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Free Pay As You Go SIM Cards: Review & Comparison 2021

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Get a free SIM card for your mobile phone: Pay As You Go offerings compared from 19 UK networks.

Pay As You Go SIM CardWhether you’re a smartphone fanatic or someone who only uses their phone on an occasional basis, there are some great deals to be had when you order a free Pay As You Go SIM card in the UK.

The best Pay As You Go SIM cards offer super-low rates that can rival Pay Monthly SIM cards in terms of value for money. To take advantage of the best offers currently available, simply order a free SIM card below and slot it inside your mobile phone. There are no credit checks required or upfront fees to pay. There’s also no need to set up a direct debit: simply top-up your SIM card when you need credit to pay for your usage.

In the table below, we’ve reviewed free SIM card offers from 19 of the UK’s most popular Pay As You Go networks. We’ve included mainstream providers as well as lower-cost alternatives and specialist Pay As You Go mobile networks for calling another country. We’ve also compared the cost of each network to help you get the best value for money.

  1. Changing mobile network? If you’re keeping the same phone but changing to another network, it might be necessary to unlock your phone. See our guides to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy phone.
  2. Coverage is identical on lots of mobile networks. Lots of mobile networks share the same coverage provider so you’ll get identical levels of coverage when using any of these networks. To give an example, giffgaff uses coverage from O2. See our list of mobile networks that use coverage from EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
  3. Keeping your mobile number. If you’re changing mobile networks, it’s super easy to keep your current phone number. After ordering your new Pay As You Go SIM card, get a PAC Code from your old mobile network. You can get one online or by text message. You can then pass this PAC Code on to your new mobile network and your phone number will be moved over on the next working day. For more information, see our guide to transferring your mobile phone number.

Best Pay As You Go SIM Card Offers

At present, giffgaff is our top pick amongst the UK’s Pay As You Go offerings. They offer flexible Pay As You Go bundles, with 99% population coverage from O2.

giffgaff

Other popular choices amongst readers of our website include Vodafone Pay As You Go and 1pMobile. On Vodafone, you can use your mobile phone from either £10 per month or £1 per day. Meanwhile, 1pMobile offers the lowest Pay As You Go rates at just 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB.

Vodafone
9% of our readers choose to join Vodafone

On Vodafone’s Pay As You Go service, you can buy a Big Value Bundle from £10 per month. This will give you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of data to use over 30 days. You can roll over any unused allowances into the following month’s bundle and 5G coverage is available on the plans from £30.

If you want to use your mobile phone without topping up every month, you can join Vodafone’s Pay As You Go 1 instead. On this plan, you’ll pay £1 per day. However, this is only charged on the days that you use your mobile phone. It can therefore work out cheaper than buying a bundle depending on your usage. The £1 daily fee gives you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data to use on that day, with the only obligation being to use your phone at least once every 180 days.

Order Vodafone SIM card (Free) →

1pMobile
10% 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, 4G speeds, check coverage here.

If you’d like the lowest possible Pay As You Go rates, 1pMobile has a Pay As You Go SIM card with rates of just 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. The network, which is operated by the sister company of Utility Warehouse, offers 3G & 4G coverage from EE. If you’re a smartphone user, you can buy a Data Boost bundle from £6/month for 2GB of data.

A unique requirement of 1pMobile is you’ll need to top-up your phone with at least £10 of credit every 120 days. This is equivalent to adding £30 of new credit each year. If you don’t meet the minimum top-up requirement of £10 every 120 days, your 1pMobile account will be closed and your phone number will be lost. For this reason, we’d only recommend choosing 1pMobile if your average monthly spend will exceed £2.50/month (otherwise, a non-refundable balance would build up over time on your account).

Order 1pMobile SIM card (Free with £10 top-up) →

Other major Pay As You Go providers include:

EE
8% 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, 4G speeds, check coverage here.

If you’re using an EE Pay As You Go SIM card, you’ll pay £10 per month for 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data. Alternatively, you can opt for the £10 Talk Focussed Pack which gives you 400 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data. EE’s Pay As You Go Packs last for 30 days but you can roll over unused data within 7 days of your previous pack expiring.

For light users not buying a Pay As You Go pack, calls will cost 35p/minute and texts will cost 15p each. You’ll need to buy a one-month pack if you want to access mobile data on your phone.

Order EE SIM card (Free) →

For more information, read our EE Pay As You Go review.

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, 4G speeds, check coverage here.

On O2’s Pay As You Go service, you can get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data for £10/month.

