O2 Classic Pay As You Go Review: A Simple Tariff of 5p/min, 5p/txt, 5p/MB

December 29th, 2016

O2 has launched a Classic Pay As You Go tariff for light mobile users charging 5p/minute, 5p/text and 5p/MB.

O2In the UK, O2 has recently launched a new Pay As You Go tariff for light mobile users called Classic Pay As You Go. The tariff has no regular monthly charges with customers paying just 5p/minute, 5p/text and 5p/MB. Customers also get access to O2 Priority with a £1 lunch every Monday and a free hot drink from Caffè Nero on most Tuesdays.

In this article, we’ll review O2’s Classic Pay As You Go tariff. We’ll look at how much it costs and the benefits of the tariff, before comparing it to the deals available from other Pay As You Go networks. Finally, we’ll look at the coverage on O2 and at how you can keep an existing phone number when moving to O2 Classic Pay As You Go.


Classic Pay As You Go

Top Up LogoO2 has launched a new tariff called Classic Pay As You Go for customers who only use their phone occasionally (e.g. if your phone is mainly for emergencies). On the new Classic Pay As You Go tariff, there are no regular monthly charges: customers will just pay for their usage at 5p/minute, 5p/text and 5p/MB.

Calling Rates:
Voice Calls 5p/minute (any network, any time)
Calls to Voicemail 5p/call
Calls to Special Rate Numbers 55p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
Messaging Rates:
Text Message (SMS) 5p
Picture Message (MMS) 35p
Internet Rates:
3G & 4G Internet 5p/MB

The prices in this table are stated for UK-to-UK only. If you’re roaming or making international phone calls, higher charges will normally apply. Source for pricing information: o2.co.uk.

The prices on Classic Pay As You Go are a significant discount compared to what O2 previously charged on other Pay As You Go tariffs (30p/minute, 14p/text and £1/day for accessing the mobile internet).

Notably, this is also the first time O2 has undercut the prices on their low-cost sub-brand giffgaff (giffgaff charges 15p/minute, 5p/text and 5p/MB).

Credit Expiry & Inactivity

On the Classic Pay As You Go tariff, your Pay As You Go credit will not expire. This is providing you keep your SIM card by using it at least once every six months. Each time you add money to your SIM card, there’s a minimum top-up of £10.

For more information, see our guide to Pay As You go credit expiry and inactivity in the UK.

O2 Priority

O2 Cat - Priority Caffe Nero

Benefits of O2 Priority include a free hot drink from Caffè Nero on most Tuesdays.

As a customer of O2 Classic Pay As You Go, you’ll have access to O2’s exclusive Priority Moments offers.

Offers available through O2 Priority typically include a £1 lunch every Monday, a free hot drink from Caffè Nero on most Tuesdays and a £5 main course from Pizza Express each week. There are also fortnightly offers and freebies from other major brands such as Boots and WHSmith.

In our opinion, this is a strong reason for choosing O2 over other Pay As You Go mobile networks. The savings you might typically make from a £1 lunch deal or from a free Caffè Nero can easily pay for the costs of your mobile phone tariff (using these two offers alone will likely save you about £5 per week).

Big Bundles

If you’re a smartphone owner or regular mobile user, you might be better off buying an O2 Big Bundle.

On the Classic Pay As You Go tariff, your £10 of credit will convert to 200 minutes, 200 texts or 200MB of data (in reality, it will be some combination of the three things).

With Big Bundles, you can instead convert a certain amount of credit into a 30-day allowance. As you’re buying airtime in bulk, you’ll get much larger allowances for the same top-up (for instance, you can get 250 minutes, 1000 texts and 500MB of data for a £10 top-up). The disadvantage, however, is your bundle will only last for 30 days with any unused allowances expiring with the bundle.

O2 Big Bundles 2016

If you’re a smartphone owner, Big Bundles will offer better value.

At present, O2 offers a choice of the following Big Bundles:


One thing worth being aware of is you’ll pay higher out-of-allowance rates when on the Big Bundles tariff (35p/minute, 14p/text and £1/day for 50MB data). It’s not possible to keep the Classic Pay As You Go rates when on the Big Bundles tariff.

