Unlimited data plans allow you to download as much as you like. We compare unlimited data plans from EE, giffgaff, SMARTY, Three, Virgin, Vodafone and VOXI.
Whether you’re a heavy smartphone user or whether you just want the reassurance of never running out of data, an increasing number of UK mobile networks now offer an unlimited data plan. This allows you to download as much as you like without worrying about your data limit.
At present, it’s possible to get an unlimited data plan from giffgaff, SMARTY, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone. With all of these plans, you can stop worrying about how many gigabytes you’re using as you’ll never run out of data again in the middle of the month.
As a cheaper alternative to unlimited data plans, you can also consider a zero-rated data plan that gives you unlimited data for use on certain services. These are available in the form of EE’s Swappable Benefits, Three’s Go Binge, Virgin Mobile’s Data-Free Messaging and VOXI’s Monthly Passes.
In this article, we’ll review and compare your options for an unlimited mobile data plan in the UK.
- 1 Overview of Unlimited Data Plans
- 2 Unlimited Data Plans
- 3 Zero-Rated Data Plans
- 4 More Information
Overview of Unlimited Data Plans
Unlimited Data Plans
In the UK, there are currently five mobile networks offering an unlimited data plan:
|Mobile Network||Unlimited Data Plan||Limitations & Restrictions|
|giffgaff||Always-On Data||4G speeds are only available on the first 40GB per month. After this, speeds are restricted to 384kbit/s between 8am-midnight.|
|SMARTY||Unlimited Data||A fair usage policy of 1000GB per month applies.|
|Three||All-You-Can-Eat Data||A fair usage policy of 1000GB per month applies.|
|Virgin Mobile||Unlimited Data||Only available to Virgin Media TV and Broadband customers.|
|Vodafone||Unlimited Data||Speed restrictions apply to the Unlimited Lite (2Mbit/s) and Unlimited (10Mbit/s) plans. Unlimited Max has uncapped speeds.|
Vodafone is currently the only UK mobile network to offer unlimited data in conjunction with 5G coverage. The other four mobile networks offer 3G and 4G coverage (giffgaff using coverage from O2, SMARTY using coverage from Three and Virgin Mobile using coverage from EE).
Normally, Three has the cheapest available SIM cards with unlimited data in the UK. Prices typically start from around £22/month, but this can vary depending on the length of contract you sign up for. Until the 22nd August 2019, you can get 6 months half price, making it just £11/month for the first six months.
The following table shows a list of unlimited data plans that are currently available for purchase:
|To show you the most relevant price plans, 7 similar plans have been hidden. Tap here to show them.|
Zero-Rated Data Plans
As an alternative to unlimited data plans, you can also choose a zero-rated data plan. This gives you unlimited data, but only for use on certain selected services:
|Mobile Network||Zero-Rated Data Plan||Services Included|
|EE||Swappable Benefits||Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, MTV Play, TV Player and BT Sport (Video Data Pass). Apple Music, Deezer and Tidal (Music Data Pass).|
|Three||Go Binge||Netflix, Snapchat, Apple Music, TV Player, Deezer and Soundcloud.|
|Virgin Mobile||Data-Free Messaging||WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter.|
|VOXI||VOXI Endless Passes||Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Viber and Facebook Messenger. Video and music providers available at extra cost.|
Through the rest of this article, we’ll review each of the unlimited data and zero-rated data plans in more detail.
Unlimited Data Plans
At present, unlimited data plans are available in the UK from giffgaff, SMARTY, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone:
giffgaff is a low-cost sub-brand of O2 offering 3G and 4G coverage from the O2 network. Unlimited downloads are available on giffgaff’s £25 goodybag which comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and ‘Always-On’ data:
With Always-On data, you’ll get 4G download speeds on the first 40GB of data usage each month. After this, your speeds will drop down to a maximum of 384kbps (approximately 0.4Mbit/s) between 8am and midnight each day. This may stop you from doing things like streaming music or video from the internet, but it shouldn’t prevent you from browsing the internet or using messaging services.
Because of the large speed reduction after the first 384kbps, giffgaff’s Always On data plan may not be suitable for very heavy data users. However, it’s a potential option if you’re mainly looking for peace of mind, and it’s available on a one-month rolling basis with no credit check required.
Prior to the 3rd July 2019, only the first 20GB of data each month was at full-speed 4G.
SMARTY is a low cost sub-brand of Three, offering SIM-only deals on a one-month rolling basis. For £25/month, you can get SMARTY’s unlimited plan which comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data.