As a special offer, it’s currently possible to get £15 of free credit on O2 Pay As You Go. You’ll get £10 of free credit when you order your SIM card online and when you activate it on a Big Bundle plan within 28 days. Text FREE10 to 21500 once you’ve activated your SIM card. Another £5 of free credit is available when you register for the My O2 app.

Another benefit of joining O2 Pay As You Go is access to exclusive O2 Priority discounts and offers. You can get a range of freebies through Priority such as coffees, cinema tickets and sausage rolls.

Order O2 SIM card (Free) →

For more information, see our O2 Pay As You Go review. O2 also offers International Big Bundles with inclusive minutes for calling up to 51 international destinations.

Tip: If you’re a regular mobile user, giffgaff offers more data for a lower monthly price. For £10/month, you’ll get 10GB of data on giffgaff (versus 6GB on O2). You’ll also get 5G on giffgaff’s golden goodybag plans. giffgaff is owned by O2 and uses the O2 network for coverage. Find out more about giffgaff.

Three
6% 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, 4G & 5G speeds, check coverage here.

Three offers a ‘supercharged’ Pay As You Go service with Data Pack bundles from £10. A monthly top-up of £10 on Three will give you 6GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts. You can use the allowances from your bundle in the UK and when abroad in 71 Go Roam destinations.

For customers not buying a Pay As You Go bundle, Three charges 10p/minute, 10p/text and 5p/MB. Alternatively, you can get lower rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB on Three’s Data Reward SIM card. The Data Reward SIM card also gives you 200MB of free data every month without the need to top-up. For more information, see our Data Reward SIM card review.

It’s important to note that you can’t use a 2G-only handset on Three. This is because Three doesn’t provide any 2G coverage. Your handset will need to support at least 3G coverage to work on Three’s network.

Order Three SIM card (Free with £10 top-up) →

For more information, you can read our Three Pay As You Go review. Three also operates a low-cost sub-brand called SMARTY Mobile that offers one-month rolling plans from £5 per month.

Vodafone
9% of our readers choose to join Vodafone

Vodafone offers a choice of two plans on their Pay As You Go SIM card.

Regular mobile users should buy a 30-day Big Value Bundle. For instance, a £10 monthly top-up will give you 5GB of data along with unlimited UK minutes and unlimited UK texts. You can rollover any unused allowances when you automatically renew your bundle.

Light mobile users can choose Vodafone’s Pay As You Go 1 plan instead. On Pay As You Go 1, you’ll pay £1/day for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data. This is only charged on the days that you use your mobile phone.

Order Vodafone SIM card (Free) →

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

1pMobile
10% 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, 4G speeds, check coverage here.

On 1pMobile, you’ll pay 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. There’s no monthly charge for using your 1pMobile SIM card but you’ll need to add £10 of new credit every 120 days (equivalent to £30 of credit per year).

If you don’t top-up your SIM with at least £10 of credit every 120 days, your account will be closed and your phone number will be lost. For this reason, 1pMobile is not suitable for very light users wanting a SIM card for emergency usage.

You’ll get 3G and 4G coverage from EE on a 1pMobile SIM card.

Order 1pMobile SIM card (Free with £10 top-up) →

ASDA Mobile
2% of our readers choose to join ASDA Mobile

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

ASDA Mobile offers Pay As You Go bundles with 99% population coverage from the Vodafone network.

For just £4 per month, you can get a bundle on ASDA Mobile that gives you unlimited minutes and texts. You can upgrade this to have 3GB data for £7 or 10GB data for £10. Access to Vodafone’s 5G network is also included on ASDA Mobile plans from £10 per month.

Prior to March 2021, ASDA Mobile offered SIM cards with EE coverage instead of Vodafone coverage. If you’re still using the old EE-powered network, you’ll need to move to the new Vodafone-powered network before the 15th September 2021.

Order ASDA Mobile SIM card (Free) →

CMLink
3% 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, 4G speeds, check coverage here.

CMLink is a Pay As You Go provider that’s designed for customers with a connection to China. You can buy a one-month bundle such as 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data for £9.99/month. You can use your inclusive data allowance when travelling to the EU, Mainland China and Hong Kong. You’ll also get inclusive international minutes for calling phone numbers in Mainland China and Hong Kong.

In the UK, customers on CMLink have access to 3G and 4G coverage on EE.

Order CMLink SIM card (Free) →

giffgaff
41% of our readers choose to join giffgaff

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 10GB 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, 4G & 5G speeds, check coverage here.

giffgaff is a low-cost mobile network with coverage from O2. They currently offer 10GB of data on their £10 golden goodybag. You’ll also get unlimited minutes and unlimited texts included on this plan.

