The best Pay As You Go deals in the UK

Best Pay As You Go Deals in the UK
By DJ Reyes on 7 Feb 2014 09:25 am EST

Having a few devices lying around, I sometimes like to carry a secondary device with me. It also means I need to chuck a SIM card into it. However, I don’t want to get a second line as I wouldn’t use it always, most of the time it will just be used over Wi-Fi. I decided to start looking at some pay as you go deals.

Pay as you go plans are quite popular here in the U.K. and what better way than to round up the best value plans available. We won’t just be looking at the major carriers either as MVNOs (mobile virtual network operator) have great offerings too. We’ll also cover plans for legacy BlackBerry users too.



GiffGaff is an MVNO that runs on the O2 network. It’s a community based carrier where all help is provided by other users. Their slogan is “The mobile network run by you”. We’ve looked at them before here on CrackBerry, mainly for offering the cheapest BIS to its customers. GiffGaff’s best value plan is with their £12 ($19) goodybag. You get 250 minutes, unlimited U.K. texts and unlimited data. On top of that you get free calls to other GiffGaff users. This lasts for 30 days.

GiffGaff also has the cheapest BIS offering, as already mentioned. At £2.50 ($4), that’s half of what all the other carriers charge for BIS. You can’t just purchase the BlackBerry add-on on its own however, you have to purchase one of the goodybags (plans) alongside it. Again, this lasts for 30 days.

You can order a free SIM from the GiffGaff website.

For more on GiffGaff Pay As You Go Plans



Three have long been a good value carrier in the U.K. They don’t have many pay as you go plans but there is one you should look, especially if you use a lot of data. The All-in-One Plan. This plan gives you 300 minutes, 3000 texts and All-You-Can-Eat data. Basically unlimited data. This is one I make use of quite often and costs £15 ($24) for 30 day usage.

What is great about Three is that this is the same price you’ll pay to get 4G speeds (if available in your area). Other carriers charge a bit more for a 4G plan and you don’t get much data either.

Three’s BIS package costs £5 ($8) and also lasts for 30 days. It is deducted from your top-up every month or whenever you want after the 30 day period as elapsed.

You can order a free SIM from the Three website. You can also preload the SIM with a top-up so you're ready to go once it arrives.

Learn more about the Three Pay As You Go All-in-One Plan
Learn more about Three BIS plans



Orange, who come under the EE umbrella have a decent plan on pay as you go, you don’t get unlimited data but you get a decent amount. On Orange’s £15 Dolphin plan you get 600 texts and 2GB of data. Calls would be charged from your £15 top-up. At £15, while you get more data on the previously mentioned carriers, 2GB is still more than you get for paying more on a monthly contract with some other carriers and indeed on Orange. So, if Orange is a favorite network of yours this deal is not too bad. Again, this lasts for 30 days.

For BIS users, Orange offers the service for £5, you add the BlackBerry package to your plan and £5 will be deducted from your top-up.

You can order four free SIM cards from the Orange website. 

For more details on Pay As You Go deals on Orange
For more details on BlackBerry Internet Services for legacy devices


T-Mobile UK

T-Mobile, also part of the EE umbrella have a similar offering to Orange. For £15 on T-Mobile's (BlackBerry) Smart Packs you get 200 minutes, 600 texts and 2GB of data. With T-Mobile you get the extra 200 minutes to use before it starts to use your top-up amount. These last for 30 days.

For those on legacy BlackBerry devices, you can get the BlackBerry pay as you go Booster. On their website it's a bit hard to find as there is something called BlackBerry Smart Packs but what you need to look for is BlackBerry Booster. Like many other carriers, this costs £5 for 30 days. T-Mobile UK also offer a six month bundle for £20, working out at £4 a month.

You can order a free SIM from the T-Mobile website

Read more about T-Mobile UK pay as you go deals
Read more about T-Mobile BIS plans

All other carriers don't seem to give you much data for around the same price. So, these four are the best deals when it comes to pay as you go plans in the U.K. While you can order a free SIM card from the carrier's website, you can also pick them up in-stores, though you do have to top-up when you do. Most supermarkets also sell the most of the pay as you go SIM cards for around 99p.


Have you got a better pay as you go deal that we have missed? Hit us up in the comments.

Topics: PAYG Best Carriers

Reader comments

The best Pay As You Go deals in the UK


I recommend giffgaff, BUT DO NOT USE THREE

Customer service is ridiculous, anything you want to change or adjust you get charged for and signal is rubbish
Been with them just over 4 months now and I can honestly say I've never been so dissatisfied with a network in my life

Anyway after this month is up I'm going strait back to giffgaff

Posted via CB10

As its mainly personal experience people can only speak from I feel I must chip in and say I was an orange customer for 4years and found them horrendous for their customer service. I switched to three a few months back and have to say it was a breath of fresh air. My number was ported on the date that was stated they were quick and very helpful on the phone. Unlike orange which took nearly 2 weeks for them to port my number from O2.

