Not everyone needs a lengthy SIM-only or phone contract, especially if their usage fluctuates.
PAYG SIMS are ideal if you need something from time-to-time. There’s no “marriage” contract. No ongoing expenses or unexpected price increases. Buy more data as needed. And modify or cancel at any time.
All without exit costs. There’s lots to choose from. In this guide, we cover the top Pay as You Go SIM deals UK on the 2023 market.
Table of Contents:
The UK’s 10 Favourite Pay as You Go SIM Deals 📱 — Our 2023 Selection 💾
Having trouble finding the best PAYG mobile network for you? PAYG SIMs can be offering you the following ideal features:
- ✔️ No regular monthly fees
- ✔️ Credit never expires
- ✔️ Better minimum-use requirements
- ✔️ Reliable coverage
- ✔️ Support for customers
- ✔️ Low prices and bundles that can be bought
These newer, flexible, contract-free packages are increasingly common. (They may even be replacing traditional PAYG plans.) These better deals were first introduced by Giffgaff and iD Mobile, and as more carriers adopt them due to market competition, they may offer you certain low-cost pay-monthly plans.
It always pays to browse around since even providers that adhere to the old PAYG model include some amazing bundles of data, calls, and texts, letting you free yourself from unnecessary long contracts… We've researched the web extensively to provide you with a 2023 top ten list of SIM-free PAYGs.
|Service Provider||Rating||Sign up|
|1. 1pmobile||★★★★★||Visit here|
|2. iD mobile||★★★★★||Visit here|
|3. Tesco mobile||★★★★★||Visit here|
|4. Asda mobile||★★★★★||Visit here|
|5. giffgaff||★★★★★||Visit here|
|6. Lyca Mobile||★★★★★||Visit here|
|7. Smarty||★★★★★||Visit here|
|8. Lebara||★★★★★||Visit here|
|9. Vodafone||★★★★★||Visit here|
|10. EE||★★★★★||Visit here|
1. 1pMobile PAYG -* 👑 * — Review UK: Best Pay as You Go SIM Deals
The offer from 1pMobile is quite simple. You can buy £10 worth of credit when you buy a SIM card, and any further charges will be one cent.
Knowing that you can communicate and get data efficiently without your info being misused or being tied down is comforting. You need only activate your provide of choice once.
Indefinitely carry over any unused balance when you top up every 120–600 days. With this in mind, 1pMobile is a great choice for those who don't anticipate using a lot of data or making many phone calls.
However, the network has recently added some additional SIM deals, such as 1-year SIM deals that allow you to spread your credit over an entire year and a variety of boosts that provide unlimited talk and text or anywhere from 1GB to 50GB of data for a single month.
While the uniqueness of 1pMobile is in its per-minute charge, there is the option to upgrade if you find that you need additional minutes.
Due to 1pMobile's use of EE's network, users have access to both 4G and 5G connections, which means they will experience fast speeds and reliable coverage. The network has a 14-day money-back guarantee and UK-based customer assistance, but we have no statistics on customer service or satisfaction to go on.
Lowest UK Prices + EE Coverage 🌴
When it comes to pay as you go plans, 1pMobile has the lowest prices in the UK. One pound per minute, every text message, and per megabyte of data makes the other networks' prices appear outrageous.
Since EE is responsible for providing signals for 1pMobile, its customers have access to EE's excellent network (check in your area here). And at such modest prices, they provide a surprising number of network extras.
Such is the ability to use EE's superior 5G network, in addition to WiFi calling and 4G calling capabilities. Since the network performance is identical to that of using EE's service directly, you're not settling for a subpar experience just because you're saving money.
Be aware, however, that your SIM card will be disabled and any unused credit will be lost unless you add at least £10 to your account every four months. If you keep adding funds, your balance will never decrease.
Verdict — Cheapest, with Credit that Can Last a Year…🌞
When it comes to Pay as you go networks in the UK, 1pMobile has the cheapest headline pricing. You'll just pay 1p for every minute, text, or MB on the network, and there are no ongoing fees. It’s also bound to strict laws governing online privacy…
With a SIM card from 1pMobile, you can get £30 in credit and go a whole year without adding money. After the first year, you'll need to top up your SIM card by at least £10 every 120 days (about £2.50 per month). While you're under no obligation to use this credit, any unused portion will expire after 12 months if your average monthly consumption is less than £2.50.
When you activate a new 1pMobile SIM card via our website, you may get a 4GB Data Boost at no additional cost. You can get 4GB free when you buy a SIM card using this link and apply the code VAKTT4GB at checkout.
Coverage is provided through the EE network for 1pMobile customers. Data boosts from 1pMobile start at £3 per month, in addition to their standard Pay As You Go price (1p/minute, 1p/text, and 1p/MB). So what’s to wait for?
2. iD Mobile PAYG Review — Best Pay as You Go SIM Deals (⭐ Runner-Up!)
At iD Mobile during the recession, you can get one of the finest PAYG plans for light data users for only £6 a month.
This which includes unlimited talk time, texting, and 1 GB of data, or for just £2 more, you can get 4 GB of data in the same package.
Data costs 10.24p per MB when purchased outside of a data bundle, but you may upgrade to a new plan when your current one expires or purchase more data in advance at a discount.
In addition, although some carriers have reinstated roaming fees inside the European Union, iD Mobile continues to not impose any such fees on its customers.
Even while Three's download speeds lag behind those of EE and Vodafone, they are increasing, particularly if you reside in a 5G region and have a 5G compatible phone, and iD Mobile is a virtual network that sits on top of Three.
From its cheapest £20 unlimited data plan, all of iD Mobile's plans provide excellent value. However, it stands head and shoulders above the others if your monthly data needs are quite modest (a few gigabytes).
iD Mobile has Adequate Coverage 🇬🇧
iD utilises the Three network, which has both benefits and drawbacks. Check out the coverage map for iD Mobile here to get an idea of how good their service should be where you are.
There is little to no noticeable difference between iD and other networks in terms of 3G and 4G signal strength in metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, their service isn't great for making calls indoors.
Sometimes, particularly with 4G, coverage drops down significantly outside of major cities. However, it is contingent upon your proximity to their masts. If you're in a rural region, you're probably going to be using 3G more than you would on other networks.
Same Speed as the Three Network ☄️
No speed discrepancies were seen between iD Mobile and Three in our real-world testing. We have high confidence that Opensignal's speed findings for Three are also applicable to iD Mobile.
Through tests, they found that Three's 4G download rates average 25.2 Mbps.
That's on par with what you might expect from mid-tier residential internet and should be more than adequate to stream HD movies without any noticeable lag.
Our random samplings showed that various places had varying speeds.
Astonishingly, even in a remote region, we were able to get peak 4G speeds of 43 Mbps. Even though we had 5 bars, our lowest download speed in the suburbs was still 12 Mbps. Even so, it was enough for enjoying an HD movie.
We also saw 3G rates of up to 20 Mbps, which is really fast (almost the theoretical top speed of the technology). Although often it was closer to the 6 Mbps threshold.
These tests should set your mind at rest if you're worried that switching to a smaller network, like iD Mobile, may result in a worse experience.
For some reason, iD Mobile has a wide range of speeds. Either way, your results are either much above or below the norm. All mobile networks operate similarly. However, recognising this will help keep expectations realistic.
