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giffgaff Always On Data & Unlimited Golden Goodybag Review

giffgaff’s Always On & Unlimited Golden goodybags come with unlimited 4G downloads, require no credit checks, and offer great flexibility.

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Latest Offer: Unlimited Data for just £10.50/Month SIM Only

Three is offering customers unlimited data with unlimited UK minutes and texts for just £10.50 a month! The deal is a 24-month contract. There are no data or speed caps.

Three also offers 5G at no extra cost as well as access to Go Roam. Click through to ensure you don’t miss out!

If you’re looking for a super-flexible SIM only deal that comes with unlimited downloads and reliable 4G coverage you don’t have to look any further than giffgaff. giffgaff is O2’s low-cost virtual mobile network operator and the carrier offers 4G, 3G and 2G coverage in the UK (With 5G coming soon!). Their SIM only plans are named ‘goodybags’ and they offer maximum flexibility.

All giffgaff SIM plans are prepaid 30-day deals, which means they are contract-free. You also get unlimited UK calls and texts with any giffgaff plan. Alternatively you can use giffgaff as a traditional pay as you go service.

In this article, we’ll be covering the network’s unlimited data plans, of which there are two, the original ‘Always On’ goodybag & the newer Unlimited ‘Golden’ goodybag. We’ll also cover giffgaff’s network coverage in the UK, what other features you get to benefit from and how giffgaff’s unlimited data plans compare to other networks.

Before we go any further, we’d like to underline that giffgaff’s Always On goodybag comes with a speed restriction. After the first 80 GB of data has been used, giffgaff will reduce your download speed to 384kbps from 8 a.m. to midnight. This data speed is incredibly slow by today’s standards and will make performing simple tasks such as browsing the internet difficult!

On the plus side, the unlimited Golden goodybag comes with no speed restrictions! This plan will also support 5G when giffgaff launches their service.

Pro's

  • Has the most 5G coverage in the UK
  • Competitively priced SIM deals
  • WiFi Calling & 4G Calling
  • Free-roaming in 71 destinations
  • Truly unlimited data plans

Con's

  • No 2G coverage
  • 3G and 4G are weaker than their competitors

What is giffgaff’s Always On Data plan?

Powered by O2, giffgaff offers a wide variety of price plans to choose from and Always On Data is the network’s ultimate SIM only deal. It comes with unlimited data, as well as unlimited UK minutes & texts for £25/month. Being an unlimited data plan, giffgaff will never charge you for data usage on top of your monthly bundle charge of £25.

giffgaff’s Always On data plan makes good use of O2’s 4G infrastructure, providing decent 4G coverage and data speeds across the country, but there’s a catch. Despite being an unlimited data plan, giffgaff enforces a speed restriction. After you use 80GB of data, your download speed will be reduced to 384kbit/s between 8 a.m. and midnight until the next renewal date. The network allows you to renew your goodybags, meaning once you reach this threshold you can pay another £25 to start your new monthly bundle, but this works out to be costly!

Unfortunately, 384kbit/s is really slow by today’s standards and would make it difficult to perform tasks such as checking & responding to emails. Even loading a simple webpage would take some time.

The carrier may also slow down your data speeds during prime usage periods throughout the day due to their traffic management policy known as Traffic Flow. They want all their customers to benefit from 4G data speeds as much as possible and you may experience slower 4G download speeds during periods of heavy usage across the whole network.

What is giffgaff’s Unlimited Golden goodybag plan?

Golden goodybags are giffgaff’s newest SIM Only offers which will soon be offering 5G coverage and speeds. The Unlimited Golden goodybag is priced at £35/month, offering unlimited, unrestricted 4G data speeds. At the moment, that’s the only key difference between this unlimited data offer and the Always On plan.

Although 4G speeds aren’t restricted with the golden goodybag, there is still a fair usage policy to consider. If you use 650GB in a month twice across a 6 month period, the carrier says they will either impose further charges or disconnect your SIM card.

