Family Mobile is a PAYG virtual network that was launched on 8 August 2008. It uses the T-Mobile network and is run by Mobile Partners Group in partnership with IKEA. The network was launched when all IKEA staff in the UK were given a free mobile phone and a Family Mobile SIM with £5 credit.
At the time it launched, it was easily the cheapest mobile network in the UK but now several competitors have rushed to match and even beat its prices. One of the distinguishing features of Family Mobile is the ability to administer multiple SIM cards from a single online account. This means that families can collectively manage their mobile phone usage. Family Mobile started off with the 9,500 IKEA staff and has grown steadily since then.
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Family Mobile review
Family Mobile’s strongest point is their amazingly low prices. It’s hard to find a better value network although Giffgaff and Vectone come very close. UK landline and mobile calls come in at only 8p while texts are a pittance at just 4p. Even data is much cheaper than many rivals at only 20p per MB. The great value they offer coupled with the rock-solid T-Mobile infrastructure means they are a great proposition for prospective customers.
In fact, compared to their parent network, T-Mobile, the savings can be quite substantial while the coverage and service is just as good. For example, if you just make 2 hours of calls and 50 texts a month, you would save almost £20 every month (£11.60 on Family instead of £30.00 on T-Mobile). If you use lots of MMS or voicemail, you’ll save even more.
Included in their low prices is a great feature lacking from so many other mobile networks – itemised billing. This provides detailed information on your outgoing calls, texts and data use. It will also show details of incoming and outgoing calls and texts while you are abroad, and any data activities.
Even better is perhaps Family Mobile’s most outstanding feature – the ability to choose your own phone number. And not any old phone number – Family Mobile offer premium Gold Phone Numbers. Gold numbers are special easy-to-remember phone numbers like 07511 32 32 32 and they can be worth significant amounts of cash. With Family Mobile, choosing your own number is absolutely free when you sign up. With a quick search, we were able to find great numbers still available such as 0794 29 29 29 5 or 07550 90 90 09.
However, there are some problems with Family Mobile. The one area that really lets them down is in customer support. They have a phone line that is only open from 9am-5pm on weekdays meaning people with a full time job will struggle to get any assistance especially as their email support is non-existent. Customers have known it to take up to three weeks for a simple number port.
In summary, Family Mobile are an incredibly cheap network with great prices across the board. While their customer service and lack of special deals lets them down a bit, the potential savings and the free choice of Gold phone numbers somewhat makes up for this. Family Mobile is a solid virtual network and fantastic value for PAYG users especially if other members of your family already use them.
At a glance
Along with virtual networks such as ASDA Mobile, Giffgaff and Vectone, Family Mobile is one of the cheapest choices for UK mobile customers. Since launching they have reduced their prices to remain as competitive as possible – calls and texts are a mere fraction of the cost of other networks with UK voice minutes only 8p and texts a tiny 4p each.
Voicemail is a very reasonable 8p per minute while 0845 numbers and even premium rate 0870 numbers are just 12p per minute to call – these are some of the best rates you can get on mobiles. Even data is quite reasonably priced at only 20p/MB. While this is not the cheapest available, it’s much better value than other providers which often charge around £4/MB for internet access.
Unfortunately, there are hidden charges for basic services such as SMS balance notifications which are 4p each. Still, overall, with rock-bottom standard call and text charges, Family Mobile is one of the cheapest options available to UK customers.
With such low rates, Family Mobile obviously doesn’t feel it needs to offer any special packages. As a result, there’s no way to get inclusive minutes on a monthly booster and there are currently no options for unlimited calls, unlimited texts or even unlimited data.
What they do offer is a useful Family Budget option that provides the ability to set monthly allowances for individual members of your family. As they can’t go over these limits, you can control your spending and ensure your kids don’t run up a huge phone bill – a very handy feature! They also list the option to refund remaining credit (for a £5 administration fee) although we haven’t been able to get this to work ourselves yet.
The best deal Family Mobile have though is their Recommend a Friend programme which rewards you with £10 free credit every time you recommend a new customer that joins up.
To compare Family’s latest pricing with that of other networks, please see our comprehensive price comparison table.
Family Mobile runs on the T-Mobile network. Please see the our Family coverage page to learn about the network coverage in your area. For more information, check out our mobile networks coverage table.
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