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Pay-as-you-go SIM card deals

A pay-as-you-go (PAYG) SIM card is ideal if you don’t want to sign up for a long-term contract, or you’re not keen on (or are concerned about) going through a credit check.
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Lebara Mobile logo
Lebara Mobile SIM cardPromoted

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No contract

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No contract

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

5G
No annual price rise
£2.78 for first 4 months
Cyber Monday exclusive
15GBdata
£6.95per month
SMARTY logo
SMARTY SIM cardPromoted

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No contract

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

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Cyber Monday exclusive
200GBdata
£14.00per month
giffgaff logo
giffgaff SIM cardPromoted

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No contract

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No contract

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

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15GBdata
£10.00per month
Lebara Mobile logo
Lebara Mobile SIM card

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No contract

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No contract

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

5G
No annual price rise
£1.98 for first 4 months
Cyber Monday exclusive
5GBdata
£4.95per month
Lebara Mobile logo
Lebara Mobile SIM card

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No contract

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No contract

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

5G
No annual price rise
£3.18 for first 4 months
Cyber Monday exclusive
21GBdata
£7.95per month
Lyca Mobile logo
Lyca Mobile SIM card

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No contract

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No contract

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Unlimited

Minutes

Unlimited

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Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

EU roaming
£1.90 for first 3 months
Uswitch exclusive
5GBdata
£4.90per month
SMARTY logo
SMARTY SIM card

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No contract

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No contract

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

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Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

5G
EU roaming included
Cyber Monday deal
30GBdata
£8.00per month
Lebara Mobile logo
Lebara Mobile SIM card

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No contract

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No contract

Minutes

200

Minutes

200

Texts

Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

5G
No annual price rise
£1.58 for first 4 months
Cyber Monday exclusive
1GBdata
£3.95per month
SMARTY logo
SMARTY SIM card

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No contract

Contract length

No contract

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Unlimited

Minutes

Unlimited

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Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

5G
EU roaming included
Unlimiteddata
£16.00per month
Lyca Mobile logo
Lyca Mobile SIM card

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No contract

Contract length

No contract

Minutes

Unlimited

Minutes

Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

EU roaming
£2.70 for first 3 months
Uswitch exclusive
15GBdata
£6.90per month
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Uswitch services are provided at no cost to you, but we may receive a commission from the companies we refer you to. To find out more about how our site works, click here. If a deal is ‘promoted’ on Uswitch’s tables, then it has been lent additional visibility as a result of us securing exclusivity on a great deal, or a commercial agreement to showcase what we believe to be market-leading value to consumers.

How does a pay as you go SIM work?

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) SIM cards are an easy way to use your phone without any need for a long-term contract or lengthy payment plans. You simply pre-pay an amount of money which then gives you a set amount of call minutes, data, and texts. And when you run out of minutes, you just top up again with an amount of your choice.

Pay-as-you-go SIM only deals often come with a free SIM card, too. So all you need is a mobile phone you’re happy to use.

Are there any other charges?

No, you generally won’t incur any additional charges when you sign up for a pay-as-you-go SIM only deal. Since you pre-pay the amount you’re willing to spend, it’s just a case of using your phone until your money runs out. Then you’ll have to top up again to get more calls, texts and data.

What are the pros and cons of a pay as you go SIM deal?

The pros:

  • Keep your current phone number, swap phones whenever you want
  • Pay what you want when you want
  • Avoid being tied down to a long-term contract.
  • No credit check
  • You can top up from as little as £5 per spend

The cons:

  • You may not get the best rates for data, calls or texts
  • PAYG deals will work out as more expensive than a traditional pay monthly package
  • You will need to have a phone that’s unlocked

Which network providers offer pay-as-you-go and no contract deals?

Almost all UK networks will offer pay-as-you-go SIM cards as part of their product offering. Let’s take a look at some of the major brands you can get a pay as you go deal with:

Tesco

Tesco Mobile offers numerous PAYG SIM options and bundles which include calls, texts and data.

The network’s ‘Rocket Packs’ range offer:

  • £10 for 5GB of data, 5000 texts and5000 minutes and
  • £15 for 25GB of data, 5000 texts and 5000 minutes
  • £20 for 50GB of data, 5000 texts and 5000 minutes
  • £30 for 100GB of data, 5000 texts and 5000 minutes

Tesco Clubcard holders can even get a discount on £20 and £30 packs.

O2

O2 also has a selection of four PAYG SIM-only packs to choose from:

  • Unlimited minutes and texts, 7GB data for £10
  • Unlimited minutes and texts, 15GB data for £15
  • Unlimited minutes and texts, 30GB of data for £20
  • Unlimited minutes and texts, 100GB of data for £30

How to choose the best pay-as-you-go deals for you

The best pay-as-you-go deal for you comes down to your personal needs and requirements. Your best bet is to compare options across all networks until you find the ideal balance of allowance and cost.

FAQs

Is pay-as-you-go cheaper?

Pay-as-you-go costs less in the short term, as you can top up any amount of your choosing. If you don’t plan on using your phone a lot, it’s the perfect option. However, calls, texts and data are priced higher on PAYG. So if you’re expecting to use your phone a lot, a monthly plan may be cheaper.

Do I have to top up every month on pay as you go?

No, you can top up as much or as little as you want. There may be some instances where your credit has to be used within a specific time frame, but this will be a very long time. Check your network’s policy for more details.

Can you buy a SIM card without a contract?

Yes, you can get a SIM only deal without a contract. All you need is the SIM, the amount you want to top up and a phone to use it in.

What is the difference between SIM free and pay-as-you-go?

SIM free deals usually come with a certain amount of data, calls and text allowance for a set monthly price. It’s similar to a standard pay monthly deal but without a mobile phone. PAYG works on a top-up basis, so you have to keep topping up the more you use your phone.

Do SIM cards expire?

Yes, SIM cards expire, but you can keep using them for as long as you want, provided you top up a minimum amount and use your phone at least once over six months. If you don’t use your SIM card at all, your network may lock the SIM, but this will be after a long period of time.

Can you get an unlimited data pay-as-you-go-deal?

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get unlimited data on a PAYG deal. That’s because pay-as-you-go doesn’t work in the same way as SIM only.

Are SIM cards free?

SIM cards can be ordered for free and then topped up with as little as £5 with no commitment or contract involved.