O2’s Classic Pay As You Go tariff charged 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. Customers get 4G coverage and access to O2 Priority.
In the UK, O2 offered a Pay As You Go tariff known as Classic Pay As You Go. Designed for light mobile users, the tariff had no regular monthly charges. Instead, customers only paid for what they actually used at the rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.
Customers on Classic Pay As You Go have full access to O2’s network, including 2G, 3G and 4G coverage. They also qualify for Priority, O2’s exclusive customer offers programme. This comes with a number of benefits such as a free hot drink from Caffè Nero most Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
As of November 2019, the Classic Pay As You Go tariff has been withdrawn for new customers. Instead, you should now consider joining 1pMobile instead, who charge 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. Customers who are already on Classic Pay As You Go can remain on the plan for the time being.
In this article, we’ll review O2’s Classic Pay As You Go tariff. We’ll start by looking at how much it costs and at the features and benefits of the tariff. We’ll then compare it to the deals available on other mobile networks before discussing coverage and how you can keep your existing phone number when moving to Classic Pay As You Go.
Classic Pay As You Go
On O2’s Classic Pay As You Go tariff, it’s possible to use your mobile phone without buying a regular monthly bundle. Instead, you’ll only pay for what you actually use at the rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB:
|Voice Calls||3p/minute (any network, any time)|
|Calls to Voicemail||3p/call|
|Calls to Special Rate Numbers||55p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
|Text Message (SMS)||2p|
|Picture Message (MMS)||45p|
It’s worth noting that mobile data charges are deducted from your credit each time you use a 20MB block of data or each time your data session ends. The cost of your data sessions will be rounded up to the nearest full penny before being the charge is deducted from your credit balance.
Prior to the 18th January 2018, customers on Classic Pay As You Go were charged 5p/minute, 5p/text and 5p/MB.
Credit Expiry & Inactivity
Unlike many other Pay As You Go offerings that revolve around the purchase of 30-day bundles, O2’s Classic Pay As You Go doesn’t require you to buy time-limited bundles. Instead, your top-up remains as credit on your account until the time you want to use it.
Your Pay As You Go credit doesn’t expire providing you keep your SIM card active by using it at least once every six months. Each time you add money to your SIM card, there’s a minimum top-up of £10.
For more information, see our in-depth guide to credit expiry and inactivity on UK Pay As You Go networks.
As a customer of O2 Classic Pay As You Go, you’ll have access to O2’s exclusive Priority offers.
Offers available through the O2 Priority app typically include a free hot drink from Caffè Nero on most Tuesdays. You can also get a £5 main course from Pizza Express each week, with offers from other major brands like Halfords and WHSmith rotating on the app.
In our opinion, the access you’ll get to O2 Priority is a strong reason for choosing it over some other Pay As You Go networks. The potential savings you’ll get from O2 Priority may even pay for your phone bill (e.g. taking advantage of a free Caffè Nero each week would already save you close to £10 per month).
If you’re a smartphone owner or regular mobile user, you might find yourself better off buying an O2 Big Bundle.
On Classic Pay As You Go, your £10 of credit will convert to 333 minutes, 500 texts or 1GB of data (in reality, it will probably be some combination of the three things).
With Big Bundles, you’ll instead convert a certain amount of credit into a 30-day allowance. As you’re buying your airtime in bulk, you’ll get much larger allowances for the same amount of money. For instance, you can get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of data for a £10 top-up. The disadvantage of choosing a Big Bundle over Classic Pay As You Go is that unused allowances will expire at the end of your 30-day bundle.
At present, O2 offers a choice of the following Big Bundle packages:
One thing that’s worth being aware of is you’ll pay higher out-of-allowance rates when on the Big Bundles tariff (35p/minute, 15p/text and £1/day for 50MB data). It’s not possible to retain Classic Pay As You Go rates when on the Big Bundles tariff.
Comparison to Alternatives
At 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB, O2 had some of the lowest Pay As You Go rates available in the UK.
One network that does offer slightly lower rates is 1pMobile, a virtual network operator from the sister company of Utility Warehouse. 1pMobile charges 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB (so is slightly cheaper for phone calls and text messages). However, a condition of the tariff is you’ll need to top-up by at least £10 every 120 days. 1pMobile makes use of coverage from EE (including 2G, 3G and 4G coverage).
If you’re a regular mobile user or smartphone owner, a Pay As You Go bundle will normally offer better value compared to traditional Pay As You Go. For instance, the following table shows what you could get for a £10 monthly top-up:
Our recommended £10/month bundle is giffgaff’s £10 goodybag. A low-cost sub-brand of O2, giffgaff offers unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data for £10. As giffgaff makes use of the O2 network, members of giffgaff get the exact same coverage as customers on O2.
