giffgaff Review 2021: Get Always On Data for £25 a month!

In this article, we'll review the O2 powered MVNO giffgaff and also examine their network coverage and data speeds.

giffgaff review 2021 banner

giffgaff 5G Ready Offer 2021

Latest Offer: 9GB Golden Goodybag with 5G for just £10!

There’s a brand new goodybag in town and it’s truly a golden opportunity.  Priced at £10, the new Golden goodybag gets you 5G data speeds, 9GB data, unlimited UK minutes & texts. No contracts, no credit checks. Just set your plan to recur each month and the golden goodybag will be activated, granting you extra data!

giffgaff 2021 logoPowered by O2’s network, giffgaff provides a unique approach to the UK’s mobile market with its wide range of SIM only plans or as they call it ‘goodybags’. These ‘goodybag’ plans aim to satisfy all customers; from the ones who are looking for a low-cost option to data hungry users. Thanks to O2’s network, giffgaff users get excellent 4G coverage with decent download & upload speeds.

The network also offers 5G coverage , but only on Golden goodybag deals. You can get a golden goodybag by setting your plan to recur each month. 


  • Offering a unique flexibility with a variety of ‘goodybags’ and PAYG options.
  • Easy to switch between SIM Only (goodybags) price plans.
  • Two unlimited data plans
  • Golden Goodybags with 5G coverage & data speeds
  • No credit checks.


  • No Wi-Fi Calling, 4G Calling or hotspots.
  • Smaller data plans are at the more expensive end of the market.
  • 4G data speeds capped after 80GB on selected unlimited plan.

Table of Contents

1. giffgaff Plans & Pricing

– Goodybags (SIM Only Deals)

– giffgaff Pay As You Go Pricing

– Pay Monthly Phones

2. Network Coverage & Speeds

– 2G, 3G and 4G Coverage

– 5G Coverage

– Voice Call Quality

– Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling

– Tethering

– International Roaming

3. giffgaff Features

– Flexible Goodybags

– 1GB Extra Data Boost

– Always-On-Data

– giffgaff Payback Rewards

– Online Community Support

– No Credit Check

4. Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

5. Frequently Asked Questions


giffgaff Plans & Pricing

giffgaff SIM 2021There are two options if you’re looking to join giffgaff. You can either choose from a selection of one-month goodybags or go with a traditional Pay As You Go plan.

giffgaff’s goodybag deals are the best value option for most standard mobile users. These SIM only deals start from £6/month and there are seven goodybags to choose from in total. giffgaff’s unlimited data plan, named Always-On-Data is £25/month, but comes with speed restrictions.

The Golden Goodybags, allow access to giffgaff 5G. The only way to grab a Golden Goodybag is by setting your plan to recur each month. 

giffgaff’s Pay As You Go rates are at 25p/minute, 10p/text and 10p/MB data. Customers don’t have to top-up on a monthly basis if they are on giffgaff’s PAYG SIM. However, to ensure your SIM remains active you have to top-up at least once every six months. giffgaff users can combine both methods for their usage, as well as going through more than one goodybag if they run out of data, minutes or texts.

Over the years giffgaff became pricier compared to some of its rivals. If you are a student looking for a good SIM only deal, you might want to check out our best student SIM deals in the UK.

Goodybags (SIM Only Deals)

giffgaff goodybagsThe best value option for giffgaff is to buy monthly goodybag bundles. In the table below you can see all the giffgaff goodybag prices and also how many minutes, texts & data each bundle offers.

After buying their third goodybag, giffgaff customers receive 1GB of extra data for every month they continue to use the network. However, this feature is only for the £10, £12, £15 and £20/month goodybags.

At the end of each month, customers receive an email showing their usage summary to help them decide which goodybag they should continue with.

giffgaff’s unlimited data plan, Always-On-Data is priced at £25/month, but there’s a little catch. Always-On-Data plan gives you unlimited downloads with 4G speeds but it is capped at 80GB per month. Once you reach the 80GB limit you will still have access to the internet, but your download speed will be limited to 384kbps between 8 a.m. and midnight each day.

Unlike the Always On goodybag the golden goodybag with unlimited data has no speed restrictions and it offers uncapped 5G download speeds using the O2 network. All giffgaff SIM deals are commitment-free, meaning there are no credit checks to pass in order to get a SIM from the network.

£6 goodybagUnlimitedUnlimited500MB£6.00
£8 goodybagUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£8.00
£10 goodybagUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£10.00
£12 goodybagUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£12.00
£15 goodybagUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£15.00
£20 goodybagUnlimitedUnlimited80GB£20.00
£20 goodybagUnlimitedUnlimitedAlways 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.

giffgaff Pay As You Go Pricing

GiffGaff PAYGgiffgaff customers can also use credit on a PAYG basis, instead of goodybag plans. Credits will always stay in your account until you utilise them all. You can also switch to spending credits if you used up all your minutes, texts or data in your goodybag before the expiry date. 

