Three’s 321: The UK’s Cheapest PAYG Tariff at 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB

September 9th, 2015

Three currently has the cheapest Pay As You Go tariff in the UK at 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. Regular users can save even more with an All-in-One bundle from £10/month.

Three 321 Pay As You GoIn the UK, Three has the cheapest Pay As You Go tariff currently available. On their 321 SIM card, calls are 3p per minute, texts are 2p each and mobile internet is 1p per megabyte. There’s also 150MB of free mobile internet every time you top-up your SIM card.

A notable feature of the tariff is the low rates you’re able to access without buying a monthly bundle. It’s the ideal option for light and occasional users: there’s no standing charge and you only pay for the airtime you actually use. Your credit also doesn’t expire but you’ll need to keep the SIM card active by using it once every 6 months. For regular users, an All-in-One bundle can offer even better value. It also allows you to benefit from the Feel At Home offer.

In this article, we’ll review the Pay As You Go service from Three. We’ll look at how the service compares to that on rival networks including EE, giffgaff, O2 and Vodafone. We’ll also look at coverage on the network and how you can keep an existing phone number when moving to Three.

Bundles & Prices

Pay As You Go Pricing

Top UpIn the UK, Three currently has the lowest Pay As You Go rates of any network. A standard UK phone call will cost 3p/minute, UK text messages cost 2p each and accessing the mobile internet costs you 1p/MB.

With every top-up of £5 or more, you’ll get a 30-day data allowance of 150MB for free.

Calling Rates:
Voice Calls 3p/minute (any network, any time)
Calls to Voicemail 3p/minute
Calls to Special Rate Numbers 25p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
Messaging Rates:
Text Message (SMS) 2p
Picture Message (MMS) 17p
Video Message 17p
Internet Rates:
Mobile Internet 1p/MB
Free Allowance 150MB free allowance (valid for 30 days)

The prices in this table are stated for UK-to-UK only. If you’re roaming, making international calls or calling a special number (e.g. 08 & 09 numbers) higher charges will normally apply. Source for pricing information:

Most other mainstream UK networks currently charge about 30p/minute and 12p/text (see our full comparison of Pay As You Go rates in the UK).

On Three, your Pay As You Go credit doesn’t expire. However, you’ll need to use the SIM card for a chargeable activity at least once every six months to keep it active. This is stated in clause 9.1(h) of the terms and conditions.

Charges For Using Mobile Data

At 1p per megabyte, you can expect to pay approximately the following when using your smartphone on a mobile internet connection:

Activity Approximate Cost
Email & WhatsApp: Send 1,000 instant messages or e-mails (no attachments) 3p
Music: Downloading a single MP3 5p
Skype Voice: Making a 15 minute voice call on Skype 9p
Apps: Downloading or updating an application 13p
Web Surfing: Browsing the internet for an hour 35p
Skype Video: Making a 15 minute video call on Skype 60p
Online Radio: Listening to an hour of online radio 60p
Online Video: Watching 15 minutes of online video £1.25

Calculations are based on a price of 1p per megabyte. See the article here for more information and for the data usage rates we’ve assumed in this table.

You won’t be charged for any data usage when connected to wi-fi. For more information, please see our in-depth article on mobile data usage.

All in One Bundles

Three Make It Right SIM CardAs well as having the basic 321 pricing, Three also has the option of a Pay As You Go bundle. With a bundle, you convert a certain amount of your Pay As You Go credit into a 30-day allowance of calls, texts and internet.

The major benefit of choosing a Pay As You Go bundle is you get a discounted rate on your airtime. For instance, the All-in-One 10 bundle comes with 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB of internet. At normal 321 rates, this would cost you up to £68 (whereas the bundle is fixed in price at £10 for 30 days).

The downside of choosing an All-in-One bundle is that your allowances will last for a maximum of 30 days. For this reason, light and occasional users may prefer staying on normal Pay As You Go rates (with the 321 rates, you only pay for what you actually use).


The All-in-One bundles are in direct competition with EE’s Everything Packs, giffgaff’s Goodybags, O2’s Big Bundles and Vodafone’s Big Value Bundles.

Feel At Home

Park Guell

With Feel At Home, you can use your smartphone abroad in countries such as Spain at no extra charge.

A notable feature of Three’s Pay As You Go service is their Feel At Home offer for customers with an All-in-One bundle.

With Feel At Home, you can use your smartphone abroad at no extra charge in 18 other countries (the full list of countries includes Spain, the USA, Italy, France, Australia, the Republic of Ireland and 12 other countries).

