The Best Pay As You Go SIM Deals in the UK August 2020

In this article you’ll find all the available Pay As You Go (PAYG) SIM deals offered by the UK based networks. No credit checks, no contracts just pay as you go.

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Pay as you go tariffs are a great choice for consumers that are looking for flexible deals offering good value for money or customers that use their handsets fairly infrequently and don’t gain value in paying a monthly tariff. If you fall into either of these two categories, read on to learn more.

There are many mobile networks operators in the UK and most of them propose a PAYG service of some kind. These endless alternatives may sound great at first, but as you dive deeper things get a little bit more complicated & confusing. The good news is that we’ve done the research for you and prepared a little summary for each provider.

Three logoEE logoVodafone logoo2 logoiD mobile logo
Smarty logoTesco Mobile - small logoVOXI Logogiffgaff Logo

Table of Contents

Best Pay As You Go SIM Deals by Network

Three

Network ProviderThree has its own network.
Available Network Types for PAYG3G, 4G, 5G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes
Base Rates10p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB
Mandatory Top-up Period180 Days
Minimum Top-up Requirement£5
Data RolloverNo
TetheringYes

three-article-logoThree offers two different pay as you go options and they both offer great value for money. You can use Three’s network as a traditional pay as you go service or buy one of the four data packs that come with unlimited minutes & texts. Light users can purchase a 5GB data pack for £10 or 15GB data pack for £15. If you’re willing to pay a bit more you can get 100GB of data on the £20 Data Pack and unlimited data on the £30 Data Pack.

If you don’t use your phone that often, alternatively you can just keep your SIM active and pay for exactly what you use. In that case you’ll have to top-up at least £5 once every six months. Three’s traditional PAYG rates are 10p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB, which are fairly cheap compared to other major networks operators in the UK.

Both options come with great perks like 5G at no extra cost, Go Roam (allowing you to use your allowances in 71 worldwide destinations), Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling. However, Three doesn’t offer any 2G coverage or a data rollover feature.

Three's Data Packs
Minutes & TextsDataPrice
Unlimited5GB£10.00
Unlimited10GB£15.00
Unlimited100GB£20.00
UnlimitedUnlimited £30.00

SMARTY

Network ProviderThree
Available Network Types for PAYG3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoNo
Base Rates£1/GB
Mandatory Top-up PeriodMonthly
Minimum Top-up Requirement£6
Data RolloverYes (Money Back for unused data)
TetheringYes

smarty logoSMARTY uses Three’s 3G and 4G network and offers prepaid SIM only tariffs at super competitive prices. On top of that, if you’re on a SMARTY discount plan, you can get money back as a discount on your next bill for any unused data on your plan from the previous month. Base cost of SMARTY’s data discount plans is £5 and all SMARTY plans last for 30 calendar days.

If you’re a data hungry user then you’re in luck, because SMARTY offers the cheapest monthly rolling unlimited data plan in the UK!

Unfortunately, you can’t use SMARTY on a traditional PAYG basis. You’ll need an active plan to keep your SIM live. You also won’t get features like 4G Calling or Wi-Fi Calling. SMARTY doesn’t offer 5G yet so you won’t be getting 5G either.

Data Discount Plans

NetworkDataPrice
SMARTY1GB£6.00
SMARTY2GB£7.00
SMARTY3GB£8.00
All SMARTY tariffs come with unlimited minutes & texts.

All the Data you need for less

NetworkDataPrice
SMARTY10GB£9.00
SMARTY30GB£10.00
SMARTY100GB (Was 50GB)£15.00
SMARTYUnlimited£20.00
All SMARTY tariffs come with unlimited minutes & texts.

EE

Network ProviderEE has its own network.
Available Network Types for PAYG2G, 3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes, but no internet.
Base Rates35p/minute, 15p/text, no data
Mandatory Top-up Period180 Days
Minimum Top-up Requirement£5
Data RolloverYes
TetheringYes

ee-article-logoYou can use EE’s PAYG services in a traditional sense at 35/p minute and 15p/text but, as you might have noticed, these rates are quite expensive. On top of this, you aren’t able to use data on traditional EE PAYG, this is because EE doesn’t allow you to connect to the internet without purchasing a PAYG plan.

