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.
31% of our readers choose to join giffgaff†
giffgaff offers a highly popular Pay As You Go SIM card. It gives you the choice of regular one-month goodybag bundles or a traditional Pay As You Go service without the need to top-up every month. A fully-owned subsidiary of O2, members of giffgaff 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, 9GB data for £10 and 25GB 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 plans come with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts. You’ll also get access to 5G on golden goodybags from £10 per month.
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 10p/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).
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 £10 per month or £1 per day. Meanwhile, 1pMobile offers the lowest Pay As You Go rates at 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB.
7% 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. This will give you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of data to use over the next 30 days. You can roll over any unused allowances into the following month’s bundle on your SIM card.
Alternatively, if you want to use your phone without topping up every month, you can join Vodafone Pay As You Go 1 instead. On this plan, you’ll pay £1 per day. However, this is only charged on the days that you use your mobile phone. The £1 daily fee gives you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data to use the same day. If you’re a light user, the only obligation to use your phone at least once every 180 days.
11% of our readers choose to join 1pMobile†
If you’d like the lowest possible Pay As You Go rates, 1pMobile is a 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. If you’re a smartphone user, you can buy a Data Boost bundle from £6/month for 2GB of data on 1pMobile.
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 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:
9% 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 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data. Alternatively, you can opt for the £10 Talk Focussed Pack which gives you 400 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data. EE’s Pay As You Go Packs last for 30 days but you can 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. You’ll need to buy a one-month pack if you want to access mobile data 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, 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.
As a special offer, you can claim £15 of free Pay As You Go credit on O2. You’ll get £10 of free credit when you order your SIM card online and when you activate it with a £5, £10, £15 or £30 Big Bundle in the first 28 days. You’ll need to text FREE10 to 21500 once you’ve received and topped up your SIM card. If you register for the MyO2 app, you’ll get a further £5 of free credit. 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.
8% of our readers choose to join Three†
Three offers a ‘supercharged’ Pay As You Go service with Data Pack bundles from £10/month. A £10 top-up on Three will give you 6GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts to use over one month. The allowances in your bundle can be used inside 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, lower rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB are still available on Three’s Data Reward SIM card. On the Data Reward SIM card, you’ll also get 200MB of free data every month without the need to top-up. 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.
7% 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:
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.
6% of our readers choose to join ASDA Mobile†
For existing customers, ASDA Mobile offers a Pay As You Go service with 4G coverage from EE.
As of early 2021, ASDA Mobile has paused sending out new Pay As You Go SIM cards. This is because they’re currently undergoing a migration to use Vodafone’s network for coverage instead of EE. When they re-launch (likely to be around April 2021), they’ll be offering a Pay As You Go SIM card with coverage from Vodafone instead.
After the migration to Vodafone, ASDA Mobile customers will gain access to 5G. However, it isn’t currently known how the pricing and the terms and conditions will change following the migration to Vodafone.
2% 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.
31% 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.
Heavy data users can get 25GB 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.
5% 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. Further 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. This is because iD Mobile doesn’t offer any 2G coverage (like Three, which provides the underlying coverage for iD Mobile).
1% of our readers choose to join Lebara Mobile†
Lebara Mobile is a specialist provider of international phone calls. You can buy a 30-day Pay As You Go bundle from £5/month with an inclusive allowance of international minutes. For instance, you’ll currently get 1000 UK minutes, 100 international minutes, 1000 UK texts and 2GB of data for £5/month.
2% 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 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 with Pay As You Go bundles from £5/month.
In July 2018, customers on Orange Pay As You Go were migrated to EE.
|The Phone Co-op
3% of our readers choose to join The Phone Co-op†
The Phone Co-op (previously known as the Co-Operative Mobile) charges 8p/minute and 4p/text. You’ll pay 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 the 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.
2% 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.
2% 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. 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.
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.
3% 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 data. The inclusion of endless social media gives you unlimited data for use on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook Messenger.
If you’re looking for access to 5G, VOXI also has 5G-ready Pay As You Go plans from £12/month. You’ll get endless video streaming included on VOXI’s 5G 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), 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 25th November 2020 to the 24th February 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 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 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 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 as well as our in-depth mobile network reviews. You may also wish to consider a SIM-only deal if you’re willing to sign up for a contract and to undergo a credit check.