Looking for the cheapest Pay As You Go rates in the UK? Our interactive table allows you to compare Pay As You Go tariffs and mobile network coverage.

If you’re looking for a Pay As You Go tariff in the UK, there are currently 12 different Pay As You Go networks to choose from.

It’s never been easier to switch networks and to save money on a cheaper Pay As You Go deal. Simply order a free Pay As You Go SIM card and put it inside your unlocked smartphone to take advantage of lower Pay As You Go rates. You can also keep your current phone number when you switch.

In this article, we’ll compare Pay As You Go networks in the UK, both on the prices and the coverage available. We’ll also look at the different ways of paying for your plan.

Traditional Pay As You Go VS Monthly Bundles

When you choose a Pay As You Go mobile network, it’s important to know there are actually two different types of plan to choose from:

  • Traditional Pay As You Go plans with no monthly fee. Often best for light mobile users wanting a SIM card for emergencies, you’ll only pay for what you actually use on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis.
  • Pay As You Go bundles with a monthly fee. Often best for regular mobile users, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee on these plans. However, you’ll get larger allowances in return so it will normally work out to be cheaper overall.

The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of the two types of Pay As You Go plan:

Traditional Pay As You Go Pay As You Go Bundles
Best for light users wanting an emergency SIM card. Best for regular users and smartphone users.
No monthly fee, but minimum usage applies. Pay As You Go bundles start from £5 per month.
Pay on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis. Rates are typically higher compared to bundles. Your one-month bundle will come with inclusive minutes, texts & data.
Normally, your credit won’t expire providing you keep your SIM card active. Unused allowances will expire after one month.

In both cases, there are no contracts and no credit checks when you sign up for your plan. You can also change, pause or cancel your plan at any time. This gives you lots of flexibility. You can also change between traditional Pay As You Go and a monthly Pay As You Go bundle, as required.

Cheapest Pay As You Go Tariffs

In the UK, if you’re happy to pay a small monthly fee for your Pay As You Go plan, our current recommendation is to get Lycamobile’s UK Smart plan. This comes with 1000 UK minutes and 3GB of UK data included. It’s available for just £1 per month for the first 3 months and you’ll get 99% population coverage from O2.


At present, Lycamobile’s UK Smart plan is the cheapest Pay As You Go bundle available in the UK. It’s available with no contract and no credit check. You’ll get 1,000 UK minutes and 3GB data included for £1 per month. You’ll get 4G and 5G coverage from O2 on your Lycamobile SIM.

This £1 per month deal is only available for new Lycamobile customers, and is valid for 3 months. After the first 3 months, you’ll pay £5 per month or you can change to another Pay As You Go plan. If you like, it’s also possible to switch to Lycamobile’s traditional Pay As You Go plan, with no monthly fees for keeping your SIM card active.

Order Lycamobile SIM card (Free with £1 UK Smart plan) →

If you’re looking for traditional Pay As You Go, the cheapest network is currently 1pMobile, which offers 99% coverage from the EE network:


1pMobile offers the lowest Pay As You Go rates of any mobile network in the UK. They have a straightforward tariff of 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB, with customers getting 4G & 5G coverage from EE.

One important thing to be aware of when joining 1pMobile is the minimum top-up requirement of £10 every 120 days. This means you’ll need to top-up your phone with at least £30 of credit per year, though you have complete flexibility on when and how to actually spend it.

1pMobile is backed by the sister company of Utility Warehouse and is part of Telecom Plus PLC, a FTSE 250-listed company. Read our in-depth review of 1pMobile for more information.

Order 1pMobile SIM card (Free with £10 top-up) →

Pay As You Go Rates & Coverage Compared

The following table shows a list of Pay As You Go mobile networks in the UK, along with the rates and coverage available:

Mobile Network Traditional Pay As You Go Pay As You Go Bundles Coverage Provider
1pMobile 1p/minute
£5/month EE
ASDA Mobile 15p/minute
£4/month Vodafone
EE 40p/minute
No data
£10/month EE
giffgaff 25p/minute
£6/month O2
iD Mobile 3p/minute
£6/month Three
Lebara Mobile 25p/minute
£5/month Vodafone
Lycamobile 23p/minute
£5/month O2
O2 55p/minute
£2/day data
£10/month O2
Tesco Mobile 25p/minute
£7.50/month O2
Three 35p/minute
£10/month Three
Vodafone £1/day £10/month Vodafone
VOXI 30p/minute
No data
£10/month Vodafone

Traditional Pay As You Go

If you’re looking for a traditional Pay As You Go plan with no monthly fees, the following table shows how much you’ll pay on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis.

To sort the table, you can tap on the relevant column heading. You can also tap on “…” column to see the charges for sending MMS picture messages, voicemail and calling special rate phone numbers.

NetworkMobile Internet
(per day)
(per minute)
(per SMS)
Picture Message
(per MMS)
VoicemailSpecial Rate
(per minute)
(estimated from 1p/MB)
per minute
+ service charge
ASDA Mobile~£1
(estimated from 10p/MB)
per minute
+ service charge
EEData usage requires
30-day bundle
per minute
+ service charge
(estimated from 10p/MB)
per call
+ service charge
iD Mobile~10p
(estimated from 1p/MB)
per minute
+ service charge
Lebara Mobile~90p
(estimated from 9p/MB)
per minute
+ service charge
(estimated from 15p/MB)
(15p to landline)
per call
+ service charge
per call
+ service charge
Tesco Mobile
Triple Credit
(estimated from 10p/MB)
per minute
+ service charge
Tesco Mobile
(estimated from 10p/MB)
per minute
+ service charge
(estimated from 10p/MB)
per minute
+ service charge
Vectone Mobile~90p
(estimated from 9p/MB)
(12p to landline)
per minute
+ service charge
Big Value Bundles
(fixed, for 50MB/day)
per minute
+ service charge
Pay As You Go 1
(fixed, for 50MB/day)
(max £1/day)
(max £1/day)
per minute
+ service charge
VOXIData usage requires
30-day bundle
per minute
+ service charge

Sources: 1pmobile.com, mobile.asda.com, ee.co.uk, giffgaff.com, idmobile.co.uk, mobile.lebara.com, lycamobile.co.uk, o2.co.uk, tescomobile.com, tescomobile.com, three.co.uk, vectonemobile.co.uk, vodafone.co.uk, voxi.co.uk. Last updated on 23rd May 2023.

If you’re a smartphone user, the costs of using mobile data on traditional Pay As You Go can add up very quickly. According to Ofcom, the average UK smartphone user consumed 5.6GB data per month in 2021 (this is equivalent to 186MB per day). If you were to pay just 1p/MB for this, it would cost you at least £56 per month on a traditional Pay As You Go plan.

If you choose to buy a monthly Pay As You Go bundle instead, these Pay As You Go rates will only apply for out-of-bundle usage.

Monthly Pay As You Go Bundles

In the UK, the cheapest available Pay As You Go bundle is currently available for just £4 per month. This comes with unlimited minutes and no data on ASDA Mobile.

No price plans could be found matching this criteria.

If you’re looking for a Pay As You Go bundle with unlimited minutes & unlimited texts, you can get one from £4 per month:

ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimitedNo data£4.00
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited1GB£6.00

The most popular Pay As You Go bundles tend to cost around £10 per month. At this price point, you can expect to get up to 25GB data per month, depending on the mobile network you choose:

Lebara MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00010GB£10.00
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£10.00

Finally, it’s also possible to get unlimited data on Pay As You Go. Plans start from £20 per month for unlimited data with no contract and no credit check:

iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£20.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
2Mbps max
Lebara MobileUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£25.00

Pay As You Go Credit Expiry

On most traditional Pay As You Go plans, your credit won’t expire providing your SIM card remains active. This makes it perfect for people who rarely use their phone (e.g. if your SIM card is mainly for emergencies).

To keep a traditional Pay As You Go SIM card active, you’ll normally need to use it at least once every 6 months. However, this can vary depending on your mobile network and it can be anything from 84 days to 180 days. On 1pMobile, your credit won’t expire but you’ll need to top-up with at least £10 of credit every 120 days.

If you have a Pay As You Go bundle, your unused allowances will expire at the end of the month. The only exception is if your mobile network offers a data rollover feature.

Keeping Your Phone Number

If you’re changing mobile networks, it’s super easy to keep your phone number. To do so, you’ll need to get a PAC Code from your current network. You can get one through your mobile network’s website or app, or by texting PAC to 65075.

Once you have a PAC Code from your old network, you can order the SIM card from your new network. When you’re ready to move your phone number over, give them the PAC Code and your phone number will then be moved over on the next working day.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to transfer Pay As You Go credit between networks, so you’ll need to use it up before you transfer your phone number.