If you’d like to use the Feel At Home offer on Pay As You Go, it’s best to buy a one-off bundle before leaving the UK (the All-in-One bundle will last for 30 days). Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to use the Feel At Home offer on normal 321 rates (this is because you won’t have any inclusive allowances to actually use abroad).

For more information, please see our full review of the Feel At Home offer. If you’re joining Three as a new customer, you can order a SIM card with the All-in-One bundle preloaded.

Comparison To Alternatives

Three Pay As You Go Pug

The 321 tariff is a good value option for light and occasional users.

In general, Three is a good option for light and occasional users (they have the lowest per-minute and per-text rates in the UK). For regular users, a better value deal can normally be found on other networks (e.g. with a giffgaff goodybag).

Pay As You Go Pricing

With their basic Pay As You Go pricing, Three currently has the lowest rates in the industry at just 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

In the following table, we compare these rates against rival mobile networks:

Network Calls (per minute) Texts (per SMS) Data (per MB)
Three 3p/minute 2p/text 1p/MB
ASDA Mobile 8p/minute 4p/text 5p/MB
giffgaff 10p/minute 6p/text 20p/day for 20MB
Tesco Mobile 25p/minute 25p/text 10p/MB
EE 30p/minute 12p/text
O2 30p/minute 14p/text £1/day for 50MB
Vodafone 30p/minute 14p/text £2/day for 50MB

For more information, please see our full comparison of Pay As You Go rates.

£10 per month bundles

10 Pound NoteFor £10/month, the All-in-One 10 bundle from Three has 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB of internet.

For the same monthly price, better value options are available on other networks. Our recommended deal is the £10 goodybag from giffgaff which gives you 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of 4G internet. ASDA Mobile can alternatively give you 600 minutes and 1GB of 3G internet.

ASDA Mobile600Unlimited1GB£10.00

£20 per month bundles

20 Pound NoteFor £20/month, Three has an All-in-One 20 bundle with 300 minutes, 3000 texts and all-you-can-eat data (unlimited internet at 4G speeds but with no support for tethering).

For the same monthly price, giffgaff has a £20 goodybag with 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and always-on data (unlimited downloads but only the first 6GB/month are at 4G speeds with support for tethering).

ASDA Mobile2,000Unlimited4GB£20.00

For a more detailed comparison, see our in-depth article on Pay As You Go bundles.


Moto G 3rd Generation

The Moto G 3rd Generation is our recommended handset to use on Three Pay As You Go.

There are two ways of joining Three Pay As You Go. If you’d like to buy a new smartphone to use on Three, you can order one directly from their website (prices currently start at £29.99). If you’re happy to keep your current smartphone, you can instead order a Three Pay As You Go SIM card.

If you’re looking to buy a new smartphone from Three, popular choices currently include:

If you’re looking to use an existing smartphone on Three, make sure it’s unlocked for use on any network. For more information, you can see our in-depth guides to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy. When ordering your SIM card, you should also take care to choose the right size of SIM card (either Standard SIM, Micro SIM or Nano SIM depending on your handset).


3G and 4G coverage

Three Coverage

Three has 97% population coverage across the UK.

Three currently offers 97% population coverage across the UK. This comes in the form of 3G and 4G coverage.

Before joining the Three network, we strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on Three’s website:

Check Three Coverage ( »

We would only recommend joining Three if you’re able to get “indoor & outdoor coverage”. Please note that unlike other network operators, Three doesn’t provide any legacy 2G coverage. For this reason, you can’t use a 2G-only handset on Three (at the very least, your handset will need to work on 3G networks).

Tethering & Personal Hotspot


Unfortunately, tethering is not permitted on Three Pay As You Go.

Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your mobile internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet). Unfortunately, tethering is not permitted for Pay As You Go customers on Three. From their Pay As You Go terms & conditions:

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 from your smartphone, you should instead choose a Pay Monthly SIM card from Three (they start in price from only £8/month).

For more information, please see our in-depth guide on the best tariffs for tethering in the UK.

Wi-Fi on the London Underground

London Underground

Customers on Three Pay As You Go get free access to wi-fi on the Underground.

For Pay As You Go customers on Three, there’s free access to wi-fi on the Underground (this would normally cost you £15/month if you were to buy access directly from Virgin Media). The only requirement for receiving free wi-fi is you must have used the SIM card in the past 30 days (this means either making a phone call, sending a text message or accessing the mobile internet).

