Orange Pay As You Go Review: Animal Tariffs With A Free Top-Up Allowance
January 7th, 2015
Orange currently offers a choice of four tariffs on Pay As You Go. We review and compare the Dolphin, Canary, Racoon and Starter price plans.
Orange is one of the UK’s most popular Pay As You Go networks. Having originally launched in 1993, Orange has been a part of EE since 2010 and continues to provide 2G and 3G services using the EE network.
There are currently a choice of four tariffs being offered by Orange on Pay As You Go: Dolphin (with free texts and internet every time you top-up), Canary (free evening and weekend calls and texts every time you top-up), Racoon (with a flat rate of 14p/minute and 14p/text) and Starter (the default price plan for new customers on the network).
Customers on Orange Pay As You Go won’t be able to access EE’s 4G network unless they first upgrade to EE’s Pay As You Go service. Upgrading to EE is now recommended for the majority users who have a smartphone. However, light and occasional users may still find it slightly better value to stay on Orange’s 3G service.
In this article, we review Pay As You Go on Orange. We’ll compare the four Pay As You Go tariffs both to each other and also to rival Pay As You Go networks.
- 1 Price Plans
- 2 Bundles
- 3 Comparison to Other Networks
- 4 Handsets
- 5 Coverage
- 6 Switching to Orange: Keep Your Current Phone Number
- 7 More Information
Orange currently offers a choice of four tariffs on Pay As You Go: Starter, Dolphin, Canary and Racoon.
By default, new customers joining the Orange network are enrolled on their basic ‘Orange Starter’ tariff. Customers on the Orange Starter tariff will pay 30p/minute for all outgoing calls, 12p for every text message sent and 65p/MB for accessing the internet (approximately £6.50/day with normal smartphone usage).
In order to get better value from their phone, customers are advised to move to one of the three Animal tariffs:
- Dolphin: You’ll receive free internet & texts every time you top-up. A £10 top-up will give you 1GB of 3G internet and 400 UK text messages.
- Canary: You’ll receive free calls and texts to use on an evening or weekend when you top-up your phone by £10 per month or more.
- Racoon: You won’t receive any free allowances. However, you’ll be able to benefit from a lower per-minute rate. Customers on Racoon pay 14p/minute and 14p/text.
In the past, Orange also offered a tariff with free music every month (known as Monkey) and with free international calls (known as Canary). Monkey and Canary were respectively phased out in July 2013 and in April 2014.
Pay As You Go Rates
Unless you’re on the Racoon flat-rate tariff, you’ll pay the following when using Orange Pay As You Go:
|Voice Calls||30p/minute* (any network, any time)|
|Calls to Voicemail||30p/minute|
|Minimum Call Charge||30p/call|
|Text Message (SMS)||12p*|
|Picture Message (MMS)||40p|
|3G Internet||65p/MB (65p minimum charge)|
* Stated charges apply for the Dolphin and Canary Pay As You Go tariffs. Rates will differ if you choose the Racoon tariff (14p/minute with a 14p minimum charge and 14p/text). Source: EE website.
Compared to other Pay As You Go networks, Orange is relatively expensive in terms of the prices they charge. You can often save money by switching to a cheaper alternative such as giffgaff Pay As You Go (10p/minute, 6p/text and 20p/day for up to 20MB of internet). The cheapest rates available in the UK are currently 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB (this is on Three’s 321 tariff).
Dolphin: Free Internet & Texts
Dolphin is by far the most popular tariff on Orange Pay As You Go. It’s perfect for users with a smartphone as you’ll get a free allowance of 3G internet and text messages whenever you top-up your account by £10/month or more.
A £10/month top-up will give you 1GB of 3G internet and 400 text messages to any UK mobile or landline. You also keep the £10 of credit you topped up to your account (the £10 of credit is roughly equivalent to 33 minutes of calling at 30p/minute). The free allowances will last for up to one month.
The free monthly allowance will depend on the size of your top-up:
|Monthly Top-Up||Free 3G Internet||Free Texts||Remaining Credit*|
|£10 top-up||1GB||400||£10 (equivalent to 33 minutes)|
|£15 top-up||2GB||600||£15 (equivalent to 50 minutes)|
|£20 top-up||3GB||Unlimited**||£20 (equivalent to 67 minutes)|
* With Dolphin, you’re able to keep the credit you topped up by in addition to receiving free internet access and free text messages. Assuming the leftover credit is purely used for making phone calls (calls cost 30p/minute on Dolphin), you’re able to call for 33 minutes using a £10 top-up. ** There’s a fair usage policy for unlimited texts.
For more information, please see our full review of the Orange Dolphin tariff.