Luckily the network also offers ‘PAYG Packs’ and ‘Flex Plans’. These two alternatives are actually quite similar, but PAYG deals offer greater value for money. Both PAYG packs and Flex plans come with data boost and data rollover features, only regular pay as you go packs give you unlimited minutes & texts.

EE will even reward you with a £10 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card if you introduce a friend or family member to their PAYG service, provided you’re eligible. You’ll be missing out on 4G Calling, Wi-Fi Calling and 5G if you opt for an EE PAYG deal, but it’s not that the carrier can’t provide these features. EE’s 5G is exclusive to their premium pay monthly offers called EE Smart plans. If you want 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling you’ll have to get a pay monthly essential plan.

EE isn’t as cheap as other networks, but it’s the best network operator in the UK when it comes to 4G and 5G network coverage and data speeds and it offers so much more than just that. Make sure to read our EE Review to discover more.

EE PAYG Plans

TARIFFDATAPRICE
EE PAYG4GB £10
EE PAYG8GB£15
EE PAYG15GB£20
EE PAYG30GB£25
EE PAYG60GB£30
All EE PAYG packs come with unlimited minutes and texts, except 4GB Pack which comes with 100 minutes & unlimited text.

EE Flex Plans

DataMinutesPrice
6GB 1000£10
15GB2000£15
30GB3000£25
60GB3000£30
All EE Flex plans come with unlimited texts.

O2

Network ProviderO2 has its own network.
Available Network Types for PAYG2G, 3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoNot Available to new customers
Base Rates35p/minute, 15p/text and £3 per MB
Mandatory Top-up PeriodMonthly
Minimum Top-up Requirement£5 (No Data), £10 (With Data)
Data RolloverYes
TetheringYes

o2-article-logoGreat extras like Priority and thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots make O2 a great option. After all, O2 is the second largest mobile network operator in the UK. The carrier’s PAYG deals used to be a little more wallet-friendly, but as of November 2019 the classic pay as you go option is no longer available to new customers. If you wish to use O2’s PAYG services you have to purchase a ‘Big Bundle’ and renew it on a monthly basis.

The cheapest O2 PAYG bundle starts at £5 but comes with no data. There are no unlimited data deals, but you can always get a 100GB deal for £30. All bundles come with unlimited UK minutes & texts, and best of all you can keep your unused data and get a second chance to use it the following month. There are two conditions though; you have to purchase the very same bundle and you have to renew your pack within seven days. If you go with a different O2 Big Bundle or fail to renew it in time, your unused data will expire. O2 doesn’t offer 5G to their PAYG customers.

If you make phone calls to other countries quite often, you can also check out O2’s International Big Bundles. Make sure to read our O2 Review to find out why people prefer the network over cheaper alternatives!

O2’s Big Value Bundles

TARIFFMINUTES TEXTSDATAPRICE
O2 Big BundleUnlimited Unlimited No Data£5
O2 Big BundleUnlimited Unlimited3GB£10
O2 Big BundleUnlimited Unlimited6GB£15
O2 Big BundleUnlimited Unlimited10GB£20
O2 Big BundleUnlimited Unlimited 20GB£30

Vodafone

Network ProviderVodafone has its own network.
Available Network Types for PAYG2G, 3G, 4G, 5G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes
Base Rates20p/minute, 20p/text, 4p/MB
Mandatory Top-up Period270 Days
Minimum Top-up Requirement£5
Data RolloverYes
TetheringYes

vodafone-article-logoCompared to most others Vodafone’s PAYG deals may seem to offer bad value, but they redeem themselves with great extras and freebies. Plus, two of the priciest deals offer large data bundles and 5G coverage, both in the UK and in the selected EU destinations. The carrier also offers a decent data rollover feature, giving you a second chance to use your leftover data from the month before.

