Network Comparison 2020: Three vs Giffgaff

In this article we compare giffgaff and Three across a number of sections to help you pick out the right network. Read on below Half Cooked's full breakdown.

Latest Offer: 6 Months Half Price – Unlimited for £11 a month!

Three Mobile OfferThree is currently offering customers unlimited data with unlimited minutes and texts for only £11 with their 6 months half price deal. This SIM only deal offers great value, being the cheapest unlimited plan available in the UK. On top of this you still get the extra perks of 5G at no extra costs and Go Roam, which lets you roam abroad at destinations such as USA & Australia inclusive in your data plan on top of all EU destinations. This is only a promotional offer so click through to ensure you don’t miss out.


Three overview

Three ReviewThree have 99.8% 4G coverage with data speeds second only to EE. With inclusive roaming in more destinations worldwide than any other network and unlimited streaming on popular apps such as Netflix and Apple Music, Three not only gets the basics right but also leads the way with a number of unique perks in the market. The Three network is the smallest out of the big 4 operators in terms of the number of customers they have but they rank among the top in terms of their product offerings and with their incredibly competitive price point half cooked gives Three a ranking of 4.5/5.


  • Inclusive Roaming of 71 destinations worldwide
  • Unlimited streaming data on apps such as Netflix and unlimited Snapchat use
  • Easy to use Wi-Fi calling 99% 4G coverage and fast speeds


  • No data rollover is available
  • Limited Wi-Fi hotspots
  • No free subscription services

giffgaff overview

giffgaff logoGiffgaff is a virtual network running on the 02 network which provides affordable and flexible deals for all consumers with their range of ‘goody bags’ that will satisfy any customer from those looking for a low value option to data hungry users. Supported by O2’s network you’ll also be getting excellent 4G coverage with good speeds. 


  • Great coverage and 4G speeds
  • Unlimited data plan option
  • No credit checks


  • Most complaints per 100k customers per Ofcom data
  • Generally more expensive plans

Network Coverage & Speeds

three vs giffgaff network comparisonThere are no major differences between the network coverage of Three & giffgaff but we rate Three to be a little better due to their faster download speed and frequency.
Three only offers 3G & 4G services, but these days 2G is not particularly relevant, especially when Three has 98.3% 3G & 99.8% 4G coverage by population. Giffgaff also offer widespread coverage, running on the O2 network giffgaff offers customers 99% 3G & 4G coverage.
Three takes the lead in terms of 4G download speed however with 23 MB/s average download speed, which comes only second to EE. Giffgaff on the other hand gets on average around 14 MB/s download speeds on 4G.
Half Cooked’s Winner:
As a result, Three comes out on top in this section due to the significantly faster download speeds.
If you’re expecting to do a lot of HD streaming and after the fastest network speeds you can get, we recommend checking out EE who has the fastest data speeds in the UK.

Voice Call Quality

three vs giffgaff voice call qualityThree has better voice call quality than giffgaff. Data used in reaching this conclusion derives from both how the services compare and customer feedback.
Three covers more than 99% of the UK and they are working consistently to improve their coverage & speed. With its 4G Super-Voice (VoLTE) Three delivers HD voice quality, allowing you to make and receive extremely clear calls, even in rural areas and in enclosed indoor spaces.
Though giffgaff has vast coverage in terms of 2G, 3G and 4G, users of the network have generally rated the voice quality to be below average. Facts gathered from anecdotal sources and online user communities do constantly report periodic distortion of voice. This however, may be due to the heavy usage by other users on their 3G & 4G networks. In tests run by P3 communications, O2 came last out of the major operators with a score of ‘satisfactory’.
Half Cooked’s Winner:
Due to both tests & anecdotal online sources, we rate Three ahead in terms of voice call quality.


three vs giffgaff tetheringTethering allows other devices to have access to your SIM’s data allowance. When you tether your mobile data, other connected devices can surf the internet, connecting through Wi-Fi. Both Three & giffgaff offer tethering to their customers.

Three offers unlimited network tethering for customers on a pay monthly or SIM only plan but you will need to subscribe to an advanced plan as the service isn’t available on Essential plans. Tethering generally means you will burn through your data lot faster, so we recommend checking out Three’s out of bundle pricing before tethering.

Giffgaff on the other hand has no restrictions on tethering, with tethering available on all goodybags, gigabags & even on PAYG plans.

You can tether on giffgaff on gigabags, goodybags, and even pay as you go plans. Note that the data you consume will be taken out of your regular mobile data allowance so it is advised not to use it for tasks that require low bandwidth.

Half Cooked’s Winner:

Due to no restrictions on the service, giffgaff comes out on top for tethering.  

Find Out More About giffgaff’s Tethering

International Roaming

three vs giffgaff international roamingInternational roaming is important for folks who often travel outside the UK. Customers on all leading UK networks including Three and giffgaff can roam to European destinations and use their voice, text & minutes at no extra charge. However, Three takes this one step further with their Go Roam proposition.

