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.

O2 Classic Pay As You Go is no longer available to new customers. O2’s Classic Pay As You Go was available between the 17th November 2016 and the 6th November 2019. If you’re not already a customer, consider joining 1pMobile instead (1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB using coverage from EE).

O2 Classic Pay As You Go

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As of November 2019, the Classic Pay As You Go tariff has been withdrawn for new customers.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.

Order 1pMobile SIM Card →

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:

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 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:

ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£10.00

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:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to O2

Select your current mobile network:

  More Options

More Information

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

Your Comments 113 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 113 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

    • 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

        • mercalia replied:

          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 Edward,
      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 🙂

  • Long long time since I reviewed our small collection of PAYG sims and shocked to see new O2 classic and Three’s 321 sims are no longer available, replaced with much more expensive tarrifs attached for us ultra low usage users.

    On checking further there’s mention of a need to topup (£10 min) every six months on existing classic PAYG sims or it gets deactivated and credit irredeemably lost and unable to be reactivated again.

    Its certainly well over 6 months, maybe over a year since I last topped up and my O2 classic sim is still active. There’s no mention of this topup requirement in any formal T&C I can find, it was previously known to be every 9999 days (ie forever)

    Any way of confirming this newly introduced requirement? Or is it just an empty threat/misinformation?

    I hate it when providers change the goal posts.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for your comment. Three’s 321 SIM card is still available, but only if you order a new Pay As You Go handset from them. Otherwise, if you simply get a Pay As You Go SIM, you’ll be on their “New Pay As You Go” plan at 10p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB.
      With regards to your question about the minimum required top-up, the feedback I’ve had from other readers in the past is that this is an error on O2’s help pages. Like you say, it isn’t mentioned anywhere in the formal terms and conditions so I believe it’s still just a 6 month requirement on making a chargeable activity. I would love to hear feedback from others however, if they’ve found that things have actually changed with this policy.

      • My phone got disconnected due to not making a chargeable call – I sent a text message, but apparently they don’t count… It was pretty easy to get it reconnected by giving them a call though.

    • I am also on a classic pay-as-you-go tariff and am interested to know what I need to do to make sure I don’t lose my number, as I am not in the UK (and don’t have any immediate plans to return). Last time I SPOKE to someone at O2, I was told that I need to make a chargeable call every 3 months (previously it was every 6 months). When searching on their website, I have also found the page saying that you need to top up at least GBP10 every 6 months. It all seems very inconsistent, but I don’t want to spend more than is necessary to keep the number. Has anyone had any experience of numbers being disconnected?

      • claire do not worry i have sold sim cards for over 12 yrs when o2 say a chargable service as long as you are using the sim card you are fine just make at least one call every 6 months

      • Hi Claire,

        I had the same, was told by 02, you have to make a chargeable call every three months, then was told today, you have make a chargeable call every six months and top up as well. I am totally confused now! So had to top up, today, as don’t want to loose my number, had it for years. Did not really want to top up, as I had enough on there, but the lady said I had to do it today or loose my number. When I bought classic pay and go in 2008, was told you only have to top up once in 999 days, so now it seems the rules have changed by the look of it!

  • Thanks for the very helpful info.

    I have an O2 Classic PAYG SIM card in my little Doro keypad phone, but the O2 service has been so much more reliable than other networks (Hastings area) that I want to move the SIM into my Samsung smartphone – and start buying Big Bundles from O2. Would the Classic PAYG SIM work alright? I have a vague memory that once you had to buy a different kind of O2 SIM for the Big Bundles .. or maybe what I am remembering is that the supermarkets were not selling the Classic SIM with its basic tariffs any more – I managed to order one of the last ones from the O2 website!

  • David Clapperton said:

    I have a classic PAYG sim card with O2. I got it before they discontinued the 3p, 2p and 1p for new customers. I am still currently being charged at these rates for being an existing customer. But I recently got a text saying they will give me an extra 50 minutes, 50 texts and 50MB if I topped up£10 before a certain date.