The same action can be taken, if you tether to 12 or more devices with your Unlimited Golden goodybag.

Network Coverage & Data Speeds

As stated earlier, giffgaff is powered by the O2 network and the carrier provides 2G, 3G and 4G coverage in the UK. This means giffgaff customers get over 99% population coverage, but as far as landmass coverage goes, the network is behind the likes of EE and Vodafone. In some coastal and rural areas, giffgaff users can only get 2G or 3G coverage, but O2 is continuously improving their network so these areas should get 4G sooner rather than later. As always, we recommend using the network’s coverage map to check if you’ll get good signal in your frequent areas.

According to Open Signal’s October 2020 speed test results O2’s average 4G download speed is 18.2Mbps. This means O2, and therefore giffgaff has the slowest 4G download speeds in the country. Their upload speeds are also behind all the other networks, being around 6.2Mbps.

Open Signal didn’t test giffgaff, but the results would be fairly similar, if not identical.

If you want the best 4G coverage in the UK alongside the fastest 4G data speeds, EE is the right network for you, but as you can imagine, the faster speeds come at a price premium! You can read our EE Review to learn all about their offers, network coverage and extra features.

Although the parent network O2 has a 5G service, giffgaff being a low-cost MVNO, skips this for the time being.

You can get a 5G SIM only deal from O2, or check out Half Cooked’s Best 5G SIM Only Plans guide to find the best deal for you. We strongly recommend checking out Three’s SIM Only offers though, as they’re competitively priced and they all come with 5G Coverage at no extra cost.

According to OOKLA’s speed test results, Three has the fastest 5G download speeds in the UK at 201Mbps. Giffgaff’s parent network O2 is the second fastest with download speeds at 174Mbps.

You can read our O2 Review and Three Review to learn more about each network. Alternatively, you can have a look at our Three vs O2 review to see which network offers better services for your needs.

4G Calling a.k.a. VoLTE refers to higher quality voice calls, the ability to use voice and 4G data speeds simultaneously and eliminating indoor blackspots.

Wi-Fi Calling allows you to make phone calls using a wireless internet connection. This means you can stay connected, even when you don’t get any regular cellular connection.

These two features complete each other and improve your overall voice call quality. Unfortunately, giffgaff customers don’t get to benefit from either one of them. If you’re looking for a 30-day deal with both 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling, we recommend checking out iD Mobile.

Some mobile network providers in the country offer free Wi-Fi Hotspots to their customers. Sadly, giffgaff isn’t one of them. On the other hand, giffgaff customers may still benefit from O2 WiFi or Sky Mobile’s The Cloud for free. All they have to do is create an account. However, neither of these two are an exclusive offer for giffgaff customers, as they’re free services for all.

We believe BT Mobile offers the best free Wi-Fi service in the UK. They provide millions of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country and even abroad. Another great alternative is Virgin Mobile, who closely follows BT Mobile. You can read our BT Mobile Review and Virgin Mobile Review to discover more about their offers.

Tethering refers to using your handset as a personal hotspot to share your mobile data with other compatible devices. giffgaff allows tethering and there are no restrictions to how much you can tether, however, keep in mind that the Always On data plan comes with a data speed restriction. Once you use more than 80GB of data, your download speed will be restricted to 384kbps between 8 a.m. and midnight, and this includes tethered devices too.

We’d like to remind you that tethering burns through your data at a much faster rate. You have to be extra careful and turn off tethering once you’re done with it or else you might run out of data, or find yourself with super-slow download speeds. We always recommend using an unlimited data plan with no restrictions if you’re planning to tether on a regular basis. We suggest checking out other giffgaff plans and what they offer as well. Make sure to go through our giffgaff review to learn more.

If you’re a giffgaff customer, you can use your UK allowances in the EU at no extra cost. The network provider also keeps charges fairly reasonable for destinations outside the EU. You also get decent rates for calling abroad from the UK, which makes giffgaff a decent choice for making international calls.

