HomeUK Data PlansBest Free Pay As You Go SIM Cards: Reviewed and Compared

Best Free Pay As You Go SIM Cards: Reviewed and Compared

To get a free SIM card for your phone, go to: Pay-as-you-go plans from 19 UK networks compared.

Pay As You Go SIM Card

Whether you’re a smartphone addict or only use your phone occasionally, ordering a free Pay As You Go SIM card in the UK can save you money.

In terms of value for money, the finest Pay As You Go SIM cards provide super-low rates that can even compete with Pay Monthly SIM cards. Simply order a free SIM card below and insert it into your phone to take advantage of the greatest deals presently available. There are no credit checks or fees to pay up advance. There’s also no need to set up a direct debit: simply top up your SIM card when you run out of credit.

 

We’ve examined free SIM card offerings from 19 of the UK’s most popular Pay As You Go networks in the table below. For phoning another nation, we’ve included traditional services as well as low-cost alternatives and specialty Pay As You Go mobile networks. We’ve also analyzed the prices of each network to ensure you receive the best deal.

  1. Changing your mobile provider? If you’re keeping the same phone but switching to a different network, you may need to unlock it first. See our guides on how to unlock an iPhone and how to unlock a Samsung Galaxy phone.
  2. Many mobile networks have the same coverage.
    Because many mobile networks use the same coverage provider, you’ll get the same amount of coverage on any of them. Giffgaff, for example, makes use of O2 coverage. Check out our list of mobile networks that employ EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone coverage.
  3. Keeping track of your phone number. It’s simple to preserve your current phone number when switching cell networks. Get a PAC Code from your old network, either online or via text message, after acquiring your new Pay As You Go SIM card. You can then give your new mobile network this PAC Code, and your phone number will be transferred the next business day. See our guide on transferring your mobile phone number for more information.

Best Pay As You Go SIM Card Offers

Giffgaff is now our favorite Pay As You Go provider in the UK. With O2’s 99 percent population coverage, they offer flexible Pay As You Go bundles.

giffgaff

  • 31% of our readers have chosen to join giffgaff.Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 9GB data are all included with a £10 top-up.
    Mobile data costs 25p each minute, 10p each SMS, and 10p each megabyte.
    Calls, texts, and video calls between giffgaff users are all free.Uses the O2 network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

giffgaff has a well-known Pay As You Go SIM card. It lets you choose between monthly goodybag bundles or a typical Pay As You Go service that doesn’t require you to top up every month. Members of giffgaff, an O2 wholly-owned subsidiary, enjoy the same coverage as O2 customers.

The majority of giffgaff customers opt for a goodybag bundle. 3GB data for £8, 9GB data for £10, and 25GB data for £15, are the most popular bundles. For £20 per month, you can receive 100GB of data, and for £25 per month, you can have limitless data. Giffgaff’s goodybag plans include unlimited minutes and texts on all plans. From £10 per month, you can enjoy 5G access on golden goodybags.

There’s no need to top-up every month if you’re using giffgaff on a strictly Pay As You Go basis. If you use your SIM card at least once every six months, your credit will not expire. Regular Pay As You Go consumption is 25p every minute, 10p each text, and 10p every megabyte.

You’ll also get free calls and texts to other giffgaff members (to qualify, you’ll just need to top-up your phone at least once every 3 months).

Vodafone
7% of our readers have chosen to join Vodafone.
Top-up purchases for £10:

  • 5GB data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts (Big Value Bundles).
  • £1 per day includes unlimited minutes, unlimited messages, and 50MB of data (Pay As You Go 1).
  • Coverage: 99% population coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

A Big Value Bundle costs £10 per month on Vodafone’s Pay As You Go plan. For the next 30 days, you’ll have unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 5GB of data. Any unused allowances on your SIM card can be carried over to the next month’s bundle.

You can also join Vodafone Pay As You Go 1 if you want to use your phone without having to top it up every month.

You’ll pay £1 each day on this plan. This, however, is only charged on days when you use your phone. For £1 each day, you get unlimited minutes, messages, and 50MB of data to use on the same day. If you’re a light user, the sole requirement is that you use your phone once per 180 days.