    The point is if I do top up the sim card, will I still be charged at 3p, 2p snd 1p for being existing customer, or do I get charged the new standard rates as per when the classic PAYG was discontinued for new customers?

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s worth reading the terms and conditions very closely for the offer from O2. However, at least from similar offers that I’ve seen in the past, opting in shouldn’t affect the tariff or plan you’re on (i.e. you should still be on the Classic Pay As You Go plan after you opt in to the offer).

  • Hi
    O2 Classic Payg no longer available – now a legacy tariff. However, existing customers can remain on the tariff. What is concerning is the updated terms and conditions on the O2 website. https://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-as-you-go/classic-pay-as-you-go Note: If you don’t top up, or add a Bolt On at least once in any six month period, your mobile will be disconnected and you’ll lose any credit on your account. If you want to be reconnected you’ll be given a new mobile number. This is a new condition. It used to be ‘make a chargeable call or text within six months’. Phoned O2 customer services and they state that it is still ‘chargeable call/text within six months. Hmm – who do you believe?

    • I’ve got the same dilemma. Quite a bit of credit, use phone regularly but not enough to use £10 in 6 months. I’ve been topping up every 6 months (and taking advantage of the ‘top-up and get free texts for two weeks’ or whatever offers I’ve received) so my credit has been increasing.
      I actually used web chat and have got it in writing that provided I make a chargeable call in 6 months and top up in 999 days (!) I won’t lose anything – but do I risk it or carry on topping up every 6 months?

      • Hi Chris,
        Thanks for your comment. I agree with the assessment in your message: I believe it’s only necessary to incur a chargeable activity every 6 months (or at least, this seemed to be the conclusion that came out of previous discussions in these comments). If you still don’t want to risk it, however, there are ways to use up an accumulating credit balance without spending it frivolously. We’ve listed some of them on this page but in short, you could spend it on app purchases (e.g. Google Pay), you could donate it to charity, etc.

  • I switched from Tesco Lite to 3 321 payg several years ago.
    I have only just discovered O2’s Classic 321 payg offering which has been around for some 18 months.
    O2 has much better coverage than 3 however 3 does have very good rates for use abroad.
    It is apparent that the O2 321 is almost identical to 3’s 321 with its need to spend credit within180 days.
    3 has a £5 minimum topup and its use abroad is available in many more countries with the same 321 price structure. O2 will be more expensive abroad. But most people use WhatsApp so this is almost irrelevant. O2 Priority V 3 Wuntu is a consideration.
    On balance O2 is preferable.

  • If I purchase an O2 classic sim card preloaded with £10, will the credit transfer to my existing number after a Pac transfer carried out on-line?

  • I recently bought an O2 sim card for my new PAYG phone. I topped it up with £10 and after my first 30 second call received a message to say the remaining balance was now £9.65. I assume this card is currently using the 35p per minute Classic PAYG rate. The guy in the O2 shop said I would have to use this for at least a month before switching to a Big Bundle. Is this correct? I currently have £19.50 worth of credit

    Can I switch to a 3-2-1 rate or a Big Bundle before the first month is over?

  • TIA-IsTheNewOverseer said:

    O2’s terms and conditions and privacy policy are interesting. Their Privacy Policy actually is abusive and contrary to the GDPR (which requires active consent for data sharing).
    It states that it will track your geolocation via cell tower with precision, then SHARE THIS DATA COMMERCIALLY (sell it to anyone who wants to buy it). IIRC. I was shocked at the disrespect for customers’ privacy. Check it out for yourself. It didn’t look like it had been updated in a long time, mind-you.

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I know the mobile networks previously did a lot of experimentation with trying to monetise the location data they collect. I suspect, however, the personally identifiable information isn’t being shared directly with third-parties (as that would be a breach of GDPR like you say). It might be worth getting in touch with O2 to clarify this information for yourself before signing up if you have concerns.

  • My wifes been on O2 classic since it got launched back in Nov 2016, having changed from one of their then expensive PAYG tarrifs (25p+ per min iirc!). She has still not used all the credit up since then, and never topped up! Still working fine.