While giffgaff’s international roaming is okay, it’s not the best. We strongly recommend checking out Vodafone’s SIM only contracts, especially the Unlimited Max plans which includes their ‘Global Roaming Plus’ perk. With 81 destinations, this is by far the best roaming deal in the UK. Plus, you get to use 4G and 5G wherever available. Have a look at our Vodafone Review if you’re not convinced!

If roaming abroad isn’t as important, you can also check out Vodafone Basics plans, or see if Vodafone’s PAYG Bundles are a good fit for you.

Features

giffgaff is one of the few networks in the UK, which allows you to use multiple SIM plans in a single month. If you run out of data you can start using another goodybag right away. If you have the Always On plan, but unhappy with the speed restrictions, you can cancel your current bag and get a new one. The carrier’s goodybags are interchangeable, so you don’t have to stick to one plan.

Since you’re not tied into a contract, you can even switch to a new mobile network and even keep your phone number.

1GB Extra Data Boost

The network gives 1GB of extra data to customers who purchase 6GB, 10GB, 15GB or 80GB goodybags. Since Always On data plan offers unlimited data, it is excluded from the list.

Payback Rewards

giffgaff customers can earn ‘Payback Points’ when they bring their friends and family on board or give helpful advice on giffgaffs forum. They can convert their ‘Payback Points’ twice a year (once in June and once in December) to cash, credit or a donation to a charity.

No Credit Checks

The network’s SIM only deals are all prepaid 30-day SIM only plans, meaning there are no credit checks to pass when purchasing a SIM from giffgaff. Having said that, if you want to purchase a handset, credit checks will come into play. You might want to read our ‘How mobile network credit checks work’ guide if you want to learn more.

Online Community Support

giffgaff used to be quite unique, but other MVNOs eventually caught up to the network and some even passed it, but giffgaff’s online community still stands strong and it’s second to none. Both giffgaff employees and customers are there to help you out with any question you might have about the network.

Other Unlimited Data Plans

In the UK, there are two alternatives when purchasing an unlimited data plan. You either opt for a commitment-free, prepaid SIM only deal or sign up for a long-term contract. If you’re put off by the price of the golden goodybag or the speed restriction with the Always On plan, there are other options available.

Alternatively, you can check out the latest Black Friday SIM Only Deals. Mobile network operators in the UK offer major discounts during Black Friday Sales, and throughout the back end of November into December.

Below, you can see the other options available if you want to go for an unlimited data plan.

Unlimited Data Plans with no credit checks

Nowadays, most virtual mobile network operators in the UK offer unlimited data plans and more often than not their SIM Only deals are contract-free. The following list highlights the UK networks, which offer an unlimited data plan without having to go through a credit check.

VOXI Endless Data Plan – Powered by O2, VOXI offers 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G coverage with its unlimited data plan. You can also tether to other compatible devices and enjoy super fast data speeds with others. The deal also includes unlimited UK minutes & texts. Read our VOXI Review.

SMARTY Unlimited Data Plan – SMARTY uses Three’s network to provide 4G & 3G coverage, and the network offers one of the best unlimited data plans in the UK. It’s also one of the cheapest. You get unlimited UK minutes and texts with the deal, and the only downside is the 1TB fair usage limit, however 1TB is a significant cap even when tethering. Read our SMARTY Review.

Superdrug Mobile Unlimited Data – Superdrug Mobile is also powered by Three and the carrier offers a similar unlimited data plan to SMARTY’s. It’s contract-free, comes with unlimited UK minutes and texts, plus you get £20 in Health and Beautycard points when you start using your SIM. On top of that, there are no data caps & no speed restrictions. Read our Superdrug Mobile Review.

iD Mobile Unlimited Data Plan – Owned by Carphone Warehouse and powered by Three, iD Mobile offers a competitively priced unlimited data plan that comes with unlimited UK minutes and texts. This deal is actually a contract though, and you’ll have to pass a credit check first. However, it’s a lenient credit check and we decided to include it under this category. Plus you get 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling with this deal! Read our iD Mobile Review.