Overall, they have a rather fast network. And data rates are the same whether you're on Three or iD. To be honest, even the slowest connections were sufficient for our purposes.
5G Network Benefits… 🚀
Currently, iD's hosting company, Three, has the fastest 5G speeds and the most 5G coverage (as measured by Speedtest) of any network in the United Kingdom.
If you have a phone that is 5G-ready and is on iD Mobile's list of compatible phones, you can receive 5G on any of their plans at no additional cost. Their coverage checker seems to indicate fewer sites than Three's does, but we're certain that they provide the same coverage.
With rates as high as 246.65 Mbps, HD movies may be downloaded in a matter of minutes. Users that often download large files, like gamers, would appreciate these speeds.
As of right now, no network can cover its 5G sites in their entirety, therefore it will only be available in densely frequented places like malls, stadiums, and the like. Nonetheless, it is useful that you can verify 5G service in a certain area by street.
Data Rollovers… 🧨💥
iD Mobile formerly boasted that it was one of the only networks to provide data rollover, allowing customers a second opportunity to use up unused data. Nowadays, however, more and more services are able to provide such options.
It's a simple system, but it does its job and can be controlled using their top-notch mobile app. Because it takes care of everything automatically, using it requires very little effort on your part.
An iD Mobile SIM card can end the month with plenty of unused data, which was automatically carried over to the next month.
When you're on a tight data plan and every megabyte counts, it's satisfying to hang on to what you've paid for.
As an added bonus, their excellent software allows you to monitor your data use and distinguish between rolled-over and normal usage.
A word of caution, though: if you decide to switch plans, you won't be able to carry over any unused data from the prior month. The best strategy is to rip it to shreds before making a switch.
If you find that your data use fluctuates from month to month, this is a terrific solution to help you avoid iD's somewhat high additional data costs.
Even though your rolled-over data may be kept for three years on Sky Mobile, we wish it could be kept for even longer. They may provide rebates for wasted data like SMARTY does, or they might allow you to swap unneeded data for price reductions.
Verdict — Great Money Savings with High Performance ⛰️
There's no denying that iD's most appealing feature is the cheap costs of their phone contracts and SIM alone plans. But they do offer advantages, like as 5G and WiFi calling, even if coverage is an issue thanks to Three.
It's unfortunate that iD is eliminating phone support for customers. It was a competitive advantage over other budget-friendly companies like SMARTY. Furthermore, it has damaged their reputation with Ofcom.
We have long been fans of iD's app, which provides superior account management compared to competing services. Other perks include data rollover and flexible spending limitations.
You should sign up with iD if you are satisfied with their service where you mostly use your phone and if you are interested in saving money.
3. Tesco Mobile PAYG: Review — Top Pay as You Go SIM Deals, for Data!
Tesco offers plans for less heavy users, but its pay-as-you-go (PAYG) Rocket Packs are the best deal for people who need just a little extra data.
For example, for the same price as the competition's 5GB to 8GB plan, the £10 Rocket Pack gives you 20GB of data, 5,000 phone minutes, and 5,000 messages.
If you upgrade to the £15 Rocket Pack, you'll get a whopping 25GB of data. And if you’re dealing with lots of data, don’t forget to protect it.
When you shop with a Tesco Clubcard, you can have access to even better deals, and every 30 days you can swap out your Rocket Pack through text message or the Tesco Mobile app. You may cancel your Rocket Pack at any time, and it will continue to be renewed until you tell it to stop.
Tesco Mobile is built on top of O2, which is ranked fourth among the four main networks for speed and coverage despite extensive upgrades over the last several years.
Although 4G and 5G speeds are improving in certain locations, Tesco Mobile consistently ranks well in customer satisfaction surveys and Ofcom's 2022 study for the quality of its customer care. Tesco had the highest overall customer satisfaction rating, and we commended them for their excellent customer service.
O2-Powered, Lasts 3 Months… ☁️
There are just two carriers on O2's network that still provide Pay As You Go. There are two major competitors in this space, and one is Tesco Mobile and the other is giffgaff. The standard rates in the UK are the same for both of these:
- Approx. $0.50 per hour.
- 10 pence per message.
- A 10 pence charge per megabyte of data.
Tesco's plans, on the other hand, is more convoluted since you may earn a threefold credit increase by adding either £10, £15 or £20. If you add £10 to your balance, for instance, you'll have access to £30 in spending power.
Essentially, this indicates that their pay-as-you-go fee is just a third of the aforementioned rates. The catch is that you have to spend the bonus credit (the additional £20 in our case) within a month, or else it will expire.
If you use your normal credit for anything costly at least once per 180 days, such as a token call to someone, it will never expire. However, the Triple Credit price is just too confusing for us to use.
Strong Network Coverage ⚡
Tesco Mobile provides reliable voice and data coverage.
Tesco Mobile is a secondary carrier offering service on the O2 network, which supports 5G, 4G, 3G, and 2G. They provide the same level of service as their hosts, so you may use Tesco's joint-second biggest network without any interruptions.
O2's 4G/3G/ 2G coverage extends to 99 percent of the UK population. Remember that they're talking about people, not land area (so be sure your phone will work anywhere you need it to).
The Tesco Mobile service provides you with the same high quality O2 signal inside. The call signal they emit at very low frequencies, making blackspots within buildings extremely uncommon.
Tesco is an excellent alternative to your present network if you're not satisfied with its performance. But before you commit, be sure their signal is strong.
Tesco Mobile’s Sluggish 4G Speeds 🐙
In Tesco's network offerings, 4G has the slowest speeds.
Tesco Mobile and other O2 customers aren't for you if you're seeking for the highest possible speeds (for example, if you're a mobile gamer); instead, we recommend EE, Vodafone, or Three.
Here, we compare each network's 4G speeds based on testing by an impartial third party, Opensignal. Reports of Tesco's speed have recently slowed to 16.8 Mbps.
When it comes to using the internet for things like social networking and web surfing, Tesco isn't all that different from other networks. However, you may find that HD movies take more time to download.
Our tests revealed download rates as high as 95 Mbps in the heart of the city, yet as low as 5 Mbps in rural regions. There won't be much of a change on Tesco unless you're using your SIM for data-intensive activities.
Decent Coverage 🦅 , Lots of 5G Hotspots
Tesco's 5G speeds aren't the best, but the coverage is decent.
Tesco's SIM-only and phone plans have full access to O2's growing 5G network. This implies that more places in the United Kingdom (over 750) than on any other network can get 5G.
And much as with 4G, Tesco Mobile has joined forces with the least speedy network available. Common 5G download rates are reported to be between 90.61 Mbps and 92.3 Mbps by both Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla.
When compared to other networks, that is painfully slow. But in areas where 5G service is available, it may make up for the slower 4G. As a result, you may expect to use 5G more often inside their service areas than on other networks.
If 5G is available in your region, you probably will be able to access it because to the high concentration of hotspots. However, if you plan on using your SIM for a lot of data-intensive tasks, you may be disappointed with their speeds.
WiFi Calls Phasing out with Tesco Mobile PAYG ☴
As of now, Tesco Mobile customers can only make WiFi calls to one another.
Even though Tesco has excellent call quality within the store, there may be areas where you can't make or receive calls if you're too far from the closest mast or if obstructions are in the way. The WiFi calling and 4G calling features being introduced by Tesco Mobile could assist with this.
That way, you may make and receive calls through WiFi, 4G, and even the regular phone network. It means you can still make calls even if the phone signal is weak but the WiFi and 4G signal is strong.
