If your Pay As You Go SIM card isn’t used for a certain amount of time, your credit can expire and your account can be closed.

Top Up LogoPay As You Go mobile phone tariffs are often ideal for people who only use their phone occasionally. Unlike Pay Monthly contracts, there are no regular monthly charges and you only need to pay for what you actually use.

One thing to investigate closely when choosing a Pay As You Go mobile network is the credit expiry and SIM card cancellation policy. On most mainstream mobile networks, your credit will not expire as long as you make a chargeable activity at least once every six months (e.g. an outgoing phone call, text message or use of mobile internet). However, some smaller mobile networks have a much stricter policy and your credit can expire just 90 days from top-up. Your SIM card could also be cancelled automatically if you haven’t used it for as little as 84 days.

In this article, we’ll review and compare the credit expiry and SIM card cancellation policy of UK Pay As You Go mobile networks.

Overview of Inactivity Policies

In the following table, we’ve summarised the credit expiry and SIM card cancellation policy of UK Pay As You Go mobile networks. Unless otherwise stated in the table, the times listed refer to an inactivity period (e.g. so your credit will only expire if your SIM card is left unused for more than a certain amount of time).

Mobile Network Inactivity Period (Amount of time without chargeable event)
PAYG Credit Expiry SIM Card Cancellation Phone Number Deleted
ASDA Mobile 270 days 270 days
restricted use after 180 days
360 days
EE 180 days 180 days 180 days
giffgaff 6 months 6 months 6 months
O2 6 months 6 months 6 months
Tesco Mobile 6 months 6 months 6 months
Three 6 months 6 months 6 months
Virgin Mobile 180 days 180 days 180 days
Vodafone 270 days 270 days 270 days
Smaller Pay As You Go Networks:
1p Mobile 120 days
from date of last top-up
120 days
from date of last top-up
120 days
from date of last top-up
Co-Operative Mobile 180 days 180 days 180 days
Delight Mobile 90 days
from date of top-up
120 days 120 days
iD Mobile 90 days
(also 365 days from top-up)
90 days 90 days
Lebara Mobile 90 days
from date of top-up
84 days 84 days
Lycamobile 90 days
from date of top-up
120 days 120 days
Orange 6 months 6 months 6 months
T-Mobile 180 days 180 days 180 days
TPO Mobile 3 months 3 months 3 months
Vectone Mobile 90 days
from date of top-up
120 days 120 days
VOXI 180 days 180 days 180 days
  • PAYG Credit Expiry: When your Pay As You Go credit expires, you’ll no longer be able to use it or recover it. On most mainstream mobile networks, your credit will never expire providing your SIM card remains active. However, on some smaller mobile networks, your credit can expire just 90 days after top-up.
  • SIM Card Cancellation: When your SIM card is cancelled by the network, you’ll lose coverage on your phone with an error message like “Inactive SIM” or “SIM card registration failed”. Your SIM card will be cancelled automatically if you haven’t used it for a certain amount of time (between 84 days and 270 days depending on the network).
  • Phone Number Deleted: In some cases, your phone number will be retained even if your SIM card has already been cancelled. This means you’ll be able to restore service on the phone number and you’ll be able to use a PAC Code to transfer the number to phone another network. If a phone number has been deleted or ‘recycled’ by your mobile network, it’ll no longer be possible to recover it or transfer it to another network.

Recommended Deal For Light Users

At present, ASDA Mobile is our recommend network for light mobile users. They have super-competitive rates and the most customer-friendly inactivity policy (your credit will never expire providing you use your phone at least once every 270 days):

ASDA Mobile

  • Low Pay As You Go rates. 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB. See full rates here.
  • Your credit will never expire. You just need to use your phone once every 270 days.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.
ASDA Mobile has one of the most customer-friendly inactivity policies of any UK mobile network.

ASDA Mobile is currently our recommended network for light mobile users. They have a Pay As You Go SIM card where your credit never expires (you just need to use your phone every 270 days to keep the SIM card active).

ASDA has highly competitive Pay As You Go rates of 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB. They also allow a minimum top-up of only £5. Regular users can save even more with a 30-day bundle.

ASDA Mobile has 99% population coverage (they have 2G, 3G and 4G coverage from the EE network). It’s a straightforward process to transfer your current phone number to ASDA Mobile.

Order ASDA Mobile SIM card (Free) →

Through the rest of this article, we’ll discuss the inactivity policy of each mobile network in more depth.

Major Pay As You Go Networks

ASDA Mobile

On ASDA Mobile, you should normally try to use your SIM card at least once every 180 days in order to keep it active. Providing you do this, your credit will never expire and your account will always remain open.

If there are 180 days of inactivity on your account, outgoing phone calls will be forwarded to ASDA’s automated service (you’ll need to call them on 0800 079 2732 to re-instate a full service for outgoing calls). After 270 days of inactivity on the account, unused credit will be removed and your SIM card will be barred. You’ll still be able to re-activate the SIM by calling ASDA Mobile Customer Services. Finally, after 360 days of inactivity, your SIM card will be permanently suspended and your phone number will be deleted.

For more information, see the ASDA Mobile FAQs (go to ‘Handset, Network and Technical Questions’ followed by ‘I only use my phone for emergencies’):

On any Asda pay as you go SIM card, you must make a chargeable call or send a text every 180 days to keep the number fully active. If you haven’t used your SIM in the last 180 days, your calls will be forwarded to our automated service, however you will still be able to receive inbound calls.

To reactivate your SIM, you will need to call us on 0800 079 2732 from a landline to reactivate your account.

If you haven’t used your Asda SIM in the last 270 days, all activity will be barred from your SIM card and all credit will be removed.

You can reactivate the SIM by purchasing an Asda top up voucher and then call customer services from a landline on 0800 079 2732 who will be able to reactivate your account.

After 360 days, the number will be disconnected from the network and the number will be deleted. We’re unable to reactivate a SIM if the number has not been used for over 360 days.

The legal terms relating to this policy can be found in clause 3.1(d) of the ASDA Mobile Terms & Conditions:

3.1 We can suspend (i.e. bar) or terminate the provision of the Services (in whole or in part) without telling you (although we will, where possible, inform you that action may be taken)

(d) if you choose not to use the Services for a continuous period of 180 days (‘use the Services’ means making any chargeable outbound calls (excluding calls to 2732, see Price Plan for prices), or any topping up of your account);

Source: ASDA Mobile Terms & Conditions (dated June 2017)
Tariff Information: ASDA Mobile Website

EE

EE will disconnect Pay As You Go customers if no “connection actions” are taken for 180 days. If this happens, any unused credit will be removed and your EE phone number will also be deleted from the system.

You can keep your account active either by topping it up (£5 minimum) or by making a chargeable activity (this includes making a chargeable call, text or data connection). From clause 6.3 of the EE Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions:

6.3 You must make a Connection Action at least once every 180 days. If You do not, Your SIM Card will be disconnected from the Network and You will not be able to use the Services. You will lose Your mobile phone number and any Credit on Your Account at the time of such disconnection will be forfeited.

If you’re opted in to one of EE’s Pay As You Go packs, you may find that credit is deducted from your account automatically every week or every month. To stop this happening, you can opt-out of the packs by texting STOP PACK to 150. This will allow you to keep the credit on your account for longer (without a pack, your credit will expire only after 180 days of inactivity).

Source: EE Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions (version 01B, dated January 2017)
Tariff Information: EE Website

giffgaff

giffgaff will disconnect your SIM card if your account has been inactive for a period of six months or more. You’ll lose your unused credit and your giffgaff phone number will also be deleted from the system.

There are several ways to keep your giffgaff SIM card active such as making a phone call, sending a text message, accessing the internet or topping up your phone. From clauses 13.3 to 13.4 of the giffgaff Terms & Conditions:

13.3. Your SIM Card will be disconnected unless, at least once every six months, your Account is used to:
a) make at least one call, SMS or MMS to another number (not including calls to emergency services or Member Services);
b) make at least one connection to the Internet;
c) make at least one airtime credit or Bundle purchase

13.4. If your SIM Card is disconnected, you will lose any remaining credit or Bundle balance on your Account. giffgaff recycles numbers and we will not be able to reconnect once a number is disconnected and recycled. giffgaff may reconnect you if any disconnection was due to our negligence.

If you’re converting your credit into a goodybag bundle, your bundle allowances will expire one month after the goodybag purchase. For more information, please read our full giffgaff review.

Please note: in order to qualify for giffgaff Payback Points, a stricter 3-month policy applies:

7.5. To qualify for Payback Points you must have an active SIM Card at the Payback Date and have successfully made a connecting call or SMS to any mobile or used mobile internet at least once in the 3 months prior to end of the relevant Payback Period.

Source: giffgaff Terms & Conditions (dated 17th October 2017)
Tariff Information: giffgaff Website

O2

On O2 Pay As You Go, customers will have their SIM card disconnected after six months of inactivity. You’ll also lose your phone number and any unused credit remaining on your account at the time. From clause 7.1 of the O2 Pay As You Go Terms and Conditions:

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.

Customers buying an O2 Big Bundle will see their bundle allowances expiring after one month. If you don’t want your top-up to be converted automatically into a one-month bundle, you should switch to O2 Classic Pay As You Go.

Source: O2 Pay & Go: Terms & Conditions (dated 15th June 2017)
Tariff Information: O2 Website

Tesco Mobile

Customers on Tesco Mobile Pay As You Go will lose their service after six months of inactivity. This is stated in clause 5.4 of the Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions:

5.4 If you do not use your Mobile Phone for six months we will disconnect you and you will lose your Credits and Mobile Phone number. If your Mobile Phone is disconnected and you would like to reconnect it, you must call Customer Care.

Source: Tesco Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions (dated 25th September 2006)
Tariff Information: Tesco Mobile Website

Three

Three will suspend your Pay As You Go account if you don’t top-up or make a chargeable event in a six-month period. According to clause 9.1(h) of the Three Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions:

9.1 We may Suspend any or all of the Three Services you use without notice if

(h) you have not activated a Pay As You Go Voucher on your account or undertaken any chargeable events or activities (for example, made telephone calls, sent text or photo messages, accessed content or the internet or any other Three Services for which a charge is made) using any credit or allowance on your account within the preceding 6 month period.

Source: Three Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Three Website

Virgin Mobile

If you’re on one of Virgin Mobile‘s most recent Pay As You Go tariffs (e.g. the Big Data & Texts or Big Talk tariffs), there’s an inactivity period of 180 days. You’ll need to make a chargeable phone call or text message at least once during this period. According to clauses 3.7 and 7.2(g) of their terms & conditions:

3.7 Keep talking!: You need to use our Services at least once within any 180 day period either by making a chargeable call or sending a text message. If you don’t we may suspend your access to the Services and disconnect you from the Network. We don’t really want to lose you as a customer so please ensure you keep talking or texting!

7.2 Suspension for other reasons: We may also suspend your use of the Services and disconnect your SIM from the Network without giving you notice if you, or anyone who uses your SIM:

(g) chooses not to use our Services within a 180 day period either by making a chargeable call or sending a text message;

If you’re on an older tariff such as “Pay As You Go Addict” or “Simply 8p”, the inactivity period may be 90 days instead. Please refer to clause 3.8 of the old terms and conditions.

Source: Virgin Mobile: Terms & Conditions for ‘Big Data & Texts’ and ‘Big Talk’ (dated July 2012)
Tariff Information: Virgin Mobile Website

Vodafone

If you’re a Vodafone Pay As You Go customer, you’ll need to top-up your phone or make a chargeable outbound activity at least once every 6 months. This is described in a Vodafone Support Centre FAQ:

How do I stop using Pay As You Go?
It’s easy to stop using your Pay as you go phone. You simply stop using it and it’ll automatically disconnect after six months. Any remaining credit will be lost, so make sure you use it up first.

This is also described in the Vodafone Pay As You Go Airtime Conditions (specifically, the sub-heading titled ‘Leaving us/suspending the services’). According to the airtime conditions, you’ll normally be given a warning and a further 90-day grace period, giving a total of 270 days before your account is suspended:

Leaving us/suspending the services. We can suspend, restrict (including, without limitation, prevent you from receiving incoming or making or sending outgoing calls and texts) or stop providing all or part of the services if

(ii) you do not use the service for 180 consecutive days i.e. you do not carry out any chargeable outbound activity such as making an outbound call (excluding calls to 191), sending an SMS, using data or topping up your account;

If you choose to stop using the services. If we suspend the mobile equipment because you have chosen not to use the services for 180 consecutive days we will send you an SMS notifying you that you should top up your account or make a chargeable outbound call (but not calls to 191), send a chargeable SMS or use your data within the next 90 days. If you fail to do so, we will disconnect your mobile equipment and you will lose any credit held on your account.