To set up wi-fi access on the Underground, you should log in to your My3 Account whilst still above ground. Here, you can register for a login through the ‘Wi-Fi on London Underground’ section. It can take up to 48 hours for your access to be added. When completed, you’ll be able to log in to the ‘Virgin Media WiFi’ network.

Switching to Three: Keep Your Existing Phone Number

Transfer Phone Number to Three

Customers on another mobile network can easily bring their phone number over to Three.

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

To start with, you’ll need to ask your old network to issue you with a PAC Code.

When your new phone or SIM card arrives from Three, you can enter your PAC Code here on Three’s website. After you do so, Three will schedule the transfer of your phone number (normally for the next working day). In the meantime, you’ll continue to receive service on your old network. You should try to use up any remaining credit on your old mobile network before the transfer takes place.

For step-by-step instructions on moving your phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Three

Your current network provider:

  More Options

More Information

For more information on Three’s Pay As You Go service, please see their official website. You can also order a Pay As You Go SIM card from their website.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 70 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Jim Towns said:

    Wow, just what I was looking for. You da man, Ken!

  2. Leigh James said:

    really informative, thanks :)

    Can I ask a question that I can’t seem to find the answer to? I just wondered what the price is when calling a three mobile PAYG phone from a landline. This information seems much harder to come by.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Leigh,
      Thanks for your comment. The cost is set by your landline provider so it really depends on which company you’re using for your landline. It may also depends on the time of day you’re calling (e.g. whether it’s an evening or weekend).
      The cost of calling a mobile phone from your landline will normally be the same regardless of which mobile network it’s on (i.e. calling a customer on Three Pay As You Go will cost the same as calling a customer on EE, O2 or Vodafone).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Leigh James replied:

        Thanks Ken. I understand this well now.

        Thanks again,

  3. Chris said:

    I don’t understand this deal, seems like terrible value compared to a normal contract.

    I use typically 1gb of data and 300mins a month

    1gb = £10
    300 min = £9.00

    Total £19

    At the moment I am on 4gb and 600 mins allowance rolling contract with Three for that amount a month.

    Which is a much much better deal.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment – agreed that the 321 deal isn’t very good for moderate to heavy users (a SIM-only contract will almost always work out to be better value). I think the 321 tariff is a good choice for light users & people who mainly use their phones in an emergency (e.g. if you were to use less than 200 minutes per month and less than 500MB of data).

  4. bubo said:

    Is the data still 1p/mb when using 4G data on an iPhone? Thanks.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Bubo,
      Yep – it’s still 1p/MB when using 4G internet on Three!

  5. Russ said:

    I have a contract ending in a few days (don’t use it much). I am thinking about 321 as an option, but before I do it I was hoping you could answer a question about if it would work while I’m on holiday in Holland and Germany. Maybe I wouldn’t need to use it for phoning out (but if I did, do the same rates apply?) and would people be able to contact me as normal?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Russ,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the 321 rates do not apply when you’re abroad in other countries. In Holland & Germany, you’ll pay 16.6p/minute for outgoing calls and 4.4p/minute for incoming calls. For more information, see the pages on Holland and Germany.
      Hope this helps,

  6. SID said:

    Hi. Am currently on a Virgin contract and quite frankly am paying too much for the small amount of use that I make of the phone and considering going back to PAYG. However, it is a toss up between Three’s 321 and Giffgaff. Prices lean towards 321 but with Giffgaff, I do like the (1) the balance notification after every call/message sent and (2) that you can have an auto top up set so that similar to Oyster cards, when you get down to £3, the system automatically tops up the balance.

    Does Three’s 321 do the same?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      Unfortunately, I don’t think Three has an auto top-up feature (you can read more about their top-up options on this page). The good news, however, is you can register a debit or credit card – it’s then simply a matter of calling 444 and following the options to top-up your handset.

  7. Dennis Tate said:

    Great prices from 3 payg plans.
    Wife is off to Spain with grand daughter, got her the 100 mins bundle for £10 so she can use the feel at home plan to ring me in the UK.
    I’ve bought the 321 bundle,to talk and text her.
    It will only cost me 3p a minute to talk to her and 2p a text while she is in Spain. What a bargain compared to my own network Virgin. For me to call on this it’s around 90p a minute. Well done 3 network.