The Go Roam scheme works in 71 destinations including popular international destinations such as USA, Australia & Brazil, and whether you’re a Pay Monthly or SIM Only customer. You get to make calls and send texts at normal UK rates. Receiving calls and text messages are at no extra cost.  There are some restrictions with maximum data usage abroad in a month being 19 GB on Pay Monthly plans or 15 GB on Pay As You Go for EU destinations. The worldwide destination data limit is 12 GB a month.

If you’re a giffgaff customer you can use your giffgaff SIM in 37 EU destinations with a 20 GB mobile data allowance over one month. However, unlike Three, giffgaff does not have any inclusive worldwide roaming destinations.

Half Cooked’s Winner:

Three comes out on top with what we rate as the best scheme in the market due to it being available to most Three customers (Excl Essential Plan), however another great roaming scheme is offers by Vodafone which have up to 77 inclusive international destinations on specific SIM plans.

Find Out More About Three Mobile International Roaming

Wi-Fi Calling & Wi-Fi Hotspots

three vs giffgaff wi-fi callingThree’s Wi-Fi calling scheme, called Three In Touch is rated as the best in the market which is supported on most devices and available on all pay monthly and SIM only plans. It’s compatible with a number of older apple and android devices and automatically works once connected to Wi-Fi and in a poor network location.

In terms of Wi-Fi hotspots, Three helps you keep connected on the London Underground with Wi-Fi available in over 250 London Underground stations.

Giffgaff unfortunately don’t have a Wi-Fi calling scheme, this is disappointing, dropping off behind most of the other networks in the market. Giffgaff however do a good job when it comes to Wi-Fi hotspots with the same London Underground offer as Three. On top of this, being part of the O2 network, giffgaff now offers access to over 8,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK. As long as you connect at one location, if you are near a hotspot with Wi-Fi switched on, you can auto connect.

Half Cooked’s Winner:

Although Three comes out on top for Wi-Fi calling, we rate giffgaff ahead of Three for hotspots, so we call this a draw.

BT Mobile have the best Wi-Fi hotspot offer in the market. With over 5 million Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK, you’ll struggle to run out of data when you’re on the BT network.

Data Rollover

three vs giffgaff data rolloverSome networks allow you to keep and use the remainder of your data from the prior month in future periods. This is called data rollover and is now common amongst a number of networks.

iD Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile offer this additional perk to their customers although they have varying policies. Vodafone, EE and O2 offer data rollover to Pay As You Go customers.

Half Cooked’s Winner:

This section is a draw as neither Three, nor giffgaff offer data rollover. If you are not able to exhaust your monthly data allowance, it disappears the moment the next month begins.

We recommend checking out SMARTY Mobile, they have the best data rollover plan in the market with customers getting unused data discounted off their next bill at £1.25 per GB.

Multi Buy Discounts/ Family Plans

three vs giffgaff multi buy discountsSome networks are now offering customers discounts on any additional SIM or phone contract purchases they make to incentivise people to sign up their family & friends.

Three have begun providing ‘Existing Customer Offers’ which are discounts on Phone & SIM Only contracts. You can make some strong savings on phone contracts with an on average saving of £3 per month on iPhone contracts and a £5 per month saving on Samsung & Huawei contracts. SIM only deals you can expect to save a little less with an on average saving of £1-£2 per SIM contract.

There are no family plans available on giffgaff, but giffgaff’s plans are generally on the cheaper side, so you may find you actually are better off  on a giffgaff plan depending on your specific needs.

Half Cooked’s Winner:

Three comes out on top as giffgaff doesn’t offer any family plans, but if family plans are something you are after there is better available. We go into depth into the best mobile family plans in the market in our detailed article.

check Out All Three Mobile SIM Plans

Customer Rewards

three vs giffgaff customer rewardsIn terms of reward schemes, Three customers get access to the Wuntu app. This is a reward application like O2 priority where customers can get free coffees and discounts with popular high street retailers. Other Every Wednesday, fresh new offers and discounts are updated on the app.

Half Cooked’s Winner: Unfortunately giffgaff doesn’t have a reward app for its customers, but this is common amongst the smaller, cheaper operators that focus on value. As a result, Three comes out on top.

Find Out More About Three Mobile Customer Rewards

Other Perks

three vs giffgaff other perksThe Three Go Binge is the ultimate go-to scheme that offers unlimited streaming on Netflix and other online entertainment platforms. If you’re on an Advanced plan with at least 12 GB data, you’ll be able to access this feature.

Giffgaff offer customer rewards they dubbed Payback. By making your friends and family join the network and giving helpful advice in online discussions you get to earn Payback points. And you can either redeem these points by cash, credit or by donating them to charity.

Half Cooked’s Winner:

Three comes out on top – customers can save a lot of data by getting unlimited streaming on popular applications such as Netflix & Apple Music. To learn more about unlimited streaming plans, check out our article.

Find Out More About Three Mobile Perks

Half Cooked’s Overall Winner

Both Three & giffgaff are great options for your next SIM or phone contract. Giffgaff offer low cost plans for customers, but Three offers value as well as a number of additional perks including unlimited streaming with Go Binge & roaming internationally inclusive to your plan with Go Roam. Three came out on top in a number of our sections, so we give them the win.three vs giffgaff comparison

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