Three offers Pay As You Go rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB with optional All-in-One bundles from £10/month.
In the UK, customers on Three Pay As You Go can use their handset for just 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. Alternatively, customers who use their handset fairly regularly can buy a 30-day All-in-One bundle (e.g. £10/month for 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB of internet). Allowances can be used in the UK and in 60 other destinations through the Feel At Home offer.
In this article, we’ll review Three’s Pay As You Go service. We’ll start by looking at their pricing, including both on the basic 321 tariff and on the 30-day bundles. We’ll then compare Three to rival Pay As You Go mobile networks, before looking at handset availability, coverage and how you can keep your existing phone number.
- 1 Pricing & Tariffs
- 2 Comparison to Alternatives
- 3 Handsets
- 4 Coverage
- 5 Keeping Your Phone Number
- 6 More Information
Pricing & Tariffs
There are two ways of paying for your usage on Three Pay As You Go:
- 321 Pay As You Go Rates: Traditional Pay As You Go with no need to top-up every month. You’ll pay 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.
- All-in-One Bundles: Convert your credit into a 30-day bundle allowance. Bundles start from £10/month for 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB of internet.
Pay As You Go Rates
If you’re a fairly light mobile user, the best way of paying for your usage is at Three’s standard Pay As You Go rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.
If you’re using standard 321 rates, there’s no need to top-up every month. Your credit will also never expire providing your account remains active (you just need to use your SIM card for a chargeable activity at least once every six months).
The following table shows Three’s standard rates on Pay As You Go:
|Voice Calls||3p/minute (any network, any time)|
|Calls to Voicemail||3p/minute|
|Calls to Special Rate Numbers||45p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
|Text Message (SMS)||2p|
|Picture Message (MMS)||40p|
Three’s 321 tariff is amongst the lowest in the industry, being beaten only by 1pMobile which charges 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB (with coverage from EE).
Prior to May 2017, customers would receive 150MB of free data every time they topped up. This offer is no longer available with new Pay As You Go top-ups. However, an alternative offer exists in the form of the Data Reward SIM card which gives you 200MB of free data every month (the disadvantage is you won’t be able to buy an All-in-One bundle on the Data Reward SIM card).
For customers who use their phone on a fairly regular basis (which includes the majority of customers using a smartphone), it will typically be cheaper to convert your Pay As You Go credit into an All-in-One bundle.
All-in-One bundles will give you an allowance of data, along with 3000 minutes and 3000 texts to use over the next 30 days. For instance, the £10 All-in-One bundle gives you 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB of internet. In itself, the 1GB data allowance is worth £10 at standard Pay As You Go rates – you’ll then get the 3000 minutes and 3000 texts at no additional charge.
The following table shows All-in-One bundles currently available from Three:
The main disadvantage of buying an All-in-One bundle is your allowances will only last for up to 30 days. Any unused allowances will expire with the bundle at the end of the 30 days (for this reason, light users may be better off on standard 321 rates).
Feel At Home
For customers on Three’s Pay As You Go service, a key benefit is being able to use your phone abroad in 60 destinations at no extra charge. The Feel At Home offer covers your usage in most European countries, the USA, Australia and more.
For customers who occasionally travel abroad to other countries, this makes Three a great choice. You can use the SIM card to stay in touch with friends and family whilst travelling, and you can continue using your favourite applications like social media, messaging and maps.
To get the best value when travelling abroad, we recommend buying either the All-in-One 15 or All-in-One 20 bundle. On bundles costing £20 or more, you can use up to 9GB of your data each month in a Feel At Home country.
Comparison to Alternatives
In the following section, we’ll compare Three’s Pay As You Go pricing to what is offered on rival mobile networks.
Pay As You Go Pricing
For light users on traditional Pay As You Go, Three charges 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. This makes them one of the cheapest mobile networks for traditional Pay As You Go.
Three’s 321 rates are bested only by 1pMobile who charge 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. 1pMobile uses coverage from EE and requires you to top-up your phone once every 120 days.
The following table shows a comparison of per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte rates:
|Network||Calls (per minute)||Texts (per SMS)||Data (per MB)|
|Vodafone||30p/minute||14p/text||£2/day for 50MB|
For more information, please see our full comparison of Pay As You Go rates.
£5 per month bundles
Unfortunately, Three doesn’t currently offer any All-in-One bundles costing £5/month. If you’d like a Pay As You Go bundle costing £5/month, your options would currently be to get a bundle from ASDA Mobile, EE, giffgaff or Vodafone.
