Three offers Pay As You Go bundles from £10/month and traditional Pay As You Go rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

In the UK, customers on Three Pay As You Go can buy a 30-day Pay As You Go bundle from £10. This gives you inclusive roaming in 71 destinations through the Go Roam offer. Alternatively, you can pay 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB without the need to top-up your phone every month.

In this article, we’ll review Three’s Pay As You Go service. We’ll start by looking at their price plans, including the 30-day bundles and the 321 Pay As You Go rates. We’ll then compare Three’s Pay As You Go service to rival mobile networks before looking at handset compatibility, the coverage you can expect and how to keep your existing phone number.

Order Three Pay As You Go SIM Card →

Bundles & Pricing

On Three’s Pay As You Go service in the UK, there are two different ways of paying for your usage:

  1. Buy a 30-day bundle with inclusive minutes, texts and data. You can buy a Pay As You Go bundle from £10/month with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and an allowance of mobile data. For instance, the £10 bundle gives you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data. Your bundle allowances can be used in the UK or in 71 international destinations at no extra charge through the Go Roam offer.
  2. Pay As You Go at 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. If you’re a light or infrequent mobile user, there’s no need to top-up your phone every month. If you don’t have a 30-day bundle, you’ll just pay for what you actually use at 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

In the following section, we’ll look at the two options in more detail.

30 Day Bundles

For customers who use their mobile phone on a fairly regular basis, it will normally be best to buy a 30-day Pay As You Go bundle (normally referred to as an “add-on” by Three).

These add-on bundles give you an allowance of mobile data, along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts to use over the next 30 days. For instance, the £10 bundle gives you 4GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts.

For comparison, it would cost you £40 to use 4GB of data at standard 321 Pay As You Go rates (and that’s before you even consider the cost of any phone calls or text messages).

The following table shows a list of add-on bundles currently available from Three:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
for 30 days
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£15.00
for 30 days
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£20.00
for 30 days
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited36GB£27.50
for 30 days
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£35.00
for 30 days
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£90.00
for 90 days

One disadvantage of buying an add-on bundle is that your allowances will only last for 30 days (or 90 days if you buy the £90 add-on). Any unused allowances will expire along with that bundle and will not roll-over into the following month. For this reason, light users who would normally spend less than £10/month could be better off remaining on standard Pay As You Go rates.

Pay As You Go Rates

If you don’t have an active bundle on your Pay As You Go account, you can pay for your usage at Three’s standard Pay As You Go rates. These are 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

If you’re paying the 321 rates, there’s no need to top-up your phone every month. You can simply add some credit to your account, and it will remain until whenever you use it. You’ll just need to make sure your account remains active, which means using your SIM card for a chargeable activity at least once every six months.

The following table shows Three’s standard Pay As You Go rates:

Calling Rates:
Voice Calls 3p/minute (any network, any time)
Calls to Voicemail 3p/minute
Calls to Special Rate Numbers 45p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
Messaging Rates:
Text Message (SMS) 2p
Picture Message (MMS) 40p
Video Message 40p
Internet Rates:
Mobile Internet 1p/MB
150MB free with every top-up (valid for 48 hours)

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

Looking at the per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte charges, Three has some of the lowest Pay As You Go rates in the UK. 1pMobile charges a little bit less for calling and texting (1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB with coverage from EE) but requires you to top-up your phone by at least £10 every 120 days.

On Three, the minimum top-up is £5 each time when you top-up online through the My3 website. It’s £10 when you top-up elsewhere (e.g. by phone or in-store).

Go Roam

For customers on Three’s Pay As You Go service, a key benefit is being able to use your mobile phone abroad in 71 destinations at no extra charge. The Go Roam Around The World offer covers your usage in most European countries, the USA, Australia and more.

For customers who occasionally travel abroad to other countries, this makes Three a really good choice. You can use the SIM card to stay in touch with friends and family whilst travelling, and you can continue using your favourite applications like social media, messaging and maps.

To get the best value when travelling abroad, we recommend buying either the £15 or £20 bundle. Up to 12GB of your data allowance each month can be used in a Go Roam country (or up to 15GB if you’re travelling inside Europe).

Order Three Pay As You Go SIM Card →

Comparison to Alternatives

In the following section, we’ll compare Three’s Pay As You Go bundles to what is available on other mobile networks.

£5 per month bundles

Unfortunately, Three doesn’t currently offer any add-on bundles costing £5/month.