    In the distant past we fell foul of the 999 day rule on top ups, a quick call to customer services soon fixed everything and was told then that O2 had decided to change the top up timeout to 9999 days and it now applied to her sim as well

    Its been more than 999 days since last top up.

  • Christopher Pugh said:

    Hi Ken,
    Despite the confusing terms and conditions, I have decided to join O2. After applying online, my Classic PAYG SIM card has arrived. I also received an email from O2, saying that, if I topped up £10 and then texted FREE10 to 21500, I would receive an extra £10 credit free of charge. It worked! I now have £20 on my account. I think that you have to apply online to get this offer, don’t buy a SIM from a Supermarket. Also, the text must be sent from the SIM’s original number, not from one ported in from another network. However, O2 has told me, via Twitter, that a number can be ported in after receiving the credit.

    • Hi Christopher,
      Yes, there are definitely some nice bonuses available when you order a SIM card online 🙂 I think you can also get an extra £5 of credit for free when you sign up for My O2. Plus there’s another 5% extra when you opt-in to O2 Rewards, giving you a total of £25.50 credit (£10 + £10 + £5 + £0.50) for an initial top-up of £10 😉

  • Hi Ken, thanks for the article. I got a low usage friend onto this tariff, he was previously on the standard payg tariff, at over 30p a minute for calls.
    As regards credit and inactivity expiry, to quote O2

    When you join Classic Pay As You Go, you pay for what you use, as you go. The minimum top up requirement is £10.

    If you don’t top up, or add a Bolt On at least once in any six month period, your mobile will be disconnected and you’ll lose any credit on your account. If you want to be reconnected you’ll be given a new mobile number.

    • Christopher Pugh replied:

      Contradictory terms for this tariff appear, depending on where you look. This has been discussed on the O2 forum at:
      The terms are variously stated as:-
      https://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-as-you-go/classic-pay-as-you-go says:
      Classic Pay As You Go
      When you join Classic Pay As You Go, you pay for what you use, as you go. The minimum top up requirement is £10.
      If you don’t top up, or add a Bolt On at least once in any six month period, your mobile will be disconnected and you’ll lose any credit on your account. If you want to be reconnected you’ll be given a new mobile number.
      OR (2) as:-
      7. Our Rights to Bar or Disconnect Your Mobile Phone
      7.1. If you do not carry out any chargeable activity at least once in any 6 month period your Mobile Phone will be disconnected and you will lose any remaining credits balance on your Account. If you wish to be re-connected after this time you will be given a new Mobile Phone number.
      OR (3) as:-
      If you are keeping the handset then get a PAYG sim …You only have to make a chargeable call (or send a chargeable text) every 6 months and top up every 999 daysto keep the sim active.

      I contacted O2 on Twitter and they said:
      “You’d have to make a chargeable call, send a text or use data once every six months to keep the number active. You also have to top up every 999 days to keep them number active too.”

      I replied, saying that it would be a good idea to remove the contradictory terms from the web to avoid confusion.
      O2 said: “We’ve fed this back and it will be looked into.”

      According to the forum, though, this has been reported several times in the past and no action seems to have been taken.

      Has anybody been on this tariff more more than six months, (having made a call, sent a text, or used data), without topping up or buying a bolt-on?

      • Hi Christopher,
        Thanks for your comments, and for reporting back to us with your findings. You’re right in saying that there’s lots of confusing information out there on the O2 website and that they should take action to clear it up! In fact, this is a fairly regular question that I come across from readers here.
        My personal view on this is that the terms and conditions take precedent, given that’s the legal basis on which O2 provides the tariff to you. In the event that they disconnect your SIM card, you would have a fairly good grounding to dispute this as long as you complied with their terms and conditions (which simply says performing one chargeable activity every six months). In reality, however, this might be a bit of hassle so you could also consider choosing another mobile network that has clearer information on their website (e.g. Three charge the same rates, but with less confusing information about their inactivity policy).
        If anyone else reading this message has some direct experience with O2’s inactivity policy, I’d really love to hear the feedback as well!