If you’re using one of Vodafone’s Big Value Bundles, your airtime credit will be converted automatically into a bundle each month. If you don’t want your credit to be converted into a time-limited bundle, you should change to another tariff like Pay As You Go 1.

Source: Vodafone Pay As You Go Airtime Conditions (dated June 2017)
Tariff Information: Vodafone Website

Smaller Pay As You Go Networks

On the mainstream mobile networks we’ve already discussed, you’ll normally be able to leave your SIM card unused for up to 6 months or 9 months at a time. Providing you do this, your account will remain open and your Pay As You Go credit will never expire.

On smaller virtual network operators, the inactivity policy is much more varied. On some smaller mobile networks, your SIM card could be cancelled after as little as 84 days of inactivity. Some of the smaller mobile networks will also expire your credit 90 days after the date of the relevant top-up. This is an important thing to watch out for when choosing a smaller network over one of the major players.

1pMobile

1pMobile works a little bit differently to other Pay As You Go mobile networks. Instead of having a normal account inactivity period, 1pMobile instead imposes a strict requirement for you to top-up your phone every 120 days. The minimum top-up is £10 each time on 1pMobile.

If you don’t top-up for more than 120 days, your account will be closed and your phone number will lost:

Our only requirement is that you top-up at least once every 120 days. All unused credit rolls over, so you never lose it.

If you don’t top-up within 120 days of your last top-up then we deem that you no longer wish to use 1pMobile as your mobile provider and your service will be cancelled.

We will send you email reminders two weeks before and 48 hours before your next top-up is due. You can also see when your next top-up is due in your account area.

For peace of mind you can set up auto-top-ups that occur either when your phone balance reaches £2 or when 120 days have passed since your last top-up.

Prior to the 25th April 2017, 1pMobile had a monthly minimum spend requirement.

Source: 1pMobile Help Pages
Tariff Information: 1pMobile Website

Co-Operative Mobile

Customers of The Co-Operative Mobile will either need to use their phone for a chargeable call or top-up their account at least once every 180 days. From sections 7.1 and 7.4 of their Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions:

We may disconnect Your SIM if, during the previous 180 days, You have not made a Top-up or used the Service. You will be notified and Your mobile telephone number will be designated for reassignment. On reconnection You will be assigned a new telephone number.

Upon Termination (by You or Us) or suspension of this Agreement, no credits or refunds will be given for unused Credit Balance.

Source: The Co-Operative Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: The Co-Operative Mobile Website

Delight Mobile

On Delight Mobile, your Pay As You Go credit will automatically expire 90 days from the date of the relevant top-up. For instance, if you were to top-up with £10 of credit on April 1st, any leftover credit remaining from that £10 will automatically expire on June 30th.

Furthermore, if you don’t use your Delight Mobile SIM card for a period of 120 days, it will be disconnected and your phone number will be lost. For more information, see clause 12(b) of the Delight Mobile terms and conditions:

(b) We can cancel this agreement immediately if any of the following occur:

i. Where you do not use the services at least once every 120 days your Delight Mobile SIM will be disconnected from the network, this Agreement will be terminated, multifunctional top-up voucher recorded on your account that has not expired will be forfeited and you will lose your number;

ii. The validity of each top up is 90 days. Post the 90 days validity period, the credit will expire and the customer will not be entitled to a refund of the expired credit.

Source: Delight Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Delight Mobile Website

iD Mobile

On iD Mobile, your Pay As You Go account will be closed automatically after 90 days of inactivity. If this happens, you’ll also lose any unused credit on your account. This is stated within the iD Mobile Pay As You Go FAQs:

I no longer need my Pay-As-You-Go plan. Do I have to cancel it?
No, you don’t need to do anything. Your SIM will expire after 90 days of inactivity, so if you’ve any top-up credit remaining, use it or you’ll lose it!

Additionally, you will also need to top-up your account at least once every 365 days. This is stated in clause 12.4 of the iD Mobile Pay As You Go terms (for customers joining after the 15th June 2017):

12.4 Unless an additional Top-Up has been made, any unused Credit will expire after a period of 365 days from the date of purchase and unused allowances will expire as specified and this is non-refundable.

If you joined iD Mobile before the 15th June 2017, individual top-ups will have a validity of 365 days (e.g. if you were to top-up by £10 on January 1st, that top-up will only be valid until December 31st). This is stated in clause 8.5(a) of the terms and conditions for customers joining before the 15th June 2017.

Source: iD Mobile Pay As You Go FAQ
Tariff Information: iD Mobile Website

Lebara Mobile

On Lebara Mobile, all Pay As You Go credit will expire 90 days from the date of the relevant top-up. For instance, if you were to top-up by £10 on April 1st, any leftover credit remaining from that £10 will expire on June 30th.

In addition to their credit expiry policy, Lebara also requires you to use your SIM card at least once every 84 days. If you don’t make a chargeable phone call or text message for 84 days, your account will be closed and your SIM card will be terminated. Your phone number and Pay As You Go credit will both be lost when this happens.

For more information, see clause 60 of the Lebara Mobile terms and conditions:

60. If you do not use the Pre-Pay Services to make at least one chargeable event or outgoing call for a period of 84 days, this Agreement will be deemed to be terminated by you, and the Service will be disconnected.

Source: Lebara Mobile Terms & Conditions (dated 27th September 2010)
Tariff Information: Lebara Mobile Website

Lycamobile

On Lycamobile, all Pay As You Go credit will expires 90 days from the date of your top-up. For example, if you were to top-up by £10 on April 1st, any credit remaining from that £10 will expire automatically on June 30th.

Further to this, customers also need to make a chargeable event or need to top-up their phone once every 120 days (a warning will be sent to you after 90 days). If 120 days elapse since the last chargeable event, your account will be closed and you’ll lose any remaining credit. Your phone number will also be reallocated to another customer. Please see clauses 3.3-3.5 and clause 4.6 of the Lycamobile Terms & Conditions:

3.3 If you do not use your SIM Card to make a voice call, or send a message or data, or if you do not purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services, for a period of ninety (90) days from the date you registered or activated your Account or your last use of the Services (whichever is later), Lycamobile will contact you by SMS or e-mail advising you that your SIM Card will be deactivated. Lycamobile will then provide you with an additional thirty (30) days to make a voice call, send a message or data, or purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services.
3.4 If you make a voice call, send a message or data, or purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services within the additional thirty (30) day period, your SIM Card will remain active. Any previous credit balance in your Account will remain available for you to use, and you will be able to access and use the Services.
3.5 If you do not make a voice call, send a message or data, or purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services within the additional thirty (30) day period, your SIM Card will be deactivated. If the SIM Card is deactivated, your specific telephone number will be reallocated to another Customer, you will not be able to access or use the Services, and you will not be entitled to a refund of any credit balance in your Account.

4.6 From 5 August 2014 any new top up credit shall expire ninety [90] days from the date of top-up or recharge. For the avoidance of doubt, this does not apply to the existing credit balance in your Account before 5 August 2014.

Source: Lycamobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Lycamobile Website

Orange

Customers on Orange Pay As You Go will have their account terminated if it isn’t used for a period of six months. Your phone number will also be reassigned to another customer. There is some discretion for Orange to re-credit any lost balance but this isn’t guaranteed by the terms & conditions. From clause 3.4 of the Orange Pay As You Go Network Terms:

3.4 We will disconnect your Device if during the previous six months, you have not Registered a new Top Up or you have not made chargeable calls from your Device. For the avoidance of doubt calls shall include but not be limited to voice calls, data calls and text messaging. On disconnection your mobile telephone number will be reassigned. On Reconnection you will be assigned a new mobile telephone number. Orange may at its discretion, on request and on Reconnection to the Services, recredit the amount remaining on your account at the time it was disconnected.

Source: Orange Pay As You Go Network Terms (dated 15th November 2012)
Tariff Information: EE Website

T-Mobile

Customers on T-Mobile Pay As You Go are required to make a “connection action” at least once every 180 days. If you don’t use your phone for 180 days, your account will be closed and you’ll also lose any remaining credit as well as your phone number.

According to T-Mobile, “connection actions include topping up your account and making a chargeable call.” From clause 6(c) of their Pay As You Go Terms of Service:

(c) You must make a connection action at least once every 180 days. If you do not your SIM will be disconnected from the network and you will not be able to use the service at all. You will lose your mobile phone number. Any credit on your account at the time of such disconnection will be forfeited.

Source: T-Mobile Pay As You Go Terms of Service (version 59A, dated November 2010)
Tariff Information: EE Website

TPO Mobile

TPO Mobile (The People’s Operator) will suspend your service after three months of inactivity. Your phone number will also be lost. According to clause 8 of their Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions:

We may suspend or cancel the Services (or any part of it) immediately and/or end this agreement if:

you have not used the Services, or topped up your account, for more than 3 months. You will lose any unused credit.

Source: TPO Mobile: Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions (dated October 2016)
Tariff Information: TPO Mobile Website

Vectone Mobile

On Vectone Mobile, your Pay As You Go credit will automatically expire 90 days from the date of the relevant top-up. For example, if you were to top-up by £10 on April 1st, any leftover credit remaining from that £10 will automatically expire on June 30th.

Furthermore, in order to keep your account active, customers must use their SIM card at least once every 120 days. If more than 120 days have passed since the last chargeable activity, your account will be closed and your phone number will be lost. For more information, see clause 12(a) of the Vectone Mobile terms and conditions:

(a) We can cancel this agreement immediately if any of the following occur:
i. Where you do not use the Services at least once every 120 days your Vectone Mobile SIM will be disconnected from the Network, this Agreement will be terminated, any Multifunctional Top-up Voucher recorded on your Account that has not expired will be forfeited and you will lose your Number;
ii. If any call credit is not used within 90 days, (including any credit that has been allocated to you by a Vectone administrator) Vectone will place your My Vectone Account on inactive status and you will not be entitled to a refund of any remaining credit stored thereto.

Source: Vectone Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Vectone Mobile Website

VOXI

VOXI is Vodafone’s Pay As You Go sub-brand, exclusively for customers who are under 25. Typically, most customers will have a 30-day plan with unused allowances expiring with the plan. However, if you prefer, it’s also possible to use VOXI for calling and texting on a traditional Pay As You Go basis.

On VOXI, it’s a requirement to use your SIM card at least once every 180 days. If you don’t, your service will be suspended causing the loss of your phone number and unused credit on your account. From section 5(b) of the VOXI terms and conditions:

We may suspend our services or end the Agreement if

ii. you choose not to use the service for 180 consecutive days. Using the service means purchasing a Plan, topping up or making any chargeable outbound activity;

Source: VOXI Terms and Conditions (version 1.2, dated 3rd November 2017)
Tariff Information: VOXI Website

As always, we strongly recommend you double-check the details listed here against your mobile network’s website. Terms and conditions can change occasionally along with your mobile network’s policy on credit expiry and cancellation.

More Information

For more information, please refer to your mobile network’s website. Currently, our recommended mobile network for light users is ASDA Mobile due to their low rates and their customer-friendly inactivity policy.

If you’ve chosen a mobile network which you’d now like to join, please see our guide to latest free SIM card offers. You can also see our Pay As You Go price comparison tables and our guide to transferring your phone number between mobile networks.

Your Comments 226 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 226 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Why no campaign to prevent any network from pocketing your credit and cutting off your phone without any warning whatsoever?

    Unfair contract terms should apply.

    They all have your phone number so a text is no problem. If no response, this should then be followed up by an email and/or a letter to you. They mobile companies have all those details.

    This warning should be a legal requirement vital especially with the recent increase in bank and savings accounts for a texted access code.

    • Hi Malcolm,
      Thanks for your comment. I would absolutely and fully support any campaign to stop mobile networks from keeping your unused credit. It might be worth getting in touch with Ofcom (the UK’s telecommunications regulator) to share your thoughts and proposal for this.
      Ken

      • Malcolm Smith replied:

        Hi, Ken

        The provider did re-instate the number within 24 hours and add back the credit.

        I have discussed the issue with Ofcom today and they said that they expect that a provider would give adequate notice before disconnection.

        However there is nothing ‘legal’ about such notice as far as Ofcom is concerned and they did not seem interested in discussing it.

        The Ofcom adviser suggested raising the notice aspect as an official complaint with the provider.

  • LYCA MOBILE THERE IS NO TOP UP EXPIRY AS LONG AS YOU MAKE A CALL PLEASE CHECK

    If you do not use your SIM Card to make a voice call, or send a message or data, or if you do not purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services, for a period of ninety (90) days from the date you registered or activated your Account or your last use of the Services (whichever is later), Lycamobile will contact you by SMS or e-mail advising you that your SIM Card will be deactivated. Lycamobile will then provide you with an additional thirty (30) days to make a voice call, send a message or data, or purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services.

