UPDATE JUNE 2017:
Please be aware that this article will not be updated anymore for European roaming. It will eventually be linked to the "All countries" section, because some more countries are now covered by Three's roaming zone.
From June 2017 you can take most SIM cards issued in the EU or EEA and use it in all member countries without surcharges at the domestic rate. The Three UK option is still an unique offer when it comes to certain countries outside the EU like the US, Brazil or Singapore. That's why this special section will be maintained.
Three UK with Feel at Home optionEdit
Verified in June/July 2014 in the USA and Norway.
Three UK gives out foreign data for their domestic UK rate like 200 MB/month for free, 500 MB/24 hrs for £3, 1 GB per month for £10 or 25 GB per month for £20 in specific countries like France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Scandinavia and the US.
Issuing Country Edit
+44 7## ### ####
Roaming Option Edit
Feel At Home (doesn't need to be activated)
Three announced that the list of countries of their Feel At Home scheme will be expanded to 24 more countries. Effective September 8th, 2016 it includes all countries of the EU/EEA, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Macau, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and the US. Update 6/2017: Singapore and Brazil are added.
Take care, in other countries roaming may still be possible, but at much higher rates!
Traffic seems to be deprioritized in the UK and has a long latency with triple digit ping times usual for roaming solutions as they are routed through UK servers. No 4G/LTE roaming available yet, only 2G and 3G.
Price for data Edit
Within a Feel At Home country and the UK Edit
The prices for data are exactly the same as for UK domestic use. Speed abroad is 2G/3G up to HSPA+ and up to 4G/LTE in the UK. You must book a data allowance on your SIM card before use. All data overuse is charged at £0.10 per MB. They have three different prepaid tariff lines:
(1) Pay as you go SIM: Edit
- Internet Daily Pass - 120 MB for 24 hours: £0.50
- 500MB Mobile Internet Pass - 500 MB in 30 days: £5
- All-in-One 10 - 1 GB for 30 days: £10
- All-In-One 20 - 12 GB (from 15 June 9 GB in roaming) for 30 days: £20
Their pay as you go SIM is intended to be used in smartphones only. Three bans the use in tablets and modems and tethering. If they detect it, they deactivate data by blocking.
(2) Mobile Broadband Pay as you go SIM: Edit
These starter packs are sold:
- 3 GB for 3 months: £16
- 12 GB for 12 months: £30
Use their Mobile Broadband Pay as you go SIM for tethering, which has voice and text too, that should only be used in tablets and modems, but works in phones too. Both tariff lines can't be mixed or switched. You need to make up your mind before you buy the starter. These add-on packages are offered for the Broadband PAYG SIM:
- 500 MB for up to midnight on the next day: £2.99
- 1 GB for 30 days: £10
- 3 GB for 30 days: £15
- 7 GB for 30 days: £25
(3) Data Reward Pay as you go SIM: Edit
This new special SIM is sold at £10 with 1 GB preloaded for 30 days and has voice and text too. It gives 200 MB per month for free which can be used also for roaming. Furthermore, same rules as for other Mobile Broadband SIMs apply. These packages can be added to the Data Reward Line:
- 2 GB for 30 days: £15
- 5 GB for 30 days: £20
- 10 GB (from 15 June 9 GB in roaming) for 30 days: £25
Outside of a Feel At Home country Edit
Take care: much higher prices apply outside a "feel at home" country, where roaming is still possible.
Voice rates Edit
Update: From June 2017 in EU roaming all voice calls within the roaming country, to the UK and another country in the EU/EEA roaming zone is charged like a domestic call. This policy doesn't apply to calls in other roaming countries where only calls to the UK are charged domestic.
The Three Pay as you go SIM card is an UK-issued SIM Card.
Within the UK Edit
Three only sells the starter pack for free in the UK in their 3stores and further outlets and doesn’t send it abroad.
Outside of the UK Edit
Online vendors distribute it worldwide on ebay.co.uk, Amazon and other platforms for a surcharge. They will send it to any address abroad, which is totally legal in the UK.
SIM cards from the UK don’t need to be registered. They arrive already activated.
Roaming should be enabled by default. If not, call +44 843 373 3333 to enable international roaming which you need to access your online account.
Managing the SIM card Edit
To login your "My3 account" on www.three.co.uk you need to sign in to your account first. A verification SMS is sent out with your password to your mobile number. On the "My 3account" you can book the UK data allowances which are valid in all other "feel at home" countries without surcharge. There you can check your remaining credit and data consumption too.
The "Feel at Home" option is normally activated by default and becomes active as soon as you enter one of the mentioned countries and log on a roaming network. This is normally confirmed by a message from Three.
This is actually the most restrictive part of this SIM right now, as there are no free top up choices for the most of us.
In the UK Edit
Being in the UK, you can easily buy Three top up vouchers from £10 to £50 at many locations. You get a 16-digit number, which you can enter online in your My3 account or after calling 444. You can even buy as many vouchers you need in advance, as there is no expiry date for them as soon as you have added them to your account.