According to SMARTY, tethering is included in the plan and there are no speed restrictions for using too much data. There is, however, a usage cap of 1,000GB per month, along with a fair usage policy of 19GB per month when you’re travelling in Europe:
SMARTY offers 99% population coverage, using 3G and 4G coverage from Three.
On Three, unlimited data with 4G download speeds is available on the flagship unlimited data plan (also known as all-you-can-eat data). Three’s unlimited plans typically start from about £22/month, with prices varying depending on the contract length you choose.
At present, you can get the first 6 months half price when taking unlimited data on a 24-month contract. This means you’ll be paying just £11/month for 6 months, followed by £22/month for the remainder of your contract.
The main restriction on Three’s unlimited data plan is a fair usage policy of 1,000GB (1TB) per month. According to Three:
The following table shows SIM-only plans with unlimited data from Three:
It’s also possible to buy a new smartphone on a 24-month contract with unlimited data included.
Prior to October 2018, Three’s unlimited data plans had a restriction on tethering. When this applied, it was only possible to use up to 30GB of tethering each month. This restriction has now been removed for all new and existing customers as a result of Ofcom’s net neutrality rules.
On Virgin Mobile, an unlimited data plan is available but this is exclusive to customers who have Virgin TV and broadband at home. The plan comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited 4G data.
According to Virgin, there are no restrictions on “tethering, throttling, speed restrictions or caps”. Download speeds of up to 70Mbps are available on Virgin Mobile using 4G coverage from the EE network.
When choosing an unlimited data plan from Vodafone, you’ll need to decide on the download speed of your plan. The cheapest £23/month Unlimited Lite price plan gives you download speeds of up to 2Mbit/s. Meanwhile, the £26/month Unlimited plan is limited to 10Mbit/s and the £30/month Unlimited Max plan has uncapped speeds.
There’s no fair usage policy on the unlimited data allowance, except that it needs to be “for your personal and non-commercial use”. You can use up to 25GB of data each month when travelling abroad as part of Vodafone Global Roaming.
Vodafone’s unlimited data plans are also available on a 30-day rolling contract for an extra £2/month. You can read our in-depth review of Vodafone’s unlimited data plans for more information.
Besides giffgaff, SMARTY, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone, other UK mobile networks do not currently offer an unlimited data plan. However, you might be able to get a very large data allowance (for instance, EE offers up to 100GB of data each month on their EE Smart price plans).
Zero-Rated Data Plans
Zero-rated data plans give you unlimited data, but only for use on selected apps and services. This can make them a cheaper alternative to unlimited data plans:
EE Swappable Benefits
Customers choosing an EE Smart Pay Monthly plan will recieve up to two “swappable benefits” included in their plan. Typically, there’s one swappable benefit included with 4G plans and two swappable benefits included with 5G plans.
The following passes can be selected as a swappable benefit to give you unlimited zero-rated data on EE:
The following EE 5G Smart SIMs include two swappable benefits:
If you’ve already used up your inclusive swappable benefits, you can add the Video Data Pass for an extra £8.99/month and the Music Data Pass for an extra £7.99/month. See our full review of the EE Smart Plan for more information.
Three Go Binge
Three offers an inclusive service called Go Binge to all customers with a Pay Monthly plan with at least 12GB of data per month. This gives you unlimited data for use in six applications: Netflix, TV Player, Snapchat, Soundcloud, Deezer and Apple Music. Usage of these six services is “zero-rated” so doesn’t count towards your normal download allowance.
For more information, please read our full review of the Go Binge service.
Virgin Mobile Data-Free Messaging
On Virgin Mobile, data-free messaging is available to all customers with a 4G Pay Monthly plan. Usage of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter are zero-rated, so you can message as much as you like without worrying about how much data you’re using.
The following table shows 4G plans from Virgin Mobile with data-free messaging:
VOXI Endless Passes
VOXI is Vodafone’s low-cost sub-brand, offering 30-day rolling deals from £10/month. On all of their plans, you’ll get “endless social data” included. This gives you zero-rated data for use on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Viber and Facebook Messenger.
You can add a VOXI Video Pass for £7/month, giving you zero-rated data for use on Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, DisneyLife, My5, TVPlayer and UKTV Play.
Alternatively, the VOXI Music Pass is available for £5/month, giving you zero-rated data for use on Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, Deezer, Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime Music, SoundCloud, Primordial Radio and Napster.
The following table shows 30-day rolling plans on VOXI with inclusive endless social data:
Occasionally, other mobile networks may choose to zero-rate selected apps and services on a promotional basis. For instance, EE offers zero-rated data for Apple Music during the six month free trial available on all EE Pay Monthly plans.