    3.4 If you make a voice call, send a message or data, or purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services within the additional thirty (30) day period, your SIM Card will remain active. Any previous credit balance in your Account will remain available for you to use, and you will be able to access and use the Services.

    3.5 If you do not make a voice call, send a message or data, or purchase a top-up using the Top-Up Services within the additional thirty (30) day period, your SIM Card will be deactivated. If the SIM Card is deactivated, your specific telephone number will be reallocated to another Customer, you will not be able to access or use the Services, and you will not be entitled to a refund of any credit balance in your Account.

  • i don’t think you can really describe Asda’s PAYG rates as low. Not with O2, Three and 1pMobile charging so much less.

    5p per MB with Asda is EXPENSIVE. And with smart phones using 20mb or 30mb for very minor internet or app usage that is going to use up your credit fast.

    • Quite agree with you Juliet. ASDA have very friendly terms for non-usage and SIM cancellation – best of all networks, but as you say are not that low for voice, text, data on PAYG compared with the likes of mainstream O2 and Three PAYG rates.

  • well i tried to switch my vodafone contract to PAYG today and was threatenedwith deletion of my number if I didnt make a new contract. you indicate above a period of over 8 months before this happens but the vodafone customer services said after two months my number would be deactivated or reassigned.

    • Hi Luisa,
      Thanks for your comment. Typically, if your mobile contract is ended without your phone number being transferred elsewhere, your number will be deactivated (and may at some point later be reassigned to another customer). As you’ve asked for your phone number to be transferred from PAy Monthly to Pay As You Go, this shouldn’t be the case for your phone number.
      With regards to the time periods discussed in this article, this is really how long you can keep your Pay As You Go account unused before Vodafone would consider it to be “inactive” (which would trigger the automatic closure of your account).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • If I only use my mobile for emergencies and am out of work and don’t use it and you turn me of and keep the credit I have on it this is also theft from a customer because they still have the money on sim which I might add belongs to them because they have bought it. technically that sim is theirs and what is on it is theirs and personal and it is stolen from them all numbers and data saved to sim. It never used to work this way you use to top up when you had the money to do so you can’t cancel a sim that someone has paid for it is theirs forever they have paid for it so you can not stop it. If it was me I would be in store demanding my money back for it.

    • Hi Paul,
      I’m really sorry to hear about the poor experience you’ve had with your mobile network. I fully agree with you, as these credit expiry policies are often not very clear or transparent (they’re hidden away in the terms and conditions that nobody actually reads!). My hope and aim with this blog post is to bring a little more clarity to this area, so customers can vote with their feet (e.g. choosing networks with fairer policies) and can take precautionary measures (e.g. setting up a reminder to make sure they regularly use their handset).
      If your account has been disabled by your mobile network for inactivity, I would strongly recommend getting in touch with your mobile network to see if they’re able to restore it or refund your credit.
      Ken

  • I’ve tried moving my PAYG from an old Orange sim to a new EE sim. I was assured that all I had to do was to put the new card in and it would register, the number would transfer and all of my credit. The new card after about 3 hours came up with SIM card registration failed. Tried putting the old card back in and got the same message. I have now lost my phone number and the credit that was on it.
    My question is why when you transfer networks do you always lose your phone number and always lose your credit as mysteriously they are always unable to refund your money. I’ve transferred networks 3 times and it’s happened every time. You would think that mobiles have been around long enough now that they could get the number porting process right.

    • Hi Fiona,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your phone number & credit when moving from Orange to EE.
      Typically, when you move from one phone company to another, it isn’t possible to transfer your Pay As You Go balance. This is because the money has been paid to a different company, and it’s why I typically advise people to use up their credit before changing network.
      In your case, it sounds like you were performing a same-network upgrade, without the use of a PAC Code (as Orange and EE are part of the same company). In this case, it should be possible for you to keep your credit and you certainly shouldn’t lose your phone number in the process. I think this is actually a fairly serious failing on EE’s side and I’d strongly recommend you put a formal complaint in writing to them. I’d expect an upgrade to work much more smoothly than this, so definitely don’t settle for the loss of your phone number and credit!
      Ken

  • Mrs Lesley Dennis said:

    I would like a pay as you go service using EE line with no monthly payments as we tend to visit our holiday home for long periods where local sim much cheaper

  • Angela Barnes said:

    Hi Ken, i have an Alcatel Onetouch would a O2 Classic PAYG sim work in it? Also, i have been on PAYG for about 9 years with Orange (now EE), would i be able to keep my number, and how would i go about it? Thanks, Angela.

    • Hi Angela,
      Yes – it shouldn’t be a problem using O2 Classic Pay As You Go with your Alcatel Onetouch. For information on how to transfer your phone number, take a look at my guide to using a PAC Code. You can use the tool on that page to get step-by-step instructions on moving your phone number from Orange to O2.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

      • Angela Barnes replied:

        Thanks Ken for getting back to me, i’ll try that.
        I have another question, if that’s ok, a few times I have had an ’emergency calls’ only showing on my phone, when it happens no-one can get through to me it is as if my phone is switched off. The only way i have found to clear it is to switch it on and then off again. I end up with voicemails (which are very costly to listen to on my plan). I can’t find anyway of turning my voicemail off. Do you have any suggestions, and is it just a Orange problem or do you have you heard of anymore people with this problem?
        Well done with your webpage a lot of time has gone into it.

        Best regards,

        Angela.

        • Hi Angela,
          No worries at all! With regards to the problem you discussed, it sounds like your phone is somehow losing the connection with Orange. It’s difficult to say whether this is a hardware problem, or network-related (i.e. it might be because EE have reduced the 2G and 3G coverage in your area, in the move to 4G). To find out for sure, you’ll probably need to try another mobile network in your phone (e.g. order a free SIM card from another network like ASDA to test this out) or you can try your Orange SIM card in another unlocked smartphone.
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

          • Angela Barnes replied:

            Thanks Ken for your reply. I decided to get another mobile(the onetouch didn’t keep it’s charge for very long). I got a sim free alba 2.8. It has 2 sim slots, so i kept my ee number (for people getting in touch with me) and got the o2 sim classic pay as you go for calling and texting much cheaper than the ee tariff. The phone is a very good one, has lots of things on, like a camera, sound recorder and video camera. There is a slot for a memory card too. The phone cost £20 very impressed so far.

            Angela.

  • Mike Buckingham said:

    Very useful web page – thank you.

    I have had the experience of having my sim card deactivated by Lebara after 84 days of perceived inactivity. Fortunately I contacted custmer services who were very good and have arranged to re-activate the sim.
    I hope this goes well because otherwise the Lebara network has been great. I think a large part of this is their use of the Vodafone network.
    Keep up the good work.

    Kind regards
    Mike

  • Hi,
    I had my virgin PAYG mobile number cancelled because of non-use which I realise now they can do, but they only said it MAY be disconnected and cancelled it with no further warning.
    Also the seem to have kept the airtime balance which I had.
    Can they do that?

    • Hi Ray,
      Many thanks for your comment. Sadly, the terms and conditions do allow them to do this, including keeping all of your unused credit. It might be worth contacting Virgin customer services to see if they’re able to manually reverse this, or to refund your credit.
      Ken

      • Thanks for your comments Ken.
        I realize now that they can do this “legally”, and if I had read the contract properly I could have avoided the problem, but I still think they didn’t give me adequate warning.
        Still, “caveat emptor” applies, and I will know next time.
        I will contact them as soon as my blood pressure can take the strain!
        Thanks again for your help.
        Ray

        • Thanks Ray. Unfortunately, this is just one of the really frustrating things that mobile networks sometimes do in the UK. I’ve been hit by it myself, and so have lots of other readers of this website. The only thing I can really do is to try and raise awareness that it will happen, and to advise you to try and contact the mobile network to see if they’re able to reverse it. If the disconnection has happened fairly recently, the mobile networks are sometimes able to restore your account & credit before your phone number gets assigned to another customer.
          Ken

  • Paul Anthony said:

    Hi Ken,

    My 3 sim card has been cut off due to inactivity. Is there any way to activate it again, or to transfer the number to a different 3 sim card?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Paul,
      Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, once a SIM card has been deactivated, it normally isn’t possible to re-activate it. However, I think it’s always worth asking to see whether this is possible – you can reach Three customer services on 0333 338 1001 (or 333 if you’re calling from your Three handset).
      Ken

  • Gail Hammond said:

    Hi EE community have been looking at this problem and orange spent over 1hour again yesterday trying to sort it. It now looks hopeless. My husbands Doro phone linked to orange became inactive long time ago and the number used else where. The phone was locked to orange originally.The phone was checked for locking and I was told was now unlocked. This does not appear to be about unlocking but about unblocking When you put back in the now defunct orange sim it says puk required but nobody knows what the puk number should be. If you try an ee sim or a brand new 02 sim it says blocked. Way back at least 3 weeks ago(now feeling like a year ago) a guy from ee said that if you have your phone stolen your carrier can have it it blocked for you so who ever stole your phone cannot use it or insert another sim. I never lost the phone but this seems like the same scenario and somebody blocked the phone by mistake. As I understand it the puk relates to the sim card not your phone number or IMEI number. So my simple brain says this must be a mathematical formulae based on ???numbers in or on the sim. But nobody seems to know what. Yesterday we tried all the0’s and then all th1’s as a standard puk. I now have 5 chances with the puk code. Then I believe its hello black hole .

  • Gail Hammond said:

    Hi phone card cancelled and phone number taken away by orange. Tried to use phone but it says puk number required. Orange have no record of the phone or pay go account. So we have a good phone albeit unused for two years that we cannot use. If you put in new sim it says blocked old sim says puk required. The original number has now been used and transferred to telephonica.
    help!

    • Hi Gail,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite grasp your question – is this a problem using an O2 SIM card in a handset locked to Orange? If so, it’s likely your handset needs to be unlocked.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    I understand i have to make a chargeable call every 270 days (on asda mobile) to keep it active. But does that mean each 9 months i’d have to buy a new £5 voucher to do so?

    You wrote “provided you do this. [some chargeable activity every so often] your credit will never expire”

    But asda’s website says;

    “Will my bundle allowance roll over if I don’t use it within the 30 days?
    There is no roll over with our bundles. Any minutes, texts or data left after 30 days will expire.”

    • Hi James,
      Many thanks for your comment. You just need to make a chargeable call every 270 days – no need to top-up your phone each time. It means you’re able to keep your SIM card alive for just a few pence per year. As an aside, you can also top-up from just £1 each time 😉
      With regards to the FAQ you mention, this refers to the 30-day Pay As You Go bundles. This differs from traditional Pay As You Go in that you convert some of your credit into a 30-day allowance. If you’re using traditional Pay As You Go (at 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB), this FAQ doesn’t apply to you.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Richard Sewell said:

    Hi Ken – I had a PAYG EE sim on an old iPhone that I wanted to use as an emergency back-up. Was unaware (my fault) of the need for periodic use, so the sim is expired and the number (presumably) deleted/re-allocated. I recently topped-up a small amount, before I became aware of the need for periodic use – is there a mechanism for transferring the top up amount to the new sim number? Or have I lost this top up? Please advise, with thanks.

    • Hi Richard,
      Many thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear about the problem on your EE Pay As You Go SIM card. Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what has happened to your top-up: I’d probably give EE a quick call on 07953 966 250 to find out what has happened. If the top-up was sent to a non-existent account, I should have thought they’d be able to refund the money to you (or alternatively, your credit card company might be able to do this for you).
      Ken

  • Hi Ken
    I want to buy up to 5 numbers for my new business, choosing similar numbers. Looking at eBay I can do that. However, initially I will probably use only 2 of them. I am not one to remember to do a top up or chargeable event every 6 months and wonder if i can set up a standing order that tops up the used SIM every 6 months ? Or something similar but automatic – I don’t want to have to remember having to do it. I could move the unused numbers to say ASDA (although I will use Giffgaff for the ones in use) as ASDA seem to be the cheapest. Is that possible?

    Basically, I want an automatic way of doing this.

    On a different note, I have an O2 PAYG SIM I have not used in more than 6 months (and probably more than a year or even longer) but I did find it again and it works with credit that was on it intact. I wonder why? I left it in a mobile internet USB modem. But I didn’t use that modem. One additional information – at first I could not find the SIM and did try to recover the number unsuccessfully by calling O2 and providing details. The number was originally purchased as a SILVER number from Vodafone years ago. I simply could not keep it alive every 6 months, so was sure it would be deactivated. But thankfully it wasn’t. What could have kept it active ? Any suggestions ?

