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Family Mobile

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.

Free SIM

Get your free SIM here.

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.

PAYG Pricing

At a glance

Calls: 8pTexts: 4p Data: 5p/MBMMS: 23p0800: 12p0870: 8p


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.

Price comparison

To compare Family’s latest pricing with that of other networks, please see our comprehensive price comparison table.



2G coverage: 99%3G coverage: 98%

Coverage map

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.


Give your own rating to Family Mobile below:

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.4/5 (51 votes cast)
Family Mobile, 3.4 out of 5 based on 51 ratings
by Jon M

30 Responses to “Family Mobile”

  1. Withdrawing Service 7 July 2015 at 14:13 Permalink

    Family Mobile was a good network that let you choose your own gold number from a huge list of ones available – why can’t other mobile operators offer this?

    Unfortunately, they will be withdrawing their service and cease to operate from 31st August 2015.

    PACs can be requested before then. All unused credit will be lost.

  2. Laurent 1 July 2015 at 15:32 Permalink

    I joined them a few weeks back. Yesterday got a curt email from a company that bought them and are kicking customers out. Transfer ASAP, be gone by the end of next month or lose your credit. Nasty lot.

  3. Ronnie 31 March 2015 at 19:49 Permalink

    This has always intrigued me this network.
    I tried to order a sim last year,but it never came.
    I also asked a question regarding their coverage(which I now know).
    They never got back to me.
    I assumed they were no longer operating.
    I have clicked the MNC link.
    Heres hoping

  4. Family Mobile 3 March 2014 at 11:40 Permalink – please note that our data rates have changed and are now only 5p per MB and not the 20p as stated in your overview.
    many thanks
    Family Mobile

  5. Family Mobile 3 March 2014 at 11:39 Permalink

    hi Dave, I’m really sorry to hear about this, our policy is to ensure we get back to everyone asap, so i’m not sure how this one slipped through the net. If you can please send me your email address at with your phone number, then we shall contact you asap.
    many thanks
    Family Mobile

  6. dave 22 February 2014 at 13:00 Permalink

    I have been with them for a number of years now (4 phones for the family) with minimal issues. The ability to manage the 4 phones from 1 account is great, as is the auto topup ability.
    Recently support is non-existant – they don’t answer the phone, don’t respond to their callback, and don’t respond to emails.

    anyone any suggestions for an alternative? Generally very low usage but the ability to manage all from one account and auto topup would be highly desirable.

  7. Peter 22 January 2014 at 18:25 Permalink

    on the face of it there are only two mobile networks, with all the mast sharing agreements, so you either go with Cornerstone ( Voda and O2) or EE ( which is the Orange T-Mobile tie up) , I am not counting the 3 network here, have friends who went to 3 and keep going back to O2 based or EE run networks

    so signal is probably the same these days whoever you go with, probably a good thing as they seem to be all a much of a muchness anyways

    the pricing is very good with FM ( I can’t keep typing Family Mobile), but the thing that FM have right IMHO is that they are the only real PAYG outfit that I know of, I mean who else just lets you top up when you want to with no expiry, certainly not Giffgaff, not Asda, not Tesco, unless you guys know different !

  8. Peter 22 January 2014 at 17:21 Permalink

    as an ex Ikea employee I have been using Family mobile since August 2008 and still can’t believe how lucky I am compared to some of my mates who are still using Giffgaff or Tesco sims

    coverage now that Orange and T-Mobile have joined forces is superb, and the fact that I can top up when I like and not lose my number is great, I was in the USA for 12 months, came back and it still worked, even the £2 credit was still intact when I got back home.

    my mum + dad have family mobile sims as well, and they only use their phones in emergencies, they tell me that they top up once or twice a year and as pensioners they don’t to pay any more than they have to !

    • Mobile Network Comparison 22 January 2014 at 18:13 Permalink

      What are the advantages for you over Tesco and Giffgaff? Is it just the signal?

      • Peter 31 January 2014 at 16:34 Permalink

        I don’t think coverage or whether you have a good signal is valid question or argument anymore, it is just a red herring, all of the networks are just as bad as each other, yes for sure it makes sense to check out a sim out at home first with a good quality phone that has a well designed aerial /antenna (some phone designs are much worse at this than others and nobody gives this the importance it deserves, it is easier to blame the network I guess), but let’s face it, it’s a jungle out there, the moment you get on a bus, train, taxi, you are in the lap of the gods whether a call will get dropped or not on your journey, I was going round the M25 motorway earlier today and the driver (he has handsfree) made about 10 calls, and he still got a “Lost Signal” on 3 of those calls, and this is with a roof mounted antenna on the roof of his van using a Vodafone sim, so signal strength or coverage has nothing to do with selecting a sim once you leave the house, it just becomes a lottery, and you might as well get used to the odd dropped call now and again on any journey you make, too many users and not enough masts !