        • Christopher Pugh replied:

          Hi Ken, Thanks for your comments.
          As you say, Three’s terms are more clearly stated. I use their network for my smartphone without problems. I also have a Nokia 206 which is 2G only, connected to Tesco Mobile Lite. The O2 tariff is more attractive. Losing the number on this phone would not be a major inconvenience. When I’ve used my credit, I’ll transfer to O2, (possibly by the new PAC by text route) and top up £10. I’ll post again 7 months after transferring, to let you know if my account is still active without a further top up or buying a bolt on.

          • Christopher Pugh replied:

            Hi Ken,
            It is now seven months since I joined O2 Classic PAYG and made an initial top up of £10. I have not topped up or added a Bolt On since, and have not been disconnected.
            However, the O2 website at https://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-as-you-go/classic-pay-as-you-go still says that “If you don’t top up, or add a Bolt On at least once in any six month period, your mobile will be disconnected…” Despite many comments about this and promises to look into it, nothing has been done.

  • Christopher Pugh said:

    Your article says that 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. I’ve just looked at:

    https://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-as-you-go/classic-pay-as-you-go where it says:

    …. if you don’t top up, or add a Bolt On at
    least once in any six month period, your
    mobile will be disconnected and you’ll
    lose any credit on your account. If you
    want to be reconnected you’ll be given a
    new mobile number.

    Is this a recent change? I was thinking of transferring but I don’t want to have to buy a bolt on or to be committed to a £10 top up every six months.

    • Christopher Pugh replied:

      Hi Ken,
      After posting my question yesterday, I have done some more research into this. This has been raised on the O2 forum at:

      I contacted O2 on Twitter and they said:

      “You’d have to make a chargeable call, send a text or use data once every six months to keep the number active. You also have to top up every 999 days to keep them number active too.”

      I replied, saying that it would be a good idea to remove the contradictory terms from the web to avoid confusion.

      O2 said: “We’ve fed this back and it will be looked into.”

      According to the forum, though, this has been reported several times in the past.

  • Hello there! This is a very helpful page, but I have a question I would like to ask:

    I had intended to buy an O2 phone on classic PAYG.

    In addition to the usual six months without chargeable activity restriction, I have also read that an O2 sim expires after 999 days without a top up. In this thread it is apparently confirmed by customer services (but this was a couple of years ago):


    However the requirement does not appear in the O2 T&Cs and I have not been able to find a recent post in which an O2 customer has actually been disconnected for this reason.

    I only anticipate sending a few texts a month, so it is unlikely that I will exhaust the whole minimum top-up of £10 within the 999 day period.

    I am considering unlocking the phone and using Three PAYG instead to avoid this issue.

    Do you know how true this restriction is, or if similar (unpublicised) restrictions also apply to the other networks, especially Three?

    I know a poster below (Andrew) says the limit is now 9999 days, but can anyone confirm this?


    • Hi Chris,
      I’ll leave this to someone with a bit more first hand experience to respond to 🙂 However, my personal view is that if it isn’t mentioned within the terms and conditions as a reason they may disconnect your service, they shouldn’t be disconnecting you for that reason. In the event they disconnect you for a reason that isn’t mentioned within the terms and conditions, you could (quite legitimately) dispute that and ask for your service & remaining credit to be restored.

      • Thanks for the reply Ken!
        There’s definitely nothing about it in the T&C: I’ve just re-read them.
        All the same, I may just go with Three to avoid any hassle down the line.

  • So in order to get the payg classic there is a minimum of £10 needs topping up…when order from o2 how about if you get the SIM from supermarket will I be able to switch to classic without top up.

    • Hi Adam,
      Thanks for your comment. There is no top-up required to order your free SIM card from O2. However, you will need to top it up with at least of £10 of credit before using the SIM card. I believe it’s exactly the same when you buy a SIM card at the supermarket, except there’s normally an upfront fee to get the SIM card as well.
      With regards to changing your price plan, I believe it is possible to do this before you initially top up. However, I’d definitely recommend ordering your SIM card online where possible so you won’t have the complication of needing to do this.
      Hope this helps,

  • Glynno Williams said:

    is posible to retrive my old sim number of 077*** onlneslla new sim card I lossed it due to illness . i am now able to use my phone again thanks

  • We are on the Classic PAYG sim deal. Going to the USA in a few weeks. What do you suggest as an alternative whilst there?

