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The best Pay-As-You-Go mobile deals of 2018

Monday, 9 April, 2018

Once upon a time a Pay-As-You-Go deal was exactly that. Pre-paid SIMs were once marketed extensively and were highly successful. They helped transform the mobile phone into an essential item.

But their popularity has been in decline for some time as pay monthly, add-ons and SIM-only deals have come to the fore. And what if you just want a mobile phone for occasional use and don’t, necessarily want to commit to a bundled deal?

Here then we look at the best offers for those of us that still want a basic deal to reflect our infrequency of use.


Asda Mobile only offers pay-as-you-go deals and offers a range of bundles. Asda will send a free SIM card and you won’t need to sign-up for a deal to get one.

They will give you 10 minutes of calls, 10 texts and 10MB free as an enticement to get their free SIM card.

You will need to make at least one call or send a text every 180 days to keep the number active. If you don’t then the calls will be forwarded to an automated service, but you will still be able to receive calls.

If you don’t use the card during a six-month period, you will need to reactivate the SIM by calling Asda. If you don’t use the SIM for 270 days, then all activities will be banned, and credit will be removed. And if you don’t use it after 360 days your number will be deleted and disconnected from the network.

Asda Mobile uses the EE network, which is well-known for its excellent coverage and speed.

Data 5pence per MB
Calls 8pence per minute
Texts 4pence per text
3G/4G 4G


Vodafone offers a wide-range of pay-as-you-go deals but will give you a free SIM card. Note that Vodafone’s charges are steep and there is a daily limit of £1. Once this is reached you will get unlimited calls, texts and 500MB of data. if you don’t use the phone you won’t get charged.

If you don’t use the phone for six-months Vodafone will suspend your deal. They will send you an SMS telling you to top-up your account or make a call or text within 90 days.

If your phone is silent for 270 days Vodafone will disconnect your account.

Data 20pence per 5MB
Calls 20pence per minute
Texts 20pence per minute
3G/4G 4G


There are six pay-as-you-go SIM deals offered by Three. But like Asda and Vodafone they will give you a free SIM card without any obligations. Likewise, Three will deactivate if you don’t make a call or text over a six-month period.

But what distinguishes Three’s offers is the cost. With the cheap rates it offers a £10 top-up will keep you going for a very long time.

Data 1pence per MB
Calls 3pence per minute
Texts 2pence per minute
3G/4G 4G


O2 is a strong choice for a pay-as-you-go deal because its 4G network is accessible to 98% of the population. It also regularly comes top for the quality of its customer service.

It offers the classic pay-as-you-go tariff which matches Three’s for value for money. There is a catch though. There is a minimum £10 top-up to begin with and if you don’t use it within six months you’ll be disconnected and lose all your credit.

Data 1pence per MB
Calls 3pence per minute
Texts 2pence per minute
3G/4G 4G


Giffgaff will give you a free pay-as-you-go SIM irrespective of whether you sign-up for one of their packages. You can also earn credit and payback points, which are worth 1pence each, if you engage with the giffgaff community.

And as is standard across pay-as-you-go deals you will be disconnected if you don’t use the phone for six-months.

Data 5pence per MB
Calls 15pence per minute
Texts 5pence per minute
3G/4G 4G

Things to consider

As you’ve see a common thread through all deals on offer is the six-month usage period. All offers say if you don’t use it within six-months you’ll be disconnected. So, to be on the safe side it is good practice to make at least one call or text to keep the deal alive.

If you are disconnected, you won’t necessarily lose your number. Most operators will give you an opportunity to reactivate your account. And you should be able to get a refund on your outstanding credit if you ask the provider for a new SIM card with a new number.

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