        • Mobile Network Comparison 4 February 2014 at 11:45 Permalink

          Very good point! You simply can’t rely on signal now while travelling.

          • Ronnie 18 November 2015 at 17:33 Permalink

            It is a good point actually.
            No one network can boast better signal or coverage these days.

  9. Nicky 9 May 2013 at 22:54 Permalink

    Been on Family Mobile now for over 4 years, overall I had no problems with the service and the cost of the call. When taken to account how much I was paying on Vodafone for calls I have saved money with switching providers.

  10. Annie 3 March 2013 at 09:45 Permalink

    I find Family’s customer service great. They are always incredibly helpful and friendly and have in the past even given me tips without asking,. For example, when I told them I was traveling abroad they gave me advice about the cheapest way of contacting people, how to hard boot my phone if it didn’t automatically connect to a network overseas and so on. I did have problems with outgoing calls being blocked when my bank blocked my card because I used it abroad, but Family sent me several texts before doing so and apologised when I told them what had happened. In fact, their customer service is one of the reasons I stay with them. I would like the helping to be open for longer though.

    • Mobile Network Comparison 4 March 2013 at 15:19 Permalink

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 How long have you been using them for? And what do you mean you want the helping to be open for longer?

  11. Kaimum 20 June 2012 at 22:48 Permalink

    I have been using Family Mobile for 2 years. Two weeks ago I checked my balance and I topped up my account for 10 pound as the balance shown was negative.
    The following day I checked it again, but it was still shown negative and I saw ‘rejected payment (payment withdrawal)’ in the itemized bill, so I topped up 10 pound again assuming the first payment didn’t go through.
    This time it went through and the balance was in credit again.
    A few days later when I checked my bank account balance I found both payments (total of 20 pound) to Family Mobile had gone through, but Family Mobile bill still stated ‘rejected payment’ and only 10 pound was credited.
    At first I emailed screen captures of the bill and bank statement to them explaining what had happened, but I got reply from them that due to security reasons they were unable to answer my query.
    Then I had to ring them, but the customer support agent who took my call became almost aggressive when I requested for refund.
    She said the figures I was seeing on the screen (as I was speaking to her) was not the same as what she could see and said the reason why the balance was less than I thought it should be was because I had used the credit more than I thought!
    Anyway, she wasn’t helping at all, so I just hang up and tried to get to the bottom of the problem.
    I checked all the top-up history and bank statements and I actually found two lots of ‘rejected payment’. (One recent one I talked about and the other back in 2010.) I sent email again to them asking who I should escalate this issue.
    Next morning someone from Family Mobile rang and she listened to my claim and conducted investigation. Two days later she rang again and they admitted there were errors and now they have refunded both payments.
    This might happen to you, so beware especially if you set ‘Automatic top-up’.

  12. Frustrated 15 March 2012 at 09:00 Permalink

    When moving to Family Mobile they lost my mobile number. It has been 2 weeks and I am in limbo land. You can draw your own conclusion on my feeling to this company. I will never use them again as their service is rubbish. They have not done it for me – will they do it for you? You take the risk. They did not enable roaming when I went to Spain and when I had an accident I could not use my phone because my phone was blocked.

    • Mobile Network Comparison 15 March 2012 at 15:39 Permalink

      That sounds terrible. What do you mean they lost your mobile number? Who were you porting from and what’s your situation now?

      What have they said they’ll do about all this?

      • Frustrated 15 March 2012 at 19:45 Permalink


        I hoped to port from Orange (with PAC) to FamilyMobile. I telephoned them (FamilyMobile) and they stated to use the web link to do the porting. This looked OK but nothing happened. Some days later I rang the to see what has happened about the porting. This was where it went belly-up. The could not find any sign of my number and could not get the number back so I could go to another provider. Today I got Ofcom involved and FamilyMobile rang me to say that after 2 weeks they think(hope) that it is free. I hope that tomorrow I will be in a position to reuse my number(this time on TalkMobile). I still feel that if I get it back it will be because of Ofcom applying pressure. If it does not go thro’ then I have to contact FamilyMobile again and wait again.

  13. TerryC 12 July 2011 at 22:51 Permalink

    I have been with them for about 3 months and the general customer service has been great. Unfortunately, I had to change to a different network at the end because some places that I frequently go to have terrible reception and I don’t get any signal. As you probably know T-Mobile coverage is not the same as that of O2/Voda, so please check the coverage in your area. At least, I made use of the free £10 credit though: £10 top up + £10 free. Ikea has done a great job again Very pleased overall.

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