In addition, you won't lose your call quality while transitioning from WiFi to 4G. In addition, you may use WiFi or a 4G connection to send a text message.
The functionality is currently being pushed out, so not all users will have access right once. Some older iPhone and Android models aren't listed as compatible. Even if it's not quite finished, it's excellent that Tesco is working on it.
Verdict — No More Free EU Roaming! 🏛️
The old era of unlimited cloud storage, data, and roaming is threatened by energy issues in the West. Tesco Mobile has joined the growing list of networks who have eliminated free EU roaming as part of their strategy. After “Spring” 2023, you will no longer be able to use your plan abroad at no additional cost in any of the 48 EU/EEA countries.
The current Tesco Mobile signup offer does not include roaming for the duration of the contract. After that date, you will not be eligible for any kind of inclusive roaming benefits at all. Current subscribers will also be affected by the removal of included roaming.
Roaming will incur fees beyond that time. We don't know for sure, but we estimate that, like the other networks that have discontinued inclusive roaming, it will cost £2 per day to use your phone when in the EU.
It's a pity, since Tesco was previously our preferred roaming provider. A full UK data allotment may still be used when travelling across the EU. These astronomical fees apply to any international travel outside of the European Union.
Still, Tesco Mobile uses the O2 network, which means it has excellent voice and text coverage as well as extremely decent 4G/5G broadband coverage. However, if you're picky about your data speeds, you could be disappointed.
They’re also in the midst of eventually putting out WiFi calling and 4G calling, which are beneficial for increasing interior coverage. But more complex features like eSIM, call forwarding, and visual voicemail are still missing.
Tesco is one of the more affordable networks, and their phone contracts are inexpensive if you take advantage of the Clubcard discounts and coupons. Tesco Mobile, as a whole, is a reliable service.
4. Asda Mobile PAYG: Review — Best Pay as You Go SIM Deals for Budgets
In addition to excellent voice and internet coverage, ASDA Mobile now provides 5G broadband and WiFi calling.
Although they still lack more sophisticated network functions like call forwarding.
Compared to its SIM-only deals competitors, ASDA does not provide many special features or rewards. Your standard minutes and texts come with a big quantity of data at a price that's easy on the wallet.
It's likely that ASDA Mobile will do well since they are one of the few inexpensive phone companies who really answer the phone. They also have a great online account system where you can make changes to your basic settings and payments.
We can picture you being pleased with ASDA Mobile if you are not interested in fancy novelty features and mostly use your phone for browsing the web, social networking, and making phone calls.
Favourable Vodafone Coverage… ☁️
ASDA's coverage is the same as if you were subscribed to Vodafone directly.
By signing up with ASDA, you'll be able to use the Vodafone network. Through extensive field testing, we found that both the ASDA SIM and the Vodafone SIM, when used in the same phone, provided identical signal strengths in the same locations.
In our user testing, we put both an ASDA SIM and a Vodafone SIM into the same phone and found no innate differences between the two (save that the ASDA SIM lacked 5G if you were on a plan without it). That being said, what do you anticipate?
Reception Strength Indicators For Mobile Devices ☴
ASDA has excellent indoor coverage. We did not need to go to the window to acquire a signal throughout the house throughout our tests. You should verify the expected interior coverage before making a purchase since this may not be the case for you.
Which means it’s an excellent option if you're concerned about the reliability of your call signal. They cover the vast majority of inhabited areas and provide service to the biggest amount of the UK's physical landmass.
They also have the second-best 4G coverage, according to us (EE-based providers are first). Their 4G service in rural areas is quite reliable, and it's available pretty much everywhere in major cities.
Finally, we compared their 5G coverage to that of Vodafone's and found that both providers' 5G was available in the same locations with comparable signal strength. However, it's always a good idea to double-check whether or not your location supports 5G, 4G, or 3G.
Sky-High Fast 4G and 5G… 🐲
ASDA Mobile's urban 4G/5G data rates are lightning fast.
Since ASDA is less expensive than Vodafone, you could assume that there are inherent speed discrepancies between the two networks. In contrast, we discovered zero indication of a speed disparity between the systems.
Opensignal, an independent network testing company, has taken millions of measurements from volunteer cellphones to determine that the average 4G speed on ASDA's host network, Vodafone, is around 21.6 Mbps.
This is the kind of speed you'd get with an average residential fibre connection, and it's more than fast enough to smoothly stream high-definition movies. There are places where you can go up to four times that speed, and there are others where you can get considerably slower.
As Fast as Home Broadband…
Here's what we found out about ASDA's actual speeds… 🏡
Testers conducted speed tests in the heart of the city, a smaller town, and the countryside to see whether Opensignal's findings were consistent with what you'd anticipate in the real world and if there were any changes between being on ASDA and being on Vodafone.
Were able to exceed the limit while using 5G, although the average seems to consistently settle around 150 Mbps.
The only difference between ASDA and Vodafone outside the speed restriction was the price. We saw steady 5G speed increases from Vodafone.
Both 4G networks were providing same speeds in the same areas. In certain areas, including those in ASDA, you can even receive 4G+ with rates of over 100 Mbps.
Even with their priciest unlimited package, you can only expect 150 Mbps with 5G, whereas Vodafone offers speeds of over 200 Mbps. For the vast majority of individuals, it shouldn't really matter.
Overwhelmingly demanding tasks are the only ones that might possibly need speeds higher than 150 Mbps. That's a lot faster than the broadband most people receive at home!
WiFi Calling and Hotspots — Expect Some Dead Zones… 💣
It's true that Vodafone has excellent interior coverage in places like ASDA, but there may be dead zones if you're too distant from a mast or if you're in a very thickly constructed building. The use of WiFi calling might be helpful here.
The addition of WiFi calling to all plans at ASDA Mobile has closed the last functionality gap in their network. Even if you don't have cell phone service, you can still use your WiFi connection to make and receive calls, as well as send and receive text messages.
As a result of this and the fact that their call signal coverage is so good, you will seldom (if ever) be in a location without service unless you're underground. We have yet to do extensive field testing to determine its effectiveness.
Unfortunately, no WiFi hotspots have been established on ASDA as of yet. It's too bad, since smart usage of hotspots may help consumers avoid overage fees and save a lot of data.
ASDA Mobile has EU roaming capabilities
It's great to note that using an ASDA Mobile SIM card throughout the EU doesn't cost any more than using it at home, especially since many networks are abandoning inclusive EU roaming. Your regular allotment may be used at no additional cost.
If your plan includes more than 25GB, you will be capped at that amount when travelling internationally. If it's lower, then you may spend up to that amount. If you go above your data limit, you'll be charged at the usual EU per-MB rate.
An ASDA Mobile SIM card will work in any country, not only those in the European Union. However, the charges for pay-as-you-go plans soon escalate and may be very costly (see here).
While ASDA Mobile is a wonderful option for short journeys inside the EU, those who want to go farther afield may choose Vodafone, whose premium plans include roaming in 83 EU and international countries.
Our Verdict? Less Cost-Effective than 1p Mobile 🏛️
ASDA Mobile is only focused on SIM-only packages and does not provide any kind of phone contract with included service. Phones purchased straight from them need immediate payment.
The normal Pay As You Go charges at ASDA Mobile have risen, making 1pMobile the most cost-effective alternative.