For detailed step-by-step instructions, see our full guide on how to move your phone number between networks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any Pay As You Go networks where I don’t need to top-up every month?
Yes. You can choose a traditional Pay As You Go plan rather than a monthly Pay As You Go bundle. On a traditional Pay As You Go plan, there are no regular monthly charges. You simply pay for what you actually use on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis.
Which mobile network offers the lowest Pay As You Go rates?
At present, 1pMobile has the lowest Pay As You Go rates of any mobile network in the UK. You’ll pay just 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. Alternatively, Vodafone charges £1/day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and up to 50MB of data.
How much will I pay for data on Pay As You Go?
On traditional Pay As You Go, you can use mobile data at the rate of 1p/MB (equivalent to £10 per GB). Alternatively, you can get a Pay As You Go bundle with up to 25GB data for £10/month.
How much will I pay for phone calls on Pay As You Go?
On traditional Pay As You Go, you can make phone calls from 1p/minute to UK landline and mobile numbers (that’s most phone numbers starting with 01, 02, 03 and 07). Alternatively, a Pay As You Go bundle with unlimited minutes included is available from £3/month.
Will my Pay As You Go credit expire if I don’t use it?
On most traditional Pay As You Go plans, your credit won’t expire providing your account remains active. The criteria for keeping your account active depends on the mobile network.
How do I get a Pay As You Go SIM card?
You can order a free Pay As You Go SIM card from most mobile networks through this page.

More Information

For more information, see our guide to Pay As You Go SIM cards. We also have an in-depth guide on Pay As You Go SIMs for light users, on 5G Pay As You Go SIM cards and on Pay As You Go eSIMs.

Your Comments 198 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 198 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • ust an update to 1p Mobile, they are changing the top up time from 120 days to 90 days.

    Also, though I’m not sure about this one but its also been mentioned that there’s a minium spend of £10 every 90 days so as an example if you only spend £5 on calls/text/data over the 90 days a further £5 will be deducted to make up the minium spend of £10 over the 90 days but don’t quote me on this one.

  • I’m on PAYG tesco mobileLlite. Every time a call comes in even though I reject the call, automatically 10p is debited from my account. It happens mostly from calls of marketing Co. Is that happening whereby these companies make us pay for their calls?

    • RWG are cheap but try getting your voicemail switched off (even by email to them) or finding your balance on PAYG (supposed to dial *669# but doesn’t work on my payg phone)

  • Love the site!

    Just a head up, been with Asda mobile for over 10 years now, and they’ve just announced a massive increase from Sept 26th –
    Calls up from 4p to 15p per min
    Texts up from 4p to 10p
    Data up from 4p to 10p per Mb

    I will be leaving them, as will many others, I suspect!


  • New rates for ASDA payg due to move to Vodafone: https://mobile.asda.com/bundles
    Landlines 4p per min
    Texts per 160 characters 4p each
    MMS 25p each
    Data/GPRS 4p per MB
    Voicemail 4p per min
    Access to automated helpline Free
    Customer Service Centre Free
    0800/0808 Free
    Other service numbers 4p per min access charge + service charge
    Personal numbers (070) 75p per min
    Non-mobile 07 numbers 4p per min

      • Hi ken. Great site as normal. Vodafone’s new offering is not 20p anymore. Any call or text will deduct the £1 and you get unlimited for the rest of the day plus 50MB. Hope this helps. I appreciate that it’s hard to keep this updated all the time

  • Hi Ken,

    Been relying on your superb tech. Q & A site to help me with my search for the lowest traditional paygo sim only deal.

    I’m a refugee from VirginMedia who disgracefully pulled the plug on all it’s low users over recent months.

    I am investing in a new Apple IPhone SE, unlocked, to enable me to buy a low top up tpaygo SIM card. Having read all your helpful advice I see 1p Mobile uses EE and has the cheapest tariff but as I am a low user their £10 top up every 120 days seems silly.

    Tesco/Asda offered only £5/£1 top ups but they are soon to change their providers.
    I understand Asda are switching to Vodaphone one of the main 4 but what will their tpaygo terms be?

    Also I note with concern that the tpaygo £1 top ups don’t include mobile data so you can’t access the Internet and are then left with only a basic mobile phone service having paid for an expensive IPhone!

    All very frustrating for a low user who appreciates how useful an Iphone is becoming with all the apps. etc.

    Sorry to add to your list Ken but any tips would be very welcome otherwise I’ll just buy a flock of carrier pigeons!!!

    Many thanks,

    Best Regards & Stay Safe!

    Colin P.

    • Hi Colin,
      Thank you for the kind words about the website, and I’m really glad you’ve found it to be helpful!
      To answer your questions in order:
      1. Yes, I agree that 1p Mobile isn’t a very good option if your average spend is likely to be under £2.50 per month. There are some other networks that will be much better for this (e.g. giffgaff only requires you to use your SIM card once every 180 days – there’s no requirement for you to add fresh credit to the SIM card).
      2. Unfortunately, ASDA Mobile are yet to confirm the terms and conditions for their new service, after the move to Vodafone. My understanding is they’ll be moving towards having a greater focus on the rolling monthly bundles (no word yet on how their PAYG service will change).
      3. Sadly, it is getting harder by the day to recommend a SIM card for very low users where you won’t need to pay a fee every month. However, my latest recommendations can be found here – hopefully there might be something there that takes your pick!

  • Outrageous ‘Three’ increasing their prices by 200, 400 & 400%! Those who cannot afford the ‘Fat Cat’ services had a low-cost way of keeping in touch but it seems 3 is joining the greedy mobile phone companies. This is too high an increase and is profiteering in especially as the phone may be the only way some can keep in contact with their friends and family. An hour cost £1.80 will from February £6.00! GREED IS THE NAME OF THE GAME, in my opinion! There are others but I know some who cannot switch as they are technically inept.

  • Hi Ken. If I top-up the minimum amount of £5 Can I get unlimited text, unlimited call, and 5GB or 6GB of data on Three Mobile in a month in As pay as you go?
    Will you tell me how much Text, Calls, and Data I may get on Three mobile in a month if I top up £5 in topping up as pay as you go?

    Thank you

    • Hi Ab,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, you won’t be able to, no. The cheapest bundle available on Three costs £10/month. Without it, you’ll need to pay their standard Pay As You Go rates which are 10p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB. Your £5 top-up would therefore only get you 100MB of data (0.1GB). If you’re looking for something that costs you less than £10/month, my recommendation would be to go for the SIM-only deals from Three instead.

  • Hi Ken. Can I get unlimited text, unlimited call, and 5GB or 6GB of data on Three Mobile in a month for £5?
    Will you tell me how much Text, Calls, and Data I get on Three mobile in a month for £5?

    Thank you

  • Hi Ken, I want a free SIM card to just receive calls or texts. I don’t want to use any minutes, texts or data so don’t want to spend anything. Can you tell me which companies allow me to not spend anything because I guess most will want me to top up when I get the card? Thanks in advance, Neil.

    • Hi Neil,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, all networks will require you to make a minimum initial top-up and to use your SIM card for a chargeable activity once every so often. In the grand scheme of things, this shouldn’t cost you very much – you can keep a SIM card active for less than 10p per year. You will, however, need to top-up your SIM card at some point (often with either £5 or £10 of credit).

  • Hi Ken, I’ve recently been auto ‘upgraded’ from an old virginmedia payg which included free VoiceMail. The new one is ‘Daily Bonus Plan’ with chargeable VM (26p a time). As I don’t use data and my only outgoing call usage is VM this has made quite a difference. Is their any other payg product that includes free VM? Thanks, Tom.

    • Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, the recent changes to Pay As You Go on Virgin Mobile are rather disappointing. Unfortunately, they’ve decided to gradually phase out that product so they’re currently increasing the prices to get customers off it. At present, I’m not aware of any mobile network that gives you free voicemail without a regular monthly charge.

  • Hello. O2 appear to have closed their O2 Classic PAYG tariff to new customers. From visiting their website it looks like new customers have to buy a Big Bundle, which is minimum £5 per month (for which you get unlimited minutes and texts, but no data!

  • Hello Ken
    This is useful info. I have a dual sim, Galaxy Note 9. My first sim with 3 meets most of my needs. I am intending to change the 2nd sim (EE), which is used for infrequent calls, indeed sometimes months pass by without use. Thanks to your articles I will be getting an O2 – 321 sim which will suit my needs for this 2nd sim. I had considered the 1pMobile but the small print states you have to top up £10.00 every 4 months (still a decent deal but I don’t want any recurring payments).

  • Hi Ken, very useful few pages – many thanks for collating the info’. Do you have any knowledge about the best PAYG providers for ‘bonus’ bundles that come/are given with top-ups? For example, I’m presently on the Dolphin Plan with Orange and, when I top up £10 a month, I get an additional ‘free’ 1gb of data, 100 minutes calls, and 400 texts – all to use in a month. But the important point being that I still have the original £10 credit in my PAYG credit balance (which, as a relatively light user, means that I often go a few months without using-up any of my credit as the ‘free’/bonus extras are enough, whereupon I build up a fairly sizable pot of PAYG money credit that I can use to buy extras for a few more months without having to top-up). As such, this is a really cheap – and flexible – way for me to use my mobile. However, I have had a text from EE saying that they’re closing down all Orange accounts and transferring them over to EE, which doesn’t have a similar plan to the one I’m on. As such, do you know if any other providers have a similar thing to the Orange Dolphin plan that I can make use of? I had an idea that O2 used to offer something similar with one of their PAYG sims, but I can’t see any details on their website.

