Three offers Pay As You Go bundles from £10/month or 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 use their mobile phone from just 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. It’s also possible to convert your credit into a 30-day Pay As You Go bundle (e.g. £10/month for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data). Your 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 price plans, including both the 30-day bundles and the basic 321 tariff. We’ll then compare Three’s Pay As You Go service to rival mobile networks before looking at handset compatibility, the level of coverage you can expect and how to keep your existing phone number.

Bundles & Pricing

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

  1. Turn your credit into a 30-day bundle. This is the best option if you’re a regular mobile user. Bundles start from £10 for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data (allowances valid for 30 days).
  2. Pay As You Go at 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. This is a traditional Pay As You Go offering, with no need to top-up your phone every month. A better option for light or infrequent mobile users.

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 typically be cheaper to convert your Pay As You Go credit into a 30-day “add-on” bundle.

Add-on bundles give you an allowance of data, along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts to use over the next 30 days. For instance, the £10 bundle gives you 2GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts.

For comparison, it would cost £20 to use 2GB of data at standard 321 rates (and that’s before considering the cost of any phone calls or text messages).

The following table shows a list of 30-day add-on bundles currently available from Three:

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

On the £35 unlimited data add-on, you’ll get a free subscription included to either Xbox Game Pass, Rakuten TV or Readly. If you’d like to buy unlimited data in bulk, there’s also a £90 unlimited data add-on that’s valid for 90 days (but without a free subscription included).

One disadvantage of buying an add-on bundle is that your allowances will only last for 30 days (or 90 days on the £90 add-on). Any unused allowances will expire with the bundle and will not roll-over into the following month. For this reason, light users might be better off remaining on standard Pay As You Go rates.

Pay As You Go Rates

Three 321 Pay As You GoIf you don’t have an active bundle on your 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 standard 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 in this table are stated for UK-to-UK only. If you’re travelling abroad outside Europe or making international phone calls, higher charges will normally apply. Source for pricing information: three.co.uk.

Three’s Pay As You Go rates are some of the lowest in the UK when looking at the per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte charge. O2’s Classic Pay As You Go has the same cost structure as Three (3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB) whilst 1pMobile charges a little bit less (1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB with coverage from EE).

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, in store or at a bank ATM).

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 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 £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 inside of 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 pricing 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 ASDA Mobile, EE, giffgaff or Vodafone.

The following bundles are available for £5/month:

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

The following bundles are available from £7/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited1GB£7.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£8.00

£10 per month bundles

10 Pound NoteThree offers a £10 add-on bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data.

For the same monthly price, you can get a larger data allowance on other mobile networks. For example, both giffgaff and ASDA Mobile offer 3GB of data 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
Vodafone250Unlimited3GB£10.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£10.00
O25005,0002GB£10.00
EE250Unlimited1GB£10.00

£15 per month bundles

For £15/month, Three offers an add-on bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of data.

We’d recommend investigating the alternatives from both giffgaff and ASDA Mobile. They offer substantially more data for the same price of £15 per month:

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 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 (this is an extra 8GB of data compared to Three’s £20 bundle).

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£20.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£20.00
Vodafone1,000Unlimited10GB£20.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited9GB£20.00
O22,0005,0008GB£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, alongside O2’s Classic Pay As You Go.

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 3p/minute 2p/text 1p/MB
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 about 40 handsets you’re able to choose from on their website. Prices start from about £40 for a new Pay As You Go handset.

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 from another retailer.

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 isn’t possible to use a 2G-only handset on Three’s network.

Coverage

3G & 4G Coverage

In the UK, Three offers 99.8% population coverage on its 4G network and 98.3% population coverage on its 3G 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 a 2G-only handset, you won’t be able to receive any coverage from Three. You may also experience issues when using a Three SIM card in a dual-SIM smartphone.

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 mobile broadband internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet).

As of April 2018, it’s possible to use tethering and personal hotspot without restrictions on Three Pay As You Go. Prior to this, tethering and personal hotspot usage was not permitted.

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. For more information, find out about international coverage on Go Roam.

If you’re visiting a country that’s not covered by Go Roam, 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’s Pay As You Go service from another mobile network, it’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number.

Start off by ordering your Pay As You Go SIM card from Three’s website.

Once you’ve done that, 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 is legally obliged to provide you with a PAC Code free of charge within two hours of your request.

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

Your current network provider:

  More Options

For more information about transferring a phone number between mobile networks, 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

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 111 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • 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

  • I use 3 on payg, but 3 are going to remove the free 150mb with the top up from May 23rd. This is a good feature. When I’ve run out of data, I can go on to the 3 site and purchase a monthly internet add-on, without using credit to do it. Now it’ll cost me to get add-ons, unless I can get to a free wifi place.