  8. Nao52 said:

    I have been on 3 payg for some time now. On the face if it, it is exceptional value. However my big gripe is that I cannot check number of texts sent or cost of calls made, unless I keep a personal log or check my balance after every call. My credit seems to run out more quickly than I would expect as a very low user and I cannot confirm where the credit has been used. How do I know I have actually used it ?
    My husband is on Virgin payg (more expensive I know) and can instantly see every text/call when he logs into his account . Surely this is a basic service that 3 should be providing ?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      Yes, unfortunately, I don’t think Three provides an itemised bill on their Pay As You Go service :( Have you tried contacting Three Customer Services on 333? It’s possible they might be able to get this information for you.

  9. Kelvin said:

    Hi Ken,

    Your advice re tethering for PAYG customers now seems to be out-of-date (according to your own link). Data, whether used via tethering or the phone itself, is charged at 1p/MB and requires no add-on.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kelvin,
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry, I wasn’t able to find the link where it says tethering is now permitted on Pay As You Go tariffs. According to Three’s help article (Personal Hotspot on your phone): “Our [Three] Pay As You Go plans don’t allow you to use Personal Hotspot”. Do let me know if there’s something I’ve missed!

  10. Angus Day said:

    Does the 321 tariff allow viewing of Youtube videos?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Angus,
      Yep – it shouldn’t be a problem watching YouTube on Three Pay As You Go. You’ll need a sufficiently fast connection (ideally, at least 500Kbps). Also, please be aware that charges can add up quickly due to large amounts of data consumption.

  11. Mel Hutson said:

    I am thinking of getting a 321 SIM card. I am a fairly light user, mainly a few texts and phone calls here and there.
    I would like to keep my mobile number. One of the reasons (apart from their charges) for wanting to leave my current provider is that I cannot access my account to change my direct debit details over to my new bank.
    Their system lets me look at my bill but not interact in any way; I go round and round in circles where they tell me my password is wrong.
    Anyway, my problem is that I cannot get access to get a PAC Code either. Any ideas?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mel,
      Thanks for your comment. I know this won’t be particularly helpful as a response but the thing to do would unfortunately be to gain access to your account somehow (find out what your network requires e.g. could you present proof of your ID in their store?). The security check is an important mechanism built in to requesting a PAC Code – it ensures that no one else is able to steal your phone number. You’ll need to re-gain access to your account before you’re able to request a PAC Code from the network.

  12. Andy K said:

    Hi Ken,
    I’m thinking of getting a three 321 sim as I am a fairly light user.

    However, I also travel a lot in France and Italy, so am interested in the ‘feel at home’ feature.

    In earlier responses, you warn that data while abroad is at 10p/mb rather than the normal 1p. This doesn’t appear to tie up with the website which claims ‘don’t pay a penny more’.

    Have they changed the deal now or have I missed some small print.?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your comment. It is possible to use the Feel At Home offer on Three Pay As You Go. However, you can’t do this at the normal 321 rates: you’ll need to buy a Pay As You Go add-on. There’s more information over on this page. The reasoning behind this: Feel At Home allows you to use UK allowances abroad in another country. However, with 321, there’s no inclusive allowances for you to actually use abroad. This is why you need to buy an All-in-one bundle – so you’ll actually have allowances to use when you’re abroad.
      Hope this helps in answering your question!

  13. peteypablo said:

    Ken I wanted to ask with the add on allowances from three ie the 15 pounds 300 mins unlimited data 3000 texts option, am I right in thinking the 300 mins isn’t actually 300 mins and is just 300 calling units rounded to the nearest min?

    If I make 300 1 second calls that is my whole allowance gone?

    I find this really bad and ofcom should do something about it as it is not really ‘300’ mins.

    Does this apply to pay monthly or sim only or are they charged per second?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      Great question! You’re right: Three uses per-minute billing on their Pay As You Go tariff. This means the length of all phone calls is rounded up to a full minute before it’s taken from your allowance. You can see this in the small print on page 2 of Three’s Pay As You Go price guide.
      On Pay Monthly, calls are charged on a per-second basis but with a minimum length of 1 minute per call. You can see this on the final page of Three’s Pay Monthly price guide.
      Hope this helps,

  14. James said:

    Ken me and my wife bought 2 Sony Experia phones in northern Ireland (uk)we put the 321 sims in. Topped up €20 and bought the £10 add on,when we went over the border to the republic of Ireland,we couldn’t phone each other,though we could text and call our republic landline,now we have two phones that can’t call each other? What should we do.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment. With the Feel At Home offer, you should be able to call and text each other totally free of charge. It’s a little strange you aren’t able to do this in the Republic of Ireland. I would, however, just double-check you’ve input each other’s number with a preceding +44 at the start (e.g. 07123 456 789 should be saved in your phone as +44 7123 456 789). Some mobile networks get a little confused when you don’t have this prefix and when you’re travelling abroad. If this still doesn’t help, your best bet would probably be to call Three customer services on 333 (free).
      Hope this helps,