    • Hi Alan,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, the “free top-up offers” were pretty good back in the day! O2 used to have their “Genie” or Text & Web SIM cards where you’d also get a free allowance every time you topped up your phone (similar to the Orange Dolphin plans). Unfortunately, that’s no longer available for new customers.
      Sadly, the only one I’m really aware of that is still out there is Tesco’s Triple Credit tariff (£20 of free credit lasting for one month, whenever you top-up your phone by £10). Saying that, I would not recommend this tariff as the original prices are far higher than on other mobile networks/tariffs (i.e. you’d be far better off choosing lower prices over the Triple Credit offer).
      You can see my guide to Pay As You Go SIM cards for a summary of the offers currently available – there are some great SIM cards out there with very low prices or competitive bundle allowances.

  • I live abroad and I’d like to buy a PAYG sim for my Mum to call her. Are there any charges for a UK mobile to receive incoming international calls?

  • Are there any providers where unused money pay as you go doesn’t expire after a certain number of days? My Orange payg has moved to EE and they only offer 30 days and then any remaining is lost. I don’t use £10 in that time or even 60 days if adding on. My phone is for emergencies.

    • Hi Veronica,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, you just need to choose a “traditional Pay As You Go” tariff rather than a “Pay As You Go bundle” (with the latter, your bundle allowances will run out every 30 days). My recommendation would probably be either 1pMobile (1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB) or O2 Classic Pay As You Go (3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB) – you just need to use your phone occasionally as described here to keep the SIM card active.
      Hope this helps!

  • Hi
    Please help! I’m currently with giffgaff & happy with them. Unfortunately i’m being scammed by the payforit text messages. I really don’t want to change my number. Please please can you give me Any advice? As you obviously know what you’re talking about.

    • Hi Louise,
      I’m very sorry to hear about this. There are probably two things I’d do here:
      1) I recommend getting in touch with a giffgaff agent and letting them know about this. They might be able to place a block on this activity.
      2) Take a look at the Phone-paid Services Authority website. They’re the UK regulator for premium rate mobile phone services & have lots of information on how you can dispute charges, etc.

  • I went into an O2 shop on 28th sept 2018 with the intention of transferring my payg from EE to
    O2 Classic payg, to be told that CLASSIC payg closed down on 27th sept 2018.

    O2 are still advertising this offer now – but it does not exist!


    • Hi Ian,
      Thanks for the heads up about this! I’m not sure I can corroborate this statement from the staff at the O2 shop – as of today, O2 still seem to be actively promoting Classic Pay As You Go on their website…

      • Richard Williams replied:

        I’ve just been to an O2 shop and been told exactly the same thing – are O2 required to offer a basic pay as you go arrangement but are trying to avoid selling it?

        • Hi Richard,
          It’s possible that their staff are incentivised to sell the Big Bundle SIM card which probably makes them a lot more money. The easiest thing to do is probably just to order a free SIM card online. As a matter of fact, I ordered one just last month and managed to activate it fine…


    Thank you so much for your review on the various providers for PAYG users. It is the most comprehensive, very detailed and very user friendly. The best of all the ones I’ve been browsing. Most grateful! Keep up the excellent work!

  • Hello Ken,

    Thank you for your efforts.
    I am a heavy data user. I will stay for 1 month in London. I want to choose a bundle that is the best in terms of speed and reliability of coverage. I want to have LTE or at least 4G all the time. I’m not worried about the price since it is a usage for 1 month only. What do you recommend?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Asem,
      Thanks for your comment. I’d recommend having a look at my guide for people who are visiting the UK. For a number of reasons, giffgaff might be most practical from an ease of use perspective, and they have pretty decent nationwide coverage.
      If you’re looking for the very best coverage & 4G speeds, my recommendation would probably be to go with EE Pay As You Go. You’ll need to pick up one of their SIM cards in-store when you arrive in the UK and top it up in person before you’re able to use it (as online top-up is only available with a UK-based bank card). EE have, in my opinion, a slightly better network and some more consistent higher speeds on their network.
      Hope this helps,

  • I am interested in the classic 02 paygo as a very light user. My daughter has given me her old iPhone 5 c . I went into the 02 store making enquiries and they said that a bundle offer would be more efficient as I would use a lot of data just walking around. Currently I am with EE paygo but with no data. Can you tell me what settings I need to have on my iPhone if I get the 02 classic sim to avoid wasting money. Currently a £10 top up lasts three months but cannot access messages when out and about. Is the 02 classic paygo the best option for me?

    • Hi Alison,
      Many thanks for your comment. Whether Classic Pay As You Go or Big Bundles works out to be better value will really depend on how much mobile data you use. For instance, if you were to use 500MB of data per month, the cost would be just £5/month on Classic Pay As You Go (and therefore, still cheaper than a £10 Big Bundle).
      The best way to check would probably be just to order a SIM card and then to start off on either tariff (probably Classic Pay As You Go). If you find yourself spending more than £10/month on Classic Pay As You Go, then it may be worthwhile changing to Big Bundles (fairly easy as you just need to send a short text message to do this).
      If you decide you don’t want access to mobile data on-the-go, you can always disable the mobile data feature on your iPhone. If you do this, you won’t be able to access things like WhatsApp messages on the move (the same situation as on your current tariff from EE).
      Hope this helps,

      • Thank you, I will give the 02 SIM card a go. If I want to keep my phone number do I need get in touch with EE or is it just easier to start with a new number from 02.

        • Hi Alison,
          You can move your phone number from EE to O2 fairly easily. To do so, just ask EE to provide you with a PAC Code and then give this code to O2. It’s normally a fairly straightforward process, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the hassle if you’d like to keep your existing number.

  • peter freeman said:

    We are currently with Asda and find our texts arrive in bits and not in order ( even short texts ) now thinking of changing to 1P but they also use the EE network so will we still have the same problem and should we pick another provider.

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any specific problem with ASDA Mobile sending messages in the wrong order. I do know, however, when text messages exceed 160 characters in length, they’re often “split up” into multiple messages and then reassembled on the other side. In this case, it might be an unavoidable problem, or there might be something ASDA is doing on their end which exasperates the problem. I’d probably give them a quick call to see if they know anything about this, but my fear is you may have the exact same problem whichever network you use.

  • Hi
    Found this site very useful with specific info.
    Please could you advisewhere can I find which payg (not bundles) providers let me see my bills. I thought of going to O2 Classic but they do not provide a service where I can see my bills.

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for the heads up about this! I’ve reviewed the new Pay As You Go 1 tariff in a blog post here and will have a think about the best way to represent it in the table above.
      Thanks again for letting me know!

  • Hello,
    I am with Orange (Animal Plan – Racoon) and want to change to Asda SIM card: 8 p /min., 4 p/text.
    O2 is offering even cheaper prices for call and text.
    I am ligh user, not interested in bundles, just pay as you go.
    Is there any other cost with O2 or does it go cheaper than with Asda.
    If I go for O2 and want to use it ocassionally abroad (Europe) how much I would pay.
    Thank you.


    • Hi Louise,
      Many thanks for your comment. ASDA Mobile will be closer to Orange in terms of the coverage you get (they offer 3G & 4G coverage from EE, whereas Orange only offers 3G coverage from EE). However, to answer your question about pricing directly: yes, the per-minute price will actually be lower on O2 Classic Pay As You Go.
      There are still a number of reasons why you might want to use ASDA Mobile: for instance, you could easily buy a bundle if one is required at any point (not possible on O2 Classic Pay As You Go), the minimum top-up is just £5 each time (£10 on O2) and there’s also a much more generous inactivity policy.
      Finally, both mobile networks will allow you to use your smartphone in Europe at no extra cost. More info here.
      Hope this helps,

  • Ken,

    There are a couple of interesting, if specialist, companies I’ve seen that aren’t been mentioned here.

    Truphone – Same rates as UK in 7 other countries including US/AU, can have multiple numbers on same SIM. 6p per minute/text/MB. Credit doesn’t expire if used at least once a month. On Vodafone in UK. I haven’t tried them on the continent since free EU roaming enacted. https://www.truphone.com/uk/consumer/sim/

    Anywheresim – Relatively new UK startup – uses all 4 UK networks for coverage. 10p call/MB, 5p text. Credit has defined expiry date, best deal is avg spend of £5/mo. https://anywheresim.com/


  • Hi Ken
    Like your site.
    I take that your “Pay As You Go Prices and Coverage: Comparison Table” is for making national call from UK.
    Do you have a comparison table for making international calls from UK please?