    • Hi Emgee,
      Thank you for the heads up about this, and it’s a real shame that Three are removing the 150MB free allowance. I’ve updated the article above to reflect this information. I believe customers will instead receive a (measly) 10MB of free data when they top-up their account in the future.
      Ken

      • Ken,
        Thanks for the information about the 10Mb allowance. That information wasn’t included on the text from Three. At least I’ll be able to log on to the website to buy the add-on after topping up.
        I’m not a heavy user, in general, except when I have some research to do. The 150 Mb often used to last several days, which has saved me money over the last nine years (as a Three payg customer) by delaying the beginning of the 30 day period.

  • William Grierson said:

    In your description for £10 bundles you say Asda has 1.5Gb and GiffGaff has 1Gb yet in the table it shows 3.5Gb and 2Gb respectively.
    The same as in the description for £15 bundles Asda 3Gb and GiffGaff 4Gb but in the table it shows 5Gb for both.

    • Hi William,
      Many thanks for the heads up about this! giffgaff updated their bundles very recently, so the £10 goodybag now includes 2GB of data (rather than the 1GB per month it previously contained). With regards to ASDA Mobile, they’re offering a time-limited promotion where customers get 2GB/month of extra free data until the 27th June 2017.
      I’ve just updated the information above to better reflect this (the comparison tables across the website are updated automatically, but sometimes I miss out on copy/content changes).
      Thanks again!
      Ken

  • I would like to use a Three pay as you go sim in my iPhone I am going to get. Outside home I would like to use for talk and text only (only in case of energency I will use email). There fore I would like to have internet set to off outside home. I do not want it to connect automatically in hotspots. At home I would like wifi connection on iPhone. How does this work? Also how do I set in my iPhone to work?

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. You can turn off mobile internet on your iPhone – this will stop it from connecting to the internet when you’re out-and-about, but you’ll still be able to use wi-fi when you’re at home. To do this, go to Settings followed by Mobile/Cellular. There should then be a toggle for disabling Mobile/Cellular Data.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi,

    I have a question. If I use pay as you go, how frequent is it that I need to top-up?
    My situation is that I left UK to a country that three is not accessible, but I want to keep my number since I would go back to study (but maybe in 2 years time). I will not use any text, call and data. I just want to top up to maintain my number. Do I need to top-up every month? Or else I can just leave it a few months and top-up again?

    • Hi Rutsee,
      Thanks for your comment. You can read more about this in my article on Pay As You Go inactivity and credit expiry. However, in short, you’ll need to top-up or make a chargeable activity at least once every six months to keep your Three SIM card active. Therefore, there are two ways to keep your SIM card active:
      1) You can simply use the SIM card to send a text message every so often. This will cost you something like 35p when you’re abroad in another country (the exact rate will depend on which country you’re in).
      2) You can add a top-up to the SIM card every so often. Three has a minimum top-up of £5 each time. Therefore, if you top-up once every six months, you’re looking at about £20 of credit over the next two years.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken
    I have recently transferred to 1p mobile which is 1p per min, text and mb which is super cheap. Its on the EE network so coverage is good and you have 2/3 and 4G access. Being EE you can use the sim in a 2G phone which is a major advantage over Three. The only disadvantage is that there is a minimum charge of £5 per month. For example if you use 125 minutes, 125 texts and 125 mb this will cost £3.75. At the end of the month you lose the remaining £1.25 which is unused and you will need to topup with another £5 for the following month. You manage the account online and topups are via paypal which is very easy.

    So far so good

    Regards

  • Hi Ken
    I use 3 payg at 3p/min, 2p/text, 1p/min which is unbeatable value in my opinion. I think its the best way to run a mobile phone in the UK. I buy sim free iphones and use a 3 payg sim.
    There are various other options out there with the Giffgaff £7.50 goodybag being a front runner which offers 250 minutes 500mb and unlimited texts. There are various online reviews comparing the 3 payg against giffgaff goodybags often saying GG is better value which I think is incorrect.
    The key issue is that the GG goodbags are time limited to 30 days and will expire whereas 3 payg credit never expires. This is key as regardless of how many minutes/texts/mb you may use on GiffGaff your credit expires after 30 day sand you need to topup again.
    With 3 payg if you topup with say £10 you can us this to suit your EXACT needs ie 333 minutes or 500 texts or 1GB of data or any combination and the credit never expires. Therefore your £10 is still available to you months after you topped up depending on how you use it. I find that a £10 topup usually lasts me 8-9 weeks which is unbeatable value.
    This is my opinion and It would be great to hear peoples views
    Kind Regards

  • Hi, great site. I am using three PAYG with the 321 deal. I started checking my balance after each text and find I am being charge 4p per text not 2p. Request a delivery report is switched off. There is no itemized billing to let me investigate, any idea why I am being charged double the advertised rate?