    Best regards
    Rob

    • Hi Rob,
      Many thanks for your comment and a very good question! In general, it isn’t normally possible to do this, but there are a few exceptions I know of:
      1) 1pMobile has an automatic top-up where your account can be topped up by £10 every 120 days. This will do what you require, but is potentially a little bit expensive. You’ll be topping up each SIM card with £30 of credit per year (and this credit will simply build up over time if you’re not actively using it).
      2) Lycamobile has a £5/year service that allows you to keep your phone number unused for 1 year (see the fifth FAQ here from their website). This is probably not worthwhile as other networks allow you to keep your number for up to 270 days at no charge.
      3) You can always make a record of each phone number and top it up occasionally with the minimum amount (in lieu of just using the SIM card to send a text message every couple of months). However, the cheapest way to keep your SIM card active is probably to go down the “SMS text message every couple of months” route.
      With regards to your O2 SIM card, they don’t always strictly enforce the 6 month limit (though they’re perfectly within their rights to do so). I’m not sure exactly how O2 manages their internal process – perhaps they just run occasional jobs to close old accounts in one go, or perhaps they’re a little more lenient than is suggested in the terms and conditions. I do know for a fact however they close old accounts so I would recommend staying within the 6-month limit if you possibly can.
      Ken

  • I have just successfully obtained a PAC code to transfer my PAYG number from O2 to BT. The lady at O2 suggested that my 3-year-old iphone will need to be backed up to the iCloud as all my data (contacts, photos etc) will be deleted when the number is activated by BT. Please advise if this is a likely occurrence….
    Many thanks for your excellent website, and for your help.

    • Hi Fraser,
      It’s always a good idea to back up your content to somewhere like iCloud, but in this case, I think they’re very much mistaken! You can switch your O2 SIM card for a new BT SIM card and all of your data (including your phone book & photos) will still be there.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • Hi,
    I bought and fitted a new Three sim to my new phone bought yesterday (21/11/17) at about 7 p.m. but today,after making no calls,no texts but just generally playing with the phone to familiarise myself ,I found I had zero credit although I had topped up on line
    With £5!
    Can you suggest an explanation as the phone appears to have all the functions operating satisfactorarily?

    • Hi Derek,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, this is probably a question for the billing team at Three – you can reach them by dialling 333 on your handset. It’s possible the credit wasn’t applied correctly, or it may have been applied to a different account.
      Ken

      • Derek Brown replied:

        Dear Ken,
        Thanks for your prompt reply. I did as you suggested-got a helpful chap at Three who. found that the credit had not been applied(I think I didn’t complete the form correctly) He gave me a link and I successfully topped up my new phone.

  • Hi , i have an unusual case id like you to give your opinion on, i got my sim card (one2one – now known as t-mobile) when i was 15 , im now 35 , i used it regularly ‘back in the day’ for many years until i was about 23, i then changed numbers and put my old sim in a shoeshow box for atleast 8 years.. One day i decided to use it again and began topping it up.. It worked.
    Eventually i got sick of being propted to top up one particular month and decided not to… The data suddenly became activet, and totally unlimited! I can tether multiple phones to my phone and it works internationally , its completely free.. And has been for many years , iv’e even contacted tmobile to order micro and nano sims as my phones have changed through the years , what is it that makes my sim so special? Have you ever heard of this before? Iv’e trawled the web for years looking for any mention of this , id love to hear your take on it

    • Hi Bob,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ve never heard about such a SIM card, but I have a strong suspicion it’s probably due to an billing error in EE’s systems (given the number of migrations that have occurred, e.g. One2One -> T-Mobile -> EE billing system, there’s probably just something weird about how they’ve set up the billing for this account). Alternatively, it’s also possible they were offering an unlimited everything SIM card back in the day, but who knows!
      Ken

  • Just to make people aware of a fairly common occurrence in ASDA stores with ASDA Mobile sim cards. I’ve purchased several new, sealed sim packs off the shelf only to get home and find that the ‘activate sim by’ date has already passed. Luckily I was able to return to the store and obtain a refund for them. I know I should have checked first, but this was at a time when the expiry date was in very small print on the back of the pack and not on a sticker in larger text on the front. My point is that they should be checking the sim packs on the shelf periodically. The ones I ended up with were anything up to 4 or 6 weeks passed the mentioned expiry dates.

    • Hi Phil,
      Agreed, and they certainty shouldn’t be stocking outdated SIM cards in store (in the same way they shouldn’t be selling food that’s gone past the “use by” date)! Saying that, I suspect that the store staff never really go through and check dates on the SIM cards, in the same way someone goes through and checks the expiry date on fruit & veg, etc.
      If possible, I’d still recommend ordering your SIM card online as you can bypass the charge that ASDA makes for picking up a SIM card in store. Also, no need to worry about getting a SIM card that’s already past the expiry date 😉
      Ken

  • Hi
    If I ring my landline number from my mobile but kill the call before it connects (and is therefore charged) will that be enough to keep the card active, or must I answer it for a second to keep it active
    Thanks

    • Hi Jon,
      Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it needs to be a “chargeable activity” for this to count towards keeping your SIM card active. Therefore, you’ll need to pick up the phone to incur a charge on the mobile (therefore incurring the minimum call charge for that). Alternatively, you may sometimes find it a bit cheaper to send a text message to keep the SIM card active.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken
    I wonder if you can give me any tips on speeding up the re-connection of my PAYG Lebara SIM please. I bought a basic phone and Lebara SIM in June for sole use for my PhD research. I have had 1,000s of fliers, posters, stickers, information sheets and other stationary materials printed with the number displayed. I planned to start the data collection phase of my research at the beginning of October and was devastated to find my phone has been disconnected as I haven’t used it for eighty four days. I was not told about the condition that I had to use it in this period or it would be disconnected. I am speaking to Lebara customer service on a regular basis and am told it will take about four weeks to re connect the phone. This is having a disastrous impact on my research as I am unable to start it till the phone is re connected. I bought the online and SIM from a small independent shop near to where I live and they said nothing about having to use it within a certain period of time. Lebara assures me it will be re connected but why does it take so long and is there any way to speed the process up?
    Thanks for your help
    Debbie

    • Hi Debbie,
      I’m so sorry to hear about the hassle you’ve experienced with Lebara Mobile. Unfortunately, as an independent blogger, there’s little I can do to help you with this 🙁 Therefore, my advice would simply be to follow Lebara’s process, and possibly to lodge a formal complaint in writing with them as this may help to expedite the process.
      Unfortunately, there is still very little public awareness about Pay As You Go inactivity policies. The terms are normally there for anyone who actually bothers to read them, but of course, the vast majority of us never do! Therefore, my goal with the blog post above, is to raise awareness of the issue and to make it really easy for people to compare the policy across multiple mobile networks.
      I wish you all the best in recovering your phone number from Lebara, and do please let me know if there is anything I can do to help out.
      Ken

  • His there any way,of keeping,sims numbers,with there cards,by coming to arrangement. with pay and go companies, ie, Im a collector of sim numbers of importances, LIKE A CAR REGISTRATIONS, AND STAMP COLLECTING, With Kind Thanks Glyn.

    • Hi Glyn,
      Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a standard process in place for this, so it’s something you’ll need to discuss directly with each mobile network.
      Ken

  • what happens to a SIM that is not activated by the user for over 9 months? EE telling me that OFCOM ruled they must be cancelled and the number reissued to another SIM. My purchase of older SIMS is therefore unusable. Do I have recourse to the vendor if this was not explained to me?

    • Hi Will,
      Many thanks for your comment. Typically, as you say, unactivated SIM cards will expire after a certain amount of time. If you paid money for the SIM card and believe you were misled by the seller of the product, then you’d need to get in touch directly with them. They may argue that the terms and conditions of the mobile network allow them to deactivate the SIM card, but likewise you could also argue that you haven’t yet agreed to those terms (as you’ve not actually used the product). For an authoritative answer, you’d probably need to speak to a consumer rights expert but hopefully this should at least give you a couple of initial pointers!
      Thanks,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken

    Great set of advice here thanks. I am back into the UK quite regular but sometimes outwith the 6 month period so had always had to renew my sim.

    Strangely though my friend gave me a Tesco mobile (non smart very basic) a couple of years back with credit on it. Now every time I have been back charged it up and viola it is still valid, same credit left everything even outwith the 6 months. Last time it was unused January through to August of this year. No idea why, but obviously delighted.

    i did look at the option of the one off 30 day data pack (think it starts at 10 pounds with EE) which I could have put into my regular sim free smart phone, but as I say above didn’t need to and long may it continue, thanks Tesco!!

    • Hi Gordon,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right: the validity period isn’t always strictly enforced so you can sometimes leave your phone for longer than the inactivity period (e.g. some mobile networks will only clear out old accounts on a batch basis every so often rather than an ongoing basis every day). Of course, it’s great news that your SIM card is still working in this situation – however, for anyone living in the UK and relying on being able to keep their phone number/credit, I’d definitely still recommend adhering to the inactivity policy!
      Glad you’re having a good experience with Tesco Mobile! 🙂
      Ken

  • Is Three mobile now better for very light users (pensioner) than Asda? They seem to have cheaper rates now and inactivity period also 6 months as long as you make one call etc. What’s your view?

    • Hi EV,
      Perhaps so! Three is a little bit cheaper than ASDA Mobile for calling (3p/minute VS 8p/minute). So in theory, this could certainly work out to be cheaper in certain situations (it’s just worth bearing in mind that Three doesn’t work on 2G-only handsets, and that coverage is a little worse compared to ASDA/EE). If you’re probably going to use your phone only once every 6 months, the actual difference in price could be quite minor (e.g. as little as 10p/year) so it’s worth weighing up price VS other factors.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • Looks like idmobile unused pay as you go credit no longer automatically expires after 365 days if an additional top up is made during that period.

    “12.4 Unless an additional Top-Up has been made, any unused Credit will expire after a period of 365 days from the date of purchase and unused allowances will expire as specified and this is non-refundable.”

    In effect the 365 day time out is from the date of last top up. Whether you lose all of the unused credit (last and any previous top ups) is unclear.

  • Bad news for O2 users? Just noticed https://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-as-you-go/classic-pay-as-you-go

    ”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.”

    I changed to this tariff from international sim several months ago and was not aware of this. Its not in their terms and conditions, just the chargeable event every 6 months.

    I am a very low user, the phone is used sporadically for short incoming calls mainly. I haven’t topped up in years, still trying to use the £40 credit I got from about 10 years ago!

    I’m thinking this is a mistake, if not then bye bye O2.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Many thanks for your comment. There’s actually been a big debate about this in the comments below my blog post on O2 Classic Pay As You Go. I think the general consensus is this is just some badly worded information on O2’s help page (as you say, it’s worded differently in the terms & conditions so I think the terms & conditions will prevail in this case).
      Ken

      • Thanks for your reply, further digging in the O2 forums confirms the website help page is indeed wrong and t&c is correct.

        Also confirmed as per my last conversation with O2 support a few years back that top ups now expire after 9999 days (27 years), they used to be 999 days which I triggered, but O2 reinstated my credit and changed the timeout.

  • Jonathan Hall said:

    Thanks for the really useful information, which has been very helpful to me.
    I am an occasional visitor to the UK, needing some mobile and data access when I am here.

  • Thanks for a useful resource.
    I’m looking for a suitable SIM for my father who is unlikely to make calls but we want to be able to ring him from time to time. So GiffGaff looks favourite as they accept “4 received calls of more than 10 seconds” to keep the SIM active.
    So as long as we phone him from time to time, that should stay active.
    He won’t be able to use text messages either, so will never see any warning of epiry.

    • GiffGaff has changed its terms. Calling the number is no longer accepted (pity as that was the main reason for choosing them):

      Our rights to bar or disconnect your SIM Card

      13.3. Your SIM Card will be disconnected unless, at least once every six months, your Account is used to:

      a) make at least one call, SMS or MMS to another number (not including calls to emergency services or Member Services);
      b) make at least one connection to the Internet;
      c) make at least one airtime credit or Bundle purchase

      13.4. If your SIM Card is disconnected, you will lose any remaining credit or Bundle balance on your Account. giffgaff recycles numbers and we will not be able to reconnect once a number is disconnected and recycled. giffgaff may reconnect you if any disconnection was due to our negligence.

      • Hi Peter,
        Many thanks for the update & a real shame about the changes to giffgaff’s policy. I’ll update the information above to reflect this.
        Ken

      • Do you know if there any other networks that have the “call to” rule to keep the sim active? I am in a similar situation, sorting out a mobile for an elderly relative who prob won’t be calling from it herself.