 

1pMobile

11% of our readers choose to join 1pMobile

  • £10 top-up buys: Equivalent of 1000 minutes, 1000 texts or 1GB data.
  • Rates: 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

1pMobile is a Pay As You Go carrier offering eye-catching pricing of 1p/minute, 1p/text, and 1p/MB if you want the lowest possible Pay As You Go charges. EE’s 3G and 4G coverage is available on the network, which is run by Utility Warehouse’s sibling firm. If you have a smartphone, 1pMobile offers a Data Boost bundle for 2GB of data for £6 per month.

One of 1pMobile’s unusual requirements is that you must top up your phone with at least £10 of credit every 120 days. Every year, this equates to £30 in fresh credit. Your 1pMobile account will be cancelled and your phone number will be forfeited if you do not fulfill the minimum top-up fee of £10 every 120 days. As a result, we only recommend 1pMobile if your usual monthly spend will be more than £2.50. (otherwise, a non-refundable balance would build up over time on your account).


Other major Pay As You Go providers include:
Vodafone Pay As You Go and 1pMobile are two more popular options among our users. You can use your mobile phone on Vodafone for £10 per month or £1 per day. Meanwhile, 1pMobile has the cheapest Pay As You Go prices, with 1p per minute, 1p each SMS, and 1p every megabyte.

 

EE

9% of our readers choose to join EE

  • £10 top-up buys: 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB data (Data Focussed Pack)
    or 400 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB data (Talk Focussed Pack).
  • Rates: 35p/minute and 15p/text. Internet access requires a bundle.
  • Coverage: 99% population coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

You’ll pay £10 a month for 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 4GB of data if you use an EE Pay As You Go SIM card. Alternatively, for £10, you can get 400 minutes, unlimited messages, and 2GB of data with the Talk Focussed Pack. EE’s Pay As You Go Packs are valid for 30 days, but you can roll over any unused data within 7 days after the expiration of your prior pack.

Calls will cost 35p per minute and messages will cost 15p each for light users who do not purchase a Pay As You Go plan. If you wish to use mobile data on your phone, you’ll need to purchase a one-month pack.

 

O2

6% of our readers choose to join O2

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data (Big Bundles).
  • Rates: 35p/minute, 15p/text and £2/day for mobile data.
  • Coverage: 99% population coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

From £5 a month on O2’s Pay As You Go plan, you can receive a one-month Big Bundle with unlimited minutes and messages. If you have a smartphone, a Big Bundle with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 6GB of data is available for £10 per month.

On O2, you can get £15 worth of free Pay As You Go credit as a special promotion. When you order your SIM card online and activate it within the first 28 days with a £5, £10, £15 or £30 Big Bundle, you’ll get £10 in free credit. Once you’ve received and topped up your SIM card, you’ll need to text FREE10 to 21500. You’ll get an extra £5 of free credit if you sign up for the MyO2 app. Through O2 Priority, you’ll also have access to savings and exclusive deals.

 

Tip: If you use your phone frequently, giffgaff provides more data for a reduced monthly fee. Giffgaff offers 9GB of data for £10 per month (versus just 6GB on O2). Giffgaff is owned by O2 and operates on the O2 network. To learn more about giffgaff, go here.

 

Three
8% of our readers choose to join Three

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data.
  • Rates: 10p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB for mobile data.
  • Coverage: 98% population coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

With Data Pack bundles starting at £10 per month, Three offers a “supercharged” Pay As You Go service. Over the course of a month, a £10 top-up on Three will provide you 6GB of data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts. The allowances in your bundle can be used both in the UK and in 71 Go Roam destinations around the world.

Three charges 10p per minute, 10p each text, and 5p each megabyte for users who do not purchase a Pay As You Go bundle. On Three’s Data Reward SIM card, reduced rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text, and 1p/MB are still available. You’ll also get 200MB of free data every month on the Data Reward SIM card without having to top up. For more details on the Data Reward SIM card, see our complete guide.