  15. Stephen said:

    Hi Ken

    I have a question regarding calculation of data usage. Do you know whether uses Kb or Mb as the minimum usage? In other countries, you may use only a few Kb but there is a minimum charge based on 1 Mb each time there is a data connection. So if there are apps running in the background you could chalk up a lot of Mb even if it is a few Kb each connection.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for your comment. There’s no minimum per-connection charge: you simply pay 1p when your usage adds up to 1MB in total. For more information, take a look at this comment from Judy and the discussion that follows her initial comment.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Stephen replied:

        Thanks Ken

  16. stephanie said:

    I went into my nearest 3 phone store to enquire about the sim card for 321 price plan and was told they would give me a 16 digit number and I would have to top up in their store? Would this be every time I want to top up? Can I not go to any shop that does phone top ups and punch in the digit numbers like I currently do with vodaphone? The price plan sounds enticing but not sure if I fancy the inconvenience of having to go into town every time I want to top up. Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for your comment. Three gives you a plastic swipe card the size of a credit card: the card has a 16-digit number on the front: you can use it to top up your phone easily. There’s no need to remember the 16-digit number – indeed, you don’t even need to use it to top up your phone. You can top up in the same way you did at Vodafone (e.g. online, at the supermarket, at a bank ATM, etc).
      Hope this helps!

      1. steph replied:

        hi ken, Thanks for your reply but I’m sorry little confused, with my previous phone I could go into any shop and as for a top up and they would give me a voucher and I would tap in the digits myself, I don’t want to top up online, or with a credit card, I would like to pay by cash. Can I still pay by cash?, and do I have to specify that I want to top up with the 321 plan or do I just swipe the plastic card and pay cash. Thanks

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Steph,
          Yep – you’re still able to top up a phone using vouchers on Three. See this help article for more information. The benefit of using a plastic card is simply that the top-up will happen automatically (you don’t need to faff around with codes). Voucher top-ups start from £10 per time.
          Hope this helps!

  17. Rikki said:

    Hi Ken, a couple of questions:

    Does it cost money to browse the internet using your own wifi? So for example if I wanted to search something up on Google, will that affect my data allowance of 1p/mb?

    Also, will it cost money to use applications such as Instagram and Facebook if you use your wifi. For example, if you wanted to browse a little bit on Instagram, will that affect my data allowance of 1p/mb.

    Kind Regards,


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Rikki,
      Thanks for your comment. Any data used when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network will not be charged by your mobile network operator (in fact, it bypasses your network operator entirely and they won’t even know you’re accessing the internet). The same principle applies regardless of what you’re doing on the internet (browsing, Facebook, Instagram, etc are all free when connected to Wi-Fi). Hope this helps!

  18. maargaret said:

    do these sims come with the option to switch to your own wifi please

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Margaret,
      You can indeed switch to using wi-fi (you’re only charged when using the mobile internet… using your home wi-fi is free on the tariff). By the way, this is true of any UK Pay As You Go tariff (they’ll all allow you to switch to using wi-fi).
      Hope this helps,

  19. Annie_p said:

    Hi Ken….I have an iphone4s contract ended with 02 on 20th Dec ’14….I want to go on PAYG….As I’m retired I’m mostly in the home pull most of my data from my Internet provider….I rarely use texts using mostly Facebook Messenger…..neither would I use the phone too much for phone calls except when I’m out of the home……This Three 123 sounds ideal for me …..would you agree……please…..

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Annie,
      Definitely agreed that the 321 SIM card could be a good choice based on your usage (if you need information about transferring your phone number from O2 to Three, you can see this article I prepared earlier). The only other network I might also consider is giffgaff (10p/minute, 6p/text and 20p/day for 20MB of internet). They’re slightly more expensive compared to Three but you get to keep the same level of coverage as you have on O2 (so no difference to what you’re getting currently). You can order a free SIM card via this link.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Annie_p replied:

        Thank you for your reply Ken….I’m definately give this Three 321 a go…

  20. saba said:

    Hi can I ask if the £5 three to three minutes only plan still available ask I cannot see it online

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Saba,
      Yep – it’s still possible to get 300 Three-to-Three minutes as a £5/month add-on on Pay As You Go. Full details of the bundle can be seen on page 4 of the Three Pay As You Go price guide. You can buy the add-on by logging in to the My3 website (or you can visit from your smartphone web browser when connected to 3G).
      Hope this helps!