My signal is always full i get a better signal than I did with Orange. My data speeds are tremendous, consistently faster than my home WiFi with Virgin to the point where I don't even turn my WiFi on my device anymore, 4G for no extra cost is superb. I only pay 19 a month and for this I get 300mins 5000texts and all-you-can-eat-data plus a Z10 with no up front costs.

Very good value for money I find.

I'm on three, recommend it!
Super fast in my area compared to other carriers and I very often get high speed to boot. O2 were rubbish for signal ruling out gif gaf here.

Posted via CB10

I'm with giffgaff for more then a year now. Reason I switched from O2 was unlimited internet for 12£. Excelent service on my blackberry z10. Since I am with gg around 30 of my friends ported their numbers to gg. I think it's the best deal on pay&go market in UK. Regards

Posted via CB10

What about Ovivo? You make a one off payment for £20 for the sim card then you get 250 minutes, 300 texts and 500mb data for £0 per month. Every month. Yes! Free! It runs on the vodafone network and if you recommend a friend, you get topped up with £5 credit. It doesn't support legacy BlackBerry devices though, so take that into consideration if you don't have a bb10 device. The only drawback is you get a few ads when you're browsing once in a while if you're not on wifi.

Posted via CB10

Was in Scotland just last year, and immediately went to a Car Phone Warehouse and picked up a pay-as-you-go 3 Sim for 15 pounds. When I pointed out that the BIS part of my 9900 wasn't working properly, they appologized and gave me a 5 pound credit, turned BIS on, and I was good to go. Took about twenty minutes in the store due to the BIS problem but I found them to be excellent. The service worked from Skye to Campbeltown, and I have been recommending them to anyone going to the UK. I setup a WiFi hotspot on my phone and two of us with PlayBooks were good to go. Used Google Maps on my PlayBook for turn by turn voice directions all over Scotland.

It's good in the UK having this option on Pay as you Go...I wish some company will do it here in Canada - but it's just wishful thinking..

Posted via CB10

I have a Z10 on Three and I'm ok with the tariff...what annoys me I can't get upgraded to 4g even though I'm in an area with it nor do they support or offer OS10.2.1. I only moved as Virgin didn't offer the Z10!

Posted via CB10

I'd stick with EE and wouldn't recommend Giff Gaff at all, I have friends that use Giff Gaff, yes the prices maybe cheap and always offer great deals however, their network is always down and coverage even though piggy backing off O2 is rubbish. BBM Channel C002C3F42

Technically not payg but 30 day sim only from Virgin. Unlimited everything 15 a month

Steve/Boanerges Performance

Wow, UK is cheap. Here in Aussie, we get unlimited txt, calls and mms, but data is limited to something between 2 and 5 GB.

These 30 day packs are usually $40 on Boost, Amaysim, Dodo, etc.

If you want "unlimited" data, you can go with Optus' "$2 a day" pack, also includes calls and txt. It's now limited to 500MB or 1GB /day, but if you got it a few month ago, it's still unlimited, but only 3G. New one is 4G enabled.

Equals $60 per months. Add a phone outright, still cheaper than most 24 months lock-in plans.

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

As much as 3 gets bashed, my experience has been really good with them, in Surrey, signals are very rarely a problem, and there were specific places where I couldn't get signals a few months ago, but in the same place now I get full bars, besides that, I needed to call a bank once and assumed I wouldn't get charged because I had 3000 free minutes, a few days later, I saw how much credit I had left on my sim and saw it was 0, I called 3 wondering why, and they told me that numbers like that aren't included in the unlimited minutes, I told them I didn't know that and they refunded the 5 pounds straight away.

Posted via CB10

I don't get why you're going for package deals if this is a *secondary* device. Surely secondary would imply limited need to make calls. For me, that's what PAYG is all about, these are all contract-like packs paid for up front.

Three's 3-2-1 deal is pretty hard to beat, even when compared to packages, for low to moderate users. 3p/min *any network*, 2p/text and 1p/MB data.

You've also got Ovivo - who charge £20 up front but then cost *NOTHING* per month, with loads of minutes and texts thrown in for free. (Supported by ads which kick in when browsing.)

T mobile booster. Costs me £40 for the year. Use it for BBM and as a hotspot for my iPad mini. That's all I need it for. Data.

My main phone has more minutes and text messages than I need.

T-Mobile 6 month booster works out cheapest for BIS as you don't need a monthly top up especially for a secondary device where BlackBerry services are the main usage. The primary device would be for voice text etc.

That's why I never used giffgaff for BIS, you needed a goody bag alongside.

3,2,1 tariff works out good value for occasional data as it doesn't expire after 30 days.

Posted via CB10