In the UK or from abroad Edit
Having an UK-issued and -registered credit or debit card, you can easily top up online from abroad on your My3 account. But beware: Non-UK credit cards are not accepted!
So the rest of us are confined to a few online agencies which do top ups for a surcharge of 10-20%. Some accept PayPal and other international payment systems. If you are asked for an UK address, just give any hotel address you can think of. On ebay.co.uk you have to look for "Three UK top-up voucher". Some merchants sell you the top up for about 15%: £10 for £11.50 or £15 for £17. Transcom Telecom for instance only charges 10% more here: http://www.uksims.eu/buy-top-up/. The most 3rd party agencies use PayPal as a payment system. So you need to have a PayPal account for them.
That's how Three UK tries to prevent the use of their SIM for people outside of their home market. It is still very hard or pricey to buy a top up for non UK-citizens outside of the UK. So it's a good idea to buy a preloaded SIM card or vouchers if you are in the UK or know anybody with an UK credit card. But even with 10% surcharge, it's still a good deal for data.
Expiration policy Edit
If you want to keep your SIM card for another visit, it's important to know the expiration rules.
Any credits loaded to Three SIM card never expire. The whole SIM card and subscription will stay valid if there is some activity as long there is some activity (as low as incoming or outgoing SMS message) within every 6 month. So one SMS per every 6 months keeps your card and funds valid. Their rules are quite lax, but check the other restrictions below.
Restrictions and drawbacks Edit
Only use Three UK as a roaming option, if you are aware of the following restrictions. It can be used only temporarily, not permanently on roaming:
- Feel at Home is intended for Three customers who are visiting one of the destinations for short trips, like holidays or business trips. If you only use your plan in a Feel at Home destination for a complete month, and this happens three times within a year, Three may suspend international roaming on your account, but lets you know before, if this were likely to happen.
- In 2016 Three began permanently deactivating international roaming on SIMs that have been in roaming for more than 2 months continuously. These SIMs will still work in the UK, but for the occasional visitor, it likely wouldn't be possible to keep the SIM active by sending a roaming SMS every six months, since roaming would be deactivated. This is presumably to prevent individuals living in the EU, or in Feel At Home countries from permanently roaming at low rates.
- Three doesn't allow tethering abroad and doesn't give out a tethering profile which you need to create a mobile hotspot on an iPhone. On Android devices it may still be possible on Mobile Broadband SIM cards only. Three is starting to clamp down on Pay-as-you-go SIMs used as a mobile hotspot using DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) and shuts it off.
- Some users reported throttling of speeds in video streaming and uploading/downloading from clouds or file hosters in some roaming countries. Also as a UK SIM card the "Content Block" (see Basics in the UK chapter) may be applied even outside of Britain and refers to non-adult sites as well.
- Speed has become quite slow recently. It seems to be deprioritized and is routed through UK servers. This leads to a long latency with high ping times. No 4G/LTE roaming yet, only 2G and 3G.
- Finally, you can’t use any included minutes allowance to make calls to local or other international numbers, as you can only use your inclusive minutes to call UK numbers, whether you’re in the UK or a Feel At Home country.
- Be aware that without an UK-issued credit or debit card, you will pay surcharges for topping up from outside of Britain
Roaming data offers in other 3 networks Edit
Hutchison Three offers cheap roaming data in their other networks too, but no offer matches the UK SIM right now:
- 3 in the Republic of Ireland offers free data roaming in all 3 networks of Italy, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the UK (details see Hutchison Three in the Ireland section) and calls it "Three like home",
- 3 in Italy has now changed their roaming offer to "Europe Pass". 500 minutes and 500MB of data is available to use every week for a €0.30 connection charge. This charge applies every time a new data connection or call is made (or every time a data connection lasts longer than 6 hours), and because losing signal and reconnecting is considered a new data connection, it is recommended to manually select a network known for solid coverage now that you are no longer limited to 3.
- 3 Hong Kong's "International" 14-day prepaid SIM costs HK$328 and comes with an equivalent amount of credit. There are two options for initial activation, depending on whether you need Switzerland:
- HK$288/14 days: unlimited data on European and Macau 3 networks, Vodafone in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Spain, T-Mobile in the Netherlands, as well as Orange in France. It also includes Rogers in Canada.
- HK$308/14 days: Includes the above and 150MB usage on Sunrise in Switzerland
- 3 Indonesia offers an "Internet Roaming Australia + Europe" package on its prepaid SIMs that covers 3 networks in Italy, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, the UK, and Ireland as well as Vodafone Australia at a flat rate for unlimited usage (there is a FUP but details are not given).
- 5 Day Roaming Package: 45000 IDR
- 10 Day Roaming Package: 80000 IDR
Be careful, usage on other networks will be charged at 330IDR/KB, so make sure to manually select 3 (or Vodafone in Australia) on arrival.