why SMARTY's deals do tend to work out cheaper than EE Flex Plans.

One advantage of using SMARTY is that they will pay you back for unused data each month on their smaller data plans. A nice benefit that could arguably be even better than EE's data rollover.

Useful link: Read our full SMARTY review

giffgaff are on the O2 network and offer a similar flexibility

giffgaff free credit offer

Get free £5 credit

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

If you want to avoid credit checks, like paying up front and having the flexibility to change or cancel plans, giffgaff might offer you a good alternative to EE’s Flex plans.

With giffgaff you’ll be on the O2 network (check coverage here), which is the joint second largest with Vodafone but behind EE. As a result, we expect giffgaff to offer slower 4G speeds on average than EE Flex.

Just like with SMARTY, you’ll only get online customer service with giffgaff, while on Flex you can call EE or go online. Plus there’s no data rollover on giffgaff, which is a nice benefit on EE Flex.

You also don’t get the handy WiFi calling or 4G calling features on giffgaff just like you don’t with EE Flex. But, you can get £5 free joining credit when you top up with £10 or buy a £10+ Goodybag bundle.

Useful link: Get a free giffgaff SIM card

VOXI’s plans are on vodafone’s network but pre-paid like Flex

VOXI unlimited social data

See all benefits

at VOXI.co.uk
(opens in new window)

VOXI provide another good alternative to EE’s Flex Plans. They use Vodafone network and offer a small range of medium to large monthly plans that you pay for up front and last 30 days at a time.

VOXI offer a similar flexibility to change, pause or stop your plan and you don’t have to pass a credit check to join them either.

You’ll also get some great benefits that you can’t get on Flex. No matter which plan you join on, you’ll get unlimited data for using these social media apps.

You won’t get WiFi calling or 4G calling on VOXI - just like you don’t with Flex. Coverage can be expected to be almost as good as Flex, but we expect it to run at slightly slower data speeds (check your VOXI signal here before you join).

Useful link: All benefits to joining VOXI

Comparing EE's Flex with other main networks

Do Vodafone, Three or O2 offer anything similar?

You’ll get less flexibility with Vodafone’s Basics SIMs

Vodafone Basics banner

See Basics SIMs

at Vodafone.co.uk
(opens in new window)

If you’re interested in no-frills deals from other major networks, then you might have come across Vodafone's stripped back Basics SIMs (read our review of them here).

You’ll probably end up paying slightly less for Vodafone Basics compared to EE Flex Plans, but they lack a lot of benefits in comparison. You’ll have less flexibility with their 12-month contracts. Plus there’s no roaming or data rollover either.

You can get similar pre-paid bundles on Vodafone, which usually work out slightly more expensive than EE's Flex SIMs but offer the same flexibility. They also let you keep unused minutes, texts and data.

In terms of network performance, we’d expect EE's Flex SIMs to come on top. When comparing them to Vodafone, EE’s Flex have faster 4G speeds on average and slightly better coverage of the UK's landmass (check Vodafone signal here).

Useful link: Read our full EE vs Vodafone guide

Pay as you go bundles also offered by O2 and Three

SIM only results

Compare all bundles

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

If you prefer to stick with one of the other big networks, then you’ll find similar pre-paid 30-day bundles on O2 and Three. Saying that, they’re not as well-priced in comparison to their pay monthly deals.

You won’t need to pass a credit check to join them and they offer similar flexibility to EE’s Flex. O2’s come with data rollover, Three’s do not.

When looking at 4G download speeds, we’d expect O2’s Big Bundles to be noticeably slower than EE’s Flex on average. Three’s Add-Ons are also likely to be marginally slower but less noticeable.

If you know you won’t pass a credit check, then it’s probably worth going for one of the bundle plans on either network. Otherwise, you’re usually better off going for a full 1-month SIM only contract.

Useful link: Compare pre-paid SIM only plans

Where to next?

More guides about EE