  21. Hon said:

    Hello, Im planning to join Three on your 321 PAYG. But could you answer a few questions for me first:

    -does the first top up still has to be £10 minimum?
    -do I still get the 150MB free data and does it expire in 30 days after the top up?
    -if I travel to Hong Kong (which is a “Feel At Home” destination) do I need to make some settings on my phone or call some numbers for it to work or does it work straight away when I arrive in Hong Kong?
    -if I do get the 150MB of free data every time I top up would they be usable in Hong Kong or is it UK only?

    Also I am from the UK and when I plan to go to Hong Kong I will be using my 321 PAYG sim, I know it is free to receive calls but how are the callers charged if they phone me, and what numbers do they need to dial? So if people call me from the UK do they need to pay extra to phone me and do they just call me like they would from the UK or do they need to add 00852 to it? Also do the people in Hong Kong need to pay extra charges to phone me when I am in Hong Kong as well, and do they just dial my UK number or do they need to add 00852 to it?

    Thank you very much and sorry if it is a bit confusing.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Hon,
      Thank you for your questions about the 321 tariff. I’ll answer each of them in order:

      Does the first top up still have to be £10 minimum?
      Yes, the first top-up must be £10 or more. Subsequent top-ups have only a £5 minimum if you use a debit/credit card and buy the top-up via Three’s website. Through all other channels (e.g. buying a voucher in-store), the minimum top-up is £10 at all times.

      Do I still get the 150MB free data and does it expire in 30 days after the top up?
      Yep, you still get 150MB of free data whenever you top-up. This will expire after 30 days (you would then pay 1p/MB for all further usage).

      If I travel to Hong Kong (which is a Feel At Home destination) do I need to make some settings on my phone or call some numbers for it to work or does it work straight away when I arrive in Hong Kong?
      You’ll be opted in to ‘Feel At Home’ automatically (there’s no need to change any settings). Do be aware, however, you’ll be charged 10p/MB rather than 1p/MB if you use your phone abroad without an ‘All in One’ bundle. My recommendation is to buy a £10 bundle (this gives you 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB to use in Hong Kong). Alternatively, the £15 bundle gives you 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 25GB of data. You’ll need to enable data roaming on your handset before the internet will work in a Feel At Home country.

      If I do get the 150MB of free data every time I top up would they be usable in Hong Kong or is it UK only?
      The 150MB of free data is only usable when you’re in the UK. The ‘Feel At Home’ offer is only available when you buy an ‘All in One’ bundle with your Pay As You Go credit.

      How are the callers charged if they phone me, and what numbers do they need to dial?
      Other people will still call your normal UK number (there’s no need to change the international prefix). For anyone calling from the UK, they’ll still be charged the normal UK mobile rates (they can use their inclusive UK minutes to call you when you’re abroad). Do be aware that your friends in Hong Kong will still need to call a +44 number (they’ll be charged international rates for calling the UK). Also, it won’t be free for you to call a +852 number (the ‘Feel At Home’ minutes can only be used when calling a UK number).

      Hope this helps to answer your questions!

      1. Hon replied:

        Thanks for your reply sir but I have some more questions for you.
        1. I presume all add-on’s works in Hong Kong so I want to buy an add-on called “500MB”, but can I use this in Hong Kong, also when I go to Three’s page with the 500MB add-on it says “120MB for you to use the internet on your phone” so when I buy the add-on do I get 500MB or 120MB to use?
        2. If I top up just like 10 days before I go to Hong Kong would they use the add-on allowance that I just bought 10 days ago or the 150MB free data allowance (which isn’t usable in Hong Kong) that came with the top up?
        3. If I want to top up £5 can this be only done on three’s website and not on any cash point machines, as I have bought a £10 voucher for my first top up and now I want to top up £5 online but it says that it needs to register my card and take £10 (not £5) to verify my card details which I don’t really like?
        4. When I want to call someone in Hong Kong and I am in Hong Kong as well would they need to pay roaming charges or is it free for them to receive my calls?
        5. Finally, if my family also has the exact same three’s 321 sim card, and if I call them on it would the charges come from my allowance if I have them and is it free for them to receive my calls again?