    • Hi Alan,
      Great question. Unfortunately, the only thing I’m able to think is your text message might possibly be going over the 160 character limit (or sometimes 80 characters if you’re using a foreign smartphone configured to use double-byte encoding). I assume you’ve already double-checked to make sure this isn’t the case – nevertheless, you’re probably best off contacting Three Customer Services and asking them to check the charges for you.
      Ken

  • A very useful explanation of 3 mobile – many thanks. My specific question is how much does it cost to check voice mail from the USA, if on payg with a feel at home add on. The 3 website says to call +447782 333 123 when abroad, not simply 123, so I’m wondering if it is more expensive than 3p per min.

  • I’ve been on 321 for years. It is really annoying that they don’t provide itemised bills. It makes it impossible to work out whether it really is a good deal or not because you can’t work out where your money went. I think it is but I do wonder some times.

  • Hi. I am thinking of going onto one of the Three sim only packages. If the deal has, say 200 minutes included, what would I be charged if I went over and above the 200 minutes? Many thanks.

  • Aziz Ahmed said:

    Hi Ken,
    Great informative article. Thank you!

    I purchased PAYG sim while in London less than a year ago. I did not use the sim after the 30-day expiration. I am planning another trip to Europe. Can I still use the 3 Mobile sim after topping up with a voucher and purchasing a add-on?

    Thank you,
    Aziz

    • Hi Aziz,
      Thanks for your comment. In theory, Three reserves the right to terminate your SIM card if you don’t use it for a period of 6 months. For this reason, it’s possible your Pay As You Go SIM card will no longer work (always worth giving it a go however as they won’t always close the account straight away). If your account has already been closed, you’ll need to buy a new SIM card and add-on.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Came across your excellent site via Google. I’ve obtained a Three pay as you go sim and intend moving from giffgaff because I am a light user. I would like more data at a cheaper price than with giffgaff, where I have to purchase minutes and texts on a goodie bag which I never use. My question is, if I just stick with the 321 tariff can I use the phone in France (at a higher cost) or do I have to buy an add on? I won’t be using it much, just to check emails. I wouldn’t be streaming or anything like that.

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes: you can use your handset in France without a bundle but you’ll pay the out-of-bundle rates listed in this table (likely to change on the 30th April due to forthcoming changes to EU roaming). As you say, it’s a bit more expensive than using your phone in the UK but will probably be fine for very light usage. If you’re going for more than a few days, it might be better value to buy the a £10 All-in-One bundle to save on these charges.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Ken, this site is excellent, THANKS!
    I am traveling to London from the US and the 3 PAY as U Go look perfect. Looks like I need to go to a Three store to get a Sim card? Are they free and is there a minimum top up? Was hoping to do 5 pounds as I will be getting 1 per each of the 4 family members.

    • Hi Jim,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, the SIM card from Three is free to obtain as long as you top-up the SIM card at the same time (if not, it’ll cost you £1 for the SIM card). You can obtain one from a Three retail store upon arrival. For a £5 top-up, you’ll need to do this online (this may require you to have a UK-based credit card). I believe the minimum top-up is £10 in a Three retail store.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, great article!

    I’ve been on the 321 deal for some time now and for me it works really well! One thing I would say to people who are comparing to this deal is that you really need to look at your actual usage rather than averages… when I compared my average usage to a cheap giffgaff plan, the 321 deal came off worse. But when I looked at what I would have actually paid in each individual month, then 321 was better. This is because if you’re on a monthly plan you never see the benefit of a month where your usage is low and also you get stung with a higher rate should you go over and above your plan allowance.

    Another reason 321 works for me is that I’m on Wi-Fi at home, work, friends houses, pretty much everywhere I go! And by using WhatsApp for calling and messaging I rarely get charged at all on my actual plan. (As an aside, even if you’re not on Wi-Fi then a WhatsApp call uses less than 1mb of data per minute of call, so it’s still cheaper than using the normal phone service and getting charged 3p a minute).

    I’m not saying 321 is for everyone, but it’s worth assessing just how much of your data usage is on Wi-Fi. As by making a few changes to the way you communicate, this deal can really save you some money!

      • John Hadley replied:

        Thanks Ken, I’ve forwarded your excellent site to my partner who has now got a 321 sim for her iPhone 4s as it seems the best value. Actually, she is having a problem activating the sim as it happens although her iPhone is unlocked. Is this a common problem?
        Many thanks

        • Hi John,
          Thanks very much for getting back to me. Is there a problem activating the SIM card itself or are you getting a ‘SIM Not Valid’ error as discussed on this page? The latter would indicate that your iPhone 4S isn’t unlocked (otherwise, it’ll be a problem specific to the SIM card).
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

  • This is a rip off 3—-get with it…..I get for 10 pound ultd tx 500mins,gig of data on giffgaff and if ppl from another network ring me I get the mins they use added to mine…..you used to have a deal with ultd data…where’s that gone….and also I have applied to you for a contract phone,I couldn’t after one check even access your page,it blocked me,I have never had a contract,yet you wouldn’t give me a chance… Reply that….bet ya won’t

  • Hi Ken,

    I’ve just joined 3 PAYG and noticed that I was being charged an extra 1p per text – making it 3p a text rather than 2p. Searching around for the reason, I found out that 3 charges 1p for a text delivery confirmation (I think it’s actually 1.2p). I turned this off and my texts were being charged 2p as expected. Today, I just noticed I’ve been either charged 3p for one of my texts or I’ve been charged 1p for using the internet despite that I’m still within my 150MB allowance from my top up. Is there another hidden charge that accounts for this extra 1p? I know it’s a small amount but I’m just curious if there is another hidden charge somewhere and why I’ve incurred this unexpected cost?