The network’s main pay as you go service is their “Big Value Bundles”, and they deserve the name. Vodafone offers decent amounts of data, great extras and unlimited texts with them. Having said that, while you get a large data allowance your UK minutes are limited to 250 minutes with the cheapest two options.

You can also use the network on a traditional PAYG basis without having to top-up for 270 days. Alternatively, you’re given the option to spend £1 in a day to unlock unlimited minutes and texts, plus 500MB of data to use until midnight.

Don’t forget to read our extensive Vodafone Review before you commit, as a better option may be available.

Vodafone PAYG Bundles

Vodafone PAYG Bundles

MinutesDataPrice
25015GB (was 3GB data)£10.00
25030GB (was 6GB data)£15.00
100050GB (was 10GB data)£20.00
3000100GB + 5G (was 20GB data)£30.00
Unlimited Unlimited + 5G£50.00
All PAYG tariffs come with unlimited texts.
£30 and £50 Unlimited Bundles are 5G Ready.

VOXI

Network ProviderVodafone
Available Network Types for PAYG2G, 3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes
Base Rates30p/minute, 14p/text, No data
Mandatory Top-up Period270 Days
Minimum Top-up Requirement£5
Data RolloverNo
TetheringYes

voxi-article-logoVOXI is Vodafone’s low-cost sub brand and the carrier offers endless social media usage on all their plans. You can join VOXI’s network either by purchasing a 30-day rolling, prepaid plan or if you don’t want an active VOXI plan you can use it as an old school pay as you go service. Best part is you don’t have to top-up or even use your device for 270 days before your number gets deleted. For extremely light mobile users Vodafone and VOXI are two ideal choices.

VOXI’s unique endless social media’ feature allows you to use Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook Messenger without burning through your data. The carrier also uses Vodafone’s network and offers an unlimited 5G tariff! We strongly recommend reading our extensive VOXI Review if you’ve set your mind on a PAYG deal. It might be just what you’re looking for.

VOXI’s Endless Social Media & Data Plans

Minutes & TextDataPrice
Unlimited12GB (Limited Time Offer!)£10.00
Unlimited15GB (5G Ready)£15.00
Unlimited45GB (5G Ready)£20.00
UnlimitedUnlimited (5G Ready)£35.00

giffgaff

Network ProviderO2
Available Network Types for PAYG2G, 3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes
Base Rates25p/minute, 10p/text, 5p/MB
Mandatory Top-up Period6 Months
Minimum Top-up Requirement£10
Data RolloverNo
TetheringYes

giffgaff logoPowered by O2, giffgaff offers a variety of cheap price plans with decent 3G & 4G coverage. You can purchase a goodybag that lasts for 30 calendar days and even renew it or purchase a different goodybag right away if you run out of data before the month ends. Having said that, you won’t get to keep your leftover data, as giffgaff currently doesn’t offer any data rollover feature. The carrier also offers an unlimited data plan called Always-On, but you should be aware that download speeds are reduced to 384kbps once you use 80GB in a month. The speed restriction will be lifted once your next billing period starts.

You can also use giffgaff as a classic pay as you go service. You’re required to top-up at least £10 once every six months to keep your SIM active and that’s really it. giffgaff’s PAYG rates are 25p/minute, 10p/text, 5p/MB.

Another great benefit of giffgaff is its unique online community where you can receive help and support from other giffgaff users, as well as earn reward points for helping others. We’ve covered everything you need to know about the network in our extensive giffgaff Review.

giffgaff’s Goodybags

TARIFFMINUTES TEXTSDATAPRICE
£6 goodybagUnlimited Unlimited 500MB £6.00
£8 goodybagUnlimited Unlimited2GB£8.00
£10 goodybagUnlimited Unlimited6GB£10.00
£12 goodybagUnlimited Unlimited10GB£12.00
£15 goodybagUnlimited Unlimited 15GB£15.00
£20 goodybagUnlimited Unlimited 80GB£20.00
£20 goodybagUnlimited Unlimited Always on£25.00
Speed restrictions apply to Always On data. After 80 GB of data usage, your data speeds will be reduced to 384kbps from 8am to Midnight.

