Three Essential and Advanced Price Plans: Review & Comparison
November 4th, 2016
Three offers lower-cost Essential price plans without Feel At Home roaming or a personal hotspot allowance. Find out how it compares to Three’s Advanced price plans.
Three has split their Pay Monthly line-up into two types of price plan. There’s now the lower-cost Essential price plans which come without Feel At Home roaming and without a personal hotspot allowance.
For a more fully-featured offering, Advanced price plans remain on sale with inclusive roaming in 42 countries and the ability to tether at no extra charge. Advanced price plans also include free calls to customer service, and larger data allowances are available including all-you-can-eat data.
In this article, we’ll review the new Essential price plans and we’ll see how they compare to Advanced price plans. We’ll also discuss the range of add-ons available for Three’s Essential price plans (for instance, in case you wanted to use personal hotspot).
Essential VS Advanced Plans
Three has split their Pay Monthly line-up into two types of price plan.
For customers looking to save a bit of money, they’re now offering lower-cost plans called Essential price plans. Typically costing about £2/month less, they’re designed for customers who according to Three aren’t “always on holiday, using their phone as a hotspot or constantly calling customer services”. As such, Essential price plans come without Feel At Home roaming, inclusive personal hotspot and unlimited free calls to customer service (however, you can still use your inclusive minutes for the latter).
Existing fully-featured price plans are now referred to as Advanced price plans, and start from £8/month on a SIM-only deal. As before, they continue to include Feel At Home roaming, a personal hotspot allowance and free calls to customer service. They also have a wider choice of available data plans, including all-you-can-eat data for worry-free usage.
|Feel At Home (free intl roaming)||✘ No||✔ Yes, in 42 countries|
|Tethering & personal hotspot||✘ No, requires £5/month add-on||✔ Yes, using your data allowance*|
|Free calls to customer service (333)||✘ No, uses your inclusive minutes||✔ Yes|
|Data Allowance||500MB to 12GB||500MB to all-you-can-eat|
|Pay Monthly (24-month CHS)||From £16/month||From £18/month|
|SIM Only (12-month SIM)||From £6/month||From £8/month|
|SIM Only (1-month SIM)||From £9/month||From £11/month|
* On Advanced price plans with all-you-can-eat data, a separate 30GB allowance is provided for tethering and portable hotspot.
On Essential price plans, phone calls to customer service on 333 will come out of the inclusive minutes on your plan. For most people, this shouldn’t make a major difference as long as you have enough minutes remaining on your plan. If you’ve run out of minutes, you’ll pay the normal out-of-allowance rate of 35p/minute to call customer services.
Essential price plans are also sometimes split into two different categories: “Essential CHS” and “Essential SIM”. Essential CHS refers to 24-month Essential contracts where you get a new handset. Meanwhile, Essential SIM refers to the 12-month and 30-day contracts where you keep your current smartphone.
Three has a Feel At Home offer for customers on an Advanced price plan. With the offer, customers can use their smartphone abroad in 42 countries at no additional charge. Feel At Home currently covers the entirety of Europe, as well as the US, Australia and numerous other countries.
If you choose an Essential price plan, you won’t have access to the Feel At Home offer. Instead, you’ll need to pay Three’s international roaming rates:
- Within the EU: 3.9p/minute to make a phone call, 0.9p/minute to receive a phone call, 1.6p to send a text message and 3.9p/MB to use data on your phone.
- Outside the EU: This can vary greatly so you’re advised to double-check. Can be up to £3/minute, 50p/text and £6/MB.
On the 15th July 2017, all UK mobile networks will be legally obliged to scrap roaming charges for travel in the EU. This means customers on an Essential price plan will need to wait until July 2017 for EU roaming charges to be removed.
For more information, please see our full review of the Feel At Home offer.
Tethering & Personal Hotspot
Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with another device (e.g. with your laptop or tablet).
On Essential price plans, the use of tethering is not included in your tariff. If you’d like to tether from your smartphone when using an Essential price plan, you’ll need to buy a personal hotspot add-on. These add-ons start from £5/month for a 1GB personal hotspot allowance:
|Tethering Allowance||Monthly Cost|
You can buy a personal hotspot add-on by logging in to your My3 account or by calling Three Customer Services on 333. Depending on how often you’d like to tether from your plan, it may be better value to upgrade to an Advanced price plan instead.
On Advanced price plans, tethering is included in your plan at no extra charge. Your tethering or personal hotspot usage will simply come out of your inclusive data allowance (except customers with all-you-can-eat data who get a separate 30GB allowance for tethering and portable hotspot).
For more information, please see our article on the UK’s best value tariffs for tethering.
In general, you can save about £2/month by choosing an Essential SIM card over the equivalent Advanced SIM card. The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of Three’s SIM-only deals:
|Essential SIM Only Plans
|Advanced SIM Only Plans|
At present, Essential SIM cards only include up to 8GB of data per month. With an Advanced SIM card, larger data allowances are also available including 12GB per month, 30GB per month and all-you-can-eat data. For a complete list of Advanced SIM-only deals, please see the full list on Three’s website.
Essential CHS (Pay Monthly)
If you’re buying a new handset on a 24-month contract, you can normally save even more money by choosing an Essential CHS price plan.
As an example, the following table shows a comparison of Essential and Advanced price plans for the iPhone 7:
Essential CHS price plans include up to 12GB of data per month. You’ll need to choose an Advanced price plan if you’d like more data (e.g. either 30GB per month or all-you-can-eat data).
For more information, please see the Three website for a full list of available handsets and tariffs.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re joining Three as a new customer, it’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number.
When the new phone or SIM card arrives, you’ll need to fill out this form on Three’s website. After you submit your PAC Code, Three will schedule the transfer of your phone number (normally for the next working day). In the meantime, you’ll continue receiving a service from your old network.
For step-by-step instructions on transferring a phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network:
|PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Three|
For more information on transferring your phone number between networks, please see our guide to using a PAC Code.
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.