It’s also worth noting that you can’t use a 2G-only phone on Three. Because Three does not offer 2G service, this is the case. To work on Three’s network, your phone must have at least 3G coverage.

Vodafone
7% of our readers choose to join Vodafone

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB data (Big Value Bundles).
  • Rates: £1/day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB data (Pay As You Go 1).
  • Coverage: 99% population coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

On their Pay As You Go SIM card, Vodafone offers two options.

A 30-day Big Value Bundle is recommended for regular mobile users. A £10 monthly top-up, for example, will provide you 5GB of data as well as unlimited UK minutes and texts. When you automatically renew your bundle, you can rollover any unused allowances.

Vodafone’s Pay As You Go 1 plan is a better option for light mobile users. Pay £1 a day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 50MB of data on Pay As You Go 1. This is only charged on days when you use your cellphone.

 

1pMobile

11% of our readers choose to join 1pMobile

  • £10 top-up buys: Equivalent of 1000 minutes, 1000 texts or 1GB data.
  • Rates: 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

You’ll pay 1p each minute, 1p each SMS, and 1p every megabyte on 1pMobile. There are no monthly fees associated with using your 1pMobile SIM card. The EE network provides 3G and 4G coverage.

1pMobile currently boasts the lowest Pay As You Go charges of any mobile network in the United Kingdom. It’s worth noting, though, that you must fill up your account by at least £10 every 120 days (equal to £30 each year). Your account will be cancelled and your phone number will be deleted if you do not top-up by at least £10 every 120 days. As a result, 1pMobile may not be suited for light users who just need a SIM card for emergencies.

ASDA Mobile

6% of our readers choose to join ASDA Mobile

  • £10 top-up buys: 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 7GB data.
  • Rates: 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

ASDA Mobile offers a Pay As You Go plan with EE 4G coverage to existing customers.

ASDA Mobile has stopped shipping out new Pay As You Go SIM cards as of early 2021. This is because they’re now migrating to use Vodafone’s network instead of EE’s for coverage. Instead, when they re-launch (expected in April 2021), they’ll provide a Pay As You Go SIM card with Vodafone coverage.

ASDA Mobile subscribers will have access to 5G after the switch to Vodafone. However, it is currently unknown how pricing and terms and conditions would alter as a result of the Vodafone switch.

 

CMLink

2% of our readers choose to join CMLink

  • £10 top-up buys: 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data.
  • Rates: 8p/minute, 6p/text and 5p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

CMLink is a Pay-As-You-Go company that caters to consumers with a China connection. Customers can purchase a £9.99/month package on CMLink that includes 500 minutes, unlimited texts, and 6GB data. You can utilize your unlimited data allotment in the United Kingdom, the European Union, Mainland China, and Hong Kong. You’ll also receive international minutes to call numbers in Mainland China and Hong Kong.

Customers on CMLink in the UK have access to EE’s 3G and 4G coverage.

Order CMLink SIM card (Free) →

 

giffgaff
31% of our readers choose to join giffgaff

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 9GB data.
  • Rates: 25p/minute, 10p/text and 10p/MB for mobile data (avg. £1/day).
    giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls, texts and video calls are free.
  • Uses the O2 network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

giffgaff is a low-cost mobile network that uses O2’s coverage. On their £10 golden goodybag, they now offer 9GB of data. You’ll also get an unlimited number of minutes and texts.

Users that use a lot of data can obtain 25GB for £15 per month or 100GB for £20 per month. Unlimited data is offered for £25 per month (but unlimited data without speed limits would set you back £35).

For more information, see the giffgaff website.

Order giffgaff SIM card (Free) →

iD Mobile

5% of our readers choose to join iD Mobile

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data.
  • Rates: 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the Three network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

The Carphone Warehouse’s own-brand mobile network is called iD Mobile. iD Mobile’s Pay As You Go service, which launched in December 2016, uses Three’s 3G and 4G coverage.

Customers on iD Mobile Pay As You Go can purchase a £10/month package that includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 6GB of data. Outside of the package, additional minutes, texts, and megabytes will cost 3p per minute, 2p each text, and 1p each megabyte.

