Get a free SIM card for your mobile phone: Pay As You Go offerings compared from 19 UK networks.
Whether you’re a smartphone fanatic or someone who only uses their phone on an occasional basis, there are some great deals to be had when you order a free Pay As You Go SIM card in the UK.
The best Pay As You Go SIM cards offer super-low rates that can even rival Pay Monthly SIM cards in terms of value for money. To take advantage of the best offers currently available, simply order a free SIM card below and slot it inside your mobile phone. There are no credit checks required or upfront fees to pay. There’s also no need to set up a direct debit: simply top-up your SIM card when you need credit to pay for your usage.
In the table below, we’ve reviewed free SIM card offers from 19 of the UK’s most popular Pay As You Go networks. We’ve included mainstream providers as well as low-cost alternatives and specialist Pay As You Go mobile networks for calling another country. We’ve also compared the cost of each network to help you get the best value for money.
- Changing mobile network? If you’re keeping the same phone but changing to another network, it might be necessary to first unlock your handset. See our guides to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy handset.
- Coverage is identical on lots of mobile networks. Lots of mobile networks share the same coverage provider so you’ll get identical levels of coverage when using any of these networks. To give an example, giffgaff uses coverage from O2. See our list of mobile networks that use coverage from EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
- Keeping your mobile number. If you’re changing mobile networks, it’s super easy to keep your current phone number. After ordering your new Pay As You Go SIM card, get a PAC Code from your old network, either online or by text message. You can then pass this PAC Code on to your new mobile network and your phone number will be moved over on the next working day. For more information, see our guide to transferring your mobile phone number.
Best Pay As You Go SIM Card Offers
At present, giffgaff is our top pick amongst the UK’s Pay As You Go offerings. They offer flexible Pay As You Go bundles, with 99% population coverage from O2.
23% of our readers choose to join giffgaff†
giffgaff is a highly popular Pay As You Go offering with flexible one-month Pay As You Go plans from £6/month. You can also use it on a Pay As You Go basis without topping up your phone every month. A fully-owned subsidiary of O2, members of giffgaff get the exact same coverage as customers on O2.
Most giffgaff members choose to buy a goodybag bundle. For most people, we’d recommend giffgaff’s £10 golden goodybag. This gives you 9GB of data along with unlimited minutes and texts.
For lighter users, giffgaff’s £8 goodybag can give you even bigger savings (you’ll get 2GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts for £8/month). Alternatively, if you’d like a larger data allowance, you can get 15GB of data for £15/month or a massive 80GB of data for £20/month. Always On data is available for £25/month, giving you unlimited downloads with the first 80GB per month at full 4G speeds.
If you’re using giffgaff on a pure Pay As You Go basis, there’s no need to top-up every month. Your credit also won’t expire providing you use your SIM card at least once every six months. You’ll pay 25p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB for regular Pay As You Go usage. You’ll also get free calls and texts to other giffgaff members (to qualify, you’ll just need to top-up your phone at least once every 3 months). giffgaff also offers discounted rates for international calling.
Other popular choices amongst readers of our website include Vodafone Pay As You Go and 1pMobile. On Vodafone, you can use your mobile phone from £1 per day or from £10 per month. Meanwhile, 1pMobile offers the lowest Pay As You Go rates at 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB:
3% of our readers choose to join Vodafone†
On Vodafone Pay As You Go, you can buy a Big Value Bundle from £10 per month. Customers joining before the 15th January 2021 will get five times more data for the first 3 months. This means you’ll get 15GB of data for £10 per month (normally 3GB per month outside of the offer).
Alternatively, if you want to use your mobile phone without any regular monthly charges, you can join Vodafone’s Pay As You Go 1 plan. On this plan, you’ll pay £1 per day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data. There’s no need to pay on the days when you don’t use your mobile phone, making this ideal for light users.
11% of our readers choose to join 1pMobile†
If you’d like the lowest possible Pay As You Go rates, 1pMobile is a small Pay As You Go provider with eye-catching rates of 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. The network, which is operated by the sister company of Utility Warehouse, offers 3G & 4G coverage from EE. Smartphone users can buy a Data Boost bundle from £6/month.
A unique requirement of 1pMobile is you’ll need to top-up your phone with at least £10 of credit every 120 days. This is equivalent to £30 of credit per year. If you don’t meet the £10 every 120 days minimum top-up requirement, your 1pMobile account will be closed and your phone number will be lost. For this reason, we’d only recommend choosing 1pMobile if your typical monthly spend will exceed £2.50/month (otherwise, a non-refundable balance will build up over time on your account).
Other major Pay As You Go providers include:
8% of our readers choose to join EE†
EE offers 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data on their £10 Pay As You Go Pack. Alternatively, customers can buy a £10 Talk Focussed Pack with 400 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data. EE’s Pay As You Go Packs last for 30 days but it’s possible to roll over unused data within 7 days of your previous pack expiring.
For light users not buying a Pay As You Go pack, calls will cost 35p/minute and texts will cost 15p each. Access to 3G & 4G internet is only available when you buy a pack from EE. The cheapest available pack costs £5/month and gives you 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data.