  • I am one of the many talk mobile customers that got a text today saying the service is closing. I am not a large user now since retiring, so this was useful. I appreciate that it is not profitable for them, I have gone from high user to £10 pa….lol

    What would be helpful for me, and I am sure many others in the same position, who are also not into the latest tech stuff, is where to go to now?

    As something light hearted, I did replace my old phone last year, the asistant said, what would your new phone to do. Recieve calls, I said, yes, and. Make calles I replied, puzzeld look, and he said again, that it I replied. he seemd a little lost, but we resolved it and I bought a basic model.

    • Hi Max,
      Many thanks for your comment. Typically, my recommendation for best all-round usage would probably be to get a SIM card from ASDA Mobile: they charge 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB. They have 2G, 3G & 4G coverage from EE and have a great inactivity policy where you only need to use your handset once every 270 days.
      There are some cheaper alternatives like Three and 1pMobile, but these have a couple of disadvantages it’s worth being aware of. Three charges 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB but has limited coverage (e.g. there is no 2G coverage so it won’t work in a feature phone handset). Meanwhile, 1pMobile is a fairly new player and requires you to top-up by at least £10 every 120 days (therefore the minimum spend on this tariff is essentially £30 per year).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • I have had a look at ASDA,

        Thier terms & conditions state 180 days not 270, otherwise it seems ok

        3.2 Where the Services are suspended or disconnected because you have chosen not to use the Services for a continuous period of 180 days, we will, on request reconnect you to the Services, however any credit or top-ups held on your account at the time of suspension or disconnection will not be re-credited to your new service. We cannot guarantee under any circumstances that you shall be able to continue to use your original number and as such will send you out a new Asda Mobile SIM Card that will contain a new number.

        • Hi Max,
          Thanks for the reply! There’s a little more detail here on ASDA Mobile’s conditions. As you say, the best thing to do is to use your phone every 180 days. However, once you reach the 180 day mark, only outgoing calls will be suspended (you’ll need to talk to Customer Services to get it re-enabled on your account). You can actually go up to the 270-day mark before the SIM card gets suspended and before the credit is taken from your account.
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

  • I’ve just talked to Talkmobile and they’ve informed me their PAYG service is closing down in August.

    Best Regards

    Paul

    • Hi Paul,
      Many thanks for your comment. Yes, unfortunately, the Talkmobile service is closing at the end of August with the 30th June being the final day to add credit to your account. There’s a bit more info about this here and some further discussion in the comments on this page.
      Thanks again for the heads up!
      Ken

  • I had (used to have) a spare phone as a back-up. Service provider Virgin.
    I recently noticed that the number had disappeared from my on-line account summary.
    When I checked – the reason given was inactivity, which I guess is done for some reasons of their own, and is probably justified.
    What is not justified is that there was over £20 credit, and until I raised the issue they were intending to keep it!! In fairness they have refunded it now, but should this not be automatic, otherwise it is theft!
    I think Ofcom should take action!

    • Hi Peter,
      Many thanks for your comment. I agree with you: it’s highly frustrating how the mobile networks deal with Pay As You Go credit. Typically, it isn’t refundable and it can’t be exchanged back for cash (and for instance, when you change mobile networks, it isn’t possible to transfer your credit to the new network). This is certainly something you should raise with Ofcom – I’d also really like to see changes in this area and would support any changes made in this area by Ofcom.
      With regards to the current treatment of PAYG credit, it is in fact perfectly legal for the mobile network to retain unused credit. In fact, I’ve seen some mobile networks even listing this as a separate revenue item in their accounts (and some of the smaller PAYG networks deliberately expire your credit after as little as 90 days so they can increase revenue through these means). It’s fantastic that Virgin have agreed to refund your credit in this case – I’d highly commend them for doing this, as many other mobile networks would not do this in the same situation.
      Ken

  • Just a heads up people. Talkmobile are no longer supplying new sim cards on PAYG. I rang them the other day as I wanted a PAYG sim and was told they aren’t supplying new sims because of unspecified problems. It all sounded pretty vague. I wonder if they will be the next mobile operator to go belly up. Shame really as there 10p for 60 mins offer is great value.

    Lets hope they resolve whatever issues they have and start supplying sims again.

    • Hi Paul,
      Many thanks for the heads up about this. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what has happened to Talkmobile, but my guess is that Vodafone have decided to focus on promoting their own core brand instead. Talkmobile is the low-cost, 3G-only sub-brand of Vodafone so it’s possible it no longer makes sense to keep this as a separate brand.
      I received an e-mail from the Talkmobile team at the end of March asking me to remove them from the tariff comparison tables, etc on the website. I wasn’t able to get any further information on the reasons for this, but having a look at the website now, it looks like they’re quietly winding down and only offering upgrades to existing Talkmobile customers.
      Ken

  • Peter White said:

    Delight Mobile seems to have gone bust!!!

    Despite a Delight carrier signal for emergencies only they do not connect other calls (despite me being in serious credit with them); nobody answers their customer care number but they still offer “top up” on their website.

    Beware!!!!

    • Hi Peter,
      Many thanks for your comment. I believe Delight Mobile is still operational in the UK, though the annual accounts for the parent company are a month overdue. Do you have any other/different information on this?
      Many thanks,
      Ken

  • Just checked my 3 account, and my credit “won’t expire”.
    Of course they could still invalidate the sim, but I don’t think Ofcom would approve, or UK trading standards for that matter.
    I still think it better to err on the side of caution and use the number once a month, if that is not too expensive.

    • Hi Reed,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right: the credit won’t expire providing you keep your SIM card active. The minimum activity requirement is you should at least have made a chargeable activity once every 6 months. However, I’d definitely agree with erring on the side of caution, and putting something in the diary to use the SIM card regularly (e.g. sending a text message every couple of months).
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • I’ve just bought a £1 Vodafone sim for an old phone I have and activated the number but not topped it up so therefore have no credit. I only want to be able to receive calls. How long will I be able to do this?

    • Hi Mary,
      Thanks for your comment. According to Vodafone’s Pay As You Go terms and conditions, they can close your account if you don’t use the SIM card for making a chargeable outbound activity for 180 days (270 days if you include the 90 day grace period). This would also apply in your case if you only use the SIM card for receiving inbound phone calls.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi, I moved from England to Ireland in March 2016 and bought an Irish Mobile phone. I am now planning a visit to the Uk. My UK payg mobile [Tmobile] which had lots of credit has been disconnected. What is the best way to go when i come to the UK. I don’t want to lose my contacts so will I have to save them all to the phone and buy a new sim card and more credit for just the weeks visit?

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, your T-Mobile Pay As You Go SIM card has probably expired due to 180-day inactivity rule. Saying that, it might be worth contacting them anyway in case they’re able to restore your service somehow (you can call them on 020 7362 0200).
      If you aren’t able to restore your T-Mobile service, you can pick up a free SIM card from almost any UK Pay As You Go network. Assuming you have a fairly modern handset, your contacts are probably saved to your phone already so it hopefully shouldn’t be necessary to manually copy any contacts.
      Ken

  • I have a wifi device Alcatel Y800. Unused for a year. Sim expired
    Can I just put a new EE sim in with a different number and top up and use it?

  • Well I’m only saying this as reading the post from everyone & as other users have said I have an o2 sim card that I stopped topping it up about 5 years a go and still receives phone calls and sms, which is useful.

    • Hi Daniel,
      On ASDA Mobile, a connection action is defined as “(i) making any chargeable outbound calls (excluding calls to 2732, see Price Plan for prices), or (ii) any topping up of your account)”.
      On EE, it’s pretty similar (the wording explicitly mentions “topping up Your Account, using data and making a chargeable call or sending a chargeable text”).
      For this reason, a toll-free call would not count as a connection action on the above networks.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken
    Fantastic website – many thanks for your very informative and useful explanations. I only wish I had found it before now!

    My comments echo many earlier ones, as I hadn’t appreciated there are 2 different types of PAYG . . . and staff at Carphone Warehouse never bothered to explain there were 2 or the differences!

    I’ve had a basic usage O2 SIM pay-as-you-go card for just 1 month cost £10 – barely made any calls or texts or used any data, so most surprised today that balance is now £NIL and O2 say tough – give us another £10 each month to continue! What a rip-off.

    Had previously tried an iD SIM which I discovered had no reception in my area then a Vodaphone SIM with the same result. Carphone Warehouse suggested an O2 SIM . . . though it has a very weak signal at least that’s something but they made no mention credit would expire after 30 days, regardless of usage, unless it was topped up. Given my very limited usage this is going to be a very expensive option.

    I’ll have to start all over again and see if I can find a SIM (giving reception in my area) with a ‘true’ PAYG plan that retains credit for a reasonable time-period.

    Many thanks again for your website. Kind regards

    • Hi Arif,
      Thanks for your comment and glad the website was useful! For more information about the two types of PAYG, it might be interesting to read my articles on PAYG bundles and traditional Pay As You Go (it sounds like you’ll need the latter type of tariff).
      For my part, I’d suggest trying out an ASDA Mobile SIM card. They use coverage from EE (check here) and charge just 8p/minute and 4p/text. They also have a really good policy on account inactivity (you only need to use your phone at least once every 270 days – ideally at least once every 180 days – to keep the SIM card active).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Hi Ken

        Thank you very much – I’ve taken up your suggestion and applied for the ASDA SIM – just hope signal reception here is as indicated in the coverage map.

        I’ve initiated Plan B just in case – had to eat two tins of beans and found some string but has limited range and poor voice quality . . . may have to resort to Plan C with an old blanket and wet firewood.

        Keep up the good work – it’s great there are good people like you on the Net.

        Top marks to you. Kind regards.

        • Hi Arif,
          Thank you for the kind comments… it’s things like this that make it all worthwhile! 🙂 Fingers crossed you’ll have luck with the coverage from ASDA/EE, and hope it won’t be necessary to implement plans B and C 😉 Just in case you’re interested in this topic, you can also take a look at my article on mobile phone coverage (there are some tips there that may help you to improve your mobile coverage).
          Thanks again and best wishes,
          Ken

    • Hi Gualtiero,
      As far as I’m aware, Three doesn’t support automatic top-ups (for more information about topping up, see the article here). The easiest way to regularly top-up would probably be using the My3 app or by calling 444.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken. I’m probably odd as I doubt anyone else would ask this. I am currently using a mobile number which I plan on keeping indefinitely, but this has left me with two sims, one O2 and one EE which I no longer use. I want to get rid if them, but am reluctant to do so until they have been taken back by the network and the sims deactivated. I know I could just leave them until they do it automatically, but I’m sure at least one is already over the 180 days stated in the t&c’s. Is there any way the networks can take back the numbers now if they know I don’t use them?

    • Hi Phil,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure I caught the exact question in your comment. However, to attempt to answer this: your mobile network can in theory close your account for any reason that’s listed in their terms and conditions.
      With regards to inactivity on a Pay As You Go account, they often say 6 months in the T&C, but how strictly they enforce this varies on a network-by-network basis. Regardless, however, it’s always a good idea to stay within the terms and conditions to prevent this from happening, as their enforcement policies can also change at any time in the future within the T&Cs.
      Ken

  • Mohammed Habib said:

    Hi ken did not top up payg phone with lebara.cannot Top-up, still receiving calls on my number,no longer with lebara saying sim is expired with them,
    Desperately want to keep the same old number
    Please ken can you help as I am panicking
    How do I keep my old number with a new provider and how if possible do I register with a new provider

    • Hi Mohammed,
      Sorry to hear about the issue regarding the loss of your phone number at Lebara Mobile.
      Unfortunately, the only way to recover your phone number is to do this via Lebara Mobile customer support. I recommend you give them a call to get the phone number reinstated. Once this has happened, you can request a PAC Code from them which will allow you to move your phone number to another network.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Well done Ken. One of the most well written and responsive posts I have read online. Not even the companies mentioned take so much care and effort in updating information and doing it as (I believe) a one man band – much praise indeed. It is with good reason that you top the SERPS for your keyword enquiry.

    • Hi Daisy,
      Thank you for the kind words – this is indeed a one-man effort and it’s made totally worthwhile with lovely comments like yours!
      Thanks again – it’s much appreciated.
      Ken

  • these tables are now seriously out of date, please update. many of the smaller networks have been bought by bigger networks which means less choice in the market. vodaphone cuts off and deletes credit after 90 days so the big networks are doing this also now. 90 days is too restrictive. ofcom should set the limit at 12 months for all operators.