On iD Mobile, you won’t be able to utilize a 2G-only phone. This is due to the fact that iD Mobile does not provide 2G coverage (in contrast to Three, which provides the underlying coverage for iD Mobile).

Order iD Mobile SIM card (Free with £6 top-up) →

 

Lebara Mobile

1% of our readers choose to join Lebara Mobile

  • £10 top-up buys: 100 intl minutes, unlimited UK minutes, 1000 UK texts and 5GB data.
  • Rates: 25p/minute, 19p/text and 9p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the Vodafone network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

Lebara Mobile is a company that specializes in international calls. A 30-day Pay As You Go package with an unlimited international minutes allowance starts at £5 per month. For example, for £5 per month, you can get 1000 UK minutes, 100 international minutes, 1000 UK texts, and 2GB of data.

Vodafone provides coverage for Lebara Mobile in the 2G, 3G, and 4G bands. See our Lebara Mobile review for additional information.

Lycamobile

2% of our readers choose to join Lycamobile

  • £10 top-up buys: 100 intl minutes, unlimited UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 4GB data.
  • Rates: 19p/minute, 19p/text and 12p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the O2 network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

Lycamobile is another another international calling expert. They charge 1p per minute for international calls and 19p for international text messages. Domestic calls to a UK mobile cost 19p per minute, and messages to a UK mobile cost 19p apiece.

 

Orange

A Pay As You Go SIM card from Orange is no longer available as of February 2015. Customers are encouraged to join EE Pay As You Go instead. EE offers 4G connectivity with Pay As You Go plans starting at £5 per month.

Customers on Orange Pay As You Go were transferred to EE in July 2018.

 

The Phone Co-op

3% of our readers choose to join The Phone Co-op

  • £10 top-up buys: 500 minutes, 1000 texts and 1GB data.
  • Rates: 8p/minute, 4p/text and 10p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G internet only, check coverage here.

The Phone Co-op (formerly the Co-Operative Mobile) charges 8p per minute and 4p per SMS. When you browse the internet, you will be charged 10p per MB.

Regular customers can purchase an all-inclusive bundle for £10 per month. The Co-most op’s popular bundle is £10 per month and includes 500 minutes, 1000 texts, and 1GB of 3G internet.

The Phone Co-op joined The Midcounties Co-operative in June 2018. Since the merger, every £1 spent on the network earns you 12 points. This is the same as receiving a 5% rebate on your purchase.

RWG Mobile

2% of our readers choose to join RWG Mobile

  • £10 top-up buys: Equivalent of 200 minutes, 100 texts or 500MB data.
  • Rates: 5p/minute, 10p/text and 2p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

RWG Mobile promotes itself as “Wales’ mobile network.” It uses the EE network for coverage and provides bilingual customer service in English and Welsh.

Tesco Mobile

2% of our readers choose to join Tesco Mobile

  • £10 top-up buys: 5000 minutes, 5000 texts and 8GB data.
  • Rates: 25p/minute, 10p/text and 10p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the O2 network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

Tesco Mobile has two Pay As You Go tariffs: Rocket Packs for heavy users and Triple Credit for light users.

A Rocket Pack bundle may be purchased for £5 a month for regular mobile customers. The most popular Rocket Pack bundle, which costs £10 a month and includes 5000 minutes, 5000 messages, and 8GB of data, is the most popular.

Tesco Mobile also offers the Triple Credit rate for those who don’t want to buy a Rocket Pack. You’ll pay 25p each minute, 10p every text, and 10p every megabyte. If you top up your SIM card by £10 a month, you’ll receive £20 in extra credit, which will last for one month. This effectively triples the amount of credit you’ll be able to use that month.

 

T-Mobile

T-Mobile SIM cards are no longer available as of February 2015. Customers who want to join T-Mobile should instead join EE. EE features 4G connectivity and Pay As You Go Packs that look a lot like T-old Mobile’s Smart Packs.

Customers who already have a T-Mobile plan can keep it for as long as they like.

