About a month ago we covered Three Mobile’s new groundbreaking 321 tariff. They’ve really stepped up their game by bringing out what are easily the UK’s cheapest PAYG rates ever.
Previously, calls used to cost 26p per minute but now you’ll only have to pay a tiny 3p. Texts were also slashed from 11p each down to just 2p each. And data went down the most dramatically from 11p/MB to just 1p/MB.
Unsurprisingly, industry experts and consumers alike have been praising Three’s bold move. This is really set to shake up the mobile market and hopefully will make the existing big players rethink whether they can continue to rip off the British public.
However, although these are easily the best rates currently available, we had to ask whether it’s really the cheapest way to use your phone. Longtime readers are aware that our main mission is to save you, the user, as much cash as possible.
While you won’t do better on standard PAYG, lots of PAYG operators have been offering rolling monthly bundles recently which can offer phenomenal value for money. How much are Three really upping the ante when compared to these deals? In this article, we take a look at the biggest competitor to Three’s new 321 tariff, Giffgaff.
Giffgaff charges quite a bit more than Three on their standard PAYG with calls coming in at 10p/minute and texts costing a comparatively-pricey 8p each. Data is also 1p/MB but only if you use 20 MB per day – after that it explodes to an exorbitant 20p per MB However, they also offer a variety of monthly goodybags ranging from just £5 to £20.
Let’s start off with the cheapest, the £5 Hokey Cokey goodybag. this comes with 60 included minutes, 300 texts and 20MB of mobile data.
On 321, this would set you back a total of £8. And also bear in mind that you also get additional free minutes on the Hokey Cokey goodybag for every minute someone calls you and to all other Giffgaff customers.
Next is the £7.50 goodybag which offers you 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 250 MB of data.
Even if we ignore the unlimited texts, this would cost more on 321 coming in at £8.50 for the same usage. If you use just 150 texts a month it would be £11.50 and if you went up to 300 a month your costs would be a whole £7 more at £14.50.
Probably Giffgaff’s most popular goodybag is the £10 goodybag coming with a massive 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of tetherable data.
Taking an extreme example, if you only used half the allowances and didn’t send a single text you’d still have to pay more on 321 with your cost being £12.62 instead of £10. And if you just made 500 minutes of calls and didn’t use any data or SMS you’d have to pay £15 on Three instead. It gets worse – if you use up your full 500 minute and 1GB allowance as well as send about 150 texts, the price on 321 would be over 300% that of Giffgaff coming in at a massive £31.24.
The next option is the £12 goodybag which offers 250 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data.
Again, 321 costs a lot more even if you only use a fraction of your allowance. For example, making 150 minutes of calls, 200 texts and using half a gig of data would be £13.62 on Three compared to £12 on Giffgaff. If you start to make the most of those unlimited allowances and still only make 150 minutes of calls but with 1.5 GB of mobile internet and 400 texts, it’s more than twice as much at £27.86 on 321.
The £15 goodybag on Giffgaff gives you 400 minutes as well as the same unlimited texts and data.
Unsurprisingly, this also seems to beat the 321 tariff under reasonable usage conditions. If you manage to get through 300 of your minutes and send 300 texts as well as use half a GB of your data allowance you’ll still pay £15 on Giffgaff but over £20 on Three. If you use the full allowance of 400 minutes as well as send 300 texts and use 1GB of data, your costs on 321 would be almost twice as much as on Giffgaff!
However, to be fair we should also mention Three’s monthly bundle on PAYG which also costs £15. This offers 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB of data. So while it’s not as good value as Giffgaff, it’s certainly a better choice than the 321 tariff if you have this level of usage. In fact, if you used these full amounts on 321, it would set you back a massive £79.24!
Giffgaff and Three draw
Finally, we’ve got the £20 goodybag which still comes with unlimited texts and data as well as a massive 1200 minutes.
Even if you completely ignored your unlimited texts and internet access and just made 700 minutes of calls, it would still be more expensive to choose 321 over Giffgaff. And if you wanted to make 1200 minutes of calls and just 300 texts and 1GB of data you’d be looking at over £50 compared to just £20 with a goodybag.
So there you have it. The final score is pretty obvious: in almost all our examples, Giffgaff turned out to be much cheaper than Three’s new 321 tariff. So make sure you run some calculations before you switch over! If you currently have monthly usage around any of the amounts offered by Giffgaff’s goodybags, you’ll almost certainly be better off than switching to a pure PAYG tariff like 321.
Of course, there are some important caveats to be aware of if you really want to save money. Firstly, it’s only worth getting a goodybag if you will normally use up a decent portion of it. If you spend £10 on a goodybag and only use a fifth of your minutes and, say, 100 texts and 250MB of data, you’ll still be paying but could have spent just £9.06 on Three (even though you could have saved money by going for the £7.50 goodybag instead).
If you are a very low user you will also do better with 321. For example, if you only make about 20 mins of calls and 20 texts a month and don’t user internet at all, your price on Three will be just £1 compared to £3.60 on Giffgaff. So make sure you’ve checked to make sure your choice is the best option for you.
And don’t forget that Giffgaff also has other ways to save money such as free calls, texts and video chats to all other Giffgaff users which can be a real money saver if you know lots of people who also use the network.
How much money can you save by switching PAYG provider? Let us know who you’re choosing and why.