Credits are also used for international calls/texts, premium calls/texts (numbers starting with 084, 087, 090), roaming outside the EU and sending MMS picture messages. giffgaff’s calling rates are as follows:

Voice Calls: 25p/minute to other networks and free to other giffgaff users. You need to top up at least once every three months to preserve the free call feature though. There is also a 60 minutes time limit to free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls. But you can re-dial once the 60 minutes is up.

Text Message (SMS): 10p to other networks and free to other giffgaff users.

Picture Message (MMS): 30p to all networks, including giffgaff-to-giffgaff.

giffgaff’s PAYG rates are generally pricier when compared to other MVNO’s. The cheapest PAYG tariff in the UK belongs to 1pMobile with just 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB data. 1pMobile is powered by the EE Network, which offers the best network coverage in the UK.


Pay Monthly Phones

giffgaff other perks iphoneYou can buy unlocked mobile phones directly from giffgaff’s store, combined with a ‘goodybag’ choice. They sell the majority of the handsets available in the market including Apple, Samsung, Sony, Nokia and Huawei. There are also many refurbished handsets available if you are looking for budget friendlier options. You can either buy the phone outright or choose one of the instalment options starting from 6 months, followed by 12, 18 and 24 months. All the phones on giffgaff’s online store are unlocked, meaning you don’t have to stick with the network and may switch between providers whenever you want.

Despite this, the downside of separating the phone from the airtime means that giffgaff is no longer providing a service, but in effect they are providing a short-term loan. This means there are more financial regulations that a customer must meet and thus the phone credit checks will be tougher. Those with poor credit ratings may find it more difficult to be accepted to purchase a handset.

Network Coverage & Speeds

2G, 3G and 4G Coverage

giffgaff 4G Coverage 2021

giffgaff network coveragegiffgaff is an MVNO running on the O2 Network. This means their customers get the same network coverage and speeds O2 customers do on 3G and 4G. O2 is constantly improving its 4G network coverage and they already cover more than 99% of the population, with only a few coastal and rural areas only having 2G/3G coverage. Half Cooked strongly recommends you to use giffgaff’s online coverage checker to make sure your frequent areas have good coverage before you buy any SIM plans. You can read our extensive giffgaff network coverage and data speeds review to learn more about it.

The network’s customers get identical 4G download speeds with the parent network. According to Opensignal’s April 2021 speed test results giffgaff’s average 4G download speeds are around 17.3Mbps, meaning they offer the slowest 4G data speeds. The network’s average 4G upload speeds are also behind all the other networks being around 6.7Mbps. 

If you want to find out which networks offer the fastest 4G download and upload speeds, as well which networks cover the most areas and where, check out Half Cooked’s detailed 4G Networks in the UK guide.

5G Coverage

giffgaff 5G Coverage and Download Speeds

As of January 2021, giffgaff’s golden goodybags provide 5G coverage and 5G download speeds. The carrier actually launched their 5G service on October 20, but due to technical issues they pulled the service back, but it’s now live again and seems to work as intended.

We know that giffgaff customers benefit from O2’s 5G Network. At the time of writing, O2’s 5G is live in 160 towns and cities. According to Opensignal’s April 2021 network results O2 is the second fastest 5G mobile network in the UK with an average download speed of 129Mbps. Their 5G upload speeds are around 10Mbps.

Currently the most wallet friendly 5G offers come from Three. We strongly recommend checking out Three’s SIM only plans as they all come with 5G at no extra cost, plus the network’s average 5G download speeds are around 115Mbps.

As always, we strongly recommend you to check each network’s coverage in your area before you make your final decision.

Voice Call Quality

giffgaff Voice Call Quality

As giffgaff runs on the O2 network, we need to look at O2’s performance in recent voice call quality tests. umlaut’s (an independent testing body who’s been widely accepted as authoritative and highly objective) most recent test results put O2 in the third place out of the four major operators with a score of ‘satisfactory’. According to umlaut’s voice call tests, the call setup times of both O2 and Three were considerably longer than those of EE and Vodafone. Having said that, O2 was in the last spot the year before, which means they improved to leapfrog Three.

Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling

giffgaff 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling

Unfortunately, giffgaff doesn’t have Wi-Fi calling or Wi-Fi hotspots as some of the other more expensive operators do. You will generally find the trend of not offering these perks amongst the cheaper MVNO operators, this is so they can continue to offer the competitive prices they do. If you need Wi-Fi calling, check out Half Cooked’s extensive guide covering the best UK networks for Wi-Fi Calling. You may also want to check out which networks offer free Wi-Fi Hotspots and where to make sure you are not missing out on this data saving perk.