If you’d like a Pay As You Go bundle costing £5/month, your options would be to get a bundle from EE, O2 or Vodafone. Alternatively, goodybag bundles are available on giffgaff from £6/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
EE100250150MB£5.00
Vodafone150250100MB£5.00
O2UnlimitedUnlimitedNo data£5.00
giffgaff300500500MB£6.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£8.00

£10 per month bundles

10 Pound NoteThree offers a £10 add-on bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data.

For the same monthly price, you can get a larger allowance of data on other mobile networks. For instance, both giffgaff and VOXI offer 6GB of data per month. giffgaff offers 4G coverage from O2 whereas VOXI offers 4G coverage from Vodafone.

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
VOXIUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£10.00
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£10.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
O2UnlimitedUnlimited3GB£10.00
Vodafone250Unlimited3GB£10.00
EE250Unlimited1GB£10.00

£15 per month bundles

For £15/month, Three offers an add-on bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 10GB of data.

We’d recommend investigating the alternatives from both giffgaff and VOXI. They’ll both offer 15GB of data for the same price of £15 per month:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
VOXIUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£15.00
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£15.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£15.00
O2UnlimitedUnlimited6GB£15.00
EE1,000Unlimited2GB£15.00

£20 per month bundles

20 Pound NoteThree has a £20/month bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 12GB of data.

For the same monthly price, VOXI offers a £20 plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 45GB of data and endless social media data. Alternatively, giffgaff has a £20 goodybag with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 40GB of data.

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
VOXIUnlimitedUnlimited45GB£20.00
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited40GB£20.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£20.00
O2UnlimitedUnlimited10GB£20.00
Vodafone1,000Unlimited10GB£20.00
EE1,500Unlimited4GB£20.00

For a more detailed comparison, please see our in-depth article on Pay As You Go bundles.

Pay As You Go Pricing

For light users on traditional Pay As You Go, Three charges 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. This makes them one of the cheapest mobile networks for traditional Pay As You Go usage.

Three’s 321 rates are beaten by 1pMobile who charge just 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. However, 1pMobile has a minimum top-up requirement of £10 for every 120 days of usage.

The following table shows a comparison of per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte rates:

Network Calls (per minute) Texts (per SMS) Data (per MB)
1pMobile 1p/minute 1p/text 1p/MB
ASDA Mobile 8p/minute 4p/text 5p/MB
EE 35p/minute 15p/text
giffgaff 15p/minute 5p/text 5p/MB
O2 35p/minute 15p/text £1/day (up to 50MB)
Tesco Mobile 25p/minute 10p/text 10p/MB
Three 3p/minute 2p/text 1p/MB
Vodafone £1/day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB data

For more information, please see our full comparison of Pay As You Go rates.

Handsets

There are two ways of joining Three’s Pay As You Go service: you can either buy a new handset directly from Three or you can order a free Pay As You Go SIM card for your existing unlocked smartphone.

If you’d like to buy a new handset directly from Three, there are currently around 35 handsets you’re able to choose from. Prices start from around £90 for a new Pay As You Go handset on Three.

If you order a free Pay As You Go SIM card from Three’s website, you’ll need to provide your own handset to use with the service. This can either be your existing unlocked smartphone or it can be a new SIM-free handset that you’ve purchased elsewhere (e.g. from a different retailer).

If you’re providing your own handset to use on the Three network, you’ll need to make sure it supports 3G at a minimum. It isn’t possible to use a 2G-only handset on Three’s network as they don’t offer any 2G coverage.

Coverage

3G & 4G Coverage

In the UK, Three offers 99.8% population coverage. This includes 98.3% population coverage on their 3G network and 99.8% population coverage on their 4G network.

Before joining Three’s Pay As You Go service, we’d strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on Three’s online coverage map:

Check Three Coverage Map (three.co.uk) →

Unfortunately, Three doesn’t provide any 2G coverage. For this reason, if you’re using an older 2G-only handset, it won’t be possible to receive any coverage from Three. You may also experience problems when using a Three SIM card in a dual-SIM smartphone.

For more information, see our full guide to the coverage on Three. Alternatively, see our overview of how mobile coverage works in the UK.

5G Coverage

At present, 5G coverage isn’t available to customers on Three’s Pay As You Go service. However, they’ve announced that 5G coverage will be available at no extra cost when it launches in early 2020.