  • Thanks for a good site with very informative comparisons etc.

    With O2’s Classic PAYG I note there’s minimum top up of £10. I’ve checked O2’s website and although that’s correct there’s a clause that states:

    “If you don’t top up or add a bolt on at least once in any six month period, your mobile will be disconnected and you’ ll lose any credit on your account. If you want to be reconnected you’ll be given a new mobile number. ”

    Although you mention credit won’t expire if SIM card is kept active (used once every six months) the above implies top up of £10 is a requirement every six months otherwise the penalties outlined will apply.

    I think it would be useful to include this information in your report as to some it’s quite important when making a choice.

    I noticed Wendy Nugent’s comment that she understood that as long as phone is used at least once every six months, £10 top up isn’t necessary.

    Would be interested to hear your thoughts.


    • Hi Lloyd,
      Thanks for your comment. Based on the feedback I’ve received from many other readers of the website, it’s only necessary to use your phone for a chargeable activity once every six months. This is also what is stated within the full terms and conditions. It isn’t actually necessary to top-up with new credit every 6 months – the consensus seems to be that this is just a badly worded sentence on O2’s website (although, I am sure they would sincerely love you to be adding new credit every 6 months!).
      Hope this helps,

      • Thanks for the clarification. I’ve now read some of the comments from others on this issue and it seems O2 should definitely review their phrasing on this one. It could only work in their favour to do so.
        Thanks again

  • Ken

    Classic Pay As You Go

    I’ve just activated an 02 Sim on Classic payg.

    Today I see this on the page https://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-as-you-go/classic-pay-as-you-go

    “When you join Classic Pay As You Go, you pay for what you use, as you go. The minimum top up requirement is £10.

    If you don’t top up, or add a Bolt On at least once in any six month period, your mobile will be disconnected and you’ll lose any credit on your account. If you want to be reconnected you’ll be given a new mobile number.”

    That is very explicit.
    Are you able to confirm that it is true or that it is false? I’d welcome comments from your other readers as well

    I only activated the sim for a rarely used ‘back up phone”

    • Hi there,
      Based on my understanding and based on feedback from other readers (see the other comments on this article), this is a sloppy piece of wording on O2’s website. I believe it’s only necessary to use your phone for a chargeable activity once every 6 months.
      Hope this helps!

  • O2 Simply Pay as You Go 35p/min, 15p/text, £3/MB
    O2 Classic Pay as You Go 3p/min, 2p/text, 1p/MB

    Am I missing something? Why would anyone choose Simply PAYG?
    These mobile charges are less than using my land line.

    • Hi there,
      You’re right: there’s no good reason for anyone to choose “Simply Pay As You Go” rates – in fact, it isn’t actually possible for new customers to choose this as a standalone tariff! However, the Simply Pay As You Go rates also apply if you’re on the Big Bundles tariff (so if you don’t renew your bundle, or if you go over your limit, you’ll pay these higher rates rather than the Classic Pay As You Go rates).

      • Wendy Nugent. replied:

        I did offer a couple of comments on this topic (but can’t find them just at the moment) but just to say I applied, online, for a Classic 321 SIM card just a day or so ago – and it arrived today.

        I called the PAYG helpline phone number just to see if they had any advice prior to getting started and the fella (who was in South Africa but was so clear and concise he sounded like he was just down the road) spent time offering helpful tips and snippets and was a credit to the company.

        He did say if I tried to top up using a credit/debit card it might not work for the first top up … he advised the use of a top up voucher from a local corner type shop. This worked perfectly straight away.

        It’s up and running with a much healthier signal than either THREE or EE – but, of course, that just a geographical matter.

        Overall I was really impressed and am pleased with the service to date. The new SIM replaces the current ASDA Pay As You Go one, which was also fine, with excellent UK based customer service, but O2 is just cheaper.

