Mobile Network

Use this comparison site to pick the best and cheapest mobile phone network in the UK

10 July 201327 Comments by Jon M

Is this the UK’s cheapest PAYG tariff?

321 tariff

Three Mobile have massively shaken up the UK market with a rather-appealing new pay-as-you-go tariff called 321. The new pricing is the height of simplicity and dirt cheap to boot with calls costing just 3p per minute, texts coming in at only 2p each and mobile data being exceptionally good value with a charge of only 1p/MB.

Compared to the competition, this is clearly far and away the best deal going as long as you are relatively light mobile phone user. While it is possible to get better value from bundles offered by some other mobile networks, the new pricing is hard to beat. To sweeten the deal even more, Three are offering hundred and 150MB mobile web browsing allowance for free every time you top up by £10 or more.

Previously, networks such as White Mobile were offering the cheapest rates available with calls being just 6p a minute and SMS text messages coming in at 5p each. However, they were rather unknown and untested option and only a brave user with transfer their main mobile number to them. However, now Three Mobile – which is a major high-street brand and one of the biggest mobile networks in the UK – is offering rates that totally crush those offered by White Mobile and their other competitors.

In fact, the treaty one tariff is at least half the price of that previously offered by White Mobile and pretty much an order of magnitude cheaper than the other major mobile networks such as Orange, Vodafone, O2, and T-Mobile. It’s hard to think of a good reason why you’d pay 30p for calls on T-Mobile will you get the same thing to any number at any time on Three for just 3p. Likewise, why would you pay 12p for sending a text on O2 when Three are offering you a price of just 2p? The data charges where things get really silly: budget operators such as ASDA Mobile will charge you 50p/MB for mobile data whereas Three’s new tariff is a almost-unbelievable 50x cheaper!

We really welcome the fantastic value offered by this new pricing structure. Hopefully it will really shake up the UK mobile market and encourage competition. The price cuts that they have introduced are pretty astounding and will only mean better value for consumers no matter what network they are on.

This move will only serve to cement Three’s place as one of the fastest-growing networks in the country. While other mobile operators in the UK are struggling to retain their existing users, Three gained over 1 million new customers in 2012. They also the biggest 3G network in the UK right now and have superb high-speed coverage and great data rates.

Is it too good to be true? Well the tariff has been live for a few days now and in our tests has been working fine at the rate advertised. The only catch, if there is any, is that tethering is not allowed on Three’s PAYG plans including this 321 tariff. This means you can only use your PAYG SIM in mobile phone devices and not dongles or tablets such as the iPad. You will also find your account is blocked if you share your phone’s Internet connection by tethering it to a computer or tablet.

So how do I switch?

Switching your phone to Three Mobile in order to take advantage of this great offer is really simple. You don’t even need to change your phone number.

First of all, just make sure that your handset is unlocked so you can use it on Three and that it supports the 3G network that Three uses. Pretty much any modern handset will be fine, but if your phone is particularly old it’s worth checking that it works on 3G as Three does not support 2G any more. If your handset is not unlocked, there are several guides online that make it quite simple or you can always take it to a shop and pay about £5 for them to do it for you.

If you are an existing Three Mobile PAYG customer, switching to the 321 tariff is as simple as calling customer services on 333 from your mobile phone. If not, you can just go to Three’s website and order a free SIM card which they’ll post to you in a couple of days.

Keeping your phone number is really easy as long as you get your PAC code from your existing mobile operator. We’ve got a full guide to switching mobile network and porting your mobile number to a new mobile network already published on the site.

And that’s all there is to it. Runs some quick calculations to see whether you’ll save lots of money by changing to this tariff and if so, get started switching over!

Will you save money if you start using Three’s 321 tariff? Or is your current network offering a better deal? Do you know of any network with better PAYG prices? And, if you think you can save money, are you switching over today?

27 Responses to “Is this the UK’s cheapest PAYG tariff?”

  1. Unhappy 3 customer 4 November 2015 at 18:02 Permalink

    There’s a good reason why 3 mobile PAYG is dirt cheap and that’s because the service is dirt poor. I just went into one of their shops to pick up a regular PAYG sim but was hard sold a ‘pre-loaded’ sim card a week ago with 300 minutes which expires after a month for £20. I brought it back in because the £20 which was supposedly on the sim card wasn’t on there, but they then told me that I paid for the 300 minutes ‘deal’ (which totals to £9), but I wasn’t told that when I purchased it. So I asked for my money back but they refused it. I told them I wasn’t happy before leaving, to which the person I was speaking to replied ‘Same about you.’ I’m just going to use the pre-loaded minutes before they expire as I’m stuck now with the sim card that I never wanted in the first place. Stay away from 3 mobile. Don’t get ripped off like I did.

    OP, please tell me what’s the next cheapest network provider. I’m on Vodafone as well but their rates are expensive. Thank you

  2. Sondre 27 February 2015 at 20:17 Permalink

    I still use 3-2-1 plan , its great for very light users 🙂

  3. Pale 13 August 2014 at 10:23 Permalink

    I currently pay £1-/month to Vectone for 50 mins, 50 texts and 50MB. I only exceed this on web usage and they charge 10p/MB for extra usage.

    And I’ve got my folks on a 3 contract of 300mins 300 texts for a fiver a month.