  • I would like a data only SIM for my iPad. What are your recommendations? I also intend to order a Giff Gaff pay as you go SIM card for my iPhone 6. I live in the US and will be visiting UK for 30 days.


    • Hi Ian,
      Well spotted! Thanks for letting me know about this – I’ve just amended the typo 🙂
      Much appreciated & best regards,

  • We live in a rural area with no mobile signal so just use basic PAYG with basic phone. We go away quite often both UK and abroad & need to keep in touch with our business. Currently we rely on Wi-Fi using a tablet. Getting a good connection is often difficult & is causing us problems.
    If we bought a smartphone and used pay monthly because of no home signal we would not use our allowances & they would expire. Is there any way we could pay monthly & carry forward in-used allowances ?

    • Hi Jeff,
      Many thanks for your comment. Firstly, it’s possible to buy a new smartphone without committing to a 24-month contract (I’d just buy it on a SIM-free/unlocked basis which works out substantially cheaper than getting a contract). Once you’ve done that, you can pick up your SIM card separately so fine to stay on Pay As You Go if that’s still the most appropriate for you.
      With regards to deals that allow you to carry over unused allowances, there are a number of providers allowing you to do something like this (e.g. Vodafone Pay As You Go, iD Mobile, Sky Mobile, etc). However, in my opinion, it’s normally more trouble than it’s worth and you may just be better off choosing a more appropriate/flexible deal. For instance, ASDA Mobile offers a £7 bundle with 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet. Bundles last for 30 days but critically, there’s no obligation to buy a bundle every month. Indeed, you can just buy a bundle in the months when you’re travelling and at other times, you can use regular Pay As You Go (8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB). ASDA Mobile makes use of coverage from EE. More info here on ASDA Mobile and more on mobile coverage here.
      Hope this helps!

  • You state: “When choosing a new Pay As You Go mobile network, there are two primary considerations you need to think about. Firstly, there’s the price: you’ll want to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to. Secondly, there’s the coverage: you’ll want a mobile network that gives you fast and reliable coverage.” I think there is a third: How often do you need to top up? My payg usage is extremely low, and if I were to go with 1p mobile, I would have to top up £10 every 120 days, which means £40 per year. With other systems, it may be that there is no restriction on having to top up, but just a requirement to use at least one text or call within a particular time frame. I am most unlikely to need £40 worth of credit per year on my phone…
    Also, another useful question is whether you need a 3g (+) phone for the sim.

    • Hi F,
      Many thanks for your comment. I think you’re right: there are actually lots of additional considerations when choosing a PAYG network. I think minimum top-up is certainly one (it’s something we discuss in this article) – another is the minimum usage requirement (discussed in more depth here). The availability of different types of coverage is also key (e.g. some people will require 2G and others will require 4G). There’s some more information here about the types of coverage available on each mobile network.
      Do you think the articles linked above provide additional insight on this? I’d love to hear your thoughts/comments.

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. I think the help docs aren’t totally clear on the TPO website. According to the TPO Pay As You Go rates page, the access charge for special numbers is 5p/minute. The higher rate of 35p/minute only applies to customers on TPO Pay Monthly (this is also split out in my guide to special rate phone numbers).
      It might be worth popping TPO a very quick email to clarify the contents on that page as they don’t currently reference the PAYG rate.
      Hope this helps!

  • I’m interested in the way providers communicate with customers, especially about expiries of minutes, data etc. Giff Gaff text customers when credit needs topping up, and they take credit automatically from the bank account – very easy for customers.

    But not ASDA. Instead you only find out that credit’s expired when it refuses to make calls. And it doesn’t tell you when bundles have been used up. All info is thrown on the customer. Very primitive.

    What experience have people had with notification services from other providers?

  • Hi all,
    Just a quick heads up to say I’ve removed Talkmobile from the table above. As of April 2017, it appears they are no longer accepting new customers on their network.

    • It also appears that they are only taking pay monthly orders over the phone, you can’t order on the website any longer. They have also removed all the details of the sim-only contracts. I wonder if Vodafone is going to pull the plug on Talkmobile soon.

      • I called a week ago to request a PAYG SIM, they said they were only supplying monthly SIMs, or they could transfer me to Vodafone for a PAYG SIM. Ended up buying a new Talkmobile PAYG SIM via ebay for £2.99, the pack that arrived said activate by August 2017.

    • Hmmm interesting, I have a sim that I’ve had a couple of months(unused) that I was thinking of moving my freedompop number to when I get a dual SIM phone. Maybe I should do with asda now to complement my 3 reward sim….

    • We’ve just been texted to say that Talkmobile is pulling out of PAYG and that our SIMs will not work after Aug 2017…any idea what’s behind it?

      • Hi Paul,
        Yes – unfortunately, Talkmobile has announced the closure of their PAYG service for the 31st August with the last date for topping up your phone being the 30th June 🙁 As Talkmobile is a low-cost sub-brand of Vodafone, I expect Vodafone just decided to focus on their core brand instead (hence their efforts to try and migrate customers over to Vodafone PAYG).

  • Robert Easton said:

    Hi Ken,
    Good article. One question from me regards customer service. After 4 years on contract with Tesco, I switched to their payg tariff, this has bee fraught with problems, stemming from how difficult it is to top up online, by phone or text, so I gave up with them. I got an O2 sim, but after 4/5 calls I’m unable to activate the sim or top up. So my question is, aside from cost, do you have any rankings on best service or ease of use. I spend a lot of time abroad, so just want to put a bundle on occasionally when I return, which is more difficult than it should be!

    • Hi Robert,
      Thanks for your comment. You make some really good points about customer service and ease of topping up. Unfortunately, I don’t have any rankings myself for this. As you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to actually quantify and objectively rank this (although some others like Which magazine attempt to do this, or you can look at proxies like the Trustpilot score, number of complaints at Ofcom, etc). With regards to ease of topping up, I’ve got an article here that might be of help (it goes through the available top-up methods & minimum top-ups on each network).

  • Hi Ken,
    I wonder if you can help! Im looking for a low cost sim only deal that’s 2G/GSM compatible. Its for a kids tracker watch.
    Vodaphone have confirmed their sim only bundle from £10.00+ is suitable but I dont want to waste £10 per month on a bundle of minutes, data and texts that wont be used.

  • Hi im looking for a pay as u go. … I am on t-mobile at mo …but not happy with the increase on. Data £5. A month to £12 a month.too expensive for me… Help and advice please…..

    • Hi Fiona,
      Thanks for your comment. You might want to see our guide on Pay As You Go bundles costing less than £10/month. Would anything there be suitable for your usage? For instance, Tello has 100 minutes, 100 texts & 500MB data for £5.50/month. Alternatively, if you’re willing to stretch your budget up to £10, ASDA Mobile has some really good all-round bundles. It’s currently £10/month for 20GB data, unlimited minutes & unlimited texts (but typically you’ll get 1.5GB data, 600 minutes and unlimited texts).

    • Hi Sally,
      Thanks for the heads up about this. It’s the first time I’ve ever come across 1pMobile, so I believe they’re a super-small player (not quite sure when they were founded and what the experience is like on their network).

  • Elaine Jeffery said:

    Thank you so much for this article. I only need a phone for my mum to use in emergencies and staying in touch when on holiday. 3 seems by far the cheapest option for her to text or phone on. It also has good coverage for her address. Although as the SIM is free I can try it out for very little expense. I had no idea PAYG could be this cheap.
    Now to find an unlocked phone, with 3G or 4G for an old lady with dexterity problems and is hard of hearing.
    Amazon here I come.

  • David Newboult said:

    Hi Ken,
    I found this article of great interest as I have lived abroad for the last 8yrs. I am using Lebara at the moment, someone recommended this to me since I sometimes make international calls. I find Lebara extremely expensive when using in the uk, £10 pay as you go, is gone very quickly and I am a light user. I have not changed provider yet but think the £10 bundle would be my best option even though I do not use the internet with my phone. What do you think.

  • Hi, talkmobile happy hour now charges 25p for 25MB per day, then 2p per MB above 25MB. So someone using 2MB per day will pay 25p not 4p.

    • Hi Andy,
      Thanks for the heads up about this! I’ve just double-checked on the Talkmobile website and it appears it’s still 2p/MB on the Happy Hour tariff. The 25p/day for 25MB of data only seems to apply for Talkmobile Rewards. Saying that, it’s possible they haven’t yet updated their website (did they announce the price change elsewhere?)
      Thanks again,

  • Hi, I was just wondering whether there are any networks offerring a similar package to the orange dolphin? e.g I want texts and data but I don’t want a ‘£10 a month deal’ because after the month it is all gone. With orange dolphin you topped up £10 then got texts and data for a month but then you still had the £10 top up money to spend.