ASDA Mobile is our recommended network for the majority of people around this price point. You can get 125 minutes, 2000 texts and 200MB of data for £5/month. Alternatively, there’s 300 minutes, 2000 texts and 1GB of internet for £7/month. For someone requiring 1GB of data per month, ASDA’s £7 bundle can save you £3/month compared to Three’s All-in-One 10. ASDA Mobile provides 2G, 3G and 4G coverage from EE.
The following bundles are available for £5/month:
The following bundles are available for £7/month:
£10 per month bundles
For £10/month, Three offers the All-in-One 10 bundle with 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB of internet.
For the same price of £10/month, you can get a larger data allowance on rival mobile networks.
At present, our recommended deal is the £10 bundle from ASDA Mobile. This gives you 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet (this is twice as much data as you’d get on Three’s All-in-One bundle). ASDA Mobile makes use of 2G, 3G & 4G coverage from EE.
Alternatively, giffgaff has a £10 goodybag with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet using coverage from the O2 network.
£15 per month bundles
For £15/month, Three currently offers 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and 5GB of 4G internet.
The same amount of data but with fewer minutes is also available for £15/month on giffgaff and ASDA Mobile. We’d recommend also investigating both of these as an alternative (e.g. they might provide better coverage in your area, or support features like tethering which is not available on Three).
£20 per month bundles
Three has a £20/month All-in-One bundle with 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and 12GB of internet.
For the same monthly price, giffgaff offers a £20 goodybag with 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and always-on data. This gives you unlimited downloads with 4G internet and tethering on the first 6GB per month.
For a more detailed comparison, please see our in-depth article on Pay As You Go bundles.
If you’d like to buy a new handset directly from Three, there are currently about 30 handsets you can choose from on the Three website.
If you’d like to order a free Pay As You Go SIM card, you’ll need to provide your own handset to use with the service. This can either be your existing unlocked smartphone or you can buy a new SIM-free handset from a range of online retailers (our current recommendation is to buy a Moto G).
If you’re providing your own handset to use on the Three network, you’ll need to make sure it’s at least 3G-compatible. It’s not possible to use a 2G-only handset on the Three network.
3G & 4G Coverage
In the UK, Three offers 97% population coverage on 3G and 4G.
Before joining Three’s Pay As You Go service, we strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on Three’s online coverage map.
Unfortunately, Three does not provide any 2G coverage. For this reason, if you’re using a 2G-only handset, you won’t be able to receive any coverage from Three. Instead, you should consider an alternative network that also provides 2G coverage. At present, our recommendation is ASDA Mobile (they charge 8p/minute and 4p/text, and have 99% population coverage from EE).
For more information about the coverage on different mobile networks, please see our in-depth guide to mobile phone coverage in the UK.
Tethering & Personal Hotspot
Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (for instance, with your laptop or tablet).
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tether on Three Pay As You Go. This is stated in their Pay As You Go terms and conditions:
Use your SIM in your 3G smartphone only.
When using data, tethering a phone to a laptop for internet use, using the SIM in a Mobile Broadband Device or using hotspot functionality is not included.
If you’d like to tether or use personal hotspot on Three, you’ll need a Pay Monthly Advanced price plan. Alternatively, you can choose another Pay As You Go network that allows you to tether. For more information, see our full guide to tethering on UK mobile networks.
On Three, international roaming is enabled automatically for all customers on Pay As You Go.
For customers visiting one of 60 destinations (including most of Europe, the USA and Australia), it’s possible to use your SIM card abroad at no extra cost through the Feel At Home offer. For more information, find out about international coverage on the Feel At Home offer.
If you’re visiting a country that’s not covered by the Feel At Home offer, additional charges may apply for your usage when abroad. Please see the Three website for full details about their international coverage.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re joining Three Pay As You Go from another mobile network, it’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number.
Once you’ve ordered your Pay As You Go SIM card from Three, you should contact your old mobile network to ask for a PAC Code. This will authorise the transfer of your phone number to Three. Your old mobile network must provide a PAC Code free of charge within two hours of your request.
When your new SIM card arrives from Three, you can fill out this form on Three’s website. After you submit your PAC Code, your phone number transfer will be scheduled by Three, normally for the next working day.
For step-by-step instructions on transferring a phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:
For more information about transferring a phone number between mobile networks, please see our guide to using a PAC Code.
For more information about Three’s Pay As You Go service, please see their official website.