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Big Bundle 7GBO2 Travel7GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£10.00per monthGet DealO2
goodybag 1GBFree EU Roaming1GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£6.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
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golden goodybagFree EU RoamingUnltddataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£35.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
Big Bundle 20GBO2 Travel20GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£15.00per monthGet DealO2
goodybag 12GBFree EU Roaming12GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£10.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
golden goodybagFree EU Roaming100GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£20.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
goodybag 20GBFree EU Roaming20GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£12.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
Data Pack UnlimitedUnltddataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£35.00per monthGet DealThree
SIM Only£20 Amazon.co.uk Voucher15GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£10.00per monthGet DealVoxi
goodybag 3GBFree EU Roaming3GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£8.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
golden goodybagFree EU Roaming30GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£15.00per monthGet Dealgiffgaff
Data Pack 30GB30GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£15.00per monthGet DealThree
Big Bundle 100GBO2 Travel100GBdataUnltdminutesUnltdtextsNo contractZeroupfront cost£30.00per monthGet DealO2
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What is a pay as you go SIM deal?

Pay as you go SIM deals come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the thing they all have in common is that they do not come with a long contract. The deals we’re talking about here require you to commit to no more than a month at a time.

Classic pay as you go

This is the most flexible way of using a mobile phone, as there’s no contract involved at all. You simply top up your account and are charged a pre-set amount for every text you send, every minute of calls you make and every megabyte (MB) of data you use.

If you don’t use your phone all that often and even a modest 30-day data package seems like it’d be too much for you to get through in a month, a classic pay as you go set-up is probably for you. Be warned though, that even with this type of deal credit rarely lasts forever – check with your provider but at the very least you’ll need to use your phone every six months or so to keep your account active.

Pay as you go bundles

The next step up, commitment-wise, from a classic pay as you go deal is a pay as you go bundle. These can be bought using your credit and give you an allowance of data, minutes and texts. Buying a bundle is generally better value for money than standard pay as you go, but you need to be sure you’ll use the data as bundles only last a month.

Some pay as you go bundles renew automatically at the end of the month, making them a bit like a 30-day SIM deal. Some providers even offer features like data rollover, where you get to keep your unused data to use the following month. But you can cancel whenever you like, and with most providers if you don’t have enough credit in your account to pay for you bundle there’s no punishment, you just don’t get the bundle that month.

30-day SIM deals

These are SIM only contracts that you sign up to and pay for monthly via direct debit, but you’re only ever tied in for a month, so you can cancel whenever you like. These deals tend to be pretty good value for money, although if it’s simply the most bang for your buck you’re after then you may want to consider a 12-month SIM deal.

30-day SIM deals often come with unlimited texts and minutes plus a decent data allowance. There are also data SIMs available if you’re looking for something to pop into your tablet.

Pay as you go SIMs with long expiry

For those of you who really do not use your phone all that often, what you’re looking for isn’t just a pay as you go deal, but one that you don’t have to top up very often – one you can rely on being ready to use even if it’s been in a drawer for months (although you might want to give it a charge, first).

Thankfully, such pay as you go deals do exist. The first thing to say is if the situation above sounds like you, don’t get sucked into buying a pay as you go bundle – they may offer better value for money but they all expire after a month. Here are just a few of the pay as you go tariffs with long or no expiry dates.

Vodafone – Pay as you go 1

Vodafone's SIM only Pay as you go 1 tariff is designed for people who use their phone on some days but not at all on others. On days you don’t use your phone you won’t be charged at all, but any days where you use your phone you are charged a flat fee of £1 for unlimited minutes and texts, plus you get 50MB of data to use until midnight. If you use all your data, you can buy an additional 50MB for a further £1, however this too must be used by midnight the same day, after which it will expire. You need to keep your phone active by using it at least once every 180 days.

Asda Mobile – Pay as you go

Asda Mobile lets you top up the following amounts in-store using your top-up card: £5, £10, £15, £20, £25, £30, £40 and £50. Alternatively, you can top up using a debit or credit card multiples of £1 up to £30.

Asda charges 4p per minute, 4p per text and 4p per MB of data (in the UK). Your top-up won’t expire as long as you use your phone to make a call, send a text or use some data at least once every 180 days. After 180 days you will only be able to receive incoming calls and after 360 days your SIM will be cancelled.

