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.
- 1 Bundles & Pricing
- 2 Comparison to Alternatives
- 3 Handsets
- 4 Coverage
- 5 Keeping Your Phone Number
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 7 More Information
Bundles & Pricing
On Three’s Pay As You Go service in the UK, there are two different ways of paying for your usage:
- 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.
- 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:
for 30 days
for 30 days
for 30 days
for 30 days
for 30 days
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:
|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
|Text Message (SMS)||2p|
|Picture Message (MMS)||40p|
150MB free with every top-up (valid for 48 hours)
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.
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).
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:
£10 per month bundles
Three 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.
£15 per month bundles
For £15/month, Three offers an add-on bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 10GB of data.
£20 per month bundles
Three 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.
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)|
|O2||35p/minute||15p/text||£1/day (up to 50MB)|
|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.
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.
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:
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.
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 Live||1 towns and cities are live on Three 5G (January 2020)|
|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.
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.
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:
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?|
|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?|
|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.
For more information about Three’s Pay As You Go service, please see their official website.