Heavy data users can get 25GB of data for £15/month or 100GB of data for £20/month. Unlimited data is available from £25/month (though you’ll need to pay £35 for unlimited data without speed restrictions). For more information, see the giffgaff website.

Order giffgaff SIM card (Free) →

iD Mobile
3% 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, 4G speeds, check coverage here.

iD Mobile is the own-brand mobile network from the Carphone Warehouse, offering 3G & 4G coverage from Three.

Customers on iD Mobile Pay As You Go can buy a bundle such as unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data for £10/month. Usage outside of your bundle will cost 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

It isn’t possible to use a 2G-only handset on iD Mobile. This is because iD Mobile doesn’t offer any 2G coverage.

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

Lebara Mobile
2% of our readers choose to join Lebara Mobile

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

Lebara Mobile is a specialist provider of international phone calls. You can buy a 30-day Pay As You Go bundle from £5 with inclusive international minutes for calling 41 destinations. You’ll currently get 2GB data for £5/month and 10GB data for £10/month. You can also get a Lebara Mobile unlimited data plan from £25/month.

Lebara Mobile offers 4G coverage from Vodafone. For more information, see our Lebara Mobile review.

Order Lebara Mobile SIM card (Free) →

Lycamobile
1% of our readers choose to join Lycamobile

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

Like Lebara Mobile, Lycamobile is another specialist provider of international calling. They offer a free Pay As You Go SIM card with plans from £5/month with inclusive international minutes. It’s also possible to make international calls on a Pay As You Go basis from 1p/minute. You can read our Lycamobile review for more information.

Order Lycamobile SIM card (Free) →

Orange

As of February 2015, it’s no longer possible to get a Pay As You Go SIM card from Orange. Customers are instead advised to join EE Pay As You Go. EE has 4G connectivity and offers Pay As You Go bundles from £5/month.

In July 2018, customers on Orange Pay As You Go were migrated to EE.

Order EE SIM card (Free) →

The Phone Co-op
2% 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 speeds, check coverage here.

The Phone Co-op (previously known as the Co-Operative Mobile) charges 8p/minute and 4p/text. You’ll pay 10p/MB when you’re browsing the internet.

For regular users, it’s possible to buy an all-inclusive bundle from £10/month. The most popular bundle from the Co-op costs £10/month and gives you 500 minutes, 1000 texts and 1GB of 3G internet.

In June 2018, The Phone Co-op became a part of The Midcounties Co-operative. Since the merger, you’ll earn 12 points for every £1 you spend on the network. This is equivalent to getting 5% back on your spend.

Order Phone Co-op SIM card (Free) →

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, 4G speeds, check coverage here.

RWG Mobile advertises itself as “the mobile network for Wales”. It uses coverage from the EE network, and offers bilingual customer support in both English and Welsh.

Order RWG Mobile SIM card (Free) →

Tesco Mobile
2% of our readers choose to join Tesco Mobile

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

Tesco Mobile offers a choice of two Pay As You Go tariffs: there’s Rocket Packs for frequent mobile users and Triple Credit for lighter users.

For regular mobile users, it’s possible to buy a Rocket Pack bundle from £5/month. The most popular Rocket Pack bundle costs £10/month and gives you 5000 minutes, 5000 texts and 10GB of data.

For lighter users not buying a Rocket Pack, Tesco Mobile also has the Triple Credit tariff. Here, you’ll pay 25p/minute, 10p/text and 10p/MB. Whenever you top-up your SIM card by £10 per month, you’ll get £20 of bonus credit that lasts for one month. This essentially triples the amount of credit you have to use in that month.

For more information, read our full review of Tesco Mobile Pay As You Go.

Order Tesco Mobile SIM card (Free) →

T-Mobile

As of February 2015, it’s no longer possible to order a T-Mobile SIM card. Customers wanting to join T-Mobile are instead advised to join EE. EE offers 4G connectivity and has Pay As You Go Packs that are very similar to T-Mobile’s legacy Smart Packs.

Customers already on T-Mobile can stay on their existing plan for as long as they like.

Order EE SIM card (Free) →

Vectone Mobile
0.6% 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 speeds, check coverage here.

Vectone Mobile is a specialist provider of international calling. See our international calls price comparison table to see how Vectone Mobile compares to rival networks.