Customers who are under 24 can also add the U24 offer to their Orange Dolphin plan. U24 will give you 1GB of extra internet whenever you top-up by £10/month (hence, you’ll get 2GB/month of 3G internet with a £10/month top-up). You also get unlimited calling and texting to other customers on Orange and T-Mobile.
Canary: Free Evening & Weekend Minutes and Texts
Canary is another popular tariff on Orange Pay As You Go. Designed for non-smartphone users, you’ll get free off-peak calling and texting to other UK mobiles. A £10/month top-up will give 100 free minutes for calling UK mobiles (you can use the free minutes on an evening or weekend). You also get 100 evening and weekend text messages or picture messages free with your top-up.
Evenings are defined as 7pm to 7am from Monday to Friday. The weekend is defined as Friday 7pm to Monday 7am.
|Monthly Top-Up||Free Minutes to Mobile
(Evenings & Weekends)
(Evenings & Weekends)
|£10 top-up||100 minutes to any mobile||100 SMS or MMS||£10 (equivalent to 15MB or 33 minutes)|
|£15 top-up||200 minutes to any mobile||200 SMS or MMS||£15 (equivalent to 23MB or 50 minutes)|
|£30 top-up||300 minutes to any mobile||300 SMS or MMS||£30 (equivalent to 46MB or 67 minutes)|
* With Canary, you keep the credit you topped up by in addition to receiving the free evening & weekend allowances. Assuming the leftover credit is purely used for making daytime phone calls (calls cost 30p/minute on Canary), you’d be able to call for 33 minutes using a £10 top-up. Alternatively, you can download 15MB of data on the Orange 3G network.
Smartphone users are strongly advised against choosing the Canary tariff. As there is no mobile internet included with the tariff, you’ll need to pay Orange’s standard rate of 65p/MB for accessing 3G internet. The average smartphone user will consume around 10MB of data per day so you’ll find your credit disappearing incredibly quickly.
Racoon: Flat Rate of 14p/minute & 14p/text
The Racoon tariff doesn’t give you any free allowances: instead, you’re able to benefit from a discounting rate for calling (14p/minute instead of 30p/minute). The minimum call charge is also reduced to 14p per call.
A key downside is more expensive text messages: it’s 14p/text compared to 12p/text on other Pay As You Go tariffs. Users of Racoon will also lose access to Bright Top Ups, Magic Numbers, Reserve Tank and Phone Fund.
Changing Your Animal Plan
If you’d like to find out which tariff you’re on, text PLAN to 450. You can change your Animal tariff at any time by calling 343 from your Orange handset. Alternatively, you can log in to the My EE website.
For most users, upgrading to EE should now provide much better value than changing over to a different Animal tariff. You can upgrade your plan to EE by ordering a free replacement SIM card online (it’s not necessary to have a 4G-ready handset when you upgrade to EE). Read our full review of EE Pay As You Go for more information.
Customers using their phone on a fairly regular basis can add a bundle to their Pay As You Go account (bundles are also known as an ‘Extra’). Rather than paying for airtime on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you can bulk-buy a certain amount of airtime for a fixed price using your Pay As You Go top-up.
Buying a bundle can substantially lower your per-unit rate. For instance, frequent callers could buy the £7.50 monthly bundle which comes with 100 minutes included in the pack. Assuming you use all of the minutes, the average rate is only 7.5p/minute (this compares to 30p/minute when you don’t buy a bundle).
Bundles on Orange can either last for one day, one week or one month. It’s possible to combine the bundles as you please (e.g. you could have separate bundles for calling, texting and browsing). To buy a bundle, simply text the relevant shortcodes listed below to 6620.
Call & Text Bundles
Orange currently offers two bundles for calling and three bundles for texting:
|£1/day call bundle||25||–||–||£1 for a day||Text MINS 1 to 6620|
|£7.50/month call bundle||100||–||–||£7.50 for 30 days||Text MINS 7.5 to 6620|
|£1/day text bundle||–||50||–||£1 for a day||Text TEXTS 1 to 6620|
|£5/week text bundle||–||150||–||£5 for 7 days||Text 150 TEXTS 5 to 6620|
|£7.50/month text bundle||–||Unlimited||–||£7.50 for 30 days||Text TEXTS 7.5 to 6620|
You can combine multiple bundles to match your intended usage. For instance, you could pay £15/month for 100 minutes and unlimited texting (this is through a combination of the £7.50 monthly call bundle and the £7.50 monthly text bundle).