    Thanks

    • Hi Jane,
      Great question! Unfortunately, I’m not sure exactly where the 1p might be going – does it tell you in the My3 interface? It might be worth trying to get an itemised bill from Three so you can see where the money has actually been spent.
      Ken

      • Thanks for replying, Ken. My3 only tells me my remaining balance and there is no itemised call details. I’ll keep an eye my credit in case I get any more of these unexpected charges and contact 3 if necessary – I just thought if you knew about any other hidden charges like the charge for text delivery (the first I’ve ever encountered!).

  • really informative, thanks 🙂

    Can I ask a question that I can’t seem to find the answer to? I just wondered what the price is when calling a three mobile PAYG phone from a landline. This information seems much harder to come by.

    • Hi Leigh,
      Thanks for your comment. The cost is set by your landline provider so it really depends on which company you’re using for your landline. It may also depends on the time of day you’re calling (e.g. whether it’s an evening or weekend).
      The cost of calling a mobile phone from your landline will normally be the same regardless of which mobile network it’s on (i.e. calling a customer on Three Pay As You Go will cost the same as calling a customer on EE, O2 or Vodafone).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • I don’t understand this deal, seems like terrible value compared to a normal contract.

    I use typically 1gb of data and 300mins a month

    1gb = £10
    300 min = £9.00

    Total £19

    At the moment I am on 4gb and 600 mins allowance rolling contract with Three for that amount a month.

    Which is a much much better deal.

    • Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment – agreed that the 321 deal isn’t very good for moderate to heavy users (a SIM-only contract will almost always work out to be better value). I think the 321 tariff is a good choice for light users & people who mainly use their phones in an emergency (e.g. if you were to use less than 200 minutes per month and less than 500MB of data).
      Ken

  • I have a contract ending in a few days (don’t use it much). I am thinking about 321 as an option, but before I do it I was hoping you could answer a question about if it would work while I’m on holiday in Holland and Germany. Maybe I wouldn’t need to use it for phoning out (but if I did, do the same rates apply?) and would people be able to contact me as normal?

    • Hi Russ,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the 321 rates do not apply when you’re abroad in other countries. In Holland & Germany, you’ll pay 16.6p/minute for outgoing calls and 4.4p/minute for incoming calls. For more information, see the pages on Holland and Germany.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi. Am currently on a Virgin contract and quite frankly am paying too much for the small amount of use that I make of the phone and considering going back to PAYG. However, it is a toss up between Three’s 321 and Giffgaff. Prices lean towards 321 but with Giffgaff, I do like the (1) the balance notification after every call/message sent and (2) that you can have an auto top up set so that similar to Oyster cards, when you get down to £3, the system automatically tops up the balance.

    Does Three’s 321 do the same?

    • Hi there,
      Unfortunately, I don’t think Three has an auto top-up feature (you can read more about their top-up options on this page). The good news, however, is you can register a debit or credit card – it’s then simply a matter of calling 444 and following the options to top-up your handset.
      Ken

  • Great prices from 3 payg plans.
    Wife is off to Spain with grand daughter, got her the 100 mins bundle for £10 so she can use the feel at home plan to ring me in the UK.
    I’ve bought the 321 bundle,to talk and text her.
    It will only cost me 3p a minute to talk to her and 2p a text while she is in Spain. What a bargain compared to my own network Virgin. For me to call on this it’s around 90p a minute. Well done 3 network.

  • I have been on 3 payg for some time now. On the face if it, it is exceptional value. However my big gripe is that I cannot check number of texts sent or cost of calls made, unless I keep a personal log or check my balance after every call. My credit seems to run out more quickly than I would expect as a very low user and I cannot confirm where the credit has been used. How do I know I have actually used it ?
    My husband is on Virgin payg (more expensive I know) and can instantly see every text/call when he logs into his account . Surely this is a basic service that 3 should be providing ?

    • Hi there,
      Yes, unfortunately, I don’t think Three provides an itemised bill on their Pay As You Go service 🙁 Have you tried contacting Three Customer Services on 333? It’s possible they might be able to get this information for you.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Your advice re tethering for PAYG customers now seems to be out-of-date (according to your own link). Data, whether used via tethering or the phone itself, is charged at 1p/MB and requires no add-on.

    • Hi Kelvin,
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry, I wasn’t able to find the link where it says tethering is now permitted on Pay As You Go tariffs. According to Three’s help article (Personal Hotspot on your phone): “Our [Three] Pay As You Go plans don’t allow you to use Personal Hotspot”. Do let me know if there’s something I’ve missed!
      Thanks,
      Ken

      • I realise this conversation dates back a year or so, but I’m letting you know that I have no problem tethering my phone (Motorola Moto G) with my tablet and I am on 3 PAYG.

  • Mel Hutson said:

    I am thinking of getting a 321 SIM card. I am a fairly light user, mainly a few texts and phone calls here and there.
    I would like to keep my mobile number. One of the reasons (apart from their charges) for wanting to leave my current provider is that I cannot access my account to change my direct debit details over to my new bank.
    Their system lets me look at my bill but not interact in any way; I go round and round in circles where they tell me my password is wrong.
    Anyway, my problem is that I cannot get access to get a PAC Code either. Any ideas?

    • Hi Mel,
      Thanks for your comment. I know this won’t be particularly helpful as a response but the thing to do would unfortunately be to gain access to your account somehow (find out what your network requires e.g. could you present proof of your ID in their store?). The security check is an important mechanism built in to requesting a PAC Code – it ensures that no one else is able to steal your phone number. You’ll need to re-gain access to your account before you’re able to request a PAC Code from the network.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    I’m thinking of getting a three 321 sim as I am a fairly light user.

    However, I also travel a lot in France and Italy, so am interested in the ‘feel at home’ feature.

    In earlier responses, you warn that data while abroad is at 10p/mb rather than the normal 1p. This doesn’t appear to tie up with the website which claims ‘don’t pay a penny more’.

    Have they changed the deal now or have I missed some small print.?

    Thanks
    Andy

    • Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your comment. It is possible to use the Feel At Home offer on Three Pay As You Go. However, you can’t do this at the normal 321 rates: you’ll need to buy a Pay As You Go add-on. There’s more information over on this page. The reasoning behind this: Feel At Home allows you to use UK allowances abroad in another country. However, with 321, there’s no inclusive allowances for you to actually use abroad. This is why you need to buy an All-in-one bundle – so you’ll actually have allowances to use when you’re abroad.
      Hope this helps in answering your question!
      Ken

  • Ken I wanted to ask with the add on allowances from three ie the 15 pounds 300 mins unlimited data 3000 texts option, am I right in thinking the 300 mins isn’t actually 300 mins and is just 300 calling units rounded to the nearest min?

    If I make 300 1 second calls that is my whole allowance gone?

    I find this really bad and ofcom should do something about it as it is not really ‘300’ mins.

    Does this apply to pay monthly or sim only or are they charged per second?

  • Ken me and my wife bought 2 Sony Experia phones in northern Ireland (uk)we put the 321 sims in. Topped up €20 and bought the £10 add on,when we went over the border to the republic of Ireland,we couldn’t phone each other,though we could text and call our republic landline,now we have two phones that can’t call each other? What should we do.

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment. With the Feel At Home offer, you should be able to call and text each other totally free of charge. It’s a little strange you aren’t able to do this in the Republic of Ireland. I would, however, just double-check you’ve input each other’s number with a preceding +44 at the start (e.g. 07123 456 789 should be saved in your phone as +44 7123 456 789). Some mobile networks get a little confused when you don’t have this prefix and when you’re travelling abroad. If this still doesn’t help, your best bet would probably be to call Three customer services on 333 (free).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken

    I have a question regarding calculation of data usage. Do you know whether uses Kb or Mb as the minimum usage? In other countries, you may use only a few Kb but there is a minimum charge based on 1 Mb each time there is a data connection. So if there are apps running in the background you could chalk up a lot of Mb even if it is a few Kb each connection.

    Thanks.

  • I went into my nearest 3 phone store to enquire about the sim card for 321 price plan and was told they would give me a 16 digit number and I would have to top up in their store? Would this be every time I want to top up? Can I not go to any shop that does phone top ups and punch in the digit numbers like I currently do with vodaphone? The price plan sounds enticing but not sure if I fancy the inconvenience of having to go into town every time I want to top up. Thanks

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for your comment. Three gives you a plastic swipe card the size of a credit card: the card has a 16-digit number on the front: you can use it to top up your phone easily. There’s no need to remember the 16-digit number – indeed, you don’t even need to use it to top up your phone. You can top up in the same way you did at Vodafone (e.g. online, at the supermarket, at a bank ATM, etc).
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

      • hi ken, Thanks for your reply but I’m sorry little confused, with my previous phone I could go into any shop and as for a top up and they would give me a voucher and I would tap in the digits myself, I don’t want to top up online, or with a credit card, I would like to pay by cash. Can I still pay by cash?, and do I have to specify that I want to top up with the 321 plan or do I just swipe the plastic card and pay cash. Thanks

        • Hi Steph,
          Yep – you’re still able to top up a phone using vouchers on Three. See this help article for more information. The benefit of using a plastic card is simply that the top-up will happen automatically (you don’t need to faff around with codes). Voucher top-ups start from £10 per time.
          Hope this helps!
          Ken

  • Hi Ken, a couple of questions:

    Does it cost money to browse the internet using your own wifi? So for example if I wanted to search something up on Google, will that affect my data allowance of 1p/mb?

    Also, will it cost money to use applications such as Instagram and Facebook if you use your wifi. For example, if you wanted to browse a little bit on Instagram, will that affect my data allowance of 1p/mb.

    Kind Regards,

    Rikki

    • Hi Rikki,
      Thanks for your comment. Any data used when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network will not be charged by your mobile network operator (in fact, it bypasses your network operator entirely and they won’t even know you’re accessing the internet). The same principle applies regardless of what you’re doing on the internet (browsing, Facebook, Instagram, etc are all free when connected to Wi-Fi). Hope this helps!
      Ken

    • Hi Margaret,
      You can indeed switch to using wi-fi (you’re only charged when using the mobile internet… using your home wi-fi is free on the tariff). By the way, this is true of any UK Pay As You Go tariff (they’ll all allow you to switch to using wi-fi).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken….I have an iphone4s contract ended with 02 on 20th Dec ’14….I want to go on PAYG….As I’m retired I’m mostly in the home pull most of my data from my Internet provider….I rarely use texts using mostly Facebook Messenger…..neither would I use the phone too much for phone calls except when I’m out of the home……This Three 123 sounds ideal for me …..would you agree……please…..

    • Hi Annie,
      Definitely agreed that the 321 SIM card could be a good choice based on your usage (if you need information about transferring your phone number from O2 to Three, you can see this article I prepared earlier). The only other network I might also consider is giffgaff (10p/minute, 6p/text and 20p/day for 20MB of internet). They’re slightly more expensive compared to Three but you get to keep the same level of coverage as you have on O2 (so no difference to what you’re getting currently). You can order a free SIM card via this link.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    • Hi Saba,
      Yep – it’s still possible to get 300 Three-to-Three minutes as a £5/month add-on on Pay As You Go. Full details of the bundle can be seen on page 4 of the Three Pay As You Go price guide. You can buy the add-on by logging in to the My3 website (or you can visit mobile.three.co.uk from your smartphone web browser when connected to 3G).
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • Hello, Im planning to join Three on your 321 PAYG. But could you answer a few questions for me first:

    -does the first top up still has to be £10 minimum?
    -do I still get the 150MB free data and does it expire in 30 days after the top up?
    -if I travel to Hong Kong (which is a “Feel At Home” destination) do I need to make some settings on my phone or call some numbers for it to work or does it work straight away when I arrive in Hong Kong?
    -if I do get the 150MB of free data every time I top up would they be usable in Hong Kong or is it UK only?

    Also I am from the UK and when I plan to go to Hong Kong I will be using my 321 PAYG sim, I know it is free to receive calls but how are the callers charged if they phone me, and what numbers do they need to dial? So if people call me from the UK do they need to pay extra to phone me and do they just call me like they would from the UK or do they need to add 00852 to it? Also do the people in Hong Kong need to pay extra charges to phone me when I am in Hong Kong as well, and do they just dial my UK number or do they need to add 00852 to it?

    Thank you very much and sorry if it is a bit confusing.

    • Hi Hon,
      Thank you for your questions about the 321 tariff. I’ll answer each of them in order:

      Does the first top up still have to be £10 minimum?
      Yes, the first top-up must be £10 or more. Subsequent top-ups have only a £5 minimum if you use a debit/credit card and buy the top-up via Three’s website. Through all other channels (e.g. buying a voucher in-store), the minimum top-up is £10 at all times.

      Do I still get the 150MB free data and does it expire in 30 days after the top up?
      Yep, you still get 150MB of free data whenever you top-up. This will expire after 30 days (you would then pay 1p/MB for all further usage).

      If I travel to Hong Kong (which is a Feel At Home destination) do I need to make some settings on my phone or call some numbers for it to work or does it work straight away when I arrive in Hong Kong?
      You’ll be opted in to ‘Feel At Home’ automatically (there’s no need to change any settings). Do be aware, however, you’ll be charged 10p/MB rather than 1p/MB if you use your phone abroad without an ‘All in One’ bundle. My recommendation is to buy a £10 bundle (this gives you 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB to use in Hong Kong). Alternatively, the £15 bundle gives you 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 25GB of data. You’ll need to enable data roaming on your handset before the internet will work in a Feel At Home country.

      If I do get the 150MB of free data every time I top up would they be usable in Hong Kong or is it UK only?
      The 150MB of free data is only usable when you’re in the UK. The ‘Feel At Home’ offer is only available when you buy an ‘All in One’ bundle with your Pay As You Go credit.

      How are the callers charged if they phone me, and what numbers do they need to dial?
      Other people will still call your normal UK number (there’s no need to change the international prefix). For anyone calling from the UK, they’ll still be charged the normal UK mobile rates (they can use their inclusive UK minutes to call you when you’re abroad). Do be aware that your friends in Hong Kong will still need to call a +44 number (they’ll be charged international rates for calling the UK). Also, it won’t be free for you to call a +852 number (the ‘Feel At Home’ minutes can only be used when calling a UK number).

      Hope this helps to answer your questions!
      Ken

      • Thanks for your reply sir but I have some more questions for you.
        1. I presume all add-on’s works in Hong Kong so I want to buy an add-on called “500MB”, but can I use this in Hong Kong, also when I go to Three’s page with the 500MB add-on it says “120MB for you to use the internet on your phone” so when I buy the add-on do I get 500MB or 120MB to use?
        2. If I top up just like 10 days before I go to Hong Kong would they use the add-on allowance that I just bought 10 days ago or the 150MB free data allowance (which isn’t usable in Hong Kong) that came with the top up?
        3. If I want to top up £5 can this be only done on three’s website and not on any cash point machines, as I have bought a £10 voucher for my first top up and now I want to top up £5 online but it says that it needs to register my card and take £10 (not £5) to verify my card details which I don’t really like?
        4. When I want to call someone in Hong Kong and I am in Hong Kong as well would they need to pay roaming charges or is it free for them to receive my calls?
        5. Finally, if my family also has the exact same three’s 321 sim card, and if I call them on it would the charges come from my allowance if I have them and is it free for them to receive my calls again?

        Sorry if it is a bit confusing again but I just wanted to confirm these facts as the three’s website is not very helpful.

        Thank you very much sir.
        Regards
        Hon

        • Hi Hon,
          Thanks for your comment. To answer each of your questions in order:
          1. The add-on with 120MB of data is actually an entirely different thing (it’s the 50p Internet Daily add-on). I recommend buying either the £10 or £15 All-in-One bundles (you should see these as a separate option).
          2. It should automatically use the allowances from your add-on when you’re travelling in another country.
          3. Unfortunately, yep, it’s only possible to make £5 top-ups on the Three website. In order to link your credit card to the account, the first top-up is £10 (subsequent top-ups can then be £5). You can get around this limitation by choosing the option to “Top-up another account” (you can enter your own phone number on that form).
          4. Your friends and family will pay the normal charges for receiving an incoming phone call from a UK-based number. In most countries, this means it’s free to receive the call (not quite sure how it works in Hong Kong as I believe you normally pay to receive phone calls as well).
          5. Yep, if you and your family all have All-in-One SIM cards, you can call and text each other using your Feel At Home allowances. It’s free to receive incoming calls when using the Feel At Home offer.
          Hope this helps to answer your questions!
          Ken

  • I think that this 321 tariff sounds great but I cannot find out if there is a minimum call charge or call set up charge, I know some mobile companies do this. Can you help please. Thanks

    • Hi Barbara,
      On Three, the length of all phone calls will be rounded to a full minute – you’ll then be charged for the usage at 3p/minute. There isn’t a separate charge for setting up the call. To give a few examples:
      – A 1 second phone call will be charged as 1 minute (3p)
      – A 59 second phone call will be charged as 1 minute (3p)
      – A 70 second phone call will be charged as 2 minutes (6p)
      If you’d like to go back to the original source, read the small text on page 2 of their Pay As You Go price guide.
      Hope this helps to answer your question!
      Ken

  • Hi Ken
    I’m a very light user and have just received an iPhone 4s as a birthday gift, I am currently on O2 payg and have turned auto updates off as it was using up all my credit I am now considering changing to Threes 321 payg however Threes network coverage for my area is showing pale blue for indoor coverage, would installing Threes in touch app be advisable to overcome any indoor issues. Thanks Jan

    • Hi Jan,
      Thanks for your comment. If you go with Three, then I’d certainly install the inTouch application. Do note however, you will still experience reduced battery life when choosing a network with poor indoor coverage. The inTouch app also provides a less satisfactory experience compared to normal calling. So if possible, I’d still try and find a network which offers indoor coverage for your home. Take a look at my article on coverage for more discussion on this issue – a potential option for you could be getting a SIM card from giffgaff (free). The coverage is identical to O2 but costs are substantially lower.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Roza Elfassy replied:

        Hi, So is it cheaper to take a giff gaff bundel , or three 321 fir calls & texts, when visiting uk for bussinness 4 times a year?

        • Hi Roza,
          It would depend very much on how you actually use your phone (i.e. the length of time you stay in the UK and your mobile usage during that period). With the giffgaff bundles, you’d obviously be paying for a whole month at a time. With 321, you’d only pay based on your usage and your credit should remain until you visit the UK next (providing of course you don’t allow the SIM card to be inactive for 6 months). If your visits to the UK last for under 2 weeks, I’d say 321 is probably going to be cheaper. If you’re coming for more than 2 weeks and using your phone fairly often then giffgaff goodybags may work out to be cheaper.
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

    • Hi KGB,
      Thanks for your comment. There’s no reason technically why the 321 SIM card wouldn’t work in a tablet. However, this is prevented by section 5.3 of Three’s PAYG terms and conditions:

      5.3 Each SIM may only be used in Devices:
      (b) which are in the Device category it was provided to you for, for example, you must not use a SIM for a
      phone in a tablet or dongle

      For the Nexus 7, you’ll need to get one of Three’s mobile broadband tariffs. It’s £10.49 for 1GB of data (this works out at only slightly more than 1p/MB).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • I put my Mum on this tariff. Used to put £20 on a mouth on her phone, when on T-mobile standered pay as you go. Now £10 pound lasts her over a month. T-mobile did do bundles which would of worked out about the same, but where to complicated for her. So this simple package sued her well. Only problem she has is topping up, so have to type in E vouches into her phone. On Tmobile she was given a card that would topup her phone automatically, but not available on There. However the saving are worth the hassle.

    Also had to get her a new phone a Three only has a 3g network and her old phone would only work on 2G. Got her the Nokia C1 and suets her well with a big screen, and transitional numeric keypad.

  • I switched yesterday from an Orange contract to Three’s 321 PAYG, as it works out cheapest for my usage. I had to top-up £10 for the first top-up though subsequent top-ups can be as low as £5. With my initial top-up of £10 I got 150Mb free as mentioned in Ken’s article but I was surprised to also receive 600 free texts; both lasting 30 days. I am also pleased with Three’s coverage where I’m living, quite a fast connection. So I recommend Three.

  • Hi Ken,

    I’ve just moved from Ovivo to Three 321. Though a very low user, I think the charges for data could be higher than you suggest. I’ve been told that (once my initial free data allowance has expired) I will be charged 1p each time my phone contacts the internet (e.g. to synch email) so that, for example, I could be charged £1.00 if my phone makes contact 100 times, even if the total data consumption is only, say, 2MB.

    If this is right, if on a 321 tariff, you need to switch off any autosynch and, to keep control, switch off the data connection, only switching it back on when needed.

    It may be I’m wrong: it was possible to read and send emails on my phone using the mobile phone signal before there was any credit on the phone.

    • Hi Judy,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not aware of any minimum charges when your phone connects to the internet. On most smartphones today, an always-on connection will be maintained to the internet. Hence, there wouldn’t be a new data session when syncing your e-mail, checking the weather, etc. If the total data consumption is 2MB, you should only be charged 2p for all of the usage.
      With regards to being able to read and send e-mails without any credit, this is a rather interesting situation! It shouldn’t be possible (unless you were using wi-fi at home). Alternatively, there’s the 150MB of free data every time you top-up your SIM card. You may have been using the free data allowance included on a previous top-up.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

      • Many thanks for your reply. My free allowance has now expired, so I’m able to confirm you are right about the charging. So far I’ve just used the phone for checking emails and sending the odd email and have not yet spent my fist penny. It seems the telephone help people at Three gave me duff advice.

          • Hi John,
            Three will charge 1p to your account after you’ve used 1MB of data. There’s no charge for the amount of time spent connected to the internet.
            Hope this helps,
            Ken

          • It’s working well for me. I mostly use the phone for checking emails and I only get charged when total use adds up to 1MB. I think it’s a bargain for low users. (Though not as good as Ovivo which I was on before and free.)

  • Hello Ken
    Thankyou in advance for your support, indeed for all your work on this informative site.
    My question is with regards to 0845 0870 numbers. etc…
    i was caught out a while ago when i used all my top up for a bundle and found that i needed separate credit for these type of numbers.
    specifically my question is with regards to:
    three 321 tariff, and orange (any animal pack)
    do you know how they stand with these numbers.
    To date i’ve only found vodafone support these unlimited for an extra payment of around
    £2-3/month
    thankyou

    • Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your comment!

      With regards to Three, you can check their special call prices via this link. For 0845 and 0870 numbers, it’s a rather hefty 35p/minute 🙁

      For Orange, the Pay As You Go price guide can be found via this link. On page 16, you’ll see it costs 12p/minute to call 0845 and 0870 numbers.

      With regards to cutting costs, it’s definitely good to find a non-geographic number (e.g. your bank might list a number you’re able to use when calling from outside the UK – you can often use this number within the UK too). There’s also websites such as SayNoTo0870. Finally, most government departs have switched to using 0345 – using the new number should save a ton in calling costs.

      Hope this helps!

      Ken

  • Well hubby is paying 35p per minute with orange. Hope his phone is unlocked and if so will go on to this great tarriff rates for occasional user.

  • Just ditched Virgin’s “Simply 8” (eight pence for calls and for texts). Going with 321 or staying with Virgin? A no brainer.

  • Pete Forman said:

    I don’t think that this is a new tariff as such, it is a reduction of the rates for the existing “Pay As You Go on Three”. That said, new customers would be buying a 321 SIM.

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