EE customers can get a 'free' £20 power bar – a portable smartphone charger – just by texting to get a code (costs 35p) and showing it in-store from Wednesday (24 June).

Once the power bar has been used to charge a device, you can then recharge the portable battery yourself or, if out and about, swap it for a fully-charged replacement bar at any EE store nationwide for free as many times as you like.

However technically this is a hire agreement, and if you leave EE you will have to give the power bar back or you'll be charged a £5 fee.

The promotion is reopening after it was "paused" on 20 April, following an "unprecedented response", with more than one million requests for the gadget in just over four days.

Its return means that EE customers who weren't able to get a code for a power bar last time – or those who've joined the network in the meantime – will be able to request one from 8am on Wednesday 24 June, while those who already have a code have until 19 July to redeem it.

EE says there are enough power bars for everyone who has already received a code, and everyone who requests a code from tomorrow, to get one.  

Our Q&A below explains how the offer works and how to get one. You can also see our Cheap Mobiles guide for top tips on getting the best deal on your handset.

EE customer? Get a 'free' £20 power bar portable mobile charger
EE confirms 'free' power bar return on 24 June

Am I eligible to get the power bar?

All EE, Orange and T-Mobile customers with a 30-day, 12-month, 18-month or 24-month mobile, tablet or broadband plan are eligible.

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile customers can also get the deal as long as they've been with EE for at least three months and have made at least one chargeable call or text message during that period.

Customers of mobile companies that piggyback off EE's network, such as ASDA Mobile and BT Mobile, cannot get the power bar. It's for EE customers only. See our 60 seconds on 'piggybacking' guide for more info on what this is.

In the terms and conditions it says the power bar is on a hire agreement – what does this mean?

UPDATE: 30 June 2015: Since publishing this news story EE has released a new set of terms and conditions following concerns that its previous ones weren't clear.

For more information on what the credit hire agreement means, what happens after 18 months, what happens if you leave EE and what happens if your power bar is lost, stolen or damaged, see our 'Is the free EE power bar a con?' MSE News story.

How do I get the power bar?

If you haven't yet got a code, then you'll need to wait until 8am on Wednesday 24 June before texting or calling to get one. How you get one depends on what kind of EE customer you are:

  • Mobile customer? Text POWER to 365 (texts cost 35p).

  • Broadband customer? Text JOIN plus your EE landline number to 60005 (texts cost 35p).

  • Tablet customer? UPDATE 24 June, 12.30pm: When we first published this news story, EE told us tablet customers should ring customer services to get a code. However, it has since changed its position on this. iPad users now need to take their device in-store to get a power bar, while tablet users (non-iPad devices) need to text POWER to 365 (texts cost 35p) through their "connection manager software", which is inbuilt into the device.

Once you've sent the text or made the call, you'll receive a code, which you need to show in any EE store to get the power bar (you can't get the power bars in third-party stores such as Carphone Warehouse). Use EE's Store Finder tool to locate your nearest.

It's worth noting that when the deal first launched back in April, while most people were sent a code immediately, some found it didn't arrive for a few hours, so you may need to be patient.

If you text before the deal goes live, you won't be charged, but you won't get a code. You'll just be sent a text response saying to try again from Wednesday.

I've already GOT a code from EE. Can I still get a power bar?

The promotion technically never closed for those who'd already got a code – if you received one before 3pm on 20 April, you've been able to collect a power bar from your local EE store at any point subject to availability.

You can still do this and have until 19 July to do so. EE says there are enough power bars for everyone who has already received a code to get one, though demand may pick up when the promotion reopens for new customers and it's possible certain stores could temporarily run out, so to be sure, go quick.

EE says it is texting all customers who requested a code to tell them this, even those who successfully swapped their code for a power bar. If you've forgotten your code, text POWER to 35 to get a reminder (texts are free to send and receive).

I've already got a power bar. Does this change anything?

If you've got a power bar, you can continue to use it as normal, and you can continue to swap it for a fully charged replacement at any EE store nationwide for free, as many times as you like.

How does the power bar work?

The power bar includes a micro USB lead, which is used to charge the bar but also to charge the phone from the bar. While this should work for the majority of phones, if you have an iPhone you will have to use your own charger cable to connect to the power bar. If your phone isn't a smartphone, you might also need a separate adaptor.

EE says the power bar has enough life in it to charge a typical smartphone once before it needs to be recharged itself. It takes around four hours to recharge, and EE says it has a guaranteed life of 500 charges.

That said, EE customers can swap power bars for free in EE stores whenever theirs runs out. The bar itself will indicate how much charge it has left in it so you know when to recharge it.

What's the power bar worth?

EE is selling its power bar to non-customers for £20. But if you're thinking of getting one, compare prices first, as you can get a similar charger cheaper elsewhere.

A brief look on Amazon revealed chargers with the same capacity as EE's (2,600mah) costing between £3 and £10.

Why has EE launched this deal?

When EE axed its decade-long-running 'Orange Wednesday' 2for1 cinema deal and 2for1 offer on both mains and dough balls at most Pizza Express restaurants, it said two deals would be launched to replace it.

In March it revealed that all new and existing EE, Orange and T-Mobile mobile and broadband customers will have access to a major film rental every week for £1 from streaming service (see the EE reveals online streaming offer MSE news story).

See our Cheap Cinema Deals guide, which also includes information on Compare the Market's new 2for1 cinema offer, and our Watch TV and Movies Online guide, to cut costs.

And in early April, EE revealed free rechargeable batteries as its second rewards deal (see the EE unveils portable smartphone chargers MSE news story).

EE says its research shows that nearly 60% of UK smartphone users say their battery doesn't last a full day, while over half of all smartphone users wish there were more ways to charge their phone in public places – this rises to over 70% of 18-24 year olds.

A spokesman for EE told it received more requests for power bar codes in the four days after it launched the offer than it had in four months of its 2for1 cinema ticket deal.