1. Home
  2. Mobiles
  3. Guides
  4. PAYG SIMs with Long Expiry

PAYG SIMs with no monthly top-up and long expiry

By Steve McCaskill
Wednesday, March 28th 2018

Pay-as-you-go deals have become increasingly complicated, with operators offering various add-ons in exchange for minimum top-ups. But what if you just want a mobile phone for occasional use and don’t want to top up regularly? Here are the best SIMs for infrequent users.

Pre-paid SIMs were highly marketed and highly successful, transforming the technology from a business tool or personal luxury into an essential item. However prepaid SIMs have been declining in popularity as pay monthly and SIM-only plans become increasingly desirable.

Meanwhile pay-as-you-go deals have become increasingly complicated, with operators offering various add-ons in exchange for minimum top-ups. But what if you just want a mobile phone for occasional use and don’t want to top up regularly? Here are the best SIMs for infrequent users.

Asda Mobile

1. Asda Mobile

PAYG

  • Data
    5p per MB
  • Calls
    8p per minute
  • Texts
    4p per text
  • 3G/4G
    4G
  • Inactivity period
    180 days (6 months)

Order up to five free SIMs
No credit checks and no contract
Which? recommended provider

Asda Mobile only offers pay-as-you-go deals and has a range of bundles on offer, but you don’t need to sign up for one to get a SIM card. Asda will send you a free SIM card and give you 10 minutes of calls, 10 texts and 10MB absolutely free to get you started. Asda Mobile uses the EE network, which has the best coverage and speeds of any UK operator.

You will have to make at least one call or send one text every 180 days to keep your number fully active. If you don’t then your calls will be forwarded to an automated service but Asda stresses you will still be able to receive inbound calls. You will have to reactive your SIM by calling Asda. If the SIM hasn’t been used within 270 days then all activity will be banned, and all credit removed. After 360 days the number will be deleted and disconnected from the network.

Get this deal from Asda mobile

Vodafone

2. Vodafone

PAYG

  • Data
    20p per 5MB
  • Calls
    20p per minute
  • Texts
    20p per text
  • 3G/4G
    4G
  • Inactivity period
    180 days (6 months)

Vodafone has its own range of pay-as-you-go bundles, but will give you a free SIM card as well. The charges are relatively steep, but there is a daily limit of £1. Once this has been reached, you get unlimited calls, texts and 500MB of data and if you don’t use your phone at all, you don’t pay a penny.

If you don’t use your phone for 180 consecutive days, Vodafone will suspend your service. Vodafone will then send you an SMS notifying you to top up your account or make a call or text within 90 days. After 270 days, Vodafone will disconnect your account.

Get this deal from Vodafone

Three

3. Three

PAYG

  • Data
    1p per MB
  • Calls
    3p per minute
  • Texts
    2p per text
  • 3G/4G
    4G
  • Inactivity period
    180 days (6 months)

Three has six pay-as-you go SIM bundles offering anything up to 30GB, but it will give you a SIM card without obligation for free. Like others, Three will deactivate your account if you don’t make a call, send a text or use some data at least once every six months.

But what separates Three is the cost. With those rates, a £10 top-up could keep you going for a long time. Three’s network should also work when you need it to thanks to 97 per cent 3G and 4G population coverage.

Get this deal from Three

O2

4. O2

Classic Pay-As-you-Go

  • Data
    1p per MB
  • Calls
    3p per minute
  • Texts
    2p per text
  • 3G/4G
    4G
  • Inactivity period
    180 days (6 months)

O2 is renowned for its customer service with 93 per cent of customers saying they are satisfied with the company, according to Ofcom. Its 4G network is also accessible to 98 per cent of the UK population, so it’s a solid choice for a pay-as-you-go network.

Alongside its bundles, it does offer a ‘classic’ pay-as-you-go tariff which matches Three’s for value. It comes with access to O2’s nationwide network of wi-fi hotspots and its O2 Priority loyalty programme which, among other things, gives you exclusive early access to gig tickets. The catch is that there is a minimum £10 top-up to begin with, but you’d need to put some money on your account anyway. Again, if you don’t use your phone at least once within a six-month period, you’ll be disconnected and lose all your credit.

Get this deal from O2

giffgaff/

5. giffgaff

PAYG

  • Data
    5p per MB
  • Calls
    15p per minute
  • Texts
    5p per text
  • 3G/4G
    4G
  • Inactivity period
    180 days (6 months)

Finally, giffgaff will also give you a free pay-as-you-go SIM without requiring you to sign up for one of its bundles. Like Tesco Mobile, it also uses O2’s network. You can earn credit by giving advice to the giffgaff community and getting ‘payback’ points, which are worth 1p each.

As is standard, giffgaff will disconnect you if you don’t make at least one call, send one message or connect to the internet every 180 days.

Get this deal from giffgaff

Frequently asked questions

pay as you go sims

How do I keep my pay-as-you-go SIM active?

You need to make at least one call, send one text or access the internet at least once every 180 days to be on the safe side. Some operators count top-ups and changing account details as an example of activity, so you may not actually have to use any of your credit. But to be on the safe side, maybe just send a quick text.

Once I am disconnected, do I lose my number?

Not necessarily. Some operators will suspend your account and give you a chance to reactivate it within a certain period. However once your number is recycled, it’s gone forever.

I’ve been disconnected. Can I get my credit refunded?

Yes, you just need to ask your provider for a new SIM card with a brand new number.

Why do we need your postcode?

Once you enter your postcode, Cable.co.uk will perform a live lookup and check all the available providers in your area.

This ensures you receive accurate information on the availability of providers and packages in your area.

Your information is safe with us. We won't share your postcode with anyone. Guaranteed.

Close