So far, Three has announced 5G coverage in the following UK towns and cities:

Now Live1 towns and cities are live on Three 5G (January 2020)
London
Planned &
Announced
24 towns and cities planned
Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, Wolverhampton (Q1 2020)

For more information, see our guide to the rollout of 5G coverage in the UK.

Tethering & Personal Hotspot

Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet). It’s a great way to share a mobile broadband connection from your phone onto other devices.

From April 2018 onwards, it’s been possible to use tethering and personal hotspot in the UK and Europe. Some limitations still apply to tethering when you’re travelling in a Go Roam country outside of Europe.

Prior to April 2018, the use of tethering and personal hotspot was not permitted on Three Pay As You Go.

For more information, see our full guide to tethering on UK mobile networks.

International Roaming

On Three, international roaming is enabled automatically for all customers on Pay As You Go.

For customers visiting one of 71 destinations (including most of Europe, the USA and Australia), it’s possible to use your mobile phone abroad at no extra cost through the Go Roam offer. For more information, find out about the international coverage on Go Roam.

If you’re visiting a country that’s not covered by the Go Roam offer, additional charges may apply for your usage when abroad. Please see the Three website for full details about their international coverage.

Keeping Your Phone Number

If you’re joining Three’s Pay As You Go service from another mobile network, it’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number.

Start by ordering your Pay As You Go SIM card from the Three website.

Once you’ve done that, request a PAC Code from your old network. You can get this through your mobile network’s website or app, or by texting PAC to 65075. The PAC Code will authorise the transfer of your phone number to Three.

Once your new SIM card has arrived from Three, fill out this form on their website. After submitting your PAC Code on that page, your phone number transfer will be scheduled by Three (normally for the next working day).

For step-by-step instructions on transferring a phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Three

Select your current mobile network:

  More Options

For more information about transferring a phone number between mobile networks, see our guide to using a PAC Code.

Frequently Asked Questions

What bundles are available on Three Pay As You Go?
At present, you can choose from the range of 30-day bundles listed on this page. They currently include 4GB of data for £10, 10GB of data for £15, 12GB of data for £20, 36GB of data for £27.50 and unlimited data for £35. All bundles include unlimited minutes and unlimited texts.
What’s the minimum top-up on Three?
The minimum top-up is £5 if you’re topping up online through this link. If you’re topping up elsewhere (e.g. in store or by phone), the minimum top-up is £10.
How much data will I get for free when topping up?
You’ll get 150MB of data for free every time you top-up your Three Pay As You Go SIM card. The free data is valid for 48 hours after top-up.
Is it possible to use Go Roam with Three Pay As You Go?
Yes. We’d recommend buying a Pay As You Go bundle on Three (e.g. the 10GB bundle for £15). You’ll then be able to use your allowances at no extra cost in 71 destinations as part of the Go Roam offer which covers most of Europe, the USA, Australia and more.
What type of coverage will I get on Three Pay As You Go?
You’ll get 3G and 4G coverage from Three. According to Three, they offer 99.8% population coverage – you can check the coverage in your area on their website. 5G coverage will be launching in early 2020 and will be available to Pay As You Go customers at no extra cost.
Can I keep an existing phone number?
Yes. It’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number. Ask your current mobile network to provide you with a PAC Code. You can get one through your mobile network’s website or app, or by texting PAC to 65075. You can then provide the PAC Code to Three once you’ve ordered and activated your SIM card.

More Information

For more information about Three’s Pay As You Go service, please see their official website.

Your Comments 113 so far

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

  • Good article ken,but if ur a light user,why not put the data reward sim in ur phone? You still get the 321 rate,and add a bundle if you want,but you get 200mb a month free,no top up required,it auto renwews evert 30 days

  • Hi Ken. I have been reading your blog on SIM cards in the UK as I will be traveling to the UK and USA for a month in total. Three’s pay as you go sim seems to be the best but the only problem is it cannot tether 😔

    My initial plan was to get a 30 days SIM card which I can use on my spare iPhone as a hotspot while I can still keep my own phone with my local sim just in case there is emergency call while I am not in my country.

    In my case can you suggest any other sim which I can get while I arrive at London next week? Thank you in advance your advise.

    • Hi Shirley,
      Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of a Pay As You Go SIM card that both allows you to use your phone in the US at no extra charge, and that also allows you to tether. It’s possible you might need two separate SIM cards for this (e.g. one in the UK and another one in the US). For the UK, I’d recommend giffgaff as a good SIM card for visitors. They allow you to tether at no extra charge, and have some rates in the UK.
      Ken

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