    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks for your comment. It might be worth having a look at Virgin Mobile’s Big Data & Texts tariff. You’ll get 3000 free text messages and 1GB of free data when you top-up your SIM card by £10. You’ll also be able to keep your £10 of credit.
      Before choosing this however, I would also consider getting a normal Pay As You Go bundle. While this doesn’t allow you to keep your £10 of credit, it may still work out to be a better value option.

  • Hi, I am now in the process of reviewing all sorts of payg providers from data bundles’ perspective. I am wondering whether anyone will be able to help me with choosing provider with good data bundles without spending a fortune for topping up?


    • Hi Michal,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you specifically looking for a data-only mobile broadband bundle? Or are you looking for a smartphone bundle with data included? If it’s the latter, please see my guide to Pay As You Go bundles (my recommendation is probably the £10 bundle from ASDA Mobile). I know some Pay As You Go networks also have data-only bundles but I haven’t investigated these in very much detail.

  • Gaynor Laight said:

    Brilliant information but if I want to buy a new phone can I get one that is not connected to a provider

  • Ken. Great site which I use regularly to keep up to date on ever changing mobile market. One thing I notice; rate for data with Coop Mobile increased to 10p per mb from 5p around March this year so you may want to update this chart. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Sam,
      Thank you for the kind words and for the heads up about the Co-op Mobile changes. Unfortunately there’s far too much going on in the market so I sometimes miss out on price changes like this. So comments like yours are incredibly helpful as they help me to keep everything up-to-date. I’ve just updated the co-op data prices in the table above following your comment.
      Thanks again – it’s very much appreciated!

  • I am currenyly on EE paygo talk & text only (I don’t want internet, camera, data, smartphone etc.) I rarely spend more than £2 a month. Naturally, this convenient service is due to be withdrawn. I cannot find a simple T&T only comparison anywhere. Could you recommend a Talk & Text only deal in the UK?

    • Hi Luke,
      Thanks for your comment. The table above shows the cost of calling and texting on different mobile networks in the UK. A good option which I typically recommend is ASDA Mobile: you can get a free SIM card from them and then you can top it up with credit: it’s 8p/minute and 4p/text with coverage from the EE network.
      Hope this helps,

  • What a great website, thanks Ken!

    My question is about the TalkMobile Happy hour SIM. Are there any high street shops that sell topup voucher? I don’t want to topup via debit/credit card.

  • Great write up Ken. I am about to come out of my 2 year contract with EE and want to try PAYG this time. I have become a light user lately so I was thinking of going with Three, but some comments here have raised concerns about poor coverage. I came across a provider I had never heard of while researching the best option for me. They are called Tello and they offer similar PAYG tariffs as Three. I have no idea which network they use. Have you heard of them? Are they worth considering?

    • Hi Amie,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I’ve come across Tello but I’ve never actually tried using the service (they’re still fairly new & they’re a very small network). They’re a virtual network operator on the Three network (so you’ll get the same coverage on Tello as you would on Three).
      If you’re not convinced by the coverage on Three, it might be worth looking for another that uses coverage from EE. At the moment, there are 11 other networks using coverage from EE – for instance you could try LIFE Mobile which also has some very good deals.
      Hope this helps!

  • Ken, thanks for the information.
    I am planning a trip to the UK for my mother and I have a cell handset which is not locked into a particular operator.
    I need to get a very cheap, simple service to allow her to make calls to her friends to let them know if there is an unexpected delay and so on, while she is in England for three weeks in summer 2016.
    She also would need to be able to take a call, but not necessarily be sending or receiving texts, and she will not use data to go online. She basically just needs to be able to make a short call or two, and take a couple, if she needs to.
    One of her friends can order the simcard for her to their address and keep it for her.
    What would you recommend?
    Many thanks.


    • Hi Patrick,
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, you can pretty much get away with any Pay As You Go SIM card – I think they’d all be pretty suitable for her usage. If you did ask me to recommend an option, I’d probably suggest getting an ASDA Mobile SIM card. They have great coverage (coming from the EE network) and low prices at just 8p/minute. They also have a £5 minimum top-up unlike some other networks that have a £10 minimum.
      Hope this helps,

  • Chloe Metcalfe said:

    I’m currently on giffgaff, which I get really good signal with, but I want to change to a cheaper provider as I can’t afford to do the goodybags every month anymore and so I want to use plain credit. I thought about switching to Three, but both my mum and sister are on Three and they always seem to have problems with getting signal. Upon doing a check online of network coverage of the four networks (EE, O2, Vodafone and Three), it looks like O2 and Vodafone provide the best coverage in my area. What would be the cheapest provider for me to use that uses one of these two networks?

  • Re: Non-transparency of charges for PAYG customers

    I have a Three PAYG SIM card. I recently used it to make a long-distance call to NZ using the Dial-a-Code prefix. I checked my online balance before and after the call. For what should have cost about 36p (18 mins @ 2p/min to a landline), I was deducted about a pound.

    On querying this with Three customer service, I received an apology and an instant refund of £1. However, when I asked for a detailed cost breakdown, I was told this was not possible as OFCOM’s rules prohibit itemised bills (even an online version) for PAYG customers, irrespective of service provider. (Huh? Doesn’t make sense to me.)

    I then escalated my complaint to Three’s Executive Office and told them that #itsucks and they should #makeitright, as per their advertising slogans. They refused to comply with my request. I even wrote direct to their CEO david.dyson@three.co.uk but he declined to even answer me which in itself I find rude and totally discourteous.

    I raised an official complaint with OFCOM, stating that this system of non-transparency of call charges for PAYG customers is open to abuse and indeed is being abused by Three. After a month of procrastination, they eventually wrote back and said there was nothing they could do. So in effect they are allowing and condoning Three’s scam (which is basically
    what it is: fraud!!). So OFCOM are neither independent, impartial or doing their job as a regulatory body working for and on behalf of the consumer.

    I have since realised that even UK calls and SMSs seem to cost more than their advertised rate but without checking my online balance for EACH and EVERY one, I cannot confirm this. I thought the whole point of PAYG is that it is for customers who need to have a tight control of their phone spending. Without online itemised bills, it is impossible to have the required level of control, and possibly it means we are actually spending more.

    As far as I can see, there are no logistical or other reasons why phone providers cannot give PAYG customers online itemised bills, so why do OFCOM have this silly rule?

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of the reasons for why an itemised bill can’t be produced for PAYG customers. I shouldn’t have thought there’d be any technical reason why they couldn’t do this for you, but I’m not sure if any Pay As You Go networks currently offer this service.

      • The point I was trying to make is that I feel totally let down by Three because they are just not living up to their advertising claims of “making it right” and that is wrong and surely breaks the ASA’s (Advertising Standards Authority) code of conduct. And for their CEO to completely ignore me beggars belief frankly.

        I also am completely disheartened by OFCOM’s unwillingness to get involved and address the issue. Surely that is the point of an independent regulatory body: that they fight for us the consumers, and not side with and condone these fraudulent activities of all the PAYG service providers. It’s a scam and they are getting away with it, yet OFCOM are turning a deaf ear.

        Could you make an official enquiry to OFCOM on our behalf about why they have this rule of no itemised bills for PAYG customers please? Maybe they’d listen to you.

        If not, and if there are other people in the same boat as me who feel they are getting ripped off by non-transparency of call charges with pre-paid SIMs, perhaps we could initiate a class action lawsuit against the phone companies to reverse the rule so that we can see how much each call/SMS costs us.

      • This is just some of the rubbish they came up with as an excuse. PAYG customers can get itemised billing. Tello is a great example of one. You should move to it.

      • I’m with Vodafone at present, standard PAYG. I can see an itemised list of all my calls and texts by simply logging onto my account on their website. So something is “off” ic you are being told this is not possible.

  • Hi Ken,
    I have a tracker device that uses a sim to send location coordinates back via data network. GPRS upwards, depending on coverage quality. Configurable on update frequency so can keep data costs down, however can you recommend a suitable UK PAYG sim that could be used in Europe?
    Spain actually. Ie roaming charges.

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. I think your question is actually better suited for my article on the best SIM cards for travelling in Europe. In short, most UK networks will currently charge you up to 19.8p/MB for using data in Europe. This is the maximum they’re currently allowed to charge by EU law. I’m assuming your tracker device will only use very little data so you’ll be best off on Pay as You Go rates (e.g. without buying a daily bundle). As an immediate suggestion off the top of my head, try using a free SIM card from giffgaff. They currently charge 17p/MB in Europe (dropping to 5p/MB from the 23rd March 2016).
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi I have a tesco pay as you go plan .. I regularly run out of time to use up my free credit for eg this month I have £10 still to use up in two days .Can you suggest a better deal for me.

