Free or cheap phone charging while you're on the go
Including portable power banks from £2 and charge your phone for free at John Lewis, McDonald's & more
With QR codes being used more and more, and some venues starting to require vaccine confirmation for entry, keeping your phone charged up to ensure life runs smoothly has become more important than ever.
So we've rounded up the cheapest ways to charge your phone while out and about. Of course, we're not technical experts, so we're mainly focussing on price – you may want to do your own research, too.
Free and cheap public charging services, eg, charge your phone for free at John Lewis
There are a number of services across the UK that offer free or cheap phone charging. Typically, these are found at hospitals, hotels, theme parks, cafes, restaurants and shopping centres. There are a few different types, such as special charging lockers, rentable power banks and charging points found on tables. Some of these are fairly limited for now, but could be worth checking if there are any near you in case you find yourself low on battery one day.
- Chargebox – free charging points across the UK – find your nearest. These are mostly lockers where you lock your phone away for 30 minutes and come back to collect it later on. Can be found at hospitals, theme parks, shopping centres and more. Available at selected John Lewis stores. Free charge time is typically 30 minutes.
- Aircharge Qi – free wireless charging spots across the UK. Aircharge has told us there are over 5,000 charging units worldwide, most of which are in the UK. Some also have cables that you can use if your device doesn't support wireless charging. These are typically found at phone shops, restaurants (including many McDonald's, Yo! Sushi and Costa Coffee restaurants and cafes), shopping centres, casinos and betting shops, hotels and more. Download the app (free on the App Store and Google Play) to find your nearest.
- BT Street Hubs – there are currently over 450 of these free-to-use rapid charging pods across the UK, and BT's told us it's planning to roll out 200 more over the next year. They're mostly found in towns and cities, and you'll just need to plug in your own charger to use them. They also have free Wi-Fi you can connect to. There's currently no link or app to use to locate these, so you'll just need to keep an eye out for them.
Charging from £2
- ChargedUp – power banks to rent across the UK. Found at the bar in pubs, restaurants, hotels, but also at some shopping centres such as Westfield in London. Powered by energy supplier Octopus Energy, you can rent these charging packs from £2 per hour, £5 for a day or £30 for a year's subscription. Download the app (free on the App Store or Google Play) to find your nearest and pay.
Portable power banks from £2
Instead of looking for somewhere you can charge your phone, the alternative is to buy your own portable power bank which you can charge up and then take out with you. These can vary largely in price, quality and charging capacity, so we've rounded up a few options from larger retailers, and sorted by price.
Each device will specify its power quantity (in mAh), which probably doesn't mean much to most people, so many also offer a guidance on how many full charges it can provide. Of course, this is just a guidance and should be taken with a pinch of salt, as there are a number of variables which can affect the number of charges – eg, different devices have different battery capacities, the power bank will need to be fully charged to provide the maximum charge, and the quality of the power banks themselves may differ.
Not all of these will come with a cable to connect your device, so you may need to use an existing one or buy a spare. We've chosen not to include Amazon here, as there are so many different options, so you may want to check for yourself (search for 'power bank', prices start from £5ish).
These are the cheapest power banks we could find from some larger retailers. Their typical charge capacity is up to one full charge, but there are a couple of options below that could supply up to two full charges.
|Poundland (spotted in store)||£2||2,200mAh – up to one full charge|
|Home Bargains (spotted in store)||£2.99||4,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|The Range*||£3.99||2,400mAh – up to one full charge|
|Ryman||£4.99 (was £9.99)||4,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|B&M||£5||2,500mAh – up to one full charge|
|Poundland (spotted in store)||£5||4,000mAh – up to two full charges|
There are quite a few portable power banks between £5 and £10, with the typical charge capacity being about two full charges. However, there are a couple of options at Home Bargains and Ryman which can do three or four charges.
|The Range*||£5.99||5,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|Home Bargains||£6.99||5,400mAh – up to three full charges|
|Argos||£7.99||2,500mAh – up to one full charge|
|B&M||£8||4,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|Wilko*||£9||4,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|Currys*||£9.97||4,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|Ryman||£9.99||10,000mAh – up to four full charges|
The power banks in this price category can vary quite a lot in power, so we've just focussed on the largest charge capacity we could find under £20 for some of the big retailers.
|B&Q*||£10.99||5,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|Primark||£12||6,000mAh – up to three full charges|
|B&M||£12 (was £14)||10,000mAh – up to six full charges|
|Wilko*||£12.50||6,000mAh – up to three full charges|
|Argos||£17.99||10,000mAh – up to two full charges|
|Asda||£18||10,000mAh – up to four full charges|
|John Lewis*||£19.99||10,000mAh – up to four full charges|