Lebara Mobile Unlimited Data – Lebara Mobile uses Vodafone’s 4G network and their unlimited plan comes with unlimited UK minutes and texts, plus unlimited international calls to 41 countries. See our Lebara Mobile Review.

Unlimited Data Plans with contracts

Major mobile network operators, as well as some of the bigger MVNOs also offer unlimited data plans, however, they will ask you to sign a long-term contract with them.

Three Unlimited Data Plans – Three is famed for its SIM Only deals with unlimited data at great prices. The network offers truly unlimited data plans to their customers, meaning there are no speed restrictions or fair usage limits. You can also get an unlimited PAYG bundle from Three.

TariffData, Minutes & TextsPRICE
Three AdvancedUnlimited - 1 month£26.00
Three AdvancedUnlimited - 12 months£16.00 (Half Cooked Deal)
Three AdvancedUnlimited - 24 months£10.00 6 Months - £20 from month 7
Three PAYGUnlimited£30.00

EE Unlimited Data Plans – The largest mobile network operator in the UK offers two unlimited data plans that come with 5G. These plans are actually identical except one small detail. The cheaper option gets you only one smart benefit, while the more expensive one grants you three Smart Benefits.

TariffData, Minutes & TextsPRICE
EE Smart (1 Smart Benefit included)Unlimited£37 - 24 months
EE Smart (3 Smart Benefits included)Unlimited£41 - 24 months
EE Smart plans come with fastest data speeds available, including 5G coverage & download speeds.

Vodafone Unlimited Data Plans – Vodafone offers a wide variety of unlimited data plans, including a 5G Pay As You Go unlimited plan. They come in three different types: Unlimited Lite, Unlimited and Unlimited Max. You can sign up for a 1-month, 12-month or 24-month contract, but keep in mind that unlimited lite and unlimited have data speed restrictions, respectively at 2Mbps and 10Mbps.

Unlimited Lite - Maximum download speed 2Mbps
24 Months Plan
12 Months Plan
1 Month Plan
-
Unlimited data
Unlimited mins
Unlimited texts
£22/month
£12/month (3 months half price)
£32/month
Unlimited - Maximum download speed 10Mbps
24 Months Plan
12 Months Plan
1 Month Plan
-
Unlimited data
Unlimited mins
Unlimited texts
£26/month
£14/month (3 months half price)
£36/month
Unlimited Max - Fastest available download speeds
24 Months Plan
12 Months Plan
1 Month Plan
-
Unlimited data
Unlimited mins
Unlimited texts
£30/month
£16.50/month (3 months half price)
£41/month
Unlimited PAYG Bundle
5G Download Speeds
Unlimited 5G data
Unlimited mins
Unlimited texts
£50 PAYG

O2 Unlimited Data Plans – O2 has two different unlimited data tariffs available for their customers. Unfortunately, O2’s unlimited data plans come with a 650GB fair usage limit and restricted tethering. All of O2’s unlimited data plans come with 5G data speeds, provided you have a 5G ready handset and an O2 5G SIM.

18 Months plan
Unlimited data
Unlimited mins
Unlimited texts
£15 first 6 Months £30 after (Black Friday)
12 Months plan
Unlimited data
Unlimited mins
Unlimited texts
£35/month

Tesco Mobile Unlimited Data – Tesco Mobile uses O2’s network to provide 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G coverage to its customers. We think the network’s unlimited data plan is a bit pricey for what it offers though.

BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile also have unlimited data plans, however, both networks require you to be a TV and/or Broadband customer as well. In fact, in BT Mobile’s case, you’ll need to have BT Halo if you wish to get an unlimited data contract.