Mobile networks like iD Mobile, SMARTY Mobile and Superdrug Mobile piggyback on Three’s coverage in the UK.

Three Piggyback SIM Card CoverageIn the UK, there are only four network coverage providers: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Every other mobile network is a “virtual network operator”, piggybacking on coverage from one of the big four providers.

At present, a number of mobile networks piggyback on coverage from Three. The two biggest ones are iD Mobile and SMARTY, with the smaller providers being Superdrug Mobile and FreedomPop. On all of these networks, you’ll get the same 3G & 4G coverage as customers on Three, but sometimes with different features and benefits such as data rollover on iD Mobile and unused data discounts on SMARTY.

In this article, we’ll review and compare the mobile networks using coverage from Three in the UK. We’ll compare the best value SIM cards with Three coverage, ranging in price from £5/month up to £20/month and more.

Mobile Networks Using Three Coverage

In the UK, Three offers 99.8% population coverage on 4G and 98.7% population coverage on 3G. Three is currently rolling out 5G coverage across the UK, with 25 towns and cities due to receive 5G coverage by the end of 2019.

The following table shows a list of mobile networks piggybacking on coverage from Three. On all of these networks, you’ll get the same 99.8% population coverage that’s available to customers on Three:

Mobile NetworkCoverage Provider2G3G4G5GCoverage Checker
FreedomPopThree*Check FreedomPop Coverage
iD MobileThreeCheck iD Mobile Coverage
SmartyThreeCheck Smarty Coverage
Superdrug MobileThreeCheck Superdrug Mobile Coverage
ThreeThreeCheck Three Coverage

* FreedomPop uses the mobile data connection for calling and texting. This means the coverage and service reliability is more limited compared to other networks using Three.

For a full list of UK mobile networks and the coverage providers they’re using, please see our in-depth guide to mobile phone coverage in the UK.

Tariff Information & Coverage Map

You can find out more information about each network by tapping on the relevant logo to visit their website:

You can also read our in-depth review of the coverage that’s available on Three.

In addition to the above types of coverage, customers on iD Mobile and Three can access Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling with a compatible handset.

Unfortunately, 2G coverage isn’t available on Three or on any other mobile network that uses coverage from Three. Your smartphone will therefore need to support 3G coverage as a minimum (it isn’t possible to use a 2G-only handset). Certain dual-SIM smartphones may not be compatible with Three or with any other mobile network using coverage from Three.

Deals By Price Range

Through the rest of this article, we’ll compare the best value SIM cards giving you coverage from Three. We’ve separated all of the plans out by price range, starting from £5/month up to £20/month and more.

Please select your preferred price range to see a list of currently available deals:

Less than £10/month

If you’re looking for a low-cost SIM card that costs less than £10/month, there are options available from iD Mobile, SMARTY and Three. Often, it’ll be possible to get a SIM card from just £5/month with inclusive minutes, texts and mobile data.

For light users, SMARTY’s £7.50/month Small plan is well worth a look. Available on a one-month rolling basis, you’ll get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data. There’s an unused data discount of £1.25/GB applying to this plan, meaning the amount you pay in future months could be less than this.

The following table shows SIM cards with coverage from Three that are available for less than £10/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
iD Mobile150Unlimited250MB£4.00
1 month
iD Mobile500Unlimited1GB£5.00
1 month
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited500MB£5.00
1 month
iD Mobile150Unlimited500MB£5.00
No contract
iD Mobile500Unlimited2GB£6.00
1 month
iD Mobile500Unlimited3GB£7.00
1 month
iD Mobile1,200Unlimited2.5GB£7.00
1 month
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£7.50
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£9.00
12 months
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£9.00
1 month

From £10/month

For £10/month, you can choose from a range of SIM cards from Three, iD Mobile, SMARTY and Superdrug Mobile.

On Pay Monthly, our recommended SIM card is SMARTY’s £10 Medium plan. On SMARTY, you’ll get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data. You’ll also receive a data discount for any data that you don’t actually use, at the rate of £1.25 per gigabyte. For instance, if you were to use only 2.4GB of data, you’d have 1.6GB of leftover data. This would translate through to a £2/month discount.

It could also be worth considering Three’s All-in-One 10 bundle which is available on a prepaid basis with no need for a credit check. On Three, you can benefit from the Go Roam offer which allows you to use your mobile phone abroad in 71 destinations at no extra charge.

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
1 month
Superdrug MobileUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
24 months
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
No contract
iD Mobile500Unlimited4GB£10.00
No contract
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£12.00
12 months
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£12.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£13.00
24 months
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£13.00
12 months
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£14.00
1 month

From £15/month

The following deals start from £15/month and offer coverage from Three:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£15.00
No contract
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£15.00
1 month
iD Mobile1,000Unlimited8GB£15.00
No contract
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited14GB£16.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£16.00
12 months
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£16.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited100GB£18.00
12 months
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£18.00
24 months
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£18.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£19.00
12 months
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£19.00
1 month

£20/month and more

The following deals are available from £20/month with coverage from Three. At this price point, you can normally get unlimited data on Three.

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£20.00
24 months
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited50GB£20.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£20.00
No contract
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£21.00
12 months
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£24.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£24.00
1 month
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£25.00
1 month
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£25.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£26.00
1 month
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited36GB£27.50
No contract
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£35.00
No contract

Traditional Pay As You Go

The lowest Pay As You Go rates with coverage from Three are available when you join Three directly on their 321 plan. Here, you’ll pay 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB with no need to top-up your phone every month (you just need to use your SIM card at least once every 180 days in order to keep it active). You’ll also benefit from Pay As You Go Rewards, and will be able to roam abroad at no extra charge in 71 destinations when buying an All-in-One bundle.

iD Mobile also offers a Pay As You Go service with the same 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB rates as Three. You’ll get the same coverage as customers on Three but without some of the other additional customer benefits like Go Roam or Pay As You Go Rewards.

More Information

For more information, please see our full guide to mobile phone coverage in the UK. For more information about specific price plans, see the Three, iD Mobile, SMARTY and Superdrug Mobile websites.

Your Comments 1 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 1 comment from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Grahame Thomson said:

    We are currently in Gozo, Malta and have been unable to connect to 3 since yesterday lunch time….we purchased a 12 gb bundle on Thursday and currently c9 gb left….all we get when we try to connect is cannot connect to server try again later. Seriously not impressed with the service. I do hope our month will be extended by this delay.

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