    • Hi Carole,
      Thanks for your comment. Have you tried looking at ASDA Mobile? They charge 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB (you’ll get coverage from the EE network). While you don’t have anything like a triple credit offer, the per-minute and per-text rates are much lower than on Tesco Mobile. You also won’t need to worry about trying to use up all of your additional credit before it expires. As the cost of the calling is less than 1/3rd of that on Tesco Mobile, you may find it better value & less hassle in the long run.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken,
    for a couple of months I have used a basic mobile, no internet, the provider is O2. I pay a £10 top up each month of the bundle type deal. I didn’t realise that I had a choice to not have a bundle deal until I read your informative website.
    How can I change from the bundle type deal to an ordinary pay as you go deal ?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Meri,
      Thanks for your comment. You can change to the ‘Big Talker’ tariff on O2: here there’ll be no need to buy a bundle every month. You can switch to Big Talker by texting BIGTALK to 21300. Alternatively, you can dial 2202 free from your handset. For more information, please see the article here.
      Hope this helps!

      • Hi Ken,
        marvelous thank you. I have text BIGTALK & already had a reply that I will be on the PAYG tariff.
        Thank you so much you have set up such a splendid website, really great !

  • Hi
    Please advise on the most economical network I can use when in uk for a few weeks twice a year, where the credit will not expire.


    • Hi Sushi,
      Thanks for your comment. The table above should give you per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte prices (so you can find the cheapest network based on how much you use your phone). In terms of credit expiry, the guide here should hopefully help you – it outlines the credit expiry policy on each network.

  • I am another fan of your website, Ken – it’s responsive and doesn’t talk down.
    My problem is, I have left it till almost the last minute to find a new provider after Sainsburys close down on Jan 15th – am I alone?. I was most tempted by Three, as a light PAYG user who also uses my mobile in France. They don’t work on my old 2G Nokia so I was ready to bite the bullet and buy a smartphone BUT my husband has just switched and found that he gets a weak signal here in London, despite what it says on their coverage map. So everything goes straight to voicemail except from our son, on Three.
    The Three store manager in Lewisham was very helpful, updated settings, installed the app for linking it to wifi and checked coverage. I don’t want a mobile that doesn’t even work at home except connected to wifi.
    So I’m wondering whether to just go to giffgaff or Asda or if there are temporary glitches in Three’s coverage so close to their own shop. Three’s loss and mine. Any ideas?

    • Hi Sue,
      Thanks for your comment. You make a really good point about Three’s 321 tariff: it doesn’t work on 2G-only handsets and the coverage can sometimes be limited in some areas (particularly when indoors). I’d probably recommend ordering yourself a free SIM card from ASDA Mobile and giffgaff (ASDA uses the EE network whereas giffgaff uses the O2 network). The good news is they’ll both offer you 2G coverage (so it will work in an old 2G-only Nokia). The rates are slightly higher (e.g. 8p/minute and 4p/text on ASDA Mobile) but for light users, it might not make a huge difference in your overall spend (especially if you only call & text fairly infrequently). You can always test the coverage using their free SIM cards before moving your number over, but be sure to make the January 15th deadline (otherwise you may lose your phone number indefinitely).
      Hope this helps,

      • Sue Miller replied:

        Yes, thanks for this Ken. To further complicate things, my husband now on Three with no signal has been offered a signal booster which will probably arrive after I need to switch, so I won’t know how effective it is. I don’t think now is the time to change to Three for me so I’ll go for one of the two you suggest.

        My son has informed me that Three is taking over 02 so would that mean any provider linked to 02, e.g. Giffgaff, would still have the 02 coverage?


        • Hi Sue,
          Glad to hear – hope you manage to find to find a suitable alternative before the closure on Friday. In case it’s still of interest, I posted an article in November about the Mobile by Sainsbury’s closure.
          Regarding O2 and Three: Yes, a merger was agreed between the two companies in March of last year but it’s still subject to regulatory approval (so it’s still not confirmed whether the merger will happen). If it does eventually go ahead, the combined company might decide to merge the two networks. This is what Orange and T-Mobile did after their merger (though it took another two years for this to actually happen). Realistically, therefore, you’re probably unlikely to see any changes until 2018 at the earliest. Therefore, yes, nothing to worry about in the short-term: you’ll continue to get the same coverage on giffgaff as before.
          Hope this helps,

  • Ken, Your site says Talkmobile UK call rate (landline) would be 8p per min.
    Unless I have misunderstood Talkmobile’s site says it 25p.

    Pay As You Go Rewards price plan charges
    All standard UK call charges including voicemail are charged by the second.
    Like other UK businesses, we sometimes have to put up our charges or change our services during your contract. If this happens, we will tell you beforehand.
    Standard UK call charges Cost per minute (1 minute minimum call charge)
    Calls to any standard UK landline (starting 01, 02, 03), excluding Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man 25p
    Calls to any Talkmobile mobile 10p
    Calls to any other UK mobile networks 25p

    • Hi Colin,
      Thanks for your comment. Talkmobile actually offers a choice of two different Pay As You Go tariffs: there’s Happy Hour and Pay As You Go Rewards. By default, new customers are placed on the ‘Happy Hour’ tariff where you’re charged 10p for the first 60 minutes, then 8p/minute after the first hour. The 25p rate mentioned in your comment only applies to ‘Pay As You Go Rewards’ (I haven’t listed this in the table above as you would need to specifically call up Talkmobile and ask to switch to this more expensive tariff).
      Hope this helps,

  • For the attention of Ken and Dave and all readers.

    I was looking on google for the cheapest tariff and top ups as until now I am a landline user. As the landline charges have become so expensive, I was looking for another alternative which is the mobile. I found a company called Tello, their tariff is 3-3-1 which is one p more than Three mobile per text but the top up is a minimum of £2 and doesn’t expire only if it is unused for more than 6 months in which case you can keep it active by using it once every 6 months. I am a low user so this is important for me. The company uses the Three network and has got coverage for 3G and 4G.
    It will be useful to add this company to your list because of the low top up and low rates.
    Anyone who wants to enquire, they can find them online by searching the name on google or they can phone them on 0203 514 7110.

    • Hi Wady,
      Thanks and sorry for the delay in replying (I’m currently away on holiday!). I haven’t looked into Tello so far but will keep this in mind for future reviews.
      Thanks again for the heads up and for the contribution to the website!

  • Ken this is an extremely helpful website. I’ve just connected with O2 pay as go. I wish I’d seen this website with all the comparisons of providers as there is such a difference in call charges. I have a basic UK mobile as I am abroad a lot.
    Checking the international tariffs I was surprised to see they are cheaper than making calls within the UK. Can this be right ?

    • Hi Meryl,
      Thank you for the kind words! With regards to your question: yes, bizarrely, it’s often cheaper to use your phone in the EU than it is to use your phone in the UK. This is because the roaming fees in Europe are capped by the EU, as such there’s a maximum amount the mobile networks are able to charge. There’s no limit on how much the mobile networks can charge you to use your phone in the UK, hence why it will often cost you even more. Saying that, the cheapest PAYG deal for using your phone in the UK (Three’s 321 tariff) should charge you less than what you’d normally pay in the EU.
      Hope this helps,

  • I’m quid’s in with Sainsbury mobile with all the extra Nectar points I’ve been collecting with 500 point for inconveniences and double point until July 2016.

    The past two weeks I’ve made nearly £20 from the closure of Sainsbury Mobile and I only had a sim from July this year while on holiday and Vodafone was the only network with coverage so spent £10 and got £20 and another 2 or 3 months to use the £4-50 credit I still have.

    Not as good as Ovivo as I made about £350 the near on 2 years I had that sim before closer of that network.

    My main sim now is a 3, 3-2-1 that’s hard to beat but I’ve moved a couple of family friends onto the Post Office network with their £5 bundle with 250 minutes, 3000 text and 512 Mb data.

  • Thanks Ken for a REALLY informative web page!!

    The reason I was looking for info like this is because I’m really disgruntled as I’ve just learnt that the Mobile by Sainsburys PAYG service will be discontinued in Jan 2016 – especially as I’ve only had this SIM card for about 8 months.

    Happily, changing to another network (probably going to go for either Asda or Tesco – would be interested to hear what other MBS customers will opt for) is not such a big problem. Just get the PAC code (as you say, they have to provide this within 2 hours of the request), get a new SIM card, either in store or via online request forms (all links are on your site), and tell the new provider the PAC and then changeover should take no longer than 1 business day.

    However, what concerns me is that Sainsburys seems to making no provision for refunding unused credit. If they do not do so, this is plain and simple FRAUD – sorry, there’s no other way to say it. They are cheating us!!!

    If your figures on your site are correct and there are about 150,000 current subscribers, and they each have an average of (say) approx £5 remaining credit, this is a LOT OF MONEY they are keeping from us.

    I mean, how difficult can it be for them to set up a webpage in which you input your name, address, telephone number, SIM card number and bank details, and when the SIM card is deactivated, it automatically refunds the credit to your bank account? I would even concede to allow them to deduct a nominal fee (eg £1) to cover their administration costs if it makes them happy – although let’s face it, Sainsburys are not exactly struggling for cash right now!!!