For more information, read our full review of EE Pay As You Go.
5% of our readers choose to join O2†
On O2’s Pay As You Go service, it’s possible to get a one-month Big Bundle with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts from £5/month. If you’re a smartphone user, you can get a Big Bundle from £10/month with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data.
At present, you can get £10 of extra credit for free on O2. This is available when you order your SIM card online and when you buy a £5, £10, £15 or £30 Big Bundle within 28 days of receiving your SIM card. You’ll need to text FREE10 to 21500 once you’ve received and topped up your SIM card. You’ll also get access to discounts and offers through O2 Priority.
Tip: If you’re a regular mobile user, giffgaff offers more data for a lower monthly price. For £10/month, you’ll get 9GB of data on giffgaff (versus just 6GB on O2). giffgaff is owned by O2 and uses the O2 network for coverage. Find out more about giffgaff.
5% of our readers choose to join Three†
Three offers a “supercharged” Pay As You Go service with Data Pack bundles starting from £10/month. For a £10 top-up, you’ll get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data. The allowances within your bundle can be used in the UK and abroad in 71 Go Roam destinations.
For customers not buying a Pay As You Go bundle, Three charges 10p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB. This applies to all customers ordering a SIM card from the 14th February 2020 onwards. Alternatively, lower rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB are still available on Three’s Data Reward SIM card. You’ll also get 200MB of free data every month without the need to top-up your SIM. See our full guide to the Data Reward SIM card for more information.
Importantly, it isn’t possible to use a 2G-only handset on Three. This is because Three doesn’t provide any 2G coverage. Your handset will need to support at least 3G coverage to work on Three’s network.
3% of our readers choose to join Vodafone†
Vodafone offers a choice of two Pay As You Go plans.
Regular mobile users should buy a 30-day Big Value Bundle. For instance, a £10/month top-up will give you 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of data (15GB for the first 3 months, when you sign up before the 15th January). You can rollover your unused allowances when you automatically renew your bundle.
Occasional or light mobile users can choose Vodafone’s Pay As You Go 1 instead. On Pay As You Go 1, you’ll pay £1/day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data.
The following virtual network operators also offer a Pay As You Go service:
11% of our readers choose to join 1pMobile†
On 1pMobile, you’ll pay 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. There’s no ongoing monthly charge for using your 1pMobile SIM card. You’ll get 3G and 4G coverage from the EE network.
At present, 1pMobile has the lowest Pay As You Go rates of any mobile network in the UK. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that they require you to top-up by at least £10 every 120 days (equivalent to £30 per year). If you don’t top-up by at least £10 every 120 days, your account will be closed and your phone number will be lost. For this reason, 1pMobile may not be suitable for very light users wanting a SIM card mainly for emergencies.
24% of our readers choose to join ASDA Mobile†
ASDA Mobile offers a Pay As You Go mobile service with 4G coverage from EE.
At present, ASDA Mobile is undergoing a migration to use Vodafone’s network coverage instead of EE. When this happens, customers will get access to 5G. However, it’s likely the service will change dramatically as well (e.g. with updates to the pricing and new terms and conditions).
Because of the ongoing migration to Vodafone, ASDA Mobile is no longer sending out new Pay As You Go SIM cards. If you’d like 4G coverage from EE, you can order a SIM card from EE or 1pMobile instead.
1% of our readers choose to join CMLink†
CMLink is a Pay As You Go provider, designed for customers who have a connection to China. Customers can buy a bundle on CMLink such as 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data for £9.99/month. You can use your inclusive data allowance in the UK, EU, Mainland China and Hong Kong. You’ll also get international minutes for calling Mainland China and Hong Kong numbers.
In the UK, customers on CMLink have access to 3G and 4G coverage on EE.
23% of our readers choose to join giffgaff†
giffgaff is a low-cost mobile network with coverage from O2. They currently offer 9GB of data on their £10 golden goodybag. You’ll also get unlimited minutes and unlimited texts included.
2% of our readers choose to join iD Mobile†
Customers on iD Mobile Pay As You Go can buy a bundle such as unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data for £10/month. Usage outside of the bundle will cost 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.
It isn’t possible to use a 2G-only handset on iD Mobile. As with Three, iD Mobile doesn’t have any 2G coverage so an iD Mobile SIM card will not work in a 2G-only device.
2% of our readers choose to join Lebara Mobile†
Lebara Mobile is a specialist provider of international phone calls. You can buy a 30-day bundle from £5/month with Pay As You Go bundles including an allowance of international minutes. For instance, you’ll get 1000 UK minutes, 100 international minutes, 1000 UK texts and 2GB of data for £5/month. This increases to unlimited UK minutes and 3GB of data for £10/month.
1% of our readers choose to join Lycamobile†
Lycamobile is another specialist provider of international calling. They offer international calls from 1p/minute and international text messages for 19p each. Domestic calls to a UK mobile are charged at 19p/minute and texts to a UK mobile are charged at 19p each. You can read our full review of Lycamobile here.