        Am now considering swapping the other phone in the house over to O2 away from THREE. The THREE service has been fine but I do think the coverage might not be quite so comprehensive – but it was a genuine 3p – 2p – 1p offering with no catches and even offers a small, free, data allowance which is about the only difference between THREE and O2.

        My sincere understanding is that there is only a need to use the phone at least once in six months – rather than top up with a tenner every six months.

        Overall – very pleased so far.

        • Hi Wendy,
          Thanks for your comment, and for the feedback on how you’ve been getting on with O2 Classic Pay As You Go! I’m pleased to hear that it’s all working smoothly so far, and that you’ve been having a good experience with it!

          • Wendy Nugent replied:

            One further quick update regarding ‘O2 Classic PAYG’ (3p,2p,1p).
            As mentioned before I’ve been very impressed so far and have indeed now transferred the other mobile in our household away from ‘Three PAYG’ (321) and over to ‘O2 Classic PAYG’ (321).
            Customer service staff really have been superb … very polite, helpful and knowledgable. Whenever I’ve complimented or thanked them for their helpful service they have always seemed genuinely grateful to receive a compliment …. I hope I’m not the only one to do so.
            Regarding the latest swap over I obtained a PAC from ‘Three’ without any problem – ordered an O2 PAYG Sim online (which arrived within 2 working days) – submitted the PAC to O2 by phone and everything worked perfectly and in good time.

            So far I would recommend this scheme wothout reservation.

  • Worst PAYG I’ve had, I sent several text messages to my daughter in Denmark from the UK, she received about 50% of them , she did not receive ANY mms ( picture messages) that I sent but I was still charge for them, and there is no delivery notification unless you type in *0# before each message. Changed to 1pMobile , cheaper, great customer service and I am notified when text/mms messages are delivered.

  • Just checked with online chat. you do not have to top up every 6 months as long as you have credit on your phone. you only have to make a chargeable call once in 6 months.

  • Just ported my old number over to O2 Classic PAYG and was also concerned to find that I have to top up £10 every 6 months, when I thought it was just a chargeable call. So it’s now July and I am wondering if the comments above still apply, in that you only have to make a chargeable call to keep the balance and the phone going.

  • Hi Ken,
    I am a “light” user making very few outgoing calls and only a few texts each month. I use a relatively small amount of data on my iPhone, usually 100-200Mb a month for light email use.

    So, O2 Clasic PAYG might be a good option, but I’m concerned about the “charged when data session ends” comment in the terms. Do you understand what this means? is it every time my iPhone sends a few packets of data. Basically, would I pay about £2 per month for 200Mb, or is there a catch?


    • Hi Awk,
      Many thanks for your comment. I believe you should be charged around £2 for 200MB of usage. There have been a number of other people who’ve asked this question as well e.g. here and here, but I’ve not seen any widespread complaints so I think they’re probably charging in a reasonable way.

  • Sarah Milne said:

    I would like to buy a SIM card for a iPhone for a relative.I want to top up £20 with the 321 classic tariff. with 02.
    Please advise

  • Annie Outrage said:

    Hi Ken,

    Thank you very much for this guide. It beats the operators own information hands-down.
    I’ve just seen O2’s terms, as from 18/01/20178, that state that the PAYG SIM will expire after 6 months unless a minimum of £10 credit is made to the account or a bolt-on/bundle is applied. I searched for the old “chargeable call” rule in the terms but could not find it. Best to check, but it looks like this is a new policy to make sure a more substantial sum is spent OR credited rather than, say, two 2p texts made in six months just to keep a phone alive.

    • Hi Annie,
      Thank you for the kind words, and I’m glad the guide was helpful!
      Can you point to the specific T&C where O2 mentions this? It may have changed since the last time I checked, but several other people also remarked the same thing earlier and I think we came to the conclusion that it was just some badly-worded copy on their website (the only thing you need to do is to use your phone at least once every 6 months). Some background here, here, here, etc.
      Hope this helps,

      • I have found the problem text here:
        However, experts on the O2 community are adamant that the rules are that one chargeable activity (call, text or data) must be made at least every six months to keep the number live and there only needs to be a purchase (top-up or bundle) every 999 days. This has been confirmed in a chat with O2, who told me that the words at the link I have quoted refer to the situation if there is a zero balance (in which case one wouldn’t be able to perform a chargeable activity in the six months anyway).

