Get a free SIM card for your mobile phone: Pay As You Go offerings compared from 18 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 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 and 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 18 of the UK’s most popular Pay As You Go networks. We’ve included mainstream providers as well as lower-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 unlock your phone. See our guides to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy phone.
- 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 mobile network. You can get one 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.
41% of our readers choose to join giffgaff†
giffgaff offers a highly popular Pay As You Go SIM card. You can either buy their regular one-month goodybags or you can use it as a traditional Pay As You Go SIM card without the need to top-up every month. giffgaff is a fully-owned subsidiary of O2 so members will get the same coverage as customers on O2.
Most giffgaff members choose to buy a goodybag bundle. The most popular bundles are 3GB data for £8, 15GB data for £10 and 30GB data for £15. You can also get 100GB data for £20 per month and unlimited data from £25 per month. All of giffgaff’s goodybag bundles come with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and access to 5G.
Meanwhile, if you’re using giffgaff on a pure Pay As You Go basis, there’s no need to top-up your phone 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 10p/MB if you don’t have a goodybag. You’ll also get free calls and texts to other giffgaff members as long as you’ve topped up in the past 3 months.
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 either £10 per month or £1 per day. Meanwhile, 1pMobile offers the lowest Pay As You Go rates at just 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB.
9% of our readers choose to join Vodafone†
On Vodafone’s Pay As You Go service, you can buy a Big Value Bundle from £10 per month. Until the 31st January, you’ll get up to 5x data for the first three months. This means you’ll get 25GB data for £10/month, then 5GB after the first three months. You’ll also get unlimited minutes and texts included.
If you want to use your mobile phone without topping up every month, you can join Vodafone’s Pay As You Go 1 instead. On this plan, you’ll pay £1 per day. This is only charged on the days that you use your mobile phone so it can work out cheaper than buying a bundle depending on your usage. The £1 daily fee gives you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data to use on the same day, with the only obligation being to use your phone at least once every 180 days.
9% of our readers choose to join 1pMobile†
If you’d like the lowest possible Pay As You Go rates, 1pMobile has a Pay As You Go SIM card with rates of just 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. The network, which is operated by the sister company of Utility Warehouse, offers 4G & 5G coverage from EE. You can also buy a Data Boost bundle from £6/month for 2GB of data.
A unique requirement of 1pMobile is that you’ll need to top-up your phone with at least £10 of credit every 120 days. This is equivalent to adding £30 of new credit each year. If you don’t meet the minimum top-up requirement of £10 every 120 days, your 1pMobile account will be closed and your phone number will be lost. For this reason, we’d only recommend choosing 1pMobile if your average monthly spend will exceed £2.50/month (otherwise, a non-refundable balance would build up over time on your account).
Other major Pay As You Go providers include:
10% of our readers choose to join EE†
If you’re using an EE Pay As You Go SIM card, you’ll pay £10 per month for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of data. Each Pay As You Go Pack will last for 30 days but you can roll over unused data within 7 days of your previous pack expiring.
For light users who opt out of buying a Pay As You Go pack, calls will cost 35p/minute and texts will cost 15p each. You’ll need to buy a one-month pack if you want to access the internet on your phone.
For more information, read our EE Pay As You Go review.
6% of our readers choose to join O2†
On O2’s Pay As You Go service, you can get 10GB data for £10/month. You’ll also get unlimited minutes and texts included.
As a special offer, it’s currently possible to get £10 of free credit on O2 Pay As You Go. You’ll get this when you order your SIM card online and when you activate it on a Big Bundle plan within 28 days. Text FREE10 to 21500 once you’ve activated your SIM card.
One benefit of joining O2’s Pay As You Go service is access to exclusive discounts and offers through O2 Priority. This includes a range of freebies every week including coffee, cinema tickets and sausage rolls.
For more information, see our O2 Pay As You Go review.
Tip: If you’re a regular mobile user, giffgaff offers more data for a lower monthly price. For £10/month, you’ll get 15GB of data on giffgaff (versus 10GB on O2). You’ll also get 5G on giffgaff. giffgaff is owned by O2 and uses the O2 network for coverage. Find out more about giffgaff.
6% of our readers choose to join Three†
Three offers a Pay As You Go service with Data Pack bundles from £10. A monthly top-up of £10 on Three will give you 8GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts. You can use the allowances from your bundle in the UK and when 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. Alternatively, you can get lower rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB on the Data Reward SIM card. The Data Reward SIM card also gives you 200MB of free data every month without the need to top-up. For more information, see our Data Reward SIM card review.
It’s important to note that you can’t use a 2G-only phone on Three. This is because Three doesn’t provide any 2G coverage. Some dual-SIM phones may also fail to work on Three’s network if the secondary SIM card slot only supports 2G.
9% of our readers choose to join Vodafone†
Vodafone offers a choice of two plans on their Pay As You Go SIM card.
Regular mobile users should buy a 30-day Big Value Bundle. For instance, a £10 monthly top-up will give you 5GB of data along with unlimited UK minutes and unlimited UK texts. You can rollover any unused allowances when you automatically renew your bundle.
Light mobile users can choose Vodafone’s Pay As You Go 1 plan instead. On Pay As You Go 1, you’ll pay £1/day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data. This is only charged on the days that you use your mobile phone.