Order Vectone Mobile SIM card (Free) →

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile’s Pay As You Go service closed in July 2020. Previously, they offered Pay As You Go JAM Packs with 3G coverage from EE.

If you’re looking for an alternative network that uses EE for coverage, we’d recommend getting a Pay As You Go SIM card from EE instead. They offer faster 4G and 5G coverage which was previously not available on Virgin Mobile’s JAM Packs. Virgin Mobile now offers only Pay Monthly SIM cards.

VOXI
1% of our readers choose to join VOXI

  • £10 top-up buys: Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 8GB data.
  • Rates: 30p/minute and 14p/text. Internet access requires a bundle.
  • Uses the Vodafone network. 99% coverage, 3G & 4G internet, check coverage here.

VOXI is Vodafone’s low-cost Pay As You Go sub-brand. They currently offer a free Pay As You Go SIM card, allowing you to access 99% population coverage from the Vodafone network.

For £10/month, you can get 8GB of data on VOXI along with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and endless social media data. The inclusion of endless social media gives you unlimited data for use on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook Messenger.

If you’re looking for access to 5G, VOXI also has 5G-ready Pay As You Go plans from £15/month. You’ll get endless video streaming included on VOXI’s 5G plans, giving you unlimited data for use on TikTok, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, My5, TV Player and UKTV Play.

Most VOXI customers decide to convert their credit into a one-month bundle. However, if you decide not to do this, you can use VOXI on a traditional Pay As You Go basis at 30p/minute and 14p/text. Mobile data requires you to buy a bundle from £10/month. For more information, see our VOXI review.

Order VOXI SIM card (Free) →

For more information about any of the SIM cards listed on this page, please click through to the mobile network’s website. Our recommended deal is currently to order a free SIM card from giffgaff.

If you’re asked to specify the size of SIM card required in your phone (e.g. Standard SIM, Micro SIM or Nano SIM), see our guide to smartphone SIM card sizes. Alternatively, if you need an eSIM, see our guide to eSIM on UK mobile networks and the best eSIM plans.

The “£10 top-up buys” calculation is based on a user who tops up by £10 every month. If you top up less than once per month, your allowances may run out before the next top-up.

† Statistics on mobile network chosen by readers of this article. Based on the number of Free SIM click-throughs from the 25th March 2021 to the 24th June 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best Pay As You Go SIM cards currently available?
There are numerous Pay As You Go SIM card offers currently available. The following SIM cards are currently the most popular:

  • giffgaff (uses O2 coverage) offers one-month goodybag bundles such as 10GB data, unlimited minutes and unlimited texts for £10/month. You can also use it on a Pay As You Go basis at 25p/minute, 10p/text and 10p/MB.
  • Vodafone offers Pay As You Go bundles from £10/month, or flexible Pay As You Go usage from £1/day.
  • 1pMobile (uses EE coverage) has eye-catching Pay As You Go rates of 1p/minute, 1p/text and 1p/MB. You’ll need to top-up with at least £10 of credit every 120 days.
How does coverage compare across different Pay As You Go SIMs?
In the UK, all Pay As You Go networks use one of the four following network coverage providers:

Which Pay As You Go SIM cards offer 5G coverage?
At present, 5G coverage is available on the following Pay As You Go SIM cards:

  • giffgaff (uses O2 5G): Available on golden goodybags from £10.
  • ASDA Mobile (uses Vodafone 5G): Available on bundles from £10.
  • Three: 5G is available on all bundles.
  • Vodafone: 5G is available on the £30 and £40 bundles.
  • VOXI (uses Vodafone 5G): Available on endless video plans from £15.

For more information, see our guide to 5G Pay As You Go SIM cards.

What are the best Pay As You Go SIM cards for light usage?
There are a number of important considerations for light mobile users, discussed in more detail here. However, for most people, we think the following Pay As You Go networks are worth considering:

  • 1pMobile
  • giffgaff
  • Three Pay As You Go
  • Three Data Reward
  • Vodafone Pay As You Go 1
Are there any Pay As You Go SIM cards that don’t expire?
Will I need to undergo a credit check for Pay As You Go SIM cards?
No. You can get a free Pay As You Go SIM card without the need for a credit check.
Can I keep my current phone number when changing network?
Yes. It’s easy keeping your current phone number when moving to a new Pay As You Go network. Simply get a PAC Code from your current network, and give it to your new mobile network once you’ve signed up.

More Information

For more information, see our guides to Pay As You Go in the UK as well as our in-depth mobile network reviews. You may also wish to consider a SIM-only deal if you’re willing to sign up for a contract.

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