When compared to the networks, ASDA's prices don't appear that awful. And unlike 1pMobile, they don't make you pay for refills, unless your account has been dormant for a total of 270 days, your credit will never expire.
Asda Mobile is the superior option over 1pMobile if you like Vodafone's network over EE's and don't want to be charged extra every three months. Those searching for the lowest possible prices, though, should stick with 1p.
5. Giffgaff PAYG Review — Alternative Best Pay as You Go SIM Deals for O2 Data
Giffgaff wasn't the first provider to provide no-contract monthly plans at cheap prices, but it is known for its pay-as-you-go SIM cards.
Whether you're looking at the low-end £6/2GB choice or the mid-range £10/20GB plan, its no-commitment goody bundles are constantly good value.
The situation improves when data caps are raised. If you pay £20, you'll get 100GB of data to spend over the course of 30 days. If you pay an additional £25, you'll get Always On data, but it will slow down after you've used 80GB.
All plans are contract- and commitment-free and feature unlimited domestic and European calls and texts as well as EU roaming. As your demands evolve from month to month, you may switch to a different bundle or upgrade to a golden bundle with more data by setting up a regular payment.
While giffgaff's 4G speeds may not be the greatest in the industry due to its reliance on O2's network, they are generally rather fast, and O2 has been achieving remarkable 5G results according to recent RootMetrics analysis. Giffgaff also excelled in our most recent Mobile Network Awards poll, as well as Ofcom's most recent customer service and satisfaction study. Why wouldn't you enjoy it?
Giffgaff’s Surprisingly Competitive Pricing… 💸
The “goodybags” that giffgaff sells on a monthly basis are mostly composed of bundled minutes, texts, and data. However, for less regular phone users, the more conventional pay as you go option is still available:
- Approx. $0.50 per hour
- 10 pence per message
- 10 pence per megabyte of data
If you seldom make phone calls and just use your SIM for “emergencies”, their charges may be acceptable.
However, you need to activate your SIM card at least once every six months to keep your balance active. Furthermore, if you top up your account every three months (otherwise you get charged their usual cost), calls to other giffgaff subscribers are free.
Contract-free Mobile SIM-Only Plans from giffgaff, Starts at £6
Giffgaff distinguishes out due to its SIM-only packages. All of its packages are accessible on a month-to-month basis and come at a reasonable price.
Goodybags are a kind of data plan that gives you the freedom to change your monthly allotment as needed. The prices are really reasonable. At this moment, £6 a month gets you unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of 4G data.
The most expensive plan includes unlimited talk, text, and data for £35 per month, subject to a fair use policy. If you go beyond 80GB, your connection will be slowed down.
A better option would be to pay £30 per month for an 80GB plan.
If you refer a friend and they sign up, you both get a £5 discount. In addition, we'll give them a £5 credit. The outcome is beneficial for all parties involved.
99% Coverage on the Giffgaff Mobile Network… 🛰️
Since giffgaff utilises the O2 network, its customers receive 99% nationwide coverage. That puts it on par with major competitors like Vodafone and Three and somewhat behind market leader EE.
The low price of its plans is a major selling point. Even if you don't reside in a remote region, you should still use its coverage checker to see whether your preferred network provider has service in your area.
Instead of charging extra for roaming in the EU and a few other European countries, giffgaff does not charge anything at all.
EE, Vodafone, and Three have all argued in recent months that their plans include free calls, texts, and data. Even with an unlimited subscription, there is a 20GB fair usage cap. If you're just going to be gone for a week or so, that's not a huge concern.
If you go outside of Europe while using a giffgaff phone, you will either have to pay exorbitant roaming costs or put your phone in aeroplane mode and rely on Wi-Fi.
How Giffgaff Mobile Stacks Up Versus Other Networks? 📊
When compared to other networks, giffgaff stands out for having the most straightforward pricing and package options.
SIM-only contracts from giffgaff are straightforward, whereas the plethora of options from O2, Vodafone, EE, and Three might be overwhelming.
They're among the finest on the market, and they come at a price that won't break the bank. The level of protection is also excellent. However, the inexpensive costs make up for the disappointing absence of value-added perks and customer awards.
There are no 12- or 24-month contracts available, but if you're prepared to commit, you can save money by switching to another provider; Three, BT Mobile, and EE all have great 24-month plans.
Unfortunately, most networks no longer engage in such 'fair use' gimmicks, thus the slowing of data beyond 80GB is a letdown.
Verdict — Powerhouse PAYG Provider 🏭
Giffgaff excels at the basics by providing a variety of affordable SIM-only options and high-quality service owing to its parent firm, O2.
Its 30-day plans are desirable because of their versatility in a market where lower prices are increasingly associated with longer contracts.
Its phone plans, which are effectively gadget loans for a certain length of time, are not as appealing as those of larger networks. There's also a major downside: when 80GB of data has been utilised, speeds on unlimited plans decrease significantly. There is no phone support available; customers must use the online help centre instead.
6. Lyca Mobile PAYG: Review — Popular Pay as You Go SIM Deals for Abroad Plans
With BRIC nations growing in power on the geopolitical stage, this PAYG provider gives you access to them for cheap. Lyca Mobile is a low-cost network that focuses on international calls.
With outstanding Trustpilot ratings and competitive pricing for unlimited data, calls, and texts. It is a great option if you want to keep in contact with loved ones back home while travelling or running your small online businesses abroad.
Its PAYG bundles include UK minutes, texts, and data as well as cheap international calls, which would normally cost substantially more on other networks. IP-based audio and video chat services like Skype, Google Duo, and FaceTime might still help you save money, but they aren't necessarily compatible with the other party.
The cheapest of Lyca Mobile's plans is the £5 UK Plan Smart, which includes 3GB of data, 1,000 UK minutes and UK texts, and 100 minutes of international calls.
The most expensive plan is the £30 Go Endless Plus, which offers unlimited data, UK minutes and messages, and international calls. These are valid in more than 50 countries, and if your desired nation isn't included, you may check out a calling plan that's more tailored to your location. Since a potential user, you may want to keep an eye out for discounts, as Lyca Mobile often provides bargains for new customers at half off or less.
With Lyca Mobile, you may use O2's network and benefit from 5G with any of their plans. Although O2 is now ranked lower than the other main UK networks in RootMetrics' speed tests, the company's performance is improving, and in certain locations, it is improving substantially thanks to 5G.
A pay-as-you-go alternative, Lyca Mobile was formerly a good choice for making international calls but now makes less sense for in-country communication or data transfer.
Competes Against Lebara… 🦿
When it comes to cheap international calling plans, Lyca Mobile's major rival is Lebara. Both are well rated on Trustpilot and come with generous data, talk, and texting allotments at comparable costs.
SIM-only plans from Lyca Mobile are far lower than those from industry heavyweights like EE, Vodafone, and O2. These big networks, however, have several additional benefits and privileges. Furthermore, if you're in the market for a mobile phone contract, a larger network is the way to go.
Lycamobile is a tier-two carrier that operates on the O2 system. Regarding Pay as you go pricing, they are the most expensive provider here. Credit may be rapidly depleted when you pay for every minute, text message, and MB of data used.
- 23 pence an hour
- 23 pence per message
- 15 pence per MB data
When compared to the aforementioned networks, data use is quite costly. While still expensive, calls and messages are less expensive than on some of the other networks listed above.