  • 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.

    • 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,

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dear Ken,

    Proof read your article, it still has a few 5p references in it that can confuse readers.

    I checked the O2 website for today’s reduction to 3/2/1p. All good, except if you click on “terms” you will notice the confusing ”data session” mentioned again. Also notice the words, “however short” which is an unusual emphasis…


    ”1p per MB within our Europe Zone with no data cap. Your data use will be calculated every time a data session ends or every 20MB whichever happens first. There is a minimum charge of 1p per data session, however short. The charge for each data session will be rounded up to the nearest whole penny.”

    As I only use this tarriff on a 2g phone with no data, I am unable as yet to determine the implications of this method of charging for data.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for the feedback – it looks like you managed to catch me whilst I was in the middle of updating the article! Hopefully, it should now all be fully up-to-date. I’ve also added in a small note about how O2 charges for data (and hopefully we can get some clarification on this from other customers about whether this actually impacts them with regards to how much they’re charged).
      Thanks again!

  • This is not true, a top up is required every 9999 days (25 years) and is the same across all O2 paygo tarrifs. Has been like that for years.
    I last topped my wife’s O2 sim last century! It started on standard tarrif, then international SIM, and now on Classic payg since it was introduced.
    The reduction in price to 3/2/1p is a pleasant surprise considering the original standard tarrifs I used to be on was 40 or 50p per minute.
    Only confusing bit is how do they charge for data – see other comment about “data sessions”

  • Just to confirm the post by EV Cols, yes from 18th Jan 2018, the charges will be: calls 3p/min, texts 2p, data 1p/MB. Last summer, when I was looking to change provider, I emailed the CEO of O2 and have a clear reply that you don’t need to top up every 6 months, you just have to use the phone for a chargeable call/text/data once every 6 months. They are aware that the website gives different information to this, but the website is wrong.

    • Beware – O2 has a rather confusing explanation about how data is charged

      4. Data Charges
      4.1 Data can be used for 4G and non-4G data unless we say otherwise.

      4.2 For those tariffs that do not offer an Inclusive Monthly Allowance (e.g. the Classic Pay As You Go tariff) data used is calculated when you’ve used 20MB or when a data session ends, whichever happens first. Data sessions can end for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:

      (a) switching off your device;

      (b) switching off mobile data on your device;

      (c) by O2 if a data session has remained open and inactive for 6 hours;

      (d) by your device or apps running on your device (e.g. if your emails are set to update every few minutes). The number and frequency of data sessions that can be ended (and therefore charged) depends on which handset, apps and settings you have.

      Elsewhere on classic pay as you go webpage……No data capped. Your Top Up balance will be deducted after every 20MB block of data usage or if the data session is ended (whichever happens first). There is a minimum charge of 1p per data session. The cost of each data session is rounded up to the nearest whole penny.

      You could have many data sessions ” terminated” every day for any of the above reasons. If each data session has a minimum charge of 1p it could get expensive for very little data, if I understand correctly……

      • Hi Andrew,
        Thanks for your comment. I think the concept of a “data session” probably makes sense back in the old days of 2G and WAP, but not quite sure what it means with today’s always-on connections!
        I agree with you, however, that this does seem potentially unfair – e.g. you could have a data session with just a tiny amount of usage (e.g. 0.01MB), for which you’d still be charged 1p (as the 0.01p charge is rounded up to a full penny). If, for some reason, this continuously happens on your phone (e.g. due to poor/intermittent coverage), you’d end up spending a huge amount of money for very little data.
        Does anyone here have any real world examples of them being affected by this? I’m curious to know whether this actually happens in reality, as I’d expect lots of complaints to O2 if it did. Also, I wonder if O2 will be a little bit smarter about this on their back-end, keeping “data sessions” open for a certain amount of time (so it resumes the existing session rather than starting a new one). It seems unfair to continuously start new sessions for something that could be as innocuous as your train passing through a tunnel!