In general, you’ll now get much better value by upgrading to EE’s Pay As You Go service. EE has combined bundles for calling and texting: £1/week will give you 25 minutes and 50 text messages. Meanwhile, a £10/month Talk & Text pack will give you 250 minutes and unlimited texts. This is substantially cheaper than buying equivalent bundles on Orange. On EE, a ‘Free Boost’ loyalty bonus is also added to your account every three months (e.g. 50 extra minutes or 250MB of extra data per month).
|EE Talk & Text Pack||Minutes||Texts||Internet||Price||Get It…|
|£1/week Talk & Text Pack||25||50||–||£1 for 7 days||Upgrade to EE Pay As You Go|
|£10/month Talk & Text Pack||250||Unlimited||–||£10 for 30 days||Upgrade to EE Pay As You Go|
|£15/month Talk & Text Pack||750||Unlimited||–||£15 for 30 days||Upgrade to EE Pay As You Go|
Orange also offers a choice of 3G data bundles for users with a smartphone:
|Data Bundle||Minutes||Texts||Internet||Download Speed||Shortcode|
|£1/day data bundle||–||–||25MB||3G||Text WEB 1 to 6620|
|£3/week data bundle||–||–||100MB||3G||Text WEB WEEK 3 to 6620|
|£7.50/month data bundle||–||–||500MB||3G||Text WEB 7.50 to 6620|
|£12/month data bundle||–||–||1GB||3G||Text WEB 12 to 6620|
As before, most users will now find it much better value to upgrade to EE Pay As You Go. Orange charges £3/week for 100MB of 3G internet. Meanwhile, customers upgrading to EE will get the same amount of data for only £1/week. There’s also 10 minutes and 10 texts included with the bundle on EE and there’s access to 4G if you have a compatible 4G smartphone.
|EE Data Pack||Minutes||Texts||Internet||Download Speed||Get It…|
|£1/week EE Data Pack||10||10||100MB||4G||Upgrade to EE Pay As You Go|
Comparison to Other Networks
Orange generally ranks as a fairly expensive option compared to other Pay As You Go networks. Assuming you’re using a smartphone on the Orange Dolphin tariff, you’ll need to top-up by £10/month to get your free allowance of 400 text messages and 1GB of internet. The £10 of credit remaining on your account will then be sufficient to pay for 33 minutes of calling (calls on Dolphin cost 30p/minute). With a monthly calling bundle, you can increase this up to 108 minutes.
For a better value alternative, we recommend giffgaff’s £10 goodybag. You’ll get the same 1GB monthly download allowance but with many more minutes (500 vs 108) and with unlimited texts also included. giffgaff is part of O2 and has the same level of coverage of its parent network. You can read our full review of giffgaff via this link.
|Network||Monthly Price||Bundle Name||Minutes||Texts||Internet|
|EE||£10/month||£10 Everything Pack||150||Unlimited||500MB|
|EE||£10/month||£10 Talk & Text Pack||250||Unlimited||–|
|O2||£10/month||£10 Big Bundle||100||1,000||500MB|
|Vodafone||£10/month||£10 Freedom Freebee||150||Unlimited||500MB|
* The calculation for Dolphin assumes you top-up by £10 every month. You’ll receive 400 texts and 1GB of internet free with the top-up. The remaining £10 top-up can be converted into a maximum of 108 minutes (100 minutes for the £7.50/month bundle + 8 additional minutes at 30p/minute).
Order giffgaff SIM Card (Free) »
The £10 goodybag comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB internet (coverage from O2).
If you need a new handset, it’s worth knowing that Orange no longer sells handsets directly on their network. You can still buy a Pay As You Go handset via EE’s website but this will come with an EE Pay As You Go SIM card included.
As of February 2015, it’s no longer possible to order an Orange SIM card for use in your current smartphone. If you already have a SIM card from Orange, you’ll still be able to use it in your phone (just be sure to choose a SIM card of the right size).
Orange currently offers 2G and 3G coverage to 99% of the UK’s population. To make sure you’re able to get a service from Orange, please use the online coverage checker provided on EE’s website. Our guide to mobile coverage will tell you what you should be looking for.
4G internet isn’t available to customers on Orange. If you’d like to benefit from the faster download speeds associated with a 4G network, you’ll need to upgrade to EE Pay As You Go. You’ll also need a 4G-ready handset to get the faster speeds (though a 3G-only handset can still be used on EE).
Switching to Orange: Keep Your Current Phone Number
If you’re switching to Orange from another provider, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.
Start by asking your old network to give you a PAC Code (a PAC Code is nine-digits long and authorises Orange to take control of your phone number). It’s a legal requirement for your existing mobile network to provide you with a PAC Code within two hours of your request.
Once you’ve received the PAC Code from your old mobile network and after setting up the SIM card from Orange, enter your PAC Code through this online form. After submitting the PAC Code, your number should normally be transferred on the next working day.
For a step-by-step guide on transferring your phone number to Orange, please select your current mobile network:
|PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Orange|
You can find out more using the Orange help pages on EE’s website.
It’s no longer possible for new customers to join the Orange network. For existing customers who are already on Orange, we now recommend upgrading to EE. You can order a free EE Pay As You Go SIM card here.
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.