One charged activity per 90 days is required to keep your Lycamobile credit active for the full year it is valid for. Credit can't be kept indefinitely as it can at ASDA, but you do have a reasonable period of time to use it.
This means you'll need to maintain making regular purchases with your credit, making it a poor option for occasional buyers. Those who use it often will also be put off by the steep prices charged. Overall, we simply can't pinpoint the target audience for this plan.
Confusingly Large SIM-only packages from Lyca Mobile 🐙
Lyca Mobile offers a bewildering variety of SIM-only options to choose from. Last we checked, the lowest of these plans offers 3GB of data for only £5.
Rolling one-month contracts are the norm, although packages for three, six, and even 12 months are also available. Long-term contracts may save you money if you're prepared to commit to them.
You'll need to choose between a National and International plan, in addition to the contract term.
Included in all National plans are at least 100 minutes of international calling each month. This allows you to make calls to countries as far away as Australia, India, and China without incurring any additional costs.
The International plans are the best option since they provide even more extensive call limits, from 500 international minutes to unlimited calls.
Almost all plans provide free, unlimited in-country calls and messages. In addition, all plans include 5G-capable SIM cards and EU roaming at no extra cost.
Finally, you may add a Data Bolt On to your plan if you anticipate using more data than your monthly allotment allows. Find a wide variety of options to consider while choosing the policy that will serve your requirements the best.
99% Network Availability with Lyca Mobile ⭐
Lyca Mobile relies on O2's wide network for coverage. Its 4G network, which covers around 99% of the UK population, has strong signals and fast transfer rates.
Moreover, 5G coverage is rather good in many rural areas and in most large cities. To take advantage of the lightning-fast connections offered by Lyca Mobile, all you need is a phone that is 5G-compatible and a SIM card from the company.
However, iOS users will have to wait a little longer for Lyca Mobile to add 5G compatibility to their handsets. Unlike most major networks, Lyca Mobile's plans continue to include roaming throughout the EU even as others have restored roaming fees. There will be no additional fees associated with using your package in Europe.
Verdict — One of the Best for PAYG Abroad… 🏝️
When compared to other similar networks, Lyca Mobile performs well. If you compare it to other options like iD Mobile and SMARTY, you'll see that it delivers somewhat less data for the amount you pay, but it does include those much sought after foreign minutes.
Lyca Mobile is a smaller network, but it offers a wide variety of options that won't break the budget. There is a wide range of options to choose from, including monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual programmes.
Flexible and reasonably priced plans are practically expected from budget networks. However, Lyca Mobile stands out from the others because to its unlimited international minutes at no extra cost. It's not easy to get a SIM package that includes free international calls, but Lebara is one of the few exceptions.
Consequently, Lyca Mobile is a good option if you like communicating with people from other countries.
7. Smarty 🤓 PAYG: Review — New, Top Pay as You Go SIM Deals for 5G
Introducing a new face in the neighbourhood… If you're looking for a great deal, go no further than Smarty's 30-day plans, which may cancel at any moment.
To compete with the current entry-level package, which offers 4GB of data and unlimited calls and texts for under £6, Smarty offers bundles with 12GB for £8, 50GB for £10, and unlimited data for £20.
Tethering is unlimited and unrestricted, and roaming inside the European Union (EU) is free, albeit you're limited to 12GB per month to prevent you from watching Netflix 📺 while lounging on the beach. Then again, you might use Lyca or Lebara for that!
Smarty offers more affordable data-only plans for those who simply require a SIM for a laptop or tablet, as well as somewhat more costly high-scale data discount plans that rebate up to £3 of the monthly charge if the customer does not utilise their full data allocation.
Deals with Tons of Data ⛰️
Once again, you can save money with Smarty's current offers.
The first option doubles the monthly data allotment from 12GB to 24GB on the £8 plan. The second reduces the cost of the 200GB plan, from £17 per month to £14 per month. Both plans are a good value if you regularly use a lot of data.
Even though EE and Vodafone have more coverage and faster speeds, Smarty, which is owned and managed by Three's parent company on Three's own network, nevertheless provides satisfactory service and speeds.
With built-in 5G capability, you can take advantage of Three's expanding 5G network. Smarty has taken a community-led approach to help, like giffgaff, which won't be to everyone's liking, and there is currently no available statistics on customer service. Nonetheless, if you're capable of handling things on your own, Smarty is hard to resist.
Smarter 👓 “SMARTSIM” Packages…
Though SMARTY exclusively provides SIM-only plans, it excels in this market.
There are six different packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £6 per month for 4GB to £20 per month for unlimited data. All of them come equipped with unlimited talk time, texting, and data, as well as unlimited tethering in the UK and, once again, free roaming within the EU…
Furthermore, each plan only lasts for a month and may be terminated at any moment. Account suspension is possible for up to six months.
SMARTY stands out from the competition due to its data discount options. If you choose with one of these plans, you may obtain a refund at the end of the month for the amount of data you didn't use.
Focus on Reliability via Three’s Network… 3️
SMARTY's powerful 4G network is powered by Three, therefore it covers 99.8 percent of the UK.
You may also take advantage of the fastest speeds available since all SIMs are 5G-ready. However, before committing to Three's 5G service, it's a good idea to find out whether their network covers your region and if so, which of their 5G networks is the best option.
Unlike competing networks, SMARTY's plans always include free EU roaming, even when others are beginning to limit or eliminate it altogether.
Your SIM-only plan will continue to function normally and at no additional cost while you are in the EU. You'll be limited to 12GB of mobile data use each month, but that should be enough for your vacation.
You will need to purchase a “out of plan” supplement if your travels take you outside of the European Union. To have an idea of the price, it's a good idea to research the nation you'll be visiting in advance.
No-Frills but Extremely Cost-Effective…
When compared to other networks, how does SMARTY fare?
Comparable to giffgaff and VOXI, SMARTY is a no-frills service. Their SIM-only plans are among the most cost-effective and adaptable on the market. In a time when free EU roaming is becoming less common among the major networks, SMARTY's inclusion is welcome.
There aren't a lot of flashy bonuses or customer advantages, but the referral programme and group plan are both fantastic. The big networks provide phone contract options, however SMARTY does not. Neither do they offer 12- or 24-month arrangements.
Verdict — Quick Setup, Simple, and Cheap 5G ☁️
When compared to other networks, SMARTY stands out for its cheap data-only SIM-only options.
Although it is a smaller firm, it is owned by Three, therefore you will have access to Three's extensive 3G and 4G network. Superfast 5G is now included on all SIMs at no additional cost, allowing users to connect to Three's developing 5G network.
You'll need to seek elsewhere if you're interested in a phone plan or a long-term contract, since SMARTY doesn't provide either.
8. Lebara PAYG: Review — Trusted Pay as You Go SIM Deals Abroad ⛱️
If you're looking for a SIM-only plan with 5G, unlimited calling and data.
Most importantly, the option to make international calls at no additional cost, go no further than Lebara's inexpensive options.
Lebara offers service to 41 different countries on contracts that renew every 30 days or every 12 months. Those who recommend Lebara to their friends might get a £50 bonus for their efforts. For six months, your buddy will get 50% off various plans.
Lebara does sell gadgets, however they don't provide payment plans, making the purchase price prohibitive. In terms of motivation, it just cannot compete with the market leaders. However, Lebara is your only real option for inexpensive international minutes.