The following virtual network operators also offer a Pay As You Go service:
9% of our readers choose to join 1pMobile†
On 1pMobile, you’ll pay 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. There’s no monthly charge for using your 1pMobile SIM card but you’ll need to add £10 of new credit every 120 days (equivalent to £30 of credit per year).
If you don’t top-up your SIM with at least £10 of credit every 120 days, your account will be closed and your phone number will be lost. For this reason, 1pMobile is not suitable for very light users wanting a SIM card for emergency usage.
You’ll get coverage from EE on a 1pMobile SIM card.
8% of our readers choose to join ASDA Mobile†
ASDA Mobile offers Pay As You Go bundles with 99% population coverage from the Vodafone network.
You’ll get access to Vodafone’s 3G & 4G network on all ASDA Mobile plans. In addition, bundles costing £10/month or more will also include access to Vodafone’s 5G network.
1% of our readers choose to join CMLink†
CMLink is a Pay As You Go provider that’s designed for customers with a connection to China. You can buy a one-month bundle such as 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB data for £8.88/month. This also includes an allowance of international minutes and a roaming data allowance for use in Mainland China and Hong Kong.
In the UK, customers on CMLink have access to 4G and 5G coverage on EE.
41% of our readers choose to join giffgaff†
giffgaff is a low-cost mobile network with coverage from O2. They currently offer 15GB of data on their £10 golden goodybag. You’ll also get unlimited minutes and unlimited texts included on this plan.
Heavy data users can get 30GB of data for £15/month or 100GB of data for £20/month. Unlimited data is available from £25/month (though you’ll need to pay £35 for unlimited data without speed restrictions). For more information, see the giffgaff website.
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 data for £10/month. Usage outside of your bundle will cost 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.
It isn’t possible to use a 2G-only handset on iD Mobile. This is because iD Mobile doesn’t offer any 2G coverage.
1% of our readers choose to join Lebara Mobile†
In the UK, Lebara Mobile offers Pay As You Go bundles with inclusive international calling. You can buy a 30-day Pay As You Go bundle from £5 with inclusive international minutes for calling 41 destinations.
Lebara Mobile offers 4G & 5G coverage from Vodafone. See our Lebara Mobile coverage map.
1% of our readers choose to join Lycamobile†
Lycamobile is another specialist provider of international calling. They offer free Pay As You Go SIM cards on plans from £5/month with inclusive international minutes. It’s also possible to make international calls on a Pay As You Go basis from 1p/minute. You can read our Lycamobile review for more information.
As of February 2015, it’s no longer possible to get a Pay As You Go SIM card from Orange. Customers are instead advised to join EE Pay As You Go. EE has 4G connectivity and offers Pay As You Go bundles from £5/month.
In July 2018, customers on Orange Pay As You Go were migrated to EE.
2% of our readers choose to join RWG Mobile†
RWG Mobile advertises itself as “the mobile network for Wales”. It offers coverage from the EE network with bilingual customer support in both English and Welsh.
2% of our readers choose to join Tesco Mobile†
For regular mobile users, it’s possible to buy a Rocket Pack bundle from £7.50/month. The most popular Rocket Pack bundle costs £10/month and gives you 5000 minutes, 5000 texts and 10GB of data.
For light users not wanting to buy a Rocket Pack, it’s possible to switch to the Triple Credit plan. Here, you’ll pay 25p/minute, 10p/text and 10p/MB. Whenever you top-up your SIM card by £10 per month, you’ll get £20 of bonus credit that lasts for one month. This essentially triples the amount of credit you have to use in 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 legacy Smart Packs.
Customers already on T-Mobile can stay on their existing plan for as long as they like.
0.4% 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 previously offered Pay As You Go JAM Packs with 3G coverage from EE. This was closed to new customers in July 2020 and is being phased out for existing customers by February 2022. Virgin Mobile now only offers Pay Monthly SIM cards.
0.7% of our readers choose to join VOXI†
VOXI is Vodafone’s low-cost Pay As You Go sub-brand. They currently offer a free Pay As You Go SIM card, allowing you to access 99% population coverage from the Vodafone network. You’ll also get access to 5G coverage if you have a 5G-ready phone.
For £10/month, you can get 15GB of data on VOXI along with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and endless social media data. This gives you unlimited data for use on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook Messenger.
For endless video, you can choose a VOXI Pay As You Go plan from £15/month. This comes with unlimited data for use on TikTok, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, My5, TV Player, UKTV Play and more.
Most VOXI customers decide to convert their Pay As You Go 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. You’ll need to buy a bundle from £10/month to access the internet. 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), see our guide to smartphone SIM card sizes. Alternatively, if you need an eSIM, see our guide to eSIM on UK mobile networks and the best eSIM plans.
The “£10 top-up buys” calculation is based on a user who tops up by £10 every month. If you top up less than once per 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 28th September 2021 to the 27th December 2021.
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 use one of the four following network coverage providers:
|Which Pay As You Go SIM cards offer 5G coverage?||
At present, 5G coverage is available on the following Pay As You Go SIM cards:
|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 for 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 get a PAC Code from your current network, and give it to your new mobile network once you’ve signed up.