        Sorry if it is a bit confusing again but I just wanted to confirm these facts as the three’s website is not very helpful.

        Thank you very much sir.

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Hon,
          Thanks for your comment. To answer each of your questions in order:
          1. The add-on with 120MB of data is actually an entirely different thing (it’s the 50p Internet Daily add-on). I recommend buying either the £10 or £15 All-in-One bundles (you should see these as a separate option).
          2. It should automatically use the allowances from your add-on when you’re travelling in another country.
          3. Unfortunately, yep, it’s only possible to make £5 top-ups on the Three website. In order to link your credit card to the account, the first top-up is £10 (subsequent top-ups can then be £5). You can get around this limitation by choosing the option to “Top-up another account” (you can enter your own phone number on that form).
          4. Your friends and family will pay the normal charges for receiving an incoming phone call from a UK-based number. In most countries, this means it’s free to receive the call (not quite sure how it works in Hong Kong as I believe you normally pay to receive phone calls as well).
          5. Yep, if you and your family all have All-in-One SIM cards, you can call and text each other using your Feel At Home allowances. It’s free to receive incoming calls when using the Feel At Home offer.
          Hope this helps to answer your questions!

  22. Barbara Fisk said:

    I think that this 321 tariff sounds great but I cannot find out if there is a minimum call charge or call set up charge, I know some mobile companies do this. Can you help please. Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Barbara,
      On Three, the length of all phone calls will be rounded to a full minute – you’ll then be charged for the usage at 3p/minute. There isn’t a separate charge for setting up the call. To give a few examples:
      – A 1 second phone call will be charged as 1 minute (3p)
      – A 59 second phone call will be charged as 1 minute (3p)
      – A 70 second phone call will be charged as 2 minutes (6p)
      If you’d like to go back to the original source, read the small text on page 2 of their Pay As You Go price guide.
      Hope this helps to answer your question!

      1. Barbara replied:

        Thank you for your help. I will definitely give 3’s 123 a try.


  23. Jan said:

    Hi Ken
    I’m a very light user and have just received an iPhone 4s as a birthday gift, I am currently on O2 payg and have turned auto updates off as it was using up all my credit I am now considering changing to Threes 321 payg however Threes network coverage for my area is showing pale blue for indoor coverage, would installing Threes in touch app be advisable to overcome any indoor issues. Thanks Jan

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jan,
      Thanks for your comment. If you go with Three, then I’d certainly install the inTouch application. Do note however, you will still experience reduced battery life when choosing a network with poor indoor coverage. The inTouch app also provides a less satisfactory experience compared to normal calling. So if possible, I’d still try and find a network which offers indoor coverage for your home. Take a look at my article on coverage for more discussion on this issue – a potential option for you could be getting a SIM card from giffgaff (free). The coverage is identical to O2 but costs are substantially lower.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Roza Elfassy replied:

        Hi, So is it cheaper to take a giff gaff bundel , or three 321 fir calls & texts, when visiting uk for bussinness 4 times a year?

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Roza,
          It would depend very much on how you actually use your phone (i.e. the length of time you stay in the UK and your mobile usage during that period). With the giffgaff bundles, you’d obviously be paying for a whole month at a time. With 321, you’d only pay based on your usage and your credit should remain until you visit the UK next (providing of course you don’t allow the SIM card to be inactive for 6 months). If your visits to the UK last for under 2 weeks, I’d say 321 is probably going to be cheaper. If you’re coming for more than 2 weeks and using your phone fairly often then giffgaff goodybags may work out to be cheaper.
          Hope this helps,

          1. Roza Elfassy replied:

            Thanks. I stay a week so 321, is the choice. Thanks

  24. KGB said:


    Would the 321 sim card work purely for data usage on my Nexus 7 2013 LTE tablet?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi KGB,
      Thanks for your comment. There’s no reason technically why the 321 SIM card wouldn’t work in a tablet. However, this is prevented by section 5.3 of Three’s PAYG terms and conditions:

      5.3 Each SIM may only be used in Devices:
      (b) which are in the Device category it was provided to you for, for example, you must not use a SIM for a
      phone in a tablet or dongle

      For the Nexus 7, you’ll need to get one of Three’s mobile broadband tariffs. It’s £10.49 for 1GB of data (this works out at only slightly more than 1p/MB).
      Hope this helps,

  25. Gavin said:

    I put my Mum on this tariff. Used to put £20 on a mouth on her phone, when on T-mobile standered pay as you go. Now £10 pound lasts her over a month. T-mobile did do bundles which would of worked out about the same, but where to complicated for her. So this simple package sued her well. Only problem she has is topping up, so have to type in E vouches into her phone. On Tmobile she was given a card that would topup her phone automatically, but not available on There. However the saving are worth the hassle.