As of February 2015, it’s no longer possible to order a SIM card from Orange. Customers are instead advised to join EE Pay As You Go. EE has 4G connectivity with Pay As You Go bundles starting from only £5/month.
In July 2018, customers on Orange Pay As You Go were migrated to EE.
|The Phone Co-op
1% of our readers choose to join The Phone Co-op†
The Phone Co-op (previously known as the Co-Operative Mobile) charges 8p/minute, 4p/text and 10p/MB when you’re browsing the internet.
For regular users, it’s possible to buy an all-inclusive bundle from £10/month. The most popular bundle from Co-op costs £10/month and gives you 500 minutes, 1000 texts and 1GB of 3G internet.
In June 2018, The Phone Co-op became a part of The Midcounties Co-operative. Since the merger, you’ll earn 12 points for every £1 you spend on the network. This is equivalent to getting 5% back on your spend.
0.9% of our readers choose to join RWG Mobile†
RWG Mobile advertises itself as “the mobile network for Wales”. It uses coverage from the EE network, and offers bilingual customer support in both English and Welsh.
3% of our readers choose to join Tesco Mobile†
For regular mobile users, it’s possible to buy a Rocket Pack bundle from £5/month. The most popular Rocket Pack bundle costs £10/month and gives you 5000 minutes, 5000 texts and 8GB of data.
For lighter users not buying a Rocket Pack, Tesco Mobile also has the Triple Credit tariff. Here, you’ll pay 25p/minute, 10p/text and 10p/MB. You’ll get £20 of bonus free credit that lasts for one month when you top-up your phone with £10 (essentially, tripling your credit for that month).
For more information, read our full review of Tesco Mobile Pay As You Go.
As of February 2015, it’s no longer possible to order a T-Mobile SIM card. Customers wanting to join T-Mobile are instead advised to join EE. EE offers 4G connectivity and has Pay As You Go Packs that are very similar to T-Mobile’s Smart Packs.
Customers already on T-Mobile can stay on their existing plan for as long as they like.
1% of our readers choose to join Vectone Mobile†
Vectone Mobile is a specialist provider of international calling. See our international calls price comparison table to see how Vectone Mobile compares to rival networks.
Virgin Mobile’s Pay As You Go service closed in July 2020. Previously, they offered Pay As You Go JAM Packs with 3G coverage from EE.
If you’re looking for an alternative network that uses EE for coverage, we’d recommend getting a Pay As You Go SIM card from EE instead. They offer faster 4G coverage which was previously not available on Virgin Mobile’s JAM Packs. Virgin Mobile now only offers Pay Monthly SIM cards.
10% of our readers choose to join VOXI†
For £10/month, you can get 6GB of data on VOXI along with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and endless social media. The inclusion of endless social media gives you unlimited data for use on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook Messenger without it counting towards your normal 6GB allowance.
If you’re looking for a 5G-ready plan, VOXI also has 5G-ready Pay As You Go plans from £15/month. You’ll get endless video included on VOXI’s 5G price plans, giving you unlimited data for use on YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, My5, TV Player and UKTV Play.
Most VOXI customers decide to convert their credit into a one-month bundle. However, if you decide not to do this, you can use VOXI on a traditional Pay As You Go basis at 30p/minute and 14p/text. Accessing mobile data will require you to buy a bundle from £10/month. For more information, see our VOXI review.
For more information about any of the SIM cards listed on this page, please click through to the mobile network’s website. Our recommended deal is currently to order a free SIM card from giffgaff.
If you’re asked to specify the size of SIM card required in your phone (e.g. Standard SIM, Micro SIM or Nano SIM), please see our guide to smartphone SIM card sizes. Alternatively, if you need an eSIM, see our guide to eSIM on UK mobile networks.
The “£10 top-up buys” calculation is based on a user who tops up by £10 every month. If you top up less regularly than once every month, your allowances may run out before the next top-up.
† Statistics on mobile network chosen by readers of this article. Based on the number of Free SIM click-throughs from the 15th July 2020 to the 14th October 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
|What are the best Pay As You Go SIM cards currently available?||
There are numerous Pay As You Go SIM card offers currently available. The following SIM cards are currently the most popular:
|How does coverage compare across different Pay As You Go SIMs?||
In the UK, all Pay As You Go networks make use of one of four network coverage providers:
|What are the best Pay As You Go SIM cards for light usage?||
There are a number of important considerations for light mobile users, discussed in more detail here. However, for most people, we think the following Pay As You Go networks are worth considering:
|Are there any Pay As You Go SIM cards that don’t expire?|
|Will I need to undergo a credit check for Pay As You Go SIM cards?||
No. You can get a free Pay As You Go SIM card without the need to undergo a credit check.
|Can I keep my current phone number when changing network?||
Yes. It’s easy keeping your current phone number when moving to a new Pay As You Go network. Simply request a PAC Code from your current network by app or by text message, and give it to your new mobile network after you sign up.
For more information, you can read our guides to Pay As You Go in the UK and our in-depth reviews of every UK mobile network. You may also wish to consider a Pay Monthly SIM card if you’re willing to undergo a credit check.