Comparison to Alternatives

With Pay As You Go rates of 5p/minute, 5p/text and 5p/MB, O2’s Classic Pay As You Go tariff is one of the better value Pay As You Go options for light mobile users.

Some other rival mobile networks do offer a slightly cheaper rate (namely Three who charge just 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB). iD Mobile and Tello also offer similarly low rates. However, a disadvantage of the three networks is they don’t offer any 2G coverage (so they won’t work on a 2G-only handset). You also won’t have access to offers like O2 Priority.

If you’re a regular mobile user or smartphone owner, a Pay As You Go bundle will likely offer much better value. For instance, you could get the following for a £10/month top-up:

ASDA Mobile600Unlimited3.5GB£10.00

For more information, please see our full comparison of classic Pay As You Go tariffs and monthly Pay As You Go bundles.


2G, 3G and 4G Coverage

O2 Coverage Map 2016

O2 has 99% population coverage in the UK.

Customers on O2 Classic Pay As You Go will have access to O2’s network with 99% population coverage (including 98% coverage on 3G and 78% coverage on 4G).

Before joining O2’s Pay As You Go service, we strongly recommended checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on O2’s online coverage map:

Check O2 Coverage (o2.co.uk) »

For more information about mobile phone coverage in the UK, please see our in-depth article on this topic.


Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet).

Tethering is permitted on O2 Classic Pay As You Go. However, the charge of 5p/MB for mobile data usage makes this tariff a fairly expensive option if you tether on a regular basis. If you’d like a better value Pay As You Go mobile network for tethering, we recommend using either ASDA Mobile or giffgaff as an alternative (ASDA provides 1.5GB of tetherable data for £10/month, whilst giffgaff provides 1GB of tetherable data for £10).

For more information, please see our in-depth article about tethering on UK mobile networks.

Keeping Your Phone Number

Transfer Phone Number to O2 Classic Pay As You Go

It takes about one working day to transfer your current phone number to O2 Pay As You Go.

If you’re switching from another mobile network to O2 Pay As You Go, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.

To do this, you should start by contacting your current mobile network and asking them for a PAC Code. They’ll need to provide this to you free of charge within two hours of you making the request.

Once you have a PAC Code from your old mobile network, you should order your new Pay As You Go SIM card from O2’s website. When your new SIM arrives, you can give the PAC Code to O2 by submitting it through this online form. Your phone number transfer will then normally take place on the next working day.

For a step-by-step guide on moving your phone number to O2, please select your current mobile network from the drop down menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to O2

Your current network provider:

  More Options

More Information

For more information about the Classic Pay As You Go tariff, please see O2’s official website.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 13 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. JPAC said:

    Curiosity got the better of me so I used livechat to see what they said about O2’s classic PAYG regarding the the top-up needed to keep the SIM active. Their reply “You just need to maintain a credit balance on your account to use this tariff. The credit has no expiry date and keeps on rolling to the next month. sandeep.” This is different from the O2 shop staff who said you must top-up £10 every six months, anyone have real experience which is true, thanks.

  2. Flax said:

    Can I use an 02 ‘classic payg’ sim in a non smart phone,i.e. a 2g handset? Looks like the restriction of £10 top up,as well as ,before 6 mths usage may have been changed in the T& C’s, they are now dated 21.2.17.

    1. Ken replied:

      Hi Flax,
      Absolutely, yes. You can use an O2 Classic Pay As You Go SIM card in any handset, whether it’s 2G, 3G or 4G. If you use it in a non-smartphone, you’ll pay just 5p/minute and 5p/text.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Flax replied:

        Thanks so much for that sounds good. All I’ve got to do now is unlock a Nokia106 ,on orange payg,as their orange signal is lousy here!

  3. Helen said:

    There are some £1 bolt ons available. Would this be a cheaper way to keep a SIM active.

    Also, what is considered to be “chargeable activity”. Does using data count as well as SMS/calls?

    1. Ken replied:

      Hi Helen,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe a chargeable activity should include anything that causes credit to be deducted from your Pay As You Go balance. Therefore, using data or sending SMS should be fine for this!

      1. Helen replied:

        That’s really helpful to know, thanks!

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