iD Mobile

Network ProviderThree
Available Network Types for PAYG3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes
Base Rates40p/Minute, 14p/text, 10p/MB
Mandatory Top-up PeriodThree Months
Minimum Top-up Requirement£5
Data RolloverNo
TetheringYes

id-mobile-article-logoiD Mobile is owned by Carphone Warehouse and piggybacks on Three’s network. The carrier offers some great 30-day monthly rolling plans and they all come with Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling. These two call quality improving features are rarely offered by MVNOs unless unless they expect you to sign a long term contract. This alone makes iD Mobile a good choice, but the network is also competitive in all price ranges.

Having said that, even though they are monthly rolling plans, you’re still required to undergo a credit check. Luckily the network also offers PAYG bundles, but they don’t include Wi-Fi Calling or 4G Calling. iD Mobile requires you to top up at least £10 every three months. If you purchase a bundle with your credit, you should know that they last for 30 days. Make sure to check our detailed iD Mobile Review and see what else the network proposes.

iD Mobile’s Pay Monthly SIM Deals
Minutes & TextsData Price
Unlimited3GB£6.00
Unlimited5GB£8.00
Unlimited12GB£10.00
Unlimited20GB£14.00
Unlimited100GB£15.00
UnlimitedUnlimited£18.00
MinutesDataPrice
150 Mins500MB£5.00
500 Mins4GB£10.00
1000 Mins8GB£15.00
All iD Mobile Value Bundles come with unlimited texts.

Tesco Mobile

Network ProviderO2
Available Network Types for PAYG2G, 3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes
Base Rates25p/Minute, 10p/text, 10p/MB
Mandatory Top-up PeriodSix Months
Minimum Top-up Requirement£10
Data RolloverNo
TetheringYes

tesco-mobile-article-logoTesco’s pay monthly deals are all long term contracts which require credit checks, but the carrier also offers PAYG deals with no credit checks called ‘Rocket Packs’. These are bundles of set amounts of data that come with 5000 minutes & texts. Each Rocket Pack lasts one month.

Unlike most other MVNOs, Tesco Mobile doesn’t offer any monthly rolling contracts, but you can still get some juicy pay as you go deals from the O2 powered network. You’ve got two options if you wish to use Tesco Mobile’s PAYG services. Buying a Rocket Pack will grant you 5000 UK minutes & texts and either 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of data. Your other option is to top-up and use it as a classic pay as you go network. This offer is especially great if you top-up £10, £15 or £20 in one go, because Tesco will triple your credit. The bonus credit lasts for a month from the day you top-up.

Tesco Mobile offers 5G coverage too, but sadly it’s exclusive to pay monthly customers and even then they have to pay extra for 5G. Check out our Tesco Mobile Review to discover more.

Tesco Mobile’s Rocket Packs

Minutes & TextDataPrice
5000 Minutes & Texts4GB£10.00
5000 Minutes & Texts8GB£15.00
5000 Minutes & Texts16GB£20.00

Superdrug Mobile

Network ProviderThree
Available Network Types for PAYG3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoNo
Base Rates25p/Minute, 10p/text, 10p/MB
Mandatory Top-up PeriodSix Months
Minimum Top-up Requirement£10
Data RolloverNo
TetheringYes

superdrug-mobile-article-logoIn many ways Superdrug Mobile is a lot like SMARTY. Both Superdrug Mobile and SMARTY are running on Three’s network, neither one proposes a traditional pay as you go service and their unlimited data plans offer great value for money.

Superdrug Mobile offers four different plans to choose from, and regardless of your choice you’ll get double Health & Beautycard points. You’ll also get the cost of your first month’s plan back in Beautycard points.

You can jump to our Superdrug Mobile Review to learn everything you need to know! We’d strongly recommend checking out Superdrug’s Unlimited Data offer though, it’s one of the cheapest unlimited data plans in the UK and comes with amazing perks!