Why choose a pay as you go SIM deal?

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of getting a pay as you go SIM deal.

  • Flexibility – Whether you go for a pay as you go bundle or a 30-day SIM plan, you’ll never be tied down for longer than a month. And there’s nothing to stop you getting a different bundle or SIM deal each month, so you always stay in control.
  • Price – Pay as you go SIM deals are great for those on a budget or who simply don’t use their phone that much, as you’re not spending money on data you’re not going to use and there’s no pressure to spend anything in a month if you don’t want to.
  • Credit checks – Pay as you go SIM deals aren’t generally subject to credit checks, so if you have a poor credit rating then they can be a good way to keep using your phone.
  • Data – The great thing with 30-day SIM plans is that there’s just as wide a range of data plans available as with 12-month deals. Data allowances range from a very modest 250MB to a huge 60GB. There are even a couple of providers offering 30-day SIMs with unlimited data.
  • Roaming – If you have a bundle or a 30-day SIM deal then you may be able to use your allowance in EU countries as you would at home. You will need to check if the provider is continuing to offer EU roaming at no extra cost following the UK’s exit from the EU. Many providers still do, but it is no longer mandatory. Some providers also offer this service in additional destinations. If you’re on a standard pay as you go plan then it may cost more to send a text, make a call or get online than it does in the UK, so check with your provider before travelling.

What providers offer pay as you go SIM deals?

  • Asda Mobile – Asda Mobile, which uses the Vodafone network, offers a standard pay as you go tariff and also has a range of 30-day bundles that don’t renew automatically unless you want them to. It’s a fairly no-frills service but its bundles do feature inclusive roaming in 36 European destinations.
  • iD Mobile – iD Mobile requires you to top up at least £10 every two months on pay as you go and there are pay as you go bundles available. All of its SIM only deals come with 30-day contracts and include data rollover, bill capping and inclusive roaming in 50 European destinations. iD runs on the Three network.
  • giffgaff – All of giffgaff’s plans are 30-day bundles, including its ‘always on’ plan that contains unlimited data (although you’ll get significantly slower speeds after you’ve used 80GB). giffgaff uses the O2 network and offers inclusive roaming in 37 European destinations.
  • SMARTY – SMARTY offers 30-day SIM plans with money off the following month for any data you don’t use, and the option to add extra data for the same cost-per-GB. SMARTY, which runs on the Three network, offers a truly unlimited data SIM plan and inclusive roaming in 32 destinations. It is also worth mentioning that any add-ons you buy such as extra data does not expire and can be used until it’s all gone.
  • Tesco Mobile – Tesco Mobile, which runs on the O2 network, has 30-day SIM deals available as well as pay as you go bundles it calls Rocket Packs. Both allow you to use your allowance in 48 European destinations and collect Clubcard points.
  • Plusnet SIM only – Plusnet offers 30-day SIM deals often available with extra data or at a reduced price if you’re already a Plusnet broadband customer. Plusnet uses the EE network and allows you to roam like at home in 40 European destinations.
  • EE mobile – EE has a range of 30-day SIM plans but they’re not cheap. It also offers pay as you go with bundles that include data rollover and free data boosts for every three consecutive months that you buy one. You can also gift your data to other EE customers, for example if your child uses all their data up. From the 3rd of March 2022 you will be charged an extra £2 per day for data roaming in the EU.
  • Vodafone mobile – Vodafone offers 30-day SIM deals and two types of pay as you go plans. The first is Pay as you go 1, which is for those who don’t use their phone often and guarantees you won’t spend more than £1 a day. Though you can spend more if you need more than your daily data allowance of 50MB. There are also 30-day bundles that rollover your minutes, texts and data. Bundles and SIM deals feature inclusive roaming in 48 destinations.
  • Three – Three has a handful of one-month SIM deals, most of which include Go Binge. It also has a classic pay as you go SIM and pay as you go bundles which offer pay as you go reward points (but you don’t get Go Binge). Three’s SIM deals and pay as you go bundles both include unlimited data options and the provider offers roam like at home in 70 destinations.
  • O2 mobile – O2 offers classic pay as you go and also has a range of pay as you go bundles that can be bought with your credit and include data rollover. It also offers 30-day SIM plans that include membership of O2 Priority. O2’s inclusive roaming zone contains 49 European destinations.