    Also had to get her a new phone a Three only has a 3g network and her old phone would only work on 2G. Got her the Nokia C1 and suets her well with a big screen, and transitional numeric keypad.

  26. Alex said:

    I switched yesterday from an Orange contract to Three’s 321 PAYG, as it works out cheapest for my usage. I had to top-up £10 for the first top-up though subsequent top-ups can be as low as £5. With my initial top-up of £10 I got 150Mb free as mentioned in Ken’s article but I was surprised to also receive 600 free texts; both lasting 30 days. I am also pleased with Three’s coverage where I’m living, quite a fast connection. So I recommend Three.

  27. Judy said:

    Hi Ken,

    I’ve just moved from Ovivo to Three 321. Though a very low user, I think the charges for data could be higher than you suggest. I’ve been told that (once my initial free data allowance has expired) I will be charged 1p each time my phone contacts the internet (e.g. to synch email) so that, for example, I could be charged £1.00 if my phone makes contact 100 times, even if the total data consumption is only, say, 2MB.

    If this is right, if on a 321 tariff, you need to switch off any autosynch and, to keep control, switch off the data connection, only switching it back on when needed.

    It may be I’m wrong: it was possible to read and send emails on my phone using the mobile phone signal before there was any credit on the phone.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not aware of any minimum charges when your phone connects to the internet. On most smartphones today, an always-on connection will be maintained to the internet. Hence, there wouldn’t be a new data session when syncing your e-mail, checking the weather, etc. If the total data consumption is 2MB, you should only be charged 2p for all of the usage.
      With regards to being able to read and send e-mails without any credit, this is a rather interesting situation! It shouldn’t be possible (unless you were using wi-fi at home). Alternatively, there’s the 150MB of free data every time you top-up your SIM card. You may have been using the free data allowance included on a previous top-up.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Judy replied:

        Many thanks for your reply. My free allowance has now expired, so I’m able to confirm you are right about the charging. So far I’ve just used the phone for checking emails and sending the odd email and have not yet spent my fist penny. It seems the telephone help people at Three gave me duff advice.

        1. John replied:

          So what did u find. Does it charge for time it connects to internet. or when u reach 1mb then it charges 1p.

          1. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi John,
            Three will charge 1p to your account after you’ve used 1MB of data. There’s no charge for the amount of time spent connected to the internet.
            Hope this helps,

          2. Judy replied:

            It’s working well for me. I mostly use the phone for checking emails and I only get charged when total use adds up to 1MB. I think it’s a bargain for low users. (Though not as good as Ovivo which I was on before and free.)

  28. Phil Dudd said:

    Hello Ken
    Thankyou in advance for your support, indeed for all your work on this informative site.
    My question is with regards to 0845 0870 numbers. etc…
    i was caught out a while ago when i used all my top up for a bundle and found that i needed separate credit for these type of numbers.
    specifically my question is with regards to:
    three 321 tariff, and orange (any animal pack)
    do you know how they stand with these numbers.
    To date i’ve only found vodafone support these unlimited for an extra payment of around

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your comment!

      With regards to Three, you can check their special call prices via this link. For 0845 and 0870 numbers, it’s a rather hefty 35p/minute :(

      For Orange, the Pay As You Go price guide can be found via this link. On page 16, you’ll see it costs 12p/minute to call 0845 and 0870 numbers.

      With regards to cutting costs, it’s definitely good to find a non-geographic number (e.g. your bank might list a number you’re able to use when calling from outside the UK – you can often use this number within the UK too). There’s also websites such as SayNoTo0870. Finally, most government departs have switched to using 0345 – using the new number should save a ton in calling costs.

      Hope this helps!


  29. gill hutson said:

    Well hubby is paying 35p per minute with orange. Hope his phone is unlocked and if so will go on to this great tarriff rates for occasional user.

  30. Jim said:

    Just ditched Virgin’s “Simply 8” (eight pence for calls and for texts). Going with 321 or staying with Virgin? A no brainer.

  31. Pete Forman said:

    I don’t think that this is a new tariff as such, it is a reduction of the rates for the existing “Pay As You Go on Three”. That said, new customers would be buying a 321 SIM.

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