    I THINK this 321 looks like a better option for both as we are v.light users (but I’ve recently got a phablet thingy so surfing is more tempting).

    • Mobile Network Comparison 2 September 2014 at 03:13 Permalink

      Let us know what you end up going for…

      • Pale 6 September 2014 at 11:35 Permalink

        For convenience I upgraded my £1-/month with Vectone to £5-/monthly non-committal for 300 of everything. In the future I’ll possibly go with Talk Talk as they offer (I think) 300 mins/texts plus 600 megabytes and it’s the surfing barrier I’ll usually hit first.

        Shame Vodafone don’t have as competitive rates as I much prefer that brand for some reason (3 are horrors for giving PAC code and I disliked Talk Talk ever since their cheap broadband debacle).

        • Mobile Network Comparison 5 October 2014 at 17:47 Permalink

          Why exactly do you like Vodafone?

          • Pale 14 October 2014 at 23:57 Permalink

            Vodafone seem to have good coverage where I am in North London and when I called them for my PAC it was ‘Yes sir, right away.’ whereas Three were rude and VERY obstructive.

  4. Furkin 30 July 2014 at 10:25 Permalink

    Hi, I’m new to smart phones. I currently have a Moto G 4G on 02 payg. In my part of the world, the coverage is abysmal, as are pockets all over when I drive up country.
    Having done a bit of, non scientific, tests, it looks like Three & EE have the best coverage here.
    I must say, the 321 looks appealing, until I saw a note about lack of ‘tethering’. I don’t fully understand this, as I do rarely use my phone at home using the PC router etc.
    Can someone explain more about this to us thicko’s please ?
    Any comments re Three vs EE also appreciated.

  5. GeePee 21 December 2013 at 17:13 Permalink

    Ordered a 321 sim card from 3 after being assured I would get a strong signal even though I told them I was, for some providers, in a dead zone. Guess what? One bar max and more often than not, no service. Long talks with them Thursday and was told there was no problem at all but they agreed to send me another sim card as the original may have been faulty. (it worked in my old phoen strangely enough, even though the signal was still very weak). New one arrived today and same problem. Of course the weather could have played a part in the weak signal with the winds and rain, but put my old o2 card back in and full strength signal. When the phone does a search for networks 3 only shows up once in a blue moon – so now on the hunt for something else.

    • muscleuk 6 June 2014 at 04:34 Permalink

      i also get zero signal at home(Glasgow) with 3 sim,if i change to my orange sim full strength,which is quite a nuisance,3 is ok when out and about but not at home,i find myself moving around house trying to find a signal just to send a text

  6. Guillermo 7 December 2013 at 07:28 Permalink

    I’ve been on the 321 tariff since end of October and despite one ripoff call to my bank (beware 0844 numbers) it’s been fine – especially the 24hr number porte.

  7. Telephone Tariffs 21 October 2013 at 13:16 Permalink

    I am a bit confused, whether to opt for this telephone plan or not 🙂

  8. Dave 22 September 2013 at 14:48 Permalink

    I still think Giffgaff beats this. And since it operates on O2’s network, you get good coverage nation-wide.

    • Capvermell 23 September 2013 at 09:27 Permalink

      How does Giff Gaff beat Ovivo when you have to pay £10 per month to get something similar???

      Also Giff Gaff is fiddly to use with its need to buy Goodie Bags and so on and it is hardly unique any more when Virgin have a SIM only deal with 1200 minutes of calls and 1GB of data for only £12 per month. The Virgin deal also involves a lot less faffing around with goody bags and has better customer support than GiffGaff.

      • Mobile Network Comparison 30 September 2013 at 13:38 Permalink

        Weren’t they saying that Giffgaff beats Three’s 321?

        • sondre 21 August 2014 at 21:14 Permalink

          Giff Gaff doesnt beat this ! I use giff gaff to call abroad . within UK , i only need £3 a month on Three ,so £10 top up is enought for 3 months , how can giff gaff beat this ?????????????

  9. timple 10 July 2013 at 16:10 Permalink

    I think Ovivo is still better value for money as long as you stay within the allowances. Even 3 can’t beat free!

    Ovivo also offers

    A) itemised usage (which is a big bugbear that so many payg operators can’t be bothered to tell you how you spent your money)
    B) Fallback to GSM via the VF network if needed (for coverage or power usage reasons)

    • Mobile Network Comparison 11 July 2013 at 01:19 Permalink

      That’s true. Even on this plan, the amount that Ovivo offers is worth almost £15/month. And we also agree that the itemised billing is a great plus.

      We’re going to run some in-depth comparisons of this plan with other networks soon so keep an eye out 🙂

      • timple 12 July 2013 at 16:07 Permalink

        I am using it and it is great. I just think it can’t last….

        • Mobile Network Comparison 18 July 2013 at 15:15 Permalink

          They should still be making money overall. And if they can completely corner the PAYG market it could turn out to be very profitable in the future. Plus there’s a captive audience for upselling once the data costs get too much for the average user which can’t be long.

          • Capvermell 20 September 2013 at 08:42 Permalink

            However Ovivo’s browser adverts are extremely annoying if you use the web browser regularly (they have now blocked the use of Opera which avoided them) and there are also vast swathes of the rural UK where Vodafone still only has base 2G service as they have not invested in their out of town transmitters for years. By contrast Three often has far faster data speeds in these areas.

Leave a Reply