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. So I’ve just double-checked on the Vodafone website and it appears the 270 days should still be correct:

      To keep your Pay as you go number active, you need to use it for at least one chargeable activity – like sending a text or topping up – every 180 days.
      If you don’t top up or use any credit, we’ll send you a text explaining that your account will expire in the next 90 days.
      To avoid this, simply use your phone for a chargeable activity after you receive the 90 day reminder text. This will let you carry on as normal with your current number.
      However, if you don’t use your phone within that 90-day period, your mobile number will be disconnected and will no longer work.

      Thanks,
      Ken

  • Alan Malsher said:

    Great website. Thanks for your research.
    I can confirm that Vodafone scrap your number and credit in well under 270 days, NOT as your table shows.
    Also, someone commented that Three credit on the 321 PAYG deal doesn’t expire. It DOES if you use the 1 (ie mobile data) option. Depending on how much you pay, it may only last 1 day !!
    This despite their website claim “you only pay for what you use”. In fact if you don’t use it, you lose it. I think their best deal for low use is £30 for 1 year. This gives you 12GB of data. You have a year to use it, thereafter top up for another year (price may change), or lose it.
    One other comment: I think Three’s website is awful. I have three devices with Three SIMS, tablet, iPhone and old emergency phone for wife’s car. I can’t seem to see all those devices together on My3 online account. Pathetic.

  • The information is not fully accurate. Lebara cancelled my number after only 20 days of top-up expiry. And I had transferred that number over from Vodafone… They made it impossible for me to recapture the number.

    Lebara is absolutely the worse phone company in the UK. Total scammers.

  • Hi Ken,
    I have (had) a PAYG phone with T-Mobile which was used for emergencies only. I tried to use the handset last week and found that it wouldn’t connect. When I checked my on-line account I found that my £10 or so credit had become 25p and when I checked the calander I had exceeded the 120 days. As you’ve stated above their Ts & Cs tell me that they bar your phone and remove your funds. I don’t have a problem with them barring my phone or taking my number (especially since no-one knows it including me – I have to look it up !) but I do have a problem with them helping themselves to my credit. OK- it’s in their Ts & Cs but isn’t this just “legal theft” ?

    • Hi Ron,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you by any chance using a smartphone with mobile data switched on? If so, this might explain why your credit has been disappearing. If not, it might be worth calling T-Mobile Customer Services to get an explanation of where the credit has gone. Usually, there will be some explanation for the credit disappearing, and it may be possible to get the charges reversed.
      Ken

  • Graeme Chesser said:

    I was told by Orange yesterday that their limit was 3 months before warning of loss of number and credit balance. I received the text message warning yesterday, although I had made a long high cost call 10 days ago. The representative said it was an automated text when I questioned why it had been sent given my costly call 10 days ago.

  • That’s all fine and good, but you didn’t take into account that, on EE, you need to choose a “package” that expires after 30 days. You can’t use your mobile without the package! You can top it up and have your stagnant credit for 180 days with a completely useless mobile. But if you choose a package so you can actually use it, after 30 days it is gone.
    Never believe everything these guys throw at us, they are smart arses.

    • Hi there,
      Believe it or not, it is actually possible to use EE without a monthly pack! The caveat is you can’t use mobile internet on your smartphone and they craftily hide this option away. If you’re OK with just calling and texting and don’t want a package that expires after 30 days, text STOP PACK to 150 once you have your EE SIM card. You’ll pay their standard PAYG rates of 30p/minute and 12p/text. Alternatively, I suggest getting a SIM card from ASDA Mobile instead. You get coverage from EE and they charge just 8p/minute and 4p/text.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    Thanks for your web site, it is very helpful.
    I’ve just go my first EE pay as you go SIM card and I’m not sure from what point I should start counting 180 days.
    From the moment I insert sim in my phone and it is registered in EE network or what?

    • Hi Jane,
      Thanks for your comment! If you’re buying one of the Pay As You Go packs, it will expire 30 days after the pack is purchased. If you’re just using normal Pay As You Go credit without a pack, it will only expire after 180 days of inactivity. This is measured from the date on which you last used your handset for a chargeable activity. So if you were to use your phone today, your credit would expire in 180 days time if you weren’t to use your SIM card in that time. Every time you use your phone for a chargeable activity, the 180 day counter is reset.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for the heads up about this. I’m currently working on a full re-write of this article so I’ll make sure the updated version has the new policy for Delight Mobile.
      Thanks again,
      Ken

      • Hi John,
        Just to let you know, I’ve revised the article above with the updated information about Delight Mobile.
        Thanks again!
        Ken

    • I just past the 90 days mark and lost my remaining balance so my sim card for this network is now in the bin.

      I don’t know whats the matter with these two-bit mobile phone providers as a couple of quid a month is better than nothing and as far as I’m concerned they wont be getting another penny from me.

      I hope Delight and all their other off springs go the way of the Post Office and Sainsburys network.

    • Just to add to my comment about Delight as I’ve never know this before with any other network and that is they take your credit even if you have used the phone so if you top up £5 and make a £1 worth of calls over the 90 days from your £5 top-up they still take the £4 that’s left so be warned.

      • if you can be bothered i guess it might be possible to do a visa chargeback if you paid with a credit card

        the aspect Im annoyed about is that when I added the credit that they have now taken off me the terms & conditions still said credit lasted for 180 days – so its basically theft IMO

        if you are looking for a new provider that doesnt steal your credit (as long as sim is used once every 180 days) then try talkmobile happy hour tariff

        • Hello John

          Not too worried about the money to be honest as it was only a couple of quid and I don’t mind the number being withdrawn after 6 months non use but like you said taking the money when you’re using the sim is something else.

          I’m a disabled driver and to be sure of being able to contact the RAC should I breakdown even if it’s only a tyre puncher is very important for me and this is why I have sims for all the network and I’ve got Vodafone covered with Talkmobile, o2 with GiffGaff and my main sim is 3, 3-2-1 and my OH has 30 day rolling contract with Lifemobile so that covers EE/BT.

          I was going to complain to Ofcom about the theft of money but their site takes you around and around in circles trying to find exactly where to complain, they more than likely like it that way.

          • Seems like o2 Classic PAYG since their latest terms and conditions, has become a network that steals your credit after a period, active or non active use of sim.

            A need to top up every 6 months but unlike Delight Mobile who take your credit end off, at least with o2 Classic your unused credits remains as long as you top up every 6 months but be warned.

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

          • Confusing or what?

            After seeing the statement on my link above about topping up every 6 months or lose your credit I noticed today in the literature that came with a new o2 Classic sim this week it say no credit expiry as long as a chargeable call, text or data has been used in the past 6 months.

            I’ve been onto o2 customer services today and they insured me you do not lose your credit at 6 months as long as a call, text or data has been used.

            I just don’t know anymore.

          • Hi Chris,
            Thanks for the update! From my understanding, you just need to make a connection action once every six months, so this can either be making a call, sending a text, using data or topping up. I think the wording on the O2 website is a little bit confusing, and doesn’t appear to be backed up by any of the tariff terms and conditions?
            Ken

  • I’m on EE PAYG. I just got off the phone and the guy said that i need to make a chargeable call within 3 months, although this contradicts all that i have found on the web. Any confirmation on what the inactivity duration is? 180 days or 3 months?

    Also, forgot to ask customer service while i was with them, but if i RECEIVE a chargeable call, as opposed to making the call via the phone myself, does that keep my line active?

    Regards,
    Clive

    • Hi Clive,

      According to the terms and conditions listed on EE’s website, you need to make a Connection Action at least once every 180 days. Might be worth querying this with their team (it’s section 6.3 of those terms and conditions). The definition of a Connection Action as given their T&C:

      Connection actions include by way of example only, topping up Your Account, using data and making a chargeable call or sending a chargeable text. A full list of connection actions is set out in Our booklet of Charges

      My interpretation is that receiving a phone call with not count as a Connection Action as you don’t normally need to pay to pick up a phone call?

      Ken

    • its 180 days, not 3 months

      receiving call/text is not listed as something that will keep a SIM active so would not rely on doing that

      I vaguely recall that just registering the SIM to an online account might count as a connection action & therefore something that will keep the SIM active so that might be your solution

    • a link to some more info

      https://ee.co.uk/content/dam/ee-help/e-gain.s3.amazonaws.com/external/content/EE/Price%20plans%20and%20costs/P14_EE_PAYG_030914.pdf

      In particular :

      • You must make a connection action at least once every 180 days. If you do not, your SIM card will be disconnected from the network, and you will not be able to use the service at all. You will also lose your mobile phone number. Any credit on your account at the time of disconnection will be forfeited

      • Connection actions’ are:
      – Making a chargeable outbound call
      – Sending a text message
      – Topping up your account
      – Making a payment for an Add-On or Pack
      – Registering your details

    • Hi Adam,
      Thank you for the heads up about this. I’ve just updated the information above with Vectone Mobile’s latest inactivity policy.
      Thanks again,
      Ken

  • Roger Brenton said:

    I don’t want to lose my payg credit or phone service so I need to make a charged call/text etc every 180 days. Is there an app or some mechanism that will remind me when I’m getting near that deadline?

    • Hi Roger,
      I’d personally recommend using a tool like Google Calendar – within it, you can set up recurring e-mail reminders (e.g. to remind yourself to use your phone every 170 days).
      Ken

      • Roger Brenton replied:

        Hello Ken, Thank you for that suggestion – I’ll certainly give it a go.

        I thought someone might have created an app that could monitor when the last call was made and send a reminder when the relevant period is due to expire.

        There must be loads of people like me who tend to use their payg phones just occasionally and, like me, have forfeited their credit just because they didn’t make a call during the required period. It’s a pity that the service provider doesn’t issue a reminder instead of simply taking your money!

        Regards.

        Roger.

  • I’ve been using White Mobile payg SIMs for a while now. Their pricing is very good but you have to have a chargeable event on them every 60 days or they expire – and they are red hot on this. We maintain one in an emergency phone for an elderly neighbour and have had to replace it twice now because we’ve been a bit late going round to turn it on and make a call. Recently we’ve swapped her on to Delight Mobile (also runs on EE network with 3-2-1 pricing), which lasts for 180 days.

    On a more positive note, I have an old T-Mobile payg SIM with 7p credit that hasn’t had any chargeable events since 2014 and is still getting a signal and can receive calls.

    Many thanks for maintaining this site. Very useful.

  • Been trying to find out and gave up trying virgin customer services. I have two mobiles (Orange and virgin) both are out of credit in less than a month even though i make no calls, data sense etc turned off. Am i on a wrong tarriff or do they just take it all after 30 days.

    • Hi Ian,
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you probably have mobile data enabled on your smartphone. This will cost 65p/MB on Orange and £1/day on Virgin Mobile. May I ask which device you’re using at the moment? If you disable mobile data on your phone, you should find this problem comes to an end.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • I have several payg phones with sims that need a chargeable call every so often or the credit and phone number will be lost.

    The only one where the credit never expires is a 321 sim from 3.

    I have TPO sims which need a call every 3 months. These are in ‘spare’ phones.

    It an outrage that they can steal your money and even worse take your phone number away.

    I have had the same number since February 1986 and would not want to lose that number!
    For that reason I have it with 3 on a 321 sim.

  • Hi ken , my wife has lost her vadaphone account with vodaphone through inactivity , can she reactivate that account or how does she go about getting the phone back in use ,its an iPhone 4s your advice would be appreciated, keith

    • Hi Keith,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, your wife will need to contact Vodafone Customer Services to see if it’s possible to get her account reactivated. You can call them on 03333 040 191. Sorry I’m unable to help – it’s just that this is an account-specific query only Vodafone can look at.
      Thanks,
      Ken

      • thanks for the info ken , i will get my wife to ring them and will let you know the outcome as it may help your future questions and answers, cheers keith

  • Where the automatic termination of prepay sims really hits, is all those people, often elderly, who have a phone for emergency use, don’t use it for a while, then when they come to need it, can’t use it! The other complication is some other services, e.g. Gmail and some banking services, they need to send a verification code to the phone, which if not active, never arrives, leaving these other services incapacitated!

    The networks really need to understand that many people have a phone for very infrequent use, and to deactivate it without telling them can lead to potentially dangerous or at least very inconvenient situations that they require assistance to recover from. Perhaps they should generate an automated outgoing call to the phone to warn them of impending deactivation, or register a 2nd number to notify.

    • Hi Andrew,
      You can indeed receive incoming calls even when you have no credit on your Pay As You Go account. The only thing you need to watch out for is that your account will eventually be closed unless you make a chargeable activity once every so often (and of course, chargeable activities require you have some credit on the account). So yes: in the short term, this is definitely possible. However, you wouldn’t be able to keep doing this permanently.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • regarding an EE PAYG SIM

    if you ONLY top up will this keep the SIM active ?