    Can you confirm if the withholding of unused credit is legal and if there is anything in their T&C’s to allow this? How could we the consumer raise this issue with OFCOM??

    You see, something similar happened to me about a year ago when I got my fingers burnt after I lost about £9 on a Lebara PAYG card that expired because I didn’t know about the “phone not used for 90 days, SIM deactivated” rule. I tried making a complaint to OFCOM but I never received any reply.

    Now I’m determined not to lose my credit again.

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. In this instance, I believe Mobile by Sainsbury’s are making some provision to return unused credit. If you’d like to apply for a refund, you can call them on 0333 313 1150. They should offer either to give you a voucher or to add the money to your Nectar account balance.
      With regards to your experience with Lebara, this is a case of credit expiry on Pay As You Go. Typically, most mobile networks will keep your SIM card active providing you use it at least once every 6 months. On Lebara, this is only 84 days which is much shorter than the industry average.
      Hope this helps,

      • Well, perhaps I was a bit hasty with my original post, but at the time of writing I thought that ‘no refund’ was indeed the case.

        As it transpires, I was wrong about this and I apologise to Sainsburys; in my defence, there is no clear and overt information about it anywhere on their MBS website and I believe they are doing this deliberately so that many subscribers just give up and write off their credit (thus lining Sainsbury’s pockets!!!).

        So for others who are in the same boat, just call (on your still active MBS phone) the call centre on 40775, first ask your operator for your PAC code, then ask to be put through to the refund department. S/he will take your details and you can ask for the refund to be sent by cheque via post, as well as the options that Ken mentioned above. As soon as the old SIM has been deactivated and your number transferred to your new provider’s SIM, they will process your claim (can take up to 28 days they said).

        And just for the record and after due consideration of all Ken’s tables, I think I’m going to transfer to Three: 3p/min phone, 2p/message SMS, 1p/MB or 10p/day for internet. Initial top-up costs £10, and AFAIK this will last indefinitely, with no time expiry, until it runs out. Topping up again can be done manually at any time, or you can also set up an automatic top-up with your debit/credit card (My3 account required for this I think). All perfect for the low volume user like myself!

        • Well, I got my PAC code from MBS at the end of October and the transfer to my new provider (Three) took place a few days later.

          As mentioned above in my previous post, I was promised a refund cheque within 28 days, but six weeks later I AM STILL WAITING FOR IT!! Despite repeated Emails to support@mobilebysainsburys.co.uk, there has been no answer from them. And of course, since I can no longer call the free 40775 number, my only option is to call their chargeable landline number, which I am reluctant to do.


          By my reckoning, they have approximately half a million pounds of leftover credit from all their subscribers and of course they are earning a hefty whack of interest on this every day. This is immoral, unethical and probably illegal.

          Anyone else in the same boat as me here? Any suggestions??

          • Update: 30th Jan 2015

            Well, after 3 months from when they promised it (4 months from when I made the original claim for a refund for my unused PAYG credit), I FINALLY got my money back in the form of a cheque from Sainsbury’s – plus a bit of compensation and some Nectar points (the latter being slightly useless as I will be boycotting all their shops, products and services for ever and a day). I also reported them to the GCA (Groceries Code Adjudicator: http://www.gov.uk/gca).

            If you’re having problems getting satisfaction, I suggest you contact Keith Sergeant at the Executive Office: customer.service@sainsburys.co.uk

    • You are getting any credit back from Sainsbury and you can choose either points on a Nectar card or a refund to your credit/debit card, as told to me only last Thursday 29 October when I asked for my PAC code

  • Hi, I have just bought a smartphone mainly to use when away from home for email access. I have a pay as you go sim on 3 for this phone. I also have a small old phone which I use a lot as it is light and easy to carry about, I am on Payg with EE on this one and it is too expensive. I can’t get a 3 package on this phone as is is not 3g.
    I really want one telephone number to use for both phones, so I can pick and choose which one to use depending on what I am doing that day. Is that possible? If so which company would cover this?

    • Hi Shelley,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to have the same phone number on two phones at the same time. You can, however, move a SIM card between the two handsets (only one of the two phones will work at a given time). One complication is you’ll need to make sure your two phones use the same size of SIM card.
      In terms of network recommendations, I recommend having a look at giffgaff. They have 2G coverage on the O2 network (so no need to always have a 3G handset). In terms of pricing, it’s 10p/minute, 6p/text and 20p/day for up to 20MB of internet. This is a bit more expensive than Three’s 321 tariff but should be a lot cheaper than using EE Pay As You Go.
      Hope this helps,

      • Thank you for that information. Unfortunately the 2 phones have different sized sim cards, so will have to go with another network, or learn to use the smartphone properly and get used to extra weight to carry around!

        Thank you again Shelley

          • Since my enquiry which was 2 years ago, I have signed up with Three as their rates were far superior to any other supplier at that time

  • Hi
    Is there a pay as you go network similar to 3 where your credit never expires?
    My daughter needs a second phone for work as her primary network (3) has awful coverage there. The second phone needs a tarrif where the credit on her phone never expires as it will only be used for the odd call, message and slight data usage, 3 offers this but i cant find any information on other networks which offer it. Many thanks and any help would be much appreciated.

  • I’d like to note that, according to the EE website, for international calling with EE you may add the call abroad addon for free, which offers good rates, even lower than calling within the UK. Just a note of that.

  • Although Three and The People’s Operator have the same 1p charge for data, only TPO will connect to the 2G network for a simple Feature Phone. Conversely, only Three provides 4G for a Smartphone. Horses for courses!

  • I was with “Family Mobile” (IKEA) PAYG with whom I was quite happy, but they are now closing down.
    One of their key features, for me, was the Automatic Top-Up, taking £10 from my credit card when my credit expired.
    Are there any other providers that provide a similar auto top-up PAYG service? All those I have looked at seem to require a “manual” top-up. I don’t want a “package”, as I am a very low user.
    Grateful for any advice.

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comment. Certain other networks do indeed also have an auto top-up feature. My recommendation is probably to go with giffgaff (info here on how to set up their auto top-up feature). There’s no need to buy a goodybag when using this service as it also works with their normal Pay As You Go rates (10p/minute, 6p/text & 20p/day for up to 20MB of internet). Other networks might also have this service but you’ll sometimes need to buy a bundle to use it (unfortunately, I don’t have a full list of networks to hand).
      Hope this helps,

      • Ken,
        Many thanks for your helpful advice.
        I wanted to avoid a bundle, and you have also confirmed the good reports I have read of giffgaff (more than I can say of Family Mobile…).

  • I’d like to get an old style Credit SIM only for my 9 year old as an emergency phone now he’s moving to middle school.

    I don’t want data as its a basic phone that he will use to either phone or text, no internet or games.

    What I want is to put credit on but it lasts for a least 6 months if he doesn’t use it.

    They all seem to last only a month now.

    The phone is unlocked and 2G, yes I know we cant use the 3 network. I have a number of these old phones he could use.

    any help is gratefully received.

  • J. Swindlehurst said:

    I have an old Nokia phone on pay as you go and I’ve had no network coverage from Orange forvtge last few days even though there is £11 still on the phone. I have purchased a new nokia phone with Virgin network which is linked to Orange and is now ee. Is there any way I can retrieve my £11 or get my old phone to work. I’m presuming it’s because the network doesn’t support old mobiles anymore.

  • I have a Samsung E1500 phone with a t-mobile payg sim. I only want it for occasional use to make a call or text. What is the cheapest plan to be on?

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. Is your Samsung E1500 currently locked to T-Mobile? Or is it unlocked for use on any mobile network? As the E1500 is a 2G-only handset, you won’t be able to use Three’s 321 tariff (this requires you to have a 3G-ready handset). Hence, you’re probably looking for one of the other low-cost networks (e.g. the ones that charge 8p/minute and 4p/text). As a good all-round option, you should also consider giffgaff. They charge 10p/minute and 6p/text (but you get free calls & texts to other members on giffgaff). You also get coverage from O2.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hello Ken

    Thanks very much for all the info on your site, it’s very helpful especially for a complete novice as i am.

    i rarely use a mobile phone but carry one in case of emergency but yesterday unfortunately lost the Samsung i had on a Tesco PAYG tariff.

    i can see basic handsets sold by Tesco/Argos/Asda etc for around £5 but would like to know if:

    a) i can get the unused credit on my old phone transferred to a new handset/provider

    b) choose a provider with a low cost tariff rate which doesn’t expire quickly (less than 6 months, though a year would be good!)

    c) get basic email access on any of these cheap (2G?) handsets

    Any simple recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

    • Hi George,
      Thank you for the kind words regarding my website! To answer your questions in order:
      a) Which mobile network were you previously using? The credit is actually linked to your mobile phone SIM card rather than to the handset itself. Hence, you can contact your old network and report your SIM card as lost/stolen – they’ll be able to re-issue a new SIM card with your credit on it (EE and T-Mobile charge £10.21 for a replacement SIM card, most other networks will send you a replacement for free). Please be aware: if you have an unregistered Pay As You Go SIM card, it can sometimes be difficult to get the SIM card re-issued (you’ll need to pass a security check from the network).
      b) The table above shows rates for each mobile network. On most mobile networks, credit shouldn’t expire providing you use the phone at least once every six months (be sure not to buy a bundle which will require you top-up your phone every month).
      c) The vast majority of low-cost handsets won’t allow you to access your e-mail. If you want access to your e-mail, it might be worth having a look at some low-cost smartphones (e.g. the Lumia 435 is £65 unlocked). A low-cost smartphone will allow you to access your e-mail free of charge when connected to wi-fi.
      Hope this helps!