      • As I just use mine for calls and texts and only very rarely web it means I am saving at least a few pennies every month. Previously it was 5p for data and now 1p so that is a saving right? unless I am being very dim….!? On your other point my credit has always rolled on, the top up balance is never “deleted” as you say (been on Classic or 6 mths, so unless they have changed the rules in the last few days I think you may be incorrect…

  • hi

    clause 7.1 says chargeable activity which means you have to make a call, you do not have to top up every 6 months if you still have credit on, credit will never expire,

    that is from 02 chat customer service as of now

    you guys are all mistaken here

  • I believe this tariff has been available for 6 months now. Anyone have experience of what happens if you try to keep the sim active by making a chargeable call, but not topping up? Does it work?

    • nothing will happen, you just need to make a call every 6 months

      you do not need to top up presuming you have still credit on from previous £10 top up half a year ago

      • Apparently you need to top up at least every 9999 days or approx 25 years! Used to be every 999 days, but was changed after complaints from people like me….:)

  • Curiosity got the better of me so I used livechat to see what they said about O2’s classic PAYG regarding the the top-up needed to keep the SIM active. Their reply “You just need to maintain a credit balance on your account to use this tariff. The credit has no expiry date and keeps on rolling to the next month. sandeep.” This is different from the O2 shop staff who said you must top-up £10 every six months, anyone have real experience which is true, thanks.

    • I keep seeing different opinions about topping up. Think I will try it and see on a mobile I just use occasionally. I’ll Let you know what happens in 6 months!

  • Can I use an 02 ‘classic payg’ sim in a non smart phone,i.e. a 2g handset? Looks like the restriction of £10 top up,as well as ,before 6 mths usage may have been changed in the T& C’s, they are now dated 21.2.17.

  • There are some £1 bolt ons available. Would this be a cheaper way to keep a SIM active.

    Also, what is considered to be “chargeable activity”. Does using data count as well as SMS/calls?

  • Ken,

    Your credit will expire if you fail to top up (with the minimum £10) every 6 months. This is quite a nasty clause for very light users.

    “If you don’t top up, or add a Bolt On at least once in any six month period, your mobile will be disconnected and you’ll lose any credit on your account. If you want to be reconnected you’ll be given a new mobile number.”

    From http://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-as-you-go/classic-pay-as-you-go


    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for this. This is an interesting clause – thank you for bringing it to my attention. It’s peculiar O2 is asking customers to either “top up or add a Bolt On at least once in any six month period”. I had previously put this down to some strange copy-and-paste wording, as especially when you go through the tariff terms & conditions and the general O2 PAYG terms & conditions, there is no mention of you specifically needing to top-up or buy a bolt-on every six months. The only thing I was able to find is clause 7.1 of the general O2 PAYG terms and conditions (discussed in more detail here):

      7.1. If you do not carry out any chargeable activity at least once in any 6 month period your Mobile Phone will be disconnected and you will lose any remaining credits balance on your Account. If you wish to be re-connected after this time you will be given a new Mobile Phone number.

      Obviously, this is just a standard condition of O2’s PAYG tariff, and I assume they wanted to highlight how great it is not needing to top-up every month like you would on Big Bundles. If there is now also an additional requirement to top-up or buy a bolt-on every six months, this would be incredibly sneaky as it isn’t mentioned anywhere within the terms and conditions!


      • Ken,

        Thanks. I raised it with 02 Live Chat. They don’t know but can see the concern – they promised to raise it with senior management so hopefully either the page I linked or the T&C’s will be updated to make it more consistent.


        • Hi Mike,
          Happy new year and thanks for the update on this! Do let me know if you hear back from O2 with a further clarification about this T&C.
          Many thanks,

          • Confirmed by staff in an O2 shop, that this tariff will cost a minimum of £20 a year to keep open, (£10/six months), even if you don’t use your phone. A very expensive tariff for a light user, best avoided IMO.

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