    Just asking as the terms & conditions talks about “connection action” & Im not sure a top up counts as a ”connection action”

    FYI I want to keep an EE SIM active but I cannot actually ‘use’ it as I have a pack preloaded onto it that will active as soon as I use it – however I dont want to activate the pack as I dont need it yet – hence the only way would be to top it up if that works

    • futher to my last message I note that Orange terms & conditions specifically mention a top up keeps a SIM active

      As Orange is part of EE does this make it more likely that EE considers a top up to be a connection action

      • Hi John,
        Thanks for your comment. I believe a top-up should count as a connection action on EE. According to the definitions in the terms and conditions:

        ‘Connection action’ an action that must be taken to maintain connection. Connection actions include by way of example only, topping up Your Account, using data and making a chargeable call or sending a chargeable text. A full list of connection actions is set out in Our booklet of Charges.

        Hope this helps,
        Ken

  • How many people would like to just bang a PAYG sim in an old phone, stick a tenner credit on it and hide it in the car in case of an emergency without having to remember to use it every few months? these companies make vast profits and should be forced to provide such a card as a duty of care, even if it were priced higher than normal to use

  • Hi Ken

    Great site. Thank you for making it.

    Looking at Lycamobile, I was attracted by the fact that its the only network with free voicemail… that is until I saw what you said about credit expiring irrespective of usage. Can I just clarify something: if I top up with say £20 and make a phone call every week, any credit not used gets taken off me after 90 days?

    Cheers mate,
    Raj

    • Hi Raj,
      That’s right: clause 4.6 of their terms and conditions says all credit will expire 90 days after your top-up. Hence, the £20 you top up today will expire in November even if you make a phone call every day.
      Ken

  • Hi!

    I want to buy a pay-to-go sim without any monthy plans, bundles, etc. To have my credit valid for at least a few months and pay calls a normal per minute tariff (without pre-paid bundles of minutes/texts).
    I know this is possible at giffgaff – they call it “airtime credit”. (but I’m trying to avoid giffgaff for various reasons)
    I’m looking at O2 and Lebara, but they both seem to have bundles or plans which last only for 30 days (which means you have to top-up every month).

    Is there any other operator that has normal, lasting, credit available?

    • Hi Igor,
      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you (I was away on holiday for the past two weeks). In the UK, it’s still possible to use traditional Pay As You Go on almost every network – see the web page here for information. With traditional PAYG, your credit remains until you actually use it (you just need to keep the SIM card active, normally by using your phone at least once every 180 days). The more recent addition is known as a Pay As You Go bundle: this is where your allowances will run out after 30 days. If you don’t want this to happen, you should opt out from the bundle or you should choose traditional Pay As You Go.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Kieron O'Meara said:

    Hi Ken
    Could you please try* to provide an explanation as to WHY these companies do this?
    I just don’t get it…
    The cost of keeping a few kb of data on there computer systems seems negligible compared to the cost of losing customer trust / loyalty / continued custom, etc
    Does the UK Telecoms industry perhaps force these regulations on them?

    * It’s understood that you do not represent these firms so your opinion is purely speculative.

    sorry one more thing…
    http://shop.ee.co.uk/rook-from-ee?wt.mc_id=ON_MEC_D_N6580.136252.FACEBOOKUK&WT.tsrc=Facebook_Paid

    This Advert specifically mentions that…
    “If you don’t use your SIM to make a “connection action” every 180 days your PHONE will be disconnected and you’ll lose any credit on your account.”
    (Not your SIM) …are they now planning on LOCKING YOUR PHONE through lack of use?

    Wow, that would be HARSH

    • Hi Kieron,
      Thanks for your comment! I’ve heard lots of explanations about why the mobile networks do this. One is it helps their bottom line: people leave lots of money in dormant bank accounts… for PAYG SIM cards, it’s even worse as the amount is much smaller. Some of these will actually never be used again (e.g. the SIM card is lost or people have moved to another SIM card). The second explanation is that it’s an Ofcom regulatory requirement (though I’ve never seen any concrete evidence this is the case).
      The closest to an official explanation is probably this blog post from giffgaff (it mainly deals with phone number expiry but PAYG credit expiry is also related as the two often happen at the same time).
      Finally, with regards to the link from EE, there’s no need to worry about this! It’s loose wording on the part of EE: your phone will continue to work as before, only the SIM card will be disconnected from the network.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • I’d love to understand how the mobile operators are getting away with what amounts to the theft of these remaining balances on little used accounts. The banks have longed to do this for years and have not been permitted to do so – why the mobile operators? I have just experienced this with Virgin who are intransigent: no offer of any kind to restore my number or even provide an alternative. They also seen to have no obligation to inform you. It’s nothing short of an old fashioned scam but I guess we have only ourselves to blame. The ombudsman should be taking this up as it is not in the interests of consumers.

    • Hi Robin,
      Thanks so much for the update on Family Mobile. I’ll work on updating the website following news of the Family Mobile closure.
      Thanks again,
      Ken

  • Ken
    an update to ASDA Mobile position on inactivity on a PAYG SIM.

    I have had an ASDA SIM for some time for my “emergency Phone” but have been caught out by a different set of rules when they moved to the EE network. What the terms and conditions don’t say is that they will stop outgoing services if you don’t make a chargeable call that reduces the money credit on your SIM in the first 90 days. (It is important to note that ASDA Mobile does not consider the use of the free minutes/data/text that come with the SIM as chargeable. Beware of free gifts) After this “restriction” of service, you might still be able to receive calls but can’t make outgoing calls until you fall foul of the 180 day rule when they cut your number off. They don’t notify the user of any restriction/termination of service or final cutoff of credit. Other companies are clearer about restriction/suspension/termination by spelling it out in their Terms and conditions (T&C); However ASDA Mobile do not have it in their T&C but after the event will point to this hidden 90 day rule rule in their FAQ https://mobile.asda.com/pages/help#questions/120045/8428.

    Hence, to maintain an outgoing service on an ASDA Mobile phone you have to use up any free credit and make a chargeable call that reduces the money credit on your SIM every 90 days.

      • Melville replied:

        Thanks Ken,
        I suggest you could add a column to your “Inactivity Period (With No Chargeable Events)” table in the PAYG article of October 28th 2014, to cover “phone use restricted” after xx days. I suspect that there may be other companies who do this. I haven’t experienced the problem with Giff Gaff but then they accept incoming calls as activity.

        I appreciate that backup phones/sim is not a common use, but an emergency mobile phone can be a lifesaver for some people. Your PAYG article comes up in searches about backup phones.

        Thanks for the informative site

        • Ken,
          thanks for updating your tables to include the effect of inactivity. The red triangle against ASDA and customer complaints have obviously had an effect. They have now revised their FAQ to say they will only suspend service after 180 days without chargeable event. Then after 270 days of no use they cancel credit and finally after 360 days comes loss of the number.
          This is more in line with the published terms and conditions than before. A shame it took many people to lose their credit before ASDA responded.

          • Hi Melville,
            Amazing news – thank you for the heads up and for letting me know! I’ll get the information above updated ASAP.
            Ken

  • Hi Ken. I hv a Virgin PAYG sim which was purchased in May 2014 and the sim is still on my spare phone. I have never topped up before since my initial purchase. The credit has since expired but i am still able to receive sms message. Is the account still active?

    • Hi Sarah,
      Yep – your account at Virgin Mobile is still active 🙂 If the account had been deactivated, you wouldn’t be able to get a signal from Virgin (you also wouldn’t be able to receive an incoming text message). The 6 month threshold mentioned in this article isn’t enforced strictly by all networks (it simply means they have the right to deactivate your phone if it’s been inactive for too long).
      Ken

  • Hi I have an O2 phone where I have lost the number and credit through inactivity. I’m not bothered about retrieving the number. Can I just get another O2 sim to replace it – or is it more hassle than that? Many thanks.

    • Hi Martin,
      It may still be possible to recover your Pay As You Go credit but this will entirely be at the discretion of O2. You can contact their Pay As You Go team on 0344 809 0222 if you’d like to discuss this.
      Ken

  • gerald malone said:

    Ken Hi I have a requirement for a payg sim for use in an emergency personal disabled person alarm. Hopefully Never required to send an emergency message.
    This requires to be live continuously but not used or not de-activated.
    is there such a sim available in the uk Thank you

    • Hi Gerald,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m afraid I can’t recommend any Pay As You Go SIM cards specifically for this purpose. The SIM cards I’m aware of are only designed to work in a smartphone (they’re not designed to work in other devices). I also believe there may be Ofcom regulations which require a mobile network operator to disable a SIM card once it’s been inactive for a certain amount of time. Have you tried checking with the manufacturer of the device?
      Ken

  • Hi Ken.

    My brother in law has had to get a new Pay As You Go sim from EE as he has been getting issues from an ex girlfriend constantly bombarding him. Even though he has blocked her number she just calls from various others and enough was enough. He is not bothered that he has a new number but what he is bothered about is that there are other people out there that haven’t got the new number so are still contacting the old thinking he’s still on it. Can the number be stopped so that when anybody calls it says it is no longer available? I notice you say it’s 180 days of inactivity before the provider kills the number but he would like it doing asap.

    Many thanks
    Darren

    • Hi Darren,
      Sorry to hear about the situation. The best way to do this is probably to call EE Customer Services on 150. Let them know you want to close the old account: they should be able to do this for you.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    I had an old O2 Pay as you go SIM card some years ago. I still have the SIM, but there is no life on it.
    Can I reconnect it online? I live too far away from an O2 store to take it there or get a new one.
    Thanks

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. Normally, it won’t be possible to reconnect an old SIM card (it’s likely the phone number & credit has gone given there were several years since you last used the SIM card). Still, it’s probably worth checking with O2 directly… you can give their Pay As You Go team a call on 0344 809 0222.
      Ken

  • Hi,

    I recently changed from contract to PAYG and transferred my mobile number that I had had for 25 years over to the new SIM. Unfortunately I did not use the number regularly and it has expired. I didn’t receive any notification that it was going to expire and as I only bought the new SIM last October I didn’t realise the expiry was 84 days (the network is Lebara) and that I had passed it.
    Do you know if there is a way to retrieve my mobile number in any way or to buy it back from whoever it has been assigned to? I have hundreds of business cards with the number on it+ all my customers have that number…

    Thanks for any advice on this.

    Claire.

    • Hi Claire,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m very sorry to hear that Lebara Mobile have taken your phone number: the 84 day rule is written in their terms and conditions but it’s craftily hidden away after 61 other paragraphs of legalese. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of other Lebara customers are also unaware that this could happen to their number (most other networks give you at least 180 days).
      The only thing I’m able to suggest is to contact Lebara customer services (020 7031 0791). It’s possible they might still be holding the number (if not, you can always ask them what they’ve done to the number).
      If Lebara have indeed cancelled your number, it will normally be returned to the mobile network that first issued the number. If you aren’t sure which network this is, consult this spreadsheet provided by Ofcom. The S/ABC and D/DE are the first five digits of your mobile phone number after the first zero (e.g. if your mobile number was 07123 456 789 then the S/ABC would be 7123 and the D/DE would be 4). You can contact the network listed under that entry to see whether they’re able to offer you the old number back.
      I wish you all the best of luck in reclaiming the phone number.
      Ken

  • A very useful information, thanks for taking the trouble.
    Is it possible to change a SIM card from an LG phone on O2 (with about £20 credit) to an LG phone on Orange. Both are PAYG but the O2 LG phone is unreliable, not holding a charge. I don’t want to lose my credit. Would be very grateful for any help.
    Ann

  • Gareth Davies said:

    Your period for expiry of credit forr EE/T-mobile pay-as-you go is incorrect. I’ve just had EE Customer Support confirm the period is 3 months. I live in Spain but have maintained my T-Mobile UK pay-as-you-go SIM for many years so I can use it on the odd occassions I am back in the UK. I have always ensured I made a chargeable event (call or text) every 180 days in order to keep the phone active, and in doing so I never saw any credit mysteriously disappear – until past year. Between Jan and end June 14 my balance was reduced by £5.22 down to only 25p with me making no calls or texts in that period; and between end July and Jan this year, my balance was again reduced by £14.98 down to 25p with me again making no calls or texts in that period? I was very angry about this so phoned EE Customer Support today and she was very emphatic that I must make a call or text every 3 months or credit is lost. I said this did not used to happen and they must have changed the period from 180 days to 3 months for loss of credit. She said, no this had always been the case, but I said that I knew from experience this was not so and that if they had changed the terms and conditions they should have let me know. Bloody rip off! Anyway, please update your table for EE and it’s other owned services such as T-Mobile to state that 3 months is now the period for expiry of unused credit.