      • Hi Bob,
        Good find – it looks like their website needs a little bit of updating! Family Mobile did originally use signal from T-Mobile. However, T-Mobile completed a merger of their network with Orange sometime around 2012 (hence, customers now get access to the 2G & 3G networks originally provided by both Orange and T-Mobile). For simplicity, we consider this as just the EE network. The information on their official website is around 2 years out-of-date and needs updating! 😉

  • We manly use our landline for both calls and internet Both my husband and I have mobiles. He is retired, in his 80s and uses his rarely (mainly to track me down) and has been with O2 forever. A £10 topup lasts him for 2 or 3 months. He has, however, now got an android smartphone and would like to be able to check his emails while out and about. I would imagine his data usage will be minimal and therefore a monthly inclusive package would be wasted.

    what would you suggest?

    • Hi Gill,
      Thanks for your comment! As your husband now uses a smartphone, you’d be looking for a tariff with affordable mobile internet.
      On O2 Pay As You Go, it would normally cost £1/day to access mobile internet or you can buy one of the £10/month Big Bundle packages. Clearly, this is very expensive given a £10 top-up will normally last you 2 to 3 months. It’s also probably overkill as he won’t require a huge amount of data to check e-mail on the go (as you pointed out in your comment).
      My two suggested tariffs would probably be as follows:
      1. EE now have a Pay As You Go deal where it’s £1/week for 100MB of internet. This should be more than sufficient for e-mail on the go. You also get 10 minutes & 10 texts per week (perfect for finding each other when you’re out and about). You can order a free SIM card from EE via this link – you can also keep the existing phone number from O2.
      2. Three’s 321 tariff will only charge you 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB for accessing mobile internet. This is substantially cheaper than using O2 Pay As You Go (you’d probably spend less than 10p/day for accessing the mobile internet).
      Best wishes and hope this helps to answer your question!

  • Hi I want a cheap pay as you go sim for my mum she doesn’t want top up on the internet so that rules giffgaff out even though you can use their vouchers.

    Doesn’t use a 3g phone or uses the internet on phone or at home.

    Looking at Asda Mobile as it has a shop and phone call presence.

    Uses the phone very rarely maybe 30 mins a month. Any ideas before i go with ASDA Mobile.

    • Hi Amir,
      Thanks for your comment. It is possible to top-up your giffgaff SIM card without using the internet: you buy a voucher like you said in your comment then call 43430 and follow the voice-guided instructions. Alternatively, you could configure auto top-up using a debit or credit card (extra credit will automatically be added to your account every time your balance goes below £3).
      Aside from that, the option you mentioned (using ASDA Mobile), would also be a very good choice!

      • Sure i replied to this how come my message was deleted out.

        So are you going to update the 0845 and 0800 number what it costs to call from pay as you go. The one you have is hopelessly out of date written in 2009.

        No mention of what ASDA charge. Otherwise great site Ken keep up the good work

        • Hi Amir,
          Thanks for the comment. I actually replied to your last message over on this thread – sorry for the confusion! The reply has the latest 0800, 0845 & 0870 rates for ASDA Mobile.
          With regards to our article on 08 number rates, it is on my list of things I want to do (sorry, things have been crazy over the last few months!). I do hope to re-visit the article in the future – in the mean time I hope you’ll find it helpful having the rates for ASDA Mobile.

  • Hi Ken,

    I am looking for a PAYG 2G standard size SIM card to fit into a GPS/SMS/GPRS Tracker. I need to be able to top-up online too.

    What would you recommend?


    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your comment. As you’re looking for a data-only SIM card, this rules out a number of tariffs which can only be used within a handset (more specifically, you’re looking for a mobile broadband SIM card). Also, as your device is 2G, it puts Three out of the running (Three only has 3G and 4G coverage). Based on the criteria you’ve given, the best value deal would probably be giffgaff. You’d pay a flat rate of 20p per day when using data on the tracker device. You can order a free SIM card here.
      Hope this helps!

  • Hello Ken/ everyone,

    I am new to the UK, and I got a new company phone ( unfortunately it’s a blackberry ).

    In parallel I own a iPhone 5, with no SIM card in it.

    So my question is: How can I get 3g or 4g on my Iphone without having to get a phone number on it ( as I will not use it).

    If this is not possible, what options do I have. I read somewhere about the PAYG system here in the UK.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Best Regards


    • Hi Karim,
      Welcome to the UK! Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get 3G or 4G without having a SIM card in the phone. As part of getting a SIM card, you’ll be assigned with a phone number (of course, you don’t actually need to use the phone). As someone mainly using data, look out for the best data packages (e.g. giffgaff’s £12 goodybag gives you unlimited data on 3G).
      As an alternative, you can also tether from your BlackBerry. This allows you to browse on-the-go without having a separate SIM card/contract.
      Hope this helps!

  • i cant find the voicemail charges i need a network p as you g that has free voice mail to listen to i have no calls but about 30 a week voice mails and it cost me to listen to them help

    • Hi Alan,
      Thanks for your comment! Place your mouse over the “…” for each network to see their voicemail charges. Unfortunately, no network offers free calls to voicemail (it is a service that costs them money to provide). However, Three charges just 3p/minute so is a fairly low-cost offering. If you buy a Pay As You Go bundle, you’ll normally get voicemail included in your minutes.
      Hope this helps,

      • yes ken thanks i just need to hear my voice mail then i will phone back on a house phone if its there house phone i get free calls house to house

  • Hi Ken,
    thank you for great job.
    May be you know
    I use now sim from Three but my mobile displays Orange as my Network.
    That phone was never locked and allocated to any network.
    This is dual sim Nokia and the second sim is from Delight.

    • Hi Andru,
      Thanks for your comment! The most likely explanation is that your dual-SIM handset only supports 2G on your Three SIM card (voice/text coverage). In certain areas, Three has a 2G service provided by Orange (though they began turning it off as early as 2011). As Orange is being displayed as your network, you’ll be using the 2G roaming service.
      Hope this helps!

  • These are worth considering too:

    Simplecall Mobile (Orange)
    UK Landline 3p per min
    UK Mobile 4p per min
    UK Text 5p per msg
    UK Picture & Video Messages 30p per msg
    UK Internet 10p per Mb

    The new 3 payg 321
    3p calls 2p texts 1p mb data

    Victory Mobile (EE)
    UK mobiles 4p
    UK SMS 4p
    Landlines 4p
    Voicemail 4p
    0800 prefix 10p
    0845, 0870/1 etc 25p
    Data 4p/MB
    Victory to Victory calls FREE FREE
    Victory to Victory SMS FREE FREE

    White Mobile (EE/orange)
    White Mobile to White Mobile UK Calls FREE International Text Messages from 10p
    White Mobile to White Mobile UK Text FREE Voicemail FREE
    Calls to UK Landline 3p ’0800′ prefix numbers 10p
    Other UK Mobile 6p ’0845/0870′ prefix numbers 25p
    UK Text Messages 5p Data 2.5p/MB

  • Michael Wilkinson said:

    For a one off payment of £20 you can get a Freedom sim from Ovivo which will give you

    150 mins + 250 texts + 500MB data per month.

    If you do not exceed that limit you will never pay another penny.
    I got mine 4 months ago and as a light user have no problem staying within the limit.
    Best deal Ive ever had.

    • The table unfortunately does not appear in your email which is a shame (probably would not fit well anyway). Also can’t help feeling sorry for Ovivo as their free calls/texts/data (150mins/250texts/500mb) package although quite limited do not show in your comparison (not easy to fit everything in I realise).

    • Hi Michael and Bob,

      Thank you both for your comments! You make a really good point about Ovivo’s Freedom Plan – I’ll have a look into how to display this information more clearly in the table. Also thanks for the heads up about the e-mail formatting… I’ll take a look into this.


    • Hi Stew,

      Thanks for the comment! Funnily enough, EE launched the UK’s first 4G Pay As You Go tariff only this morning. Refer to the EE website for full details or see the review I posted earlier this month. EE charges 30p/minute and 12p/text. For mobile data, you’ll need to buy a bundle (e.g. £6/month for 500MB of data).


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