Lerbara = Vodafone’s Second-Cheapest PAYG… 💷
Lebara is the second-cheapest service that offers Pay as You Go plans on Vodafone's network. But it doesn't really mean much when you consider how rapidly the fees might build up at their usual rates:
- 💾 £0.50/hour
- 💾 19p /text
- 💾 9p/MB data
As an alternative, we recommend ASDA Mobile, who also utilises the Vodafone network. As opposed to ASDA, though, purchasing from Lebara will get you access to Vodafone's 5G network. You shouldn't use it for anything that requires a lot of data when on Pay As You Go, but every little bit helps.
When you port your existing phone number to Lebara, you'll receive 5GB of free data. You'll like the bonus when you initially sign up with Lebara, but in the long run, you could save money by switching to a another network.
You may not agree with the requirement that you take a “chargeable activity” once every 90 days or else your credit will be frozen. If you like to work at your own pace while going through your data, it may not be acceptable.
Overall, we believe most consumers would be better served by signing up for one of Lebara's 1-month SIM-only plans. Lebara aren't great if you must use a pay as you go service, there are better equally trustworthy data solutions.
Get Prepaid SIM cards from Lebara Mobile
Lebara thrives on the popularity of its SIM-only plans. There is no exception; the monthly fee determines the amount of overseas minutes included in your plan.
You can make international phone calls to 41 different locations, including the majority of European nations, Australia, and the United States. Additionally, each subscription includes one complimentary Lebara money transfer to any of the supported 40+ countries.
You may sign up for a month-to-month plan that renews automatically, or you can commit to a year-long plan and save 10%.
Despite Lebara's low data allowance criticisms in the past, the company has responded by offering competitively priced plans with data allowances ranging from 2GB to limitless.
In addition, all SIMs are 5G-ready, meaning that, with the correct device, you can enjoy lightning-fast mobile internet anywhere you go.
Extending the Reach of Lebara Mobile… 🤖
Lebara Mobile uses Vodafone's network to provide 4G and 5G speeds to its customers, and the company boasts a claimed coverage area of more than 98%.
Use our no-cost, clickable, and interactive mobile network coverage map to see whether your location is serviced. Enter your zip code and the map will display information on Vodafone's coverage in your area, including a comparison to other carriers.
Lebara's coverage is fantastic since it uses Vodafone's masts as a backhaul.
This equates to almost 100% coverage across the United Kingdom, however you should still use the service's coverage checker to make sure you have access to sufficient 3G and 4G speeds in your location.
With the release of Lebara's 5G capabilities, users in key cities around the nation have access to the fastest network, with more locations to come.
International Roaming with a Lebara Mobile PAYG
The big networks are beginning to charge customers for connecting while they are on the Continent, but Lebara has done an outstanding job of keeping EU roaming free of charge.
Those who like travelling or who have relatives or friends overseas may find Lebara an attractive option because of the freedom to spend one's allowance as they would at home.
Far-flung destinations often incur hefty fees, as has been the norm in the sector.
Due to the lack of long-distance travel-specific plans, travellers should rely on Wi-Fi rather than mobile data when abroad.
Verdict ⭐ — Top Choice for International PAYG
Smaller networks such as VOXI, iD Mobile, and giffgaff pose the greatest threat to Lebara. While it is comparable to other SIM-only plans, its worldwide minute coverage to 41 countries sets it apart. However, it would be nice if there were phone contract options available, even if just via a third party.
Lebara, on the other hand, can now go head-to-head with the industry's heavy hitters thanks to 5G and tethering. Visit EE or Vodafone if you're looking for a comprehensive plan with plenty of enticing extras. However, Lebara is for you if you want to make international calls without worrying about extra fees.
9. Vodafone PAYG: Review — Established Pay as You Go SIM Deals with TV Subscriptions 📺
Is it worthwhile to join up for a plan with Vodafone, one of the most well-established UK mobile networks that provides a wide variety of contract and SIM-only options as well as free NOW TV subscriptions?
Unless you use your phone extremely seldom, you probably shouldn't sign up for Vodafone's Pay as you go 1 plan, which requires a daily payment of £1 but only provides you with 50MB of internet and unlimited texting and calling.
If you commit to one of its 30-day packages, you'll save money in the long run. Vodafone has increased its data allowances in its product lines, so now you can get 20GB of data at £15 with unlimited UK calls and texts, or 40GB of data for £20. Additionally, all of these bundles include inclusive roaming across 51 EU destinations, and non-used data rolls over into the following 30 days.
Further, Vodafone offers an enticing £40 plan with unlimited 5G internet. Of course, you may save money by choosing a lower SIM only contract if you need unlimited data. However, if you just need unlimited data for a month or two and then want to go back to a cheaper package, paying as you go might be the better option.
Unrivalled Speeds Other than EE, OK Customer Care and Coverage…
RootMetrics' most recent data shows that Vodafone is second only behind EE in terms of UK speeds and coverage, and even ahead on 5G speeds in several large cities.
There are problems with customer care and assistance, but if you're looking for a fast service with plenty of data, Vodafone is a good option to consider.
Accessibility You can make a call or send a text message from almost anywhere thanks to Vodafone's extensive network coverage (which encompasses 99% of the population). However, its 4G coverage is somewhat less impressive, with most statistics placing it around 80%.
It's not quite as excellent as EE, which offers the greatest nationwide mobile coverage in the UK, but it comes in a close second in many locations. In addition, the statistics generally agree that this network is one of the most stable, with far less instances of signal loss.
What this means is that you can be certain that your calls will go through on Vodafone. Before signing up, you can just use the site's coverage checker to see whether you'll have service in your area.
Vodafone is a Premium Service… 🙅♂️
Vodafone, unfortunately, ranks high on the list of most costly mobile networks. Prices for its plans are comparable to those of EE and even O2. but costlier than almost any other network.
Higher-priced plans, especially the Vodafone Red family of plans, are well worth the money because of the increased data (related: Dropbox alternatives) and free app subscriptions that last for two years that are included.
However, if you're on a tighter budget, you're better off going with a different network that offers reduced rates for its base plans.
SIM-only Prices, Packages, and Permitted Spending
Vodafone has three primary categories of mobile plan: pay-monthly SIM-only, phone contract with handset, and pay-as-you-go.
Vodafone offers a wide variety of SIM-only plans, from the bare minimum (250 MB of data and 500 minutes) to the astronomical maximum (80GB data, unlimited minutes). Also, most packages provide limitless texting.
There are two different types of SIM plans available: the Essentials plan, which provides just a monthly rate, and the Red plan, which provides a monthly price as well as some additional features. The Red plans are the best value since they include free internet security and, on certain plans, a free two-year membership to an entertainment app like Spotify or Prime Video.
It offers SIM-only plans for either a year or a month, and there are several variations between the two beyond the duration of the contract. SIM cards valid for 30 days cost extra per month, don't come with the unlimited data of the Red plans for 30 days, and don't come with the entertainment applications.
The 30-day SIM's sole benefit is its adaptability, while the 12-month contract has many more advantages.
“Classic” Pay-As-You-Go Still Exists!
Vodafone offers the traditional pay-as-you-go model, whereby you add credit and spend it as you use the phone, but it comes at an exorbitant price.
It makes up for this with a points-based rewards programme, but this is still not the greatest deal available.
However, some networks allow you to pay as you go for far less money, so we wouldn't suggest getting a PAYG SIM from Vodafone if that's what you're after. Credit card purchases of its bundles or Extras are the most practical choice.