Superdrug Mobile SIM Deals

NetworkDataPrice
Superdrug Mobile5GB£10.00
Superdrug Mobile15GB£15.00
Superdrug Mobile20GB£18.00
Superdrug MobileUnlimited£20.00
All Superdrug Mobile plans come with unlimited minutes & texts.

1p Mobile

Network ProviderEE
Available Network Types for PAYG2G, 3G, 4G
Traditional Pay As You GoYes
Base Rates1p/Minute, 1p/text, 1p/MB
Mandatory Top-up Period4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 1 year
Minimum Top-up Requirement£10
Data RolloverNo
TetheringYes

1p-mobile-article-logoThe best traditional pay as you go based network in the UK is hands down 1p Mobile. The gap between 1p Mobile and the rest is a wide one too. The carrier is especially great for low users as you can top-up £10 and your data will last a while.

If you’re mainly using your data, you can even get a prepaid bundle from 1p Mobile. These bundles last for 30 days and you get a discount starting from 40% reaching up to 75% off the regular 1p/MB rate. If you’re using less than 600MB per month you won’t need a bundle, because the 1p/MB rate works out cheaper.

Depending on how much you top-up in one go, your SIM will stay active for 120 days, 180 days, 240 days or even a whole year.

1p Mobile is using EE’s unrivalled 4G network and offers the best network coverage and fastest data speeds in the UK.

UK Networks with Traditional Pay As You Go

We actually covered all the networks which offer a traditional pay as you go service in the UK. But just so you don’t miss out on them we’re also making a short list here! Just click on any network you want to learn more about.

  • Three
  • EE
  • Vodafone
  • VOXI
  • giffgaff
  • iD Mobile
  • Tesco Mobile
  • 1p Mobile

PAYG SIMs vs 30-Day SIMs

The UK’s mobile market is rich with offers, but things can easily get confusing. One of the main questions we always hear people asking is “What is the difference between pay as you go SIMs and 30-day SIMs?”, and well, there’s no short answer to this question, but the key difference is you don’t have to pass a credit check to get a pay as you go SIM, whereas most networks ask for a credit check, even for their 30-day rolling contracts.

There’s no “one simple answer” to this question though, as each network brings a different offer to the table and may ask for different requirements or none at all. For example you can purchase a SMARTY, VOXI or giffgaff 30-day SIM without a credit check, they’re all prepaid after all. However, major networks and some other smaller networks will ask for a credit check for their similar deals.

Luckily, traditional pay as you go offers are as simple as they can be: You get a free SIM card, you add credits to your SIM and you only pay for what you use.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a free PAYG SIM card?

Yes, you absolutely can. All the UK based network operators provide SIM cards for free. However, you’ll need to top-up credits first in order to use it as a pay as you go service.

Can I keep my number if I switch to PAYG?

Yes, it’s a simple procedure, but of course your network must provide a PAYG service for this to happen. You can switch to another network operator, keep your phone number and use their PAYG service too.

How long will my credits last?

There’s no single answer to this question, it depends on your network and in some cases it also depends on how much you top-up at one go like with 1p Mobile.

Which UK networks offer classic PAYG?

Three, EE, Vodafone, VOXI, iD Mobile, giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and 1p Mobile are all offering traditional PAYG to customers.

What’s the cheapest PAYG rates in the UK?

1p Mobile offers 1p/minutes, 1p/texts and 1p/MB. You won’t find a cheaper PAYG deal than this. Having said that, if you’re a heavy mobile user and find yourself needing a lot of data, bundles and packs offer greater value. You might even want to consider signing up for a monthly contract.

What’s the difference between pay as you go and traditional pay as you go?

The term ‘pay as you go’ actually meant topping up credits to your SIM and paying for what you used, over the years networks have started to offer PAYG bundles, packs, tariffs, you name it. These 30-day lasting bundles provide greater value for money and they don’t require you to undergo a credit check, plus they’re super flexible.