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