These provide a limited quantity of data, texts, or phone minutes for a cost similar to that of a standard SIM-only plan, but for a shorter period of time. They're not cheap, but they're better value than other options, and unlike most other cell plans, you can carry over any unused data to the next month.
When you recharge, you'll earn reward points equivalent to 5% of your total purchase price. These points may be used for discounts on future purchases, additional accessories, or gift cards. This is quite neat, but it would be much better if you simply... spent less to begin with.
RED by Vodafone Offers Cybersecurity 🔥
As a last mention, let's check out the top-tier “Red” options, shall we? Many of Vodafone's offers, such as the premium mobile contracts and SIM-only plans, have a unique perk and design.
Not many other mobile networks provide cybersecurity with your plan, so Verizon's inclusion of Secure Net mobile security software for a free three-month trial with all Red plans is a nice perk. In addition, a 24-month membership to a music or video streaming service like NOW TV or Spotify is included with the Red Entertainment package.
For privacy, you can use a trusty cheap VPN to keep your data safe from prying eyes 🌐. The UK has tried to run government programs in the past to discourage them, because apps like Telegram can be effective to some degree.
It's money well spent on them. At the time of writing, a monthly subscription to Spotify (about tenner) with 15GB of data and unlimited calls and messages costs £30. Those interested in music, sports, or NOW TV will find this to be an excellent offer.
However, it is quite inconvenient because Vodafone does not provide any of its premium plans without these extras. Vodafone does not provide an option between a standard plan and an Advanced plan that includes deluxe features, unlike rival company Three.
Either you have a generous allotment with an app, or you have none at all… A bit disappointing for those seeking a premium tariff but not an app subscription.
Verdict — A Premium Service with Excellent Speed and Good Coverage, TV, and Classic PAYG! 📼
The best part about a Vodafone plan is how trouble-free it is. The service is excellent, the network is always up, and there are a wide variety of plans from which to choose.
The biggest problem is that it isn't consistently cheap. Most starter packages overcharge for what they provide. We suggest Vodafone Red plans for music, TV, and sports aficionados who are certain they will utilise the app subscription.
If you want better, more consistent mobile service, you'll have to pay extra.
10. EE PAYG: Review — Best Pay as You Go SIM Deals for Speed and Coverage ⚡
You won’t get cheapest PAYG plans on EE’s network…
Even the lowest £10 PAYG Pack from giffgaff or Tesco Mobile only provides you 5GB of data, while the cheapest £10 PAYG Pack from Three, O2, or Vodafone only gives you 10GB.
Neither does spending more money result in more data. However, right now, you can get 70GB of data for just £20 per month. This is a rare opportunity to save a lot of money on EE, since normally this amount would only buy you 30GB.
Since EE already has a leg up on the competition in terms of speed and 5G availability, it can often afford to forego pricing competition altogether. RootMetrics' most recent studies confirm EE's superiority over Vodafone, Three, and O2 in terms of 4G and 5G speeds…
If you're looking for a PAYG plan that still includes the newest and best 4G and 5G speeds in most regions, EE is a strong choice (although other networks are beginning to catch up).
Finally, EE has a solid reputation for providing helpful service to its customers, with fewer complaints per 100,000 members than any other major UK network. Obviously, this comes with an increased cost, but those with a healthy bank account may find it well worth it.
Highly Reliable EE SIM-Only Plans… 🏛️
The SIM-only plans offered by EE are not the most affordable options. Its 4G service is the finest in the UK, and it's also possible to use its fast developing 5G network.
All of its plans include free unlimited talk and text, with data plans starting at 250 megabytes (5G) for the barest of users, all the way up to limitless data for the most demanding social media and streaming users.
The best part is that EE's SIM-only plans are compatible with the company's suite of add-ons, which includes Apple Music, BritBox, and BT Sport. It's not hard to understand why EE's SIM-only plans have remained so popular with perks like these.
The EE Family Plan is fantastic since it lets you share data across family members' devices and includes parental controls.
While EE's Flex Plans provide a contract-free SIM alternative, only 12- or 24-month plans are available for online purchase. You may have a contract that renews every 30 days if you go in-store. Not very convenient when everything you could possibly want is only a click away.
Outstanding Coverage with EE 🦅
Amongst UK residents, EE's network has a near unanimous approval rating. With its masts, it can reach 99% of the country's population and 85% of the country's landmass.
It also has the most rapidly expanding 5G network, with dozens of large cities and towns now offering the cutting-edge service.
It has tools to help you find out what kind of 4G and 5G service is available in your region. In general, EE provides excellent coverage.
No Free Roaming Using EE 🏴☠️
In June 2021, EE announced that it will begin charging for European roaming again beginning in January 2022. Contracts (including SIM-only and phone bundles) signed after July 7 will be charged the higher rates.
In Europe, using your phone will cost you an additional £2 per day. No other action is required on your part to have access to your normal plan upon doing so. The fee will be charged to your statement as soon as you begin using the Internet, making phone calls, or sending and receiving text messages.
A Roam Abroad Pass may be added as a monthly premium for an additional £10. You may now use your phone in the 47 European countries, plus the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. Sending the message “ROAMING” to the number 150 will activate this feature.
After years of having the same phone options in Europe as you have at home, this is obviously a frustrating change.
EE Offers Limited Data Rollovers… 💸
Without using them, your remaining pack allowances will often expire when your bundle does. Your mobile data limit, however, may be carried over if you are eligible for data rollover.
Renewal of a Pay As You Go pack must occur within seven days after the expiration of the prior pack in order to be eligible for data rollover. Your base data transfer limit is the only one that will carry over to the next month. You may only carry over your unused data for one more month. Furthermore, your Free Boost balance cannot be carried over to the next month.
For instance, you may have consumed 10GB of data from the £15 Pack yet still have 5GB left over. If you are eligible, any of your monthly data allotment of 5GB will carry over into the next month. The resulting sum would be 20GB (5GB of rolled over data).
You will get a free boost every two months as long as you maintain an EE Pay As You Go Pack of £10 or higher. Your monthly data cap will be raised by 500 MB thanks to the Free Boost.
Every two months, you'll get one Free Boost until your EE Pay As You Go account has a total of six. That's a total of three gigabytes of extra data every month (six times 500 megabytes).
Verdict 🏢 — Good for Features and Reliability…
Prices aren't the lowest, but if you value reliability, amazing features, and family-friendly plans, it's tough to find a better option.
EE is undoubtedly the finest provider at the moment, with the newest and greatest devices, SIM-only plans that deliver lightning-fast 5G, and a network that has long been recognised as the best in the market. However, it falls short in a few key areas, including as cost, the accessibility of its plans online, and customer service.
Best Pay as You Go SIM Deals — UK Buying Guide
Let’s explore how to use and choose the best pay as you go SIM deals!
Things to Look for in a SIM-Only PAYG 💾
A Pay As You Go SIM card with no monthly fees is a good option if you only use your phone occasionally (such as on vacations away from home or as an emergency backup).
It is vital to consider the minimum use or top-up need, the SIM card's coverage, and the methods available for adding credit while shopping for a Pay As You Go SIM card.
If you're a casual mobile user in need of a Pay As You Go SIM card, we recommend keeping an eye out for these six features in your service provider.