At the moment giffgaff doesn’t support 4G Calling a.k.a. VoLTE either, but in one of the community discussions giffgaff’s COTO Steve McDonald said they are looking into Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling possibilities for giffgaff.


giffgaff TetheringTethering is the sharing of a mobile device’s internet connection with other compatible devices such as other smartphones, tablets, computers etc. When you turn on tethering your smartphone creates a wireless connection from your device’s SIM, enabling other Wi-Fi devices to connect to your internet and use it.

giffgaff offers tethering on all its ‘goodybags’ and airtime credit options (PAYG). You can use all your data on tethering, but there’s a small catch on giffgaff’s Always-On-Data plan. Download speed on the unlimited goodybag is reduced to 384kbps once you reach 80GB per month, which is super slow even for personal use, let alone sharing it with other users.

International Roaming

giffgaff Free Roaming Abroad in 2021

Like all the other UK networks, per EU roaming regulations UK customers are no longer charged extra to make calls, send texts or use data within the EU.

giffgaff also manages to keep charges fairly reasonable in other destinations, In Australia for e.g. calls cost £1 per minute to make and receive, texts are 30p to send and free to receive while data costs 20p per MB to use.

giffgaff’s international roaming page is super easy to use. Simply, enter the destination you’re planning to travel to and you can find out exactly how much any type of usage, be it minutes, text or data, will cost you. While giffgaff’s roaming fees aren’t unaffordable, the network covers little ground compared to some of its rivals. There are some better alternatives out there for roaming abroad.

giffgaff Features

Flexible Goodybags

When it comes to flexibility giffgaff is, hands down, the most unique network. Goodybags may not be the best value option anymore, given how networks like SMARTY and iD Mobile are offering better value, but giffgaff’s SIM only deals still stand out as they are unmatched in flexibility.

With giffgaff you can use multiple plans in a single month, i.e. utilise one or two goodybags & then use any leftover credit balance on a per min, SMS or MB basis.

On top of that you can decide when the next bag will be activated once the current one you are using is done with. This means you can renew your goodybag early on, or leave a gap before the next one starts. Your SIM will stay active regardless for another 6 months, even if you don’t use it all and at no cost.

Also, giffgaff will send you an email showing a detailed usage summary and will highlight the best goodybag for you to continue with in the following month.

1GB Extra Data Boost

The 1GB extra data is only available on the £10, £12, £15 and £20 goodybags. To activate this boost customers must be on giffgaff for at least three months. After the third goodybag purchase, giffgaff members get 1GB of additional data added to their plans. This perk doesn’t apply to £6/month and £8/month goodybags. £25/month Always-On-Data plan already comes with unlimited data, therefore this perk doesn’t apply to it.

Always-On-Data & Unlimited Data

giffgaff New Unlimited Data Plan October 2020giffgaff has an unlimited data offer and it is called ‘Always-On-Data’, however this £25/month deal (also giffgaff’s most expensive plan) comes with a fair usage cap at 80GB. Members who are using Always-On-Data enjoy unlimited downloads with 4G speeds till they reach this cap, but once they get past this point their download speed will be restricted to 384kbps between 8 a.m. and midnight for the rest of the month. The restricted speed is far from optimal, and even surfing on the simplest web pages could become a hassle. Compared to other unlimited data plans such as SMARTY’s, giffgaff’s Always-On-Data plan is inferior and comes at a more expensive cost.

You also have the unlimited golden goodybag option which grants you access to giffgaff’s 5G network. This plan doesn’t have a speed cap, but the network says you can’t use more than 650GB of data per month or else extra charges may apply. You can tether to a maximum of 12 devices with this plan. If you have the unlimited golden goodybag, you can only use up to 20GB for roaming abroad per month.

giffgaff Payback Rewards

giffgaff paybackThanks to their ‘Payback Time’ program, giffgaff offers a unique option to its customers. giffgaff users get rewarded with ‘Payback Points’ when they bring their friends and family on board, give helpful advice on giffgaff forums or suggest ideas to make giffgaff’s network better. If you refer a friend/family member to giffgaff and they top up at least £10 of credit you earn £5. Twice a year giffgaff customers can convert their ‘Payback Points’ to cash, credit or a donation to charity. These payouts are in June and December.

No Credit Check

There are no credit checks on giffgaff when purchasing a SIM! giffgaff being effectively a PAYG service, bundles are paid for in advance of use with either topped up credit or automatic renewal via direct debit. You don’t have to go through a credit check to become a SIM only giffgaff customer. Even if you are under 18, have poor credit or have recently moved into the UK you can get yourself a giffgaff SIM. However, as you will see below, if you wish to purchase a phone via a loan from giffgaff then credit checks will come into play.

