O2 offers a ‘Classic Pay As You Go’ tariff charging 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. Customers get 4G coverage and access to O2 Priority.

O2 Classic Pay As You Go

In the UK, O2 offers a Pay As You Go tariff known as Classic Pay As You Go. Designed for light mobile users, the tariff has no regular monthly charges. Instead, customers only pay for what they actually use 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.

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.

Pricing

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:

Calling Rates:
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
Messaging Rates:
Text Message (SMS) 2p
Picture Message (MMS) 45p
Internet Rates:
Mobile Internet 1p/MB

The prices in this table are stated for UK-to-UK only. If you’re roaming outside Europe or making international phone calls, higher charges will normally apply. Source for pricing information: o2.co.uk.

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

Top Up LogoUnlike 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.

O2 Priority

O2 Cat - Priority Caffe Nero
Benefits of O2 Priority include a free hot drink from Caffè Nero on most Tuesdays.

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).

Big Bundles

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 250 minutes, 1000 texts and 2GB 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 five Big Bundle packages:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
O22501,0002GB£10.00
O25001,0005GB£15.00
O21,0002,0006GB£20.00
O22,0002,0008GB£25.00
O23,0002,00020GB£30.00

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 has some of the lowest Pay As You Go rates available in the UK. Three offers the same rates on their 321 tariff but with more limited coverage compared to O2 (e.g. Three doesn’t provide any 2G coverage as a fallback and also has a lower proportion of 4G coverage).

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 cheaper if you often make phone calls. 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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaff500Unlimited3GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited2GB£10.00
O22501,0002GB£10.00
EE250Unlimited1GB£10.00
Vodafone200Unlimited1GB£10.00

Our recommended £10/month bundle is giffgaff’s £10 goodybag. A low-cost sub-brand of O2, giffgaff offers 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of internet 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.

Coverage

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 98% coverage on 3G and 97% coverage on 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, please see our in-depth article on mobile phone coverage in the UK.

Tethering

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 3GB 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:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to O2

Your current network provider:

  More Options

More Information

For more information about Classic Pay As You Go, please see O2’s official website.

Your Comments 33 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 33 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Richard Bulmer said:

    Hi Ken
    I visited local 02 shop to check out 3/2/1p pay as you go deal you recommended. Staff confused about roaming in Europe but eventually agreed roaming included. However, I asked how much will it cost to text my wife’s brother in Spain. 45p per text from UK to Spain but only 2p for text from Spain to UK. Any idea why?

    So I checked Three mobile website. 2p per text UK to Spain or vice versa. Same applies for 3p per minute mobile calls and 1p per mb data.
    Regards
    Richard

    • Hi Richard,
      Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately (and rather bizarrely), it is actually often cheaper to use your phone for calling/texting whilst abroad compared to when you’re inside the UK. The reason for this is simply EU roaming legislation, and how it applies to charges to charges when abroad.
      Whilst you’re in the UK (or the home country of your SIM card), your mobile network is free to charge whatever they like. This includes charging a different rate for domestic and international calls or texts (this is why you’ll normally pay more for UK-to-Spain calls/texts than you would for UK-to-UK).
      Whilst you’re travelling in other European countries, you’re subject to the EU Roam Like At Home legislation. What this says is your mobile network is only able to charge normal domestic rates for calls/texts made in Europe to any other European country. Hence, a Spain-to-Spain or Spain-to-UK call/text is covered by this rule and must be charged at the normal UK domestic rate.
      That’s why you’ll only pay 2p to send a text message from Spain to any other European country. When you’re in the UK and texting other countries, you’ll pay substantially more for this.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    • Hi NC,
      Just to confirm that the usage was after the 18th January 2018? If the usage was before the 18th January, the charges would make a bit more sense (4MB at the old 5p/MB rate = 20p). At the new 1p/MB rate, I’m not sure how we get to the 20p charge so it might be worth enquiring directly with O2 about this.
      Ken

  • Christopher Pugh said:

    Why do we have to be offered free coffee, meals, cinema tickets etc. with mobile phone deals. I want competitive prices on calls, texts and (especially) data without extraneous frills.

    • Hi Christopher,
      I’m definitely agreed that it doesn’t always make sense to bundle these things together! However, in this case, I think it’s actually a great USP/benefit: you’re still getting essentially the best price available on the market and you also get a few little extras that can save you a decent amount of money.
      Adding to that: the cynic in me would suggest services like O2 Priority are a great additional revenue stream for the network as they’ll get money for referring customers to other companies. This potentially helps them to cross-subsidise the cost of the tariff and diversify their revenue away from minutes/texts/megabytes which are becoming increasingly low-cost.
      Ken

Load more comments (27)

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will never be published. By default, I'll use it to send you an update when there are replies to your comment. However, if you don't want to receive this, you can disable it using the dropdown menu below: