In the UK, it’s possible to get an all-purpose unlimited data plan from £20/month. Find out how unlimited data plans compare across mobile networks.
Over the past few years, unlimited data plans have become rarer in the UK as mobile networks move towards charging for gigabytes and charging for the use of specific services. Thankfully, it’s still possible to get unlimited data on your smartphone from just £20/month if you’d like a worry-free smartphone experience.
In this article, we’ll compare unlimited data offerings across the UK mobile market. We’ve split these out into two distinct groups:
- All-purpose unlimited data plans: Use your unlimited data allowance on any app, service or website. This gives you much more flexibility as you’re not tied to a certain service in order to use your unlimited data allowance.
- Unlimited data plans for selected apps: Get an unlimited data allowance for use with selected apps or services. Typically, you’ll need to restrict your unlimited data usage to a whitelist of services chosen by your mobile network.
Of course, an all-purpose unlimited data plan gives you much more flexibility so this will normally be our recommended option where appropriate. However, it’s now becoming increasingly difficult to find these on the market with many mobile networks promoting the more restrictive plans for use on selected applications.
The following table shows an overview of unlimited data plans currently available in the UK:
|Network||Unlimited Data Plan||All-Purpose?||Restrictions|
|giffgaff||Always-On Data||✔||4G speeds on first 9GB/month. Beyond this, speeds are restricted to 384kbps between 8am-midnight.|
|Three||All-You-Can-Eat Data||✔||30GB tethering allowance on Pay Monthly, no tethering on Pay As You Go.|
|Three||Go Binge||✘||Netflix, TV Player, Apple Music, Deezer and SoundCloud only.|
|Vodafone||Vodafone Passes||✘||Services included depend on the pass purchased (video, music, chat & social).|
For most people, our recommended unlimited data plan is giffgaff’s £20 goodybag with Always-On data. For £20/month, you’ll get a SIM card from giffgaff with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and Always-On data.
Through the rest of this article, we’ll review each of the unlimited data plans in more detail.
All-Purpose Unlimited Data Plans
giffgaff Always-On Data
With Always-On data, you’ll get unlimited all-purpose data with 99% population coverage from the O2 network. Full 4G speeds are available on the first 9GB per month, after which speeds will drop down to 3G (384kbps) between 8am to midnight each day.
There are no restrictions on the use of tethering or portable hotspot, so you’re able to share the Always-On data connection with other devices.
Heavy users using their mobile phone in a highly congested area may be subject to giffgaff’s traffic management policy. This limits the maximum download speed to 100kbps for a period of 30 minutes between 3pm and midnight each day.
Three All-You-Can-Eat Data
Three offers unlimited all-purpose data through their flagship all-you-can-eat data plans.
At the time of writing, you’ll need to pay at least £27/month on contract or £35/month on Pay As You Go for all-you-can-eat data.
The main restriction on all-you-can-eat data applies to tethering and portable hotspot usage:
- On Pay Monthly contracts with all-you-can-eat data, you can share up to 30GB of data per month through tethering or portable hotspot.
- On Pay As You Go bundles with all-you-can-eat data, the use of tethering or portable hotspot is not permitted.
The following table shows a selection of SIM cards with all-you-can-eat data on Three:
|No tariffs could be found matching this criteria.|
It’s also possible to buy a new smartphone on 24-month contract with all-you-can-eat data included.
For more information, please read our full review of Three’s all-you-can-eat data offering.
Unlimited Data For Selected Apps
Three Go Binge
Three offers a free service called Go Binge to customers who have an Advanced Pay Monthly plan with at least 4GB of data per month.
The Go Binge service gives you unlimited data for standard-definition streaming on Netflix, TV Player, Apple Music, Deezer and SoundCloud. Any data used through these services will not count towards your monthly download limit, but of course, the regular subscription fee continues to apply when subscribing to those services.
The following table shows a selection of Three’s cheapest available SIM cards with Go Binge included:
Vodafone offers a choice of Vodafone Pass add-ons to customers who have a Pay Monthly contract with them. The passes give you unlimited data for use on selected services in the category of video, music, chat and social media. The passes are a paid-for addition to your normal contract so will increase you total monthly bill.
As of November 2017, there are four Vodafone Passes available. They cover the following applications:
- Video Pass (£7/month): Vevo, Amazon Video, Netflix, TVPlayer, My5, DisneyLife, YouTube. Video optimisation applies (standard-definition only).
- Music Pass (£5/month): Napster, Spotify, Tidal, SoundCloud, Deezer, Apple Music, Amazon Music.
- Chat Pass (£5/month): WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger.
- Social Pass (£3/month): Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.
For more information, please read our full review of Vodafone Passes.
For more information about giffgaff’s Always-On data, please see their official website. You can also read our in-depth guide to Three’s all-you-can-eat data, Three’s Go Binge offer and Vodafone’s Passes.