Online Community Support

To offer the competitive deals that giffgaff does they’ve had to stick to an online only customer support model. This involves asking questions via an agent who will reply via SMS/Email which can leave customers frustrated with long wait times. Alternatively, giffgaff has developed an online community which can help bridge the gap. Giffgaff has a forum staffed by other giffgaff customers who provide help in return for free credit.

Spending Caps

Because giffgaff doesn’t work like a normal monthly SIM contract, there’s no option to set a spending cap for your plans. Customers can only burn through the credit they have on their accounts. If you use up your ‘goodybag’ data early on, you have the option to start a new plan. Be warned though, when you switch to a new ‘goodybag’ you lose your remaining minutes and texts as they don’t rollover. At the end of the day there are no spending cap features on giffgaff, but there also won’t be any nasty bill shocks.

Sky Mobile offers one of the Best Data Rollover Offers in the UK with data being rolled over for up to 3 years, check out our Sky Mobile Review to learn more.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

Half Cooked’s overall rating for giffgaff: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
  • Network Coverage and Speeds – Great network coverage and decent speeds, running on the reliable O2 Network provides a peace of mind, but the speeds are still behind the likes of EE, Vodafone and Three.
  • Voice Call Quality – With an umlaut’s rating of ‘Satisfactory’ you won’t have any trouble making or receiving calls, but this is still tracking behind two of the other major networks.
  • Tethering – giffgaff offers tethering across all its plans, but throttles the unlimited ‘goodybag’ after exceeding 80GB.
  • International Roaming – giffgaff manages to keep roaming charges cheaper than many of its competitors, but it is limited by not including any Non-EU countries free to roam.
  • No Credit Checks – No credit checks means anyone can become a giffgaff SIM customer but this doesn’t extend to handsets.
  • Flexibility – Great flexibility, the option to use giffgaff as a pay monthly or Pay As You Go service and the ability to jump between different ‘goodybags’ provides flexibility to accommodate any customer needs.
  • Handset Only Purchasing – Good range of handsets available to purchase from low end to all the way to the newest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy’s with the ability to spread the cost of these devices.
  • Online Community Support – Providing the competitive deals that giffgaff does comes at the expense of only having online customer support, this is helped by the great community giffgaff has built up but still a pain when you have a problem.
  • Spending Caps – No spending caps available on giffgaff, but you can’t exceed the amount of credits you have in your ‘goodybags’, so there won’t be any bill shocks.
  • Other Perks – To provide the competitive pricing giffgaff does, there aren’t many additional perks however their referral program means you could earn money by referring friends to join. giffgaff banner

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are giffgaff goodybags?

    A goodybag is giffgaff’s special bundle, which contains UK minutes, texts and data. All goodybags last for 1 calendar month and can be used while you're in the UK, the EU and selected countries.

    What are giffgaff Payback points?

    Payback is giffgaff’s way of rewarding their customers for doing something that helps giffgaff and the giffgaff community. These rewards come back as Payback points or in some cases customers might see it in their account in monetary terms.

    - 1 Payback point = £0.01
    - Payback payouts happen every 6 months, in June and December.
    - Customers can choose to take their Payback as cash, credit, or a donation to charity.

    Does giffgaff offer 5G? When does giffgaff roll out 5G Coverage?

    giffgaff offers 5G thanks to their parent network O2. giffgaff 5g is available in 193 cities and towns in the UK.

    Which network does giffgaff use?

    giffgaff is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) powered by O2’s British network. Owned by Telefónica (also O2’s owners), giffgaff was launched on 25 November 2009.

    Does giffgaff do Data Only Sims?

    No, giffgaff doesn’t offer any data only sims anymore, but in the past they did offer this option.

    Is it possible to get unlimited data on giffgaff?

    Yes, giffgaff’s unlimited data plan is called “Always on Data”. It is giffgaff’s most expensive ‘goodybag’, with a £25 price tag on it. There’s a catch though, as only the first 80GB of data in this package is at full speed. Once you reach the cap of 80GB of data, maximum download speed will be reduced to 384kbps between 8am and midnight.

    Do goodybags rollover?

    No, unfortunately goodybags allowances do not roll over. The bundle will last a calendar month (30 days) and then it will simply expire and will be removed.

    Does giffgaff offer any free use of social media apps?

    At the time of writing giffgaff doesn’t offer any free use of social media apps. If this is important to you, we’d recommend checking VOXI, as it offers endless social media usage for eight of the most popular social media apps.

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