Three offers Pay As You Go rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB with optional All-in-One bundles from £10/month.

In the UK, customers on Three Pay As You Go can use their handset for just 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. Alternatively, customers who use their handset fairly regularly can buy a 30-day All-in-One bundle (e.g. £10/month for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet). Allowances can be used in the UK and in 71 other destinations through the Go Roam offer.

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

Pricing & Tariffs

There are two ways of paying for your usage on Three Pay As You Go:

  • 321 Pay As You Go Rates: Traditional Pay As You Go with no need to top-up every month. You’ll pay 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.
  • All-in-One Bundles: Convert your credit into a 30-day bundle allowance. Bundles start from £10/month for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet.

Pay As You Go Rates

Three 321 Pay As You GoIf you’re a fairly light mobile user, the best way of paying for your usage is at Three’s standard Pay As You Go rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

If you’re using standard 321 rates, there’s no need to top-up every month. Your credit will also never expire providing your account remains active (you just need to use your SIM card for a chargeable activity at least once every six months).

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

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

The prices in this table are stated for UK-to-UK only. Source for pricing information: three.co.uk.

Three’s 321 tariff is amongst the lowest in the industry, being beaten only by 1pMobile which charges 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB (with coverage from EE).

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

Prior to May 2017, customers would receive 150MB of free data every time they topped up. This offer is no longer available with new Pay As You Go top-ups. However, an alternative offer exists in the form of the Data Reward SIM card which gives you 200MB of free data every month (the disadvantage is you won’t be able to buy an All-in-One bundle on the Data Reward SIM card).

All-in-One Bundles

All-in-One bundles start from £10/month.

For customers who use their phone on a fairly regular basis (which includes the majority of customers using a smartphone), it will typically be cheaper to convert your Pay As You Go credit into an All-in-One bundle.

All-in-One bundles will give you an allowance of data, along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts to use over the next 30 days. For instance, the £10 All-in-One bundle gives you 2GB of data along with unlimited minutes and texts. In itself, the 2GB data allowance is worth £20 at standard Pay As You Go rates – you’ll then get the unlimited minutes and texts at no additional charge.

The following table shows All-in-One bundles currently available from Three:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£10.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£20.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited36GB£27.50
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£35.00

The main disadvantage of buying an All-in-One bundle is your allowances will only last for up to 30 days. Any unused allowances will expire with the bundle at the end of the 30 days (for this reason, light users may be better off on standard 321 rates).

Go Roam

For customers on Three’s Pay As You Go service, a key benefit is being able to use your 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 great 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 All-in-One 15 or All-in-One 20 bundle. On bundles costing £20 or more, you can use up to 12GB of your data each month in a Feel At Home country.

Order Three Pay As You Go SIM Card →

Comparison to Alternatives

In the following section, we’ll compare Three’s Pay As You Go pricing to what is offered on rival mobile networks.

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.

Three’s 321 rates are bested only by 1pMobile who charge 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. 1pMobile uses coverage from EE and requires you to top-up your phone once every 120 days.

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 3p/minute 2p/text 1p/MB
Tesco Mobile 25p/minute 10p/text 10p/MB
Three 3p/minute 2p/text 1p/MB
Vodafone 30p/minute 14p/text £2/day for 50MB

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

£5 per month bundles

Unfortunately, Three doesn’t currently offer any All-in-One bundles costing £5/month. If you’d like a Pay As You Go bundle costing £5/month, your options would currently be to get a bundle from ASDA Mobile, EE, giffgaff or Vodafone.

The following bundles are available for £5/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaff150500500MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile1252,000250MB£5.00
EE100250150MB£5.00
Vodafone150250100MB£5.00

The following bundles are available for £7/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited1GB£7.00
giffgaff250Unlimited2GB£7.50

£10 per month bundles

10 Pound NoteFor £10/month, Three offers the All-in-One 10 bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet.

For the same price of £10/month, you can get a larger data allowance on rival mobile networks. For instance, both giffgaff and ASDA Mobile offer 3GB of internet per month. giffgaff offers 4G coverage from O2, whilst ASDA Mobile offers 4G coverage from EE.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited3GB£10.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£10.00
O25005,0002GB£10.00
Vodafone250Unlimited2GB£10.00
EE250Unlimited1GB£10.00

£15 per month bundles

For £15/month, Three currently offers unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of 4G internet.

You can get a larger data allowance for £15/month on both giffgaff and ASDA Mobile. We’d recommend also investigating both of these as an alternative.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£15.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited6GB£15.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
O21,0005,0005GB£15.00
EE1,000Unlimited2GB£15.00

£20 per month bundles

20 Pound NoteThree has a £20/month All-in-One bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 12GB of internet.

For the same monthly price, giffgaff offers a £20 goodybag with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 20GB of data (an additional 8GB over Three’s All-in-One £20 bundle).

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£20.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£20.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited9GB£20.00
O22,0005,0008GB£20.00
Vodafone1,000Unlimited8GB£20.00
EE1,500Unlimited4GB£20.00

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

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 unlocked smartphone.

If you’d like to buy a new handset directly from Three, there are currently about 50 handsets you can choose from on the Three website.

If you’d like to order a free Pay As You Go SIM card, you’ll need to provide your own handset to use with the service. This can either be your existing unlocked smartphone or you can buy a new SIM-free handset from a range of online retailers (our current recommendation is to buy a Moto G).

If you’re providing your own handset to use on the Three network, you’ll need to make sure it’s at least 3G-compatible. It’s not possible to use a 2G-only handset on the Three network.

Coverage

3G & 4G Coverage

Three offers 97% population coverage on 3G and 4G.

In the UK, Three offers 97% population coverage on 3G and 4G.

Before joining Three’s Pay As You Go service, we 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 does not provide any 2G coverage. For this reason, if you’re using a 2G-only handset, you won’t be able to receive any coverage from Three. Instead, you should consider an alternative network that also provides 2G coverage. At present, our recommendation is ASDA Mobile (they charge 8p/minute and 4p/text, and have 99% population coverage from EE).

For more information about the coverage on different mobile networks, please see our in-depth guide to mobile phone 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 (for instance, with your laptop or tablet).

In the past, tethering was not permitted on Three Pay As You Go. However, as of April 2018, it is now permitted to use tethering functionality. This is a good way to share a mobile broadband connection with other devices.

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 SIM card abroad at no extra cost through the ‘Go Roam’ offer (previously known as ‘Feel At Home’). For more information, find out about international coverage on the Go Roam offer.

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

Transfer Phone Number to Three
It’s a straightforward process to transfer your phone number to Three.

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

Once you’ve ordered your Pay As You Go SIM card from Three, you should contact your old mobile network to ask for a PAC Code. This will authorise the transfer of your phone number to Three. Your old mobile network must provide a PAC Code free of charge within two hours of your request.

When your new SIM card arrives from Three, you can fill out this form on Three’s website. After you submit your PAC Code, 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

Your current network provider:

  More Options

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

More Information

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

Your Comments 111 so far

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  • 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

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment. Technically speaking, I think it’s against the terms and conditions to tether on Three’s Pay As You Go service. I know Three does make use of some tethering detection, but I’m not sure how strictly they apply this and how regularly they do it.
      Ken

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