No Recurring Monthly Fees
If you don't use your phone very often, you probably shouldn't get a SIM card that charges you a flat fee per month. This is due to the fact that you will be required to pay a certain sum each month regardless of how often you make use of your SIM card.
In most cases, unless your usual monthly expenditure is above £5, you should not include Pay Monthly SIM cards or Pay As You Go packages in your search.
A “classic Pay As You Go plan” with no recurring monthly SIM fees is preferable. So long as you don't use your phone during certain months, you won't have to pay for that service.
Rollover Data and Credit
Choose a cell network where your reloaded funds do not expire before you start topping up your SIM card. It's also a good idea to check out the minimum top-up amount and the several ways you may add funds.
If you're using one of the finest PAYG mobile networks, your balance will never decrease, and you'll be able to add funds in increments as little as £5. When using other cell networks, you must first add at least £10. Additionally, it is recommended that you search for a variety of top-up options, both in-store and online. Another helpful function is auto-replenishment when the account balance falls below a particular threshold.
For the most part, on the major Pay As You Go networks, your prepaid balance will never expire as long as your SIM card is in use. On certain lesser-known mobile networks, however, top-ups are offered with a validity period of just 90 days. Credit on these networks will expire and be withdrawn from your account if it is not used within 90 days after being added.
Good Minimum Use Rules
As per the above, consider the phone network's minimal use requirement for keeping your account active when you make your selection.
All Pay As You Go networks in the UK will need you to reach a certain use threshold in order to maintain the validity of your SIM card. The finest mobile networks need just a single billable usage of a SIM card per three months. Nonetheless, on certain more modest mobile networks, this may be as low as 84 days.
Due to the brief inactive period of certain SIM cards, you may experience an accidental disconnection (this can happen particularly easily if you only use your mobile phone from time to time). If your mobile service is terminated for inactivity, you will lose both your phone number and any unused account balance.
In most cases, we advise going with a cell network that limits your use to once every 180 days.
The quality of phone service you can rely on is also crucial. If you plan on travelling or encountering any “emergency scenarios”, you should ensure that your cell phone is fully charged and ready for usage. Therefore, it is crucial to have access to 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.
Only EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone provide mobile phone service across the United Kingdom. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are the generic term for the smaller networks that rely on the coverage provided by one of the four major carriers. Customers of 1pMobile, for instance, will get coverage through EE, while those of giffgaff will do so via O2.
When deciding on a Pay As You Go provider, it's also useful to think about whether or not you'll have access to helpful customer service.
While the majority of mobile networks do provide telephone help, some may place more of a focus on online support (e.g. through an online forum, e-mail or live chat). Avoid mobile networks like giffgaff if you value the ability to pick up the phone and call customer service.
Cost-effectiveness and the Availability of Value Packs
Last but not least, it's interesting to compare the per-minute, per-text, and per-megabyte costs. A phone network with reasonable rates is usually the best option.
This is important, but it shouldn't take precedence over the other considerations. This is due to the fact that your monthly phone payment may only amount to a few pounds. Therefore, picking a somewhat cheaper network may result in savings that are negligible, if any at all.
It's preferable to go with a mobile network that offers both affordable Pay As You Go prices and the ability to purchase bundles as needed. In cases when you need to make several phone calls in a short period of time, this feature may come in handy (for instance, if you wanted to make a long phone call or if you were taking a long trip away from home).
Additional security precautions include virtual private networks.
Related 📗: Best VPNs for Android.
What is PAYG Data?
Your budget for PAYG as a whole will have a large impact on your choice.
How much data is enough?
The key is to ground oneself in reality. 2GB to 4GB of mobile data might easily last you a month if you spend practically all of your time linked to a home or business Wi-Fi network.
However, you may need a bit more these days as more applications put greater demands on your mobile connection and websites add more movies and animations.
Even without adding in media playback, your data use might skyrocket if you are an avid social network user, frequent user of Google Maps, or make frequent voice and video conversations. With that in mind, the bigger 20GB to 100GB plans become more appealing; but, you may discover that you receive greater value by opting for a pay-monthly 12-month contract SIM offer, or even a SIM on a 30-day rolling contract.
Tethering, whereby a laptop or tablet is connected to the internet through a smartphone, is now supported by the vast majority of networks and may be used with data from your package. This might cause you to go through your data even quicker, and after you've used up your allotment, the price can skyrocket, with some networks costing as much as 10 pence per megabyte.
Strive for harmony. Even if many carriers let you carry over unused data to the next month, there's still no need to waste money on a high amount you won't utilise. The great thing about PAYG is that it allows you to adhere to a low-data bundle for the most of the year and then switch to a high-data package when required, such as when you are travelling for work or on vacation.
Common Questions ☁️ — Best Cloud Backups for Small Companies…
How do I buy a PAYG SIM?
You can usually find a basic tariff that specifies the base cost of making calls, using internet, or sending texts, with extra costs for premium lines, premium SMS services, recovering voicemail, or using the phone in a foreign country.
Nonetheless, nowadays, the vast majority of service providers encourage you to purchase a bundle or plan that includes a certain amount of internet as well as voice and text messaging. This typically lasts for 30 days, after which you can either purchase a new subscription or set up automatic renewal using a debit or credit card.
Networks often provide cheaper pricing on ongoing subscriptions, and customers have the freedom to cancel at any moment. If you go above your package's limit, then the standard rate applies.
Do I need to consider speed or network coverage?
As speeds and coverage vary greatly from network to network and place to location, even the cheapest SIM plan is of little value if the connection is unreliable. You may find out what kind of speeds you can anticipate in your location by utilising the coverage checkers provided by the smaller operators, who often ride shotgun on one of the main mobile networks. It's also a good idea to check with neighbours and friends to find out which networks have worked and which haven't.
RootMetrics' coverage map is another solid alternative that is completely impartial and may help you determine coverage and speeds in your specific location. Before you go out and get a new PAYG SIM, check out this link.
What about calling or going abroad?
You should look into how much it costs to make international calls if you have loved ones living in other countries. There are a lot of companies who advertise low-cost international calls to certain countries, but the SIM card you bought to phone the United States can end up costing you a lot more to call Brazil. Call rates may be reduced by purchasing an optional add-on.
Also, before packing your own phone for an international trip, it's important to conduct some research. You should be allowed to use your phone in the EU under the same conditions as in the UK, however this may change after Brexit.
The European Union (EU) has a common currency, yet prices outside of it may vary widely. Depending on the network, you may be able to get free service in some areas, reduced rates, or discounts on accessories. One other option is to purchase a local PAYG SIM card instead of using your UK SIM while abroad.
What is MVNO in mobiles?
MVNO stands for “mobile virtual network operator”. Using a network that “piggybacks” on top of the primary ones does not result in a worse quality connection or less coverage. It's the same as staying on the old network, but you won't have access to any of the previous provider's perks, such their rewards programmes or EE's free subscriptions.
Because of the proliferation of new networks throughout the years, consumers today have several options. However, these supplementary choices are supported by just four major networks.
There are four major carriers: EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone. What sets them apart is that they are the only networks in the UK that provide their own service, coverage, and reach; the rest of the networks essentially “piggyback” on them.
While the word “piggybacking” may seem unusual, it simply indicates that a network is relying on the reach of one of the four major networks. The coverage of Virgin and Voxi is provided by Vodafone, that of iD Mobile and Smarty by Three, and giffgaff uses another.