    • Hi Gareth,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ve just doubled-checked on the EE/T-Mobile website: the “180 days” is still correct (see clause 6(c) of the T-Mobile Pay As You Go terms and conditions).
      In regards to your situation, I don’t believe this is a problem with credit expiry (under the terms and conditions, you’d see the SIM card being disabled and all credit being lost after 180 days of inactivity on the account). Instead, I believe there’s probably something else consuming your Pay As You Go balance. Are you by any chance using a smartphone primarily on wi-fi? If so, could you kindly double-check whether mobile data has accidentally been enabled? If you’re using an Android smartphone, you can find this through “Settings > More networks > Mobile networks”. Make sure the box is unticked. I find this is a fairly common issue in the case of disappearing credit (with the option enabled, your smartphone automatically connects to the mobile internet @ £1/day if it loses a wi-fi connection).
      Ken

      • Ken,

        I just spoke to the customer service at EE for my T-Mobile PAYG number reactivation and I was told that the credit expiry happens after 90 days (instead of 180) and the number is disconnected after 180 days. I can not find this in the official Terms and Conditions but it seems Gareth is correct. EE has been a nightmare in general for us T-Mobile PAYG customers, so it is not unexpected of their corporate greed. I will make sure to move to another operator as soon as I return to the UK.

        Max

  • I have a pay as you go mobile with orange(EE). Although I only make one or two emergency calls a month and never use any other services my credit disappears rapidly over the month. Any ideas why. I have read on Google that this has happened to other people.

    • Hi Bob,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you by any chance using a smartphone (e.g. an iPhone, Android or Windows Phone handset)? If so, it’s possible you’ve left mobile data turned on for your handset (some applications will automatically access the internet in the background which will incur charges to your account without you even using the application). Another possible explanation is subscription-based text services (e.g. if you’re getting regular text messages which need to be paid for e.g. news alerts or ringtones).
      Ken

      • Bob Taylor replied:

        Hi Ken thanks for your reply. I am using a smartphone(old iPhone 3gs).indeed mobile data was turned on,phone was originally pay monthly contract never thought to turn it off when I changed to pay as you go.will see how it goes. Thanks again.

        • Hi Bob,
          No worries – that should do the job in fixing the problem… Orange charges 65p/MB so you’ll find only a small amount of mobile data consumption leads to a large amount of credit disappearing from your account. If you do want to keep the mobile internet access (so apps will still work when you don’t have wi-fi), consider switching to Three’s 321 tariff where you’re only charged 1p/MB. You should find the £10 of credit lasting approximately 65 times as long 😉
          Ken

  • Hi Ken – i see on your page that Vodafone requires a call every 180 days? but is it really a “call” or can some other chargeable event like a text or some web usage work?

    thanks !

    • Hi Suzanne,
      Thanks for your question – and a very good one! A literal interpretation of point 6.3 in the Vodafone Pay As You Go Terms & Conditions says only a chargeable outbound call (excluding to Customer Services) will count towards the 180 day limit. Saying that, Simon from the Vodafone Tech Team has said outbound texts & data connection are also counted towards the limit. Hence, you’ll probably be fine to only text or browse the internet but making a chargeable outbound phone call is the only way to strictly stay within their terms and conditions.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

      • Thanks Ken – the link you’ve provided actually further breaks down the 180 days into a 90 day suspension + 90 further days before permanent deactivation, with the crux of the matter surrounding terms 6a3 (which vaguely says 180) and 6b (which breaks this further down into the aforemention 90+90 days) – which seems to have confused many in that thread.

        No matter, I’ll just make a call every 89 days and all will be well 🙂 – thanks once again!

  • Brilliant that someone has taken the time and collate all this information into one place. I was caught by Lebara a couple of years back with its 84days = 7weeks non use policy which is strictly enforced.

  • Hi I have a vodafone SIM card which I had £5.87 credit on and I didn’t use it but when I came to use it the credit had gone so I contacted vodafone which there told me that due to non uses credit had expire. Also I get a Vodafone signal. tried to top up so I don’t lose the number but Vodafone saying I can’t top up as the process for recycling my number has started. Is there anything I can do to stop this and to get my number to work

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, this is something you’ll need to discuss with Vodafone directly – the only way to put a stop to this happening is to ask Customer Services to put a stop to the process. There’s no guarantee they’ll be able to do it but it might be possible if you’re early in the process (I had this problem with O2 in the past and they were able to restore my phone number and credit).
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, very helpful article on PAYG, thank you.
    I purchased a 3 mobile Trio PAYG voice sim yesterday plus a top up voucher for £10 at a 3 store. How long do I have to actually activate the top up credit i.e. insert the sim card and use the activation sim pin code.

    • Hi David,
      According to the Three website, “your voucher will expire if you don’t activate it within 90 days of buying it”. Once the voucher has been loaded on to your account, the information in the above article will then apply (you’ll need to use your phone at least once every six months to keep your account active & to stop your PAYG credit expiring).
      Hope this helps to answer your question!
      Ken

  • Thanks for the information, Ken. Have you any comparative rates for use of UK PAYG sims in Europe. Also, are you aware of any Oftel reports on this subject?

  • I just checked EE PAYG costs and for example, an sms costs 12p to send. It seems outrageous. I have a contract SIM with them with free SMS etc but I had wanted a PAYG phone for emergencies. Are these typical PAYG charges or am I looking the wrong place.

    • Hi there,
      I’m afraid 12p is the standard rate for sending texts on EE Pay As You Go (other networks sometimes charge even more e.g. 14p/text on Vodafone). For a better value deal, you could consider giffgaff at 6p/text or Three at only 2p/text. As with EE, both giffgaff and Three also require you to use your phone at least once every 6 months.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Just thought you’d like to mention that giffgaff SMS texts now cost only 5p in UK as in EU; PAYG UK minutes cost 15p (as in EU without UK goodybag; having UK bundle/goodybag reduces EU PAYG costs).

        My husband still has his TMobile PAYG phone (now EE) and receiving a call as well as making call keeps it active.

  • Hi Ken,

    I haven’t read all the comments by yourself or other, however, my query is that I had a PAYG sim frmo t-mobile which remained inactive for a while and now it has expired. How is it possible, if at all, to get this number back as it was on some of my marketing material and it will cost to reprint. Please advise. Man thanks.

    • Hi Guru,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get your old number back once it’s been lost (you’ll have to ask T-Mobile Customer Support and unfortunately there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to return the number back to you). My recommendation is to contact T-Mobile as quickly as possible – you can either dial 0845 412 5000 or you can go to an EE retail store. They should hopefully be able to tell you the status of your phone number.
      Ken

  • Thanks for explaining it all Ken
    I am still confused over payg
    On most mobile networks it usually talks about monthly payments
    Yet you explain a SIM card can last up to 6 months
    As a single pensioneri I need pay when my money runs out then top up
    Ie non monthly I always took this as payg is this correct
    Regards
    George

    • Hi George,
      Thanks for your comment. Pay As You Go isn’t quite as simple as it was in the past – let me explain the two different types of Pay As You Go tariff.
      The first type of tariff is traditional Pay As You Go (you pay per-minute, per text and per megabyte of data you consume). This form of Pay As You Go is probably better suited to your usage. No credit is taken from your phone unless you actively use it for calls, texts or internet. Your credit will normally expire if you don’t use your phone for a period of 6 months (the exact period will depend on your network). I have a comparison table for traditional Pay As You Go tariffs.
      The second type of Pay As You Go tariff is hybrid Pay As You Go where you pay a fixed amount every month for a set allowance of calls, texts and internet. With hybrid Pay As You Go, the same amount is taken every month from your phone. This is regardless of whether you actually use your phone during that month. It’s very subtly different from your credit expiring as you’re actually using the credit to buy a bundle every month. The article here allows you to compare Pay As You Go bundles.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, thanks for the useful website. I think a friend changed their number (approx 8m ago) but I’ve lost the new number. The old one (on Tesco) went straight to answer phone does this suggest that it’s still active or am I clutching at straws?

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment. If you’re reaching voicemail when calling the number, there must be an account active on that number. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t tell you who actually currently owns that number (it could perhaps still be your friend or the number may have since been re-assigned to another user on the network).
      Hope this helps and best of luck getting in touch with your friend,
      Ken

  • Hi there I had a number with vodafone for 15 years and due to my motor bike accident was in & out of hospital for 2 years recovering. I last recharged my number on the 2nd of august 2013 last year and after everything thats gone on I managed to loose my sim card. I bought a new one to reactivate this number and they said I lost my number and there is no way you can get it back 🙁 for me that a huge loss is there anything I can.do to get it back? I will do and pay whatever it costs to get it back any ideas would be much appreciated please thank you

    • Hi Huss,
      I’m very sorry to hear about your accident and I hope you’re continuing to recover well. In regards to your question, this should probably be posed to Vodafone Customer Services. There’s a chance the number hasn’t yet been re-assigned to another customer in which case they may be able to recover it for you. You can contact Vodafone by dialling 191 from your handset. Alternatively, send them a message through their website.
      Best wishes,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    thanks for this info, I couldn’t find it anywhere else. I am a light user (dongle on my narrowboat is used for emails when I’m away from home) and don’t want to lose my money/credit.
    I’ll set up a Google calendar reminder to avoid the 6 month rule.
    Thanks again,
    Andrew

  • Hi i had a backup phone in my ambulance and not used it for 90 days and im told i lost the number for good is then any way i can get it back ?

    • Hi Gaz,
      Thanks for your comment. Which network are you using in the backup handset? With many networks, it’s worth making a call to Customer Services to see whether its possible to reactivate the SIM card and phone number. The terms and conditions differ for each network so the response will vary depending on the network you use.
      Ken

      • Hi ken the network is Lebara i called them and was told i now lost the number and cant get it back , dont sound right to me 🙁

        • Hi Gaz,
          Sorry to hear that the phone number has been lost 🙁 Lebara Mobile has the strictest policy amongst the UK networks: it’ll expire your phone number after 84 days of inactivity (most other networks will only expire your number after 6 months of inactivity). Given this is stated in their terms and conditions, I’m afraid there’s very little we’re able to do at this stage – Lebara will simply point at the fact that you agreed to the terms when signing up to their network. Going forward, it might be worth choosing a network with a longer inactivity period (e.g. with a 6 month expiry). I’d also recommend setting up some automatic reminders (e.g. use Google Calendar to send yourself a reminder to use the phone at least once every 6 months).
          Ken

  • Hi all

    I had a Lyca mobile that was topped up in March. I misplaced the SIM but knew it was in the house. I found it a few days ago and found I had lost my credit. I contacted Lyca and explained but they just hid behind the terms and conditions. I discussed it with the Ombudsman Office but they said they didn’t believe I had a case because it is in the terms and conditions. I mentioned the Ufair Terms and Conditions Act 1977 and they changed their mind ever so slightly. I don’t know if I will win or not but I am going to give it a good go because it was my money not theirs. I’ll let you know how I get on.

    • Hi Ashimole,
      There are lots of ways of topping up your phone: you can do it online via your mobile operator’s website or you can buy a top-up voucher in the supermarket or other retailers. You can also do it over the phone or you can sometimes go to a nearby cash machine. Please refer to your mobile operator’s website for a full list of available top-up options.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • I understand the general idea of wanting to keep the quantity of mobile numbers down. But think it’s “unfair” of the phone companies to effectively take your existing credit for no service (The whole point if PAYG is you are charged as you use – so they have taken even though you haven’t used). I’ve as yet been unable to get a satisfactory justification from my provider as to why they will not refund unused credit, other than that’s what’s in their terms.

    So, as I see it, not refunding existing credit is an “Unfair Term”.

    Ofcom say they will look at “Unfair Terms” on their website:
    http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/telecoms/contracts/

    “Although Ofcom cannot handle individual consumer complaints, we can consider complaints made about the fairness of any contract term drawn up for general use.”

    Given what happened with Unfair Bank Charges, I wonder if complaining to Ofcom will make them change their stance.

  • I have an old T-mobile PAYG number which I haven’t used for years. However it still accepts incoming calls so I call in for messages now and again!

  • I have a Vodafone PAYG smartphone and am a light user. After 180 days of inactivity I lose any unexpired credit.

    Is there an app (or any other facility) that will monitor the period of non-usage and warn me when the limit is being reached ?

    • Hi Podge,

      Thanks for your comment. My recommendation is to pop over to the Google Calendar service. Log in with your Gmail account and create a reminder event that recurs every 170 days. When creating the event, you’re given the option to add notifications/reminders. You can set up the event to alert you via e-mail or SMS.

      Ken

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