Order giffgaff SIM card (free) →
For more information, please see our full comparison of classic Pay As You Go tariffs and monthly Pay As You Go bundles.
2G, 3G and 4G Coverage
Customers on Classic Pay As You Go will have access to O2’s UK-wide network. At the time of writing, O2 offers 99% population coverage including on 2G, 3G and 4G.
Before joining Classic Pay As You Go, we strongly recommended checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on O2’s online coverage map:
Check O2 Coverage (o2.co.uk) →
For more information, see our in-depth guide on O2’s UK mobile network coverage. Alternatively, see our guide to how mobile phone coverage works in the UK.
Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet).
Tethering is permitted on O2 Classic Pay As You Go. However, the charge of 1p/MB for mobile data usage can quickly add up if you tether on a regular basis. If you’d like a better value Pay As You Go network for tethering, we recommend giffgaff as an alternative (giffgaff provides 6GB of tetherable data for £10/month).
For more information, please see our in-depth article about tethering on UK mobile networks.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re switching from another mobile network to O2 Pay As You Go, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.
To do this, start by contacting your current mobile network and asking them for a PAC Code. Your current network needs to provide you with a PAC Code free of charge within two hours of your request.
Once you have a PAC Code from your old mobile network, order your new Pay As You Go SIM card from O2’s website. When your new SIM card arrives, give the PAC Code to O2 by submitting it through this online form. Your phone number transfer will normally take place on the next working day after you submit your PAC Code.
Please be aware that it isn’t possible to transfer credit from your existing mobile network to O2. For this reason, you should try to use up your credit before moving your phone number to O2.
For a step-by-step guide on moving your phone number to O2, please select your current mobile network from the drop down menu below:
For more information about Classic Pay As You Go, please see O2’s official website.
Your Comments 114 so far
We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 114 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.
Morning all. Just to let you know that a chargeable text DOES count, at least it always has for me. I have a couple of numbers on Classic Pay As Yo Go. I know the T&Cs say six months, but I normally put a date in my diary at 5 months and send a text to a number I know will reduce my balance by the two pence per text (I use the *#10# service to show balance before and after). I’ve never had a problem apart from the time I got my months mixed up. However, it was quickly solved by a call to Customer Services who reconnected the SIM after they confirmed it was me, but I’d do that sooner rather than later. Just be aware if you are able to reconnect your SIM, O2 told me it might take upto 24 hours for their reconnection request to work it’s way through the system for you to get your service/signal back. Be warned, I wasn’t able to get my credit back so had to top up again. Whether you do a reminder in your phone calendar, a traditional paper diary or something else I’d mark a date down within the 6 months to make sure you’re kept active.
i purchased o2 classic sim card only 3 (13-01-21)days ago i topped up and i have received the
classic 3-2-1 tariff
Have you tested the rates still apply by checking your balance before & after a call or text?
PS One worrying aspect – the o2 page for Classic now says you have to top up or buy a bolt-on every 6 months or they steal your balance and kill your number! Hasn’t happened to me yet, but I don’t know how long they’ve had this brutal policy.
Yes the classic 3p per min 2p SMS and 1p mg still apply before topping up the classic sim card simply call 4444 then pick option 3 then option 2 this gives all details and costs of calls etc
i believe as long as i make one chargeable service within any 6 months period the sim will stay active chargeable service includes calls SMS mgs
A BIT LATE . I had a todo with a 321 sim being disconnected though I had made a text message in time. It seems that their system at the time “overlooks” them. In the end I went to the top – the bosses office who confirmed the top up not required just a chargeable call,( but dont depend on text messages) At the time the person I spoke to in chat regurgitated the error about the top up every 6 months mentioned above.
Hi Ken could you please let me know if one buys a new 02 phone on payg can you get the classic 321deal thank you ?
Thanks for your comment. Sadly, the O2 Classic PAYG deal is no longer available. This includes if you buy a new Pay As You Go phone from O2. I believe this is only possible on Three’s 321 tariff.
Jake Mustard replied:
Just to let you know that I recently acquired an ‘O2 Classic PAYG (3-2-1) SIM’ on eBay for 20p, (which appear to be available in abundance from various sellers), with an ‘activate by date’ of 11 Aug 2021.
I activated mine yesterday with a £10 top up and had the tariff confirmed by dialling 4445, so in short, whilst O2 themselves no longer offer this tariff, there is still indirect access to it and seemingly plenty of time to do so.
Prior to this I had been considering 1pMobile, but at an annual cost of maintenance being £40 (£30 with advanced payment) is somewhat off putting.
This ‘light-user’ solution is half annual cost with the added benefit of being able to top up via voucher, whilst collecting Tesco Club card points at the same time 🙂
James Renton replied:
You can get the o2 classic on ebay there is a company giving 2 x o2 classic sim cards
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