Vectone Mobile

1% of our readers choose to join Vectone Mobile

  • £10 top-up buys: Equivalent of 52 minutes or 52 texts.
  • Rates: 19p/minute, 19p/text and 9p/MB for mobile data.
  • Uses the EE network. 99% coverage, 3G internet only, check coverage here.

Vectone Mobile is a specialist provider of international calling.

Virgin Mobile

The Pay As You Go service on Virgin Mobile was discontinued in July 2020. They used to offer Pay As You Go JAM Packs with EE 3G connectivity.

We recommend getting a Pay As You Go SIM card from EE instead if you’re seeking for an alternate network with EE coverage. They provide quicker 4G coverage than Virgin Mobile’s JAM Packs, which was previously unavailable. Virgin Mobile now exclusively sells SIM cards on a month-to-month basis.

VOXI

3% of our readers choose to join VOXI

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data.
  • Rates: 30p/minute and 14p/text. Internet access requires a bundle.
  • Uses the Vodafone network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

Vodafone’s low-cost Pay As You Go sub-brand is VOXI. They presently provide a free Pay As You Go SIM card that gives you access to the Vodafone network’s 99 percent population coverage.

On VOXI, you can get 6GB of data, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and unlimited social media data for £10 per month. You can use as much data as you want on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook Messenger thanks to the addition of unlimited social media.

If you want to use 5G, VOXI offers 5G-ready Pay As You Go plans starting at £12/month. On VOXI’s 5G plans, you’ll get unlimited video streaming, which includes access to YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, My5, TV Player, and UKTV Play.

The majority of VOXI customers choose to convert their credit into a one-month subscription. If you choose, you can use VOXI on a typical Pay As You Go basis for 30p per minute and 14p per text. To use mobile data, you’ll need to purchase a monthly bundle starting at £10.

The following virtual network operators also offer a Pay As You Go service:

The calculation for “£10 top-up buys” is based on a customer who tops up by £10 every month. Your allowances may run out before the next top-up if you top up less than once a month.

Readers of this page picked statistics about mobile networks. From the 25th of November 2020 to the 24th of February 2021, the number of Free SIM click-throughs was calculated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best Pay As You Go SIM cards currently available? There are a variety of Pay As You Go SIM card options available right now. The following SIM cards are the most popular right now:

  • For £10/month, giffgaff (which leverages O2 coverage) provides one-month goodybag bundles that include 9GB data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts. You can also pay as you go at 25p per minute, 10p each text, and 10p every megabyte.
  • Vodafone provides Pay As You Go bundles starting at £10 per month or flexible Pay As You Go plans starting at £1 per day.
  • 1pMobile (EE coverage) offers attractive Pay As You Go pricing of 1p per minute, 1p per SMS, and 1p per megabyte. Every 120 days, you must top-up with at least £10 in credit.
How does coverage compare across different Pay As You Go SIMs? All Pay As You Go networks in the United Kingdom use one of four network coverage providers:

  • 1pMobile, ASDA Mobile, and Vectone Mobile are among the networks that use EE coverage.
  • Giffgaff, Lycamobile, and Tesco Mobile are among the networks that use O2’s coverage.
  • iD Mobile is one of the networks that uses Three’s coverage.
    Lebara Mobile and VOXI are two networks that use Vodafone’s coverage.
What are the best Pay As You Go SIM cards for light usage?

There are a number of important considerations for light mobile users,However, for most people, we think the following Pay As You Go networks are worth considering:

  • 1pMobile
  • giffgaff
  • Three Data Reward
  • Vodafone Pay As You Go 1
Are there any Pay As You Go SIM cards that don’t expire? Yes. There’s no need to top up your phone every month if you choose a typical Pay As You Go plan. All you have to do is keep your SIM card active, which usually means using it at least once per 180 days for a billable activity.
Will I need to undergo a credit check for Pay As You Go SIM cards? No. A credit check is not required to obtain a free Pay As You Go SIM card.
Can I keep my current phone number when changing network? Yes. When switching to a new Pay As You Go network, it’s simple to preserve your current phone number. Simply ask your current mobile network for a PAC Code through app or text message, and deliver it to your new cell network after you sign up.

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