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Don't ring around to find info on pay as you go (PAYG) mobile phones. Here's our guide to PAYG mobile phones.

The days of 12p text messages are long gone. Networks big and small are duking it out for pay as you go mobile phone customers. But what does that mean a PAYG phone is for you?

What are PAYG mobile phones?

Well it’s not quite as simple as you might think. Ok, yes PAYG stands for pay as you go. But there’s two types of pay as you go mobile phone deals. Firstly there’s traditional PAYG. This is where you top-up then you can make calls, send texts and browse online until the credit runs out.

The other type is bundled PAYG. Bundled pay as you go is where you buy a bundle of data, texts and mins. These tend to last a month. The next question is do you need a handset or sim-only pay as you go?

The pros and cons of pay as you go mobile phones

Thinking of switching to a pay as you go mobile phone?



That’s totally up to you. Yet for most people the decision on whether to go over to pay as you go mobile phones comes down to usage. Heavy users may be stung by the costs of a pay as you go mobile phone. Yet for those on a budget or that don't use it that much, PAYG might be a better option than contract or sim-only phones.

If you’re a parent, you might be interested in pay as you go mobile phones too. Particularly if you’re looking for a phone for a child or teen. A PAYG phone means no monster bill shocks at the end of the month. They can only use the credit that you put on there. Teens without a regular income may also prefer a PAYG set-up.

Basically, pay as you go mobile phones are good for people who don't use it much. Yet those who don't use it at all could be in for a shock. An Ofcom report suggests that mobile phone providers shut off signal to phones that aren't used.† This can be as short as 70 days.

Check your coverage

The UK has the big four when it comes to mobile phone providers: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

Before picking one, have a bash on Ofcom’s mobile coverage map. It's more in-depth and independent of the mobile phone providers. There's no point getting a new PAYG phone and finding you can’t get a connection.

And don't worry if you only get a good signal with one or two providers. You have plenty of choice as many smaller mobile phone providers piggyback off the big networks. Tesco and Giffgaff use O2, ASDA and Virgin Mobile piggybacks on EE, while Vodafone provides TalkMobile with a signal. And smaller providers usually have juicier tariffs than the big four. Shop around and compare prices.

And don't just check your home address on the Ofcom map. No signal at your workplace can be a major hindrance too.

What are the best pay as you go mobile phones?

When it comes to handsets, there's loads of guides and reviews out there. Yet the best handset is the one that suits your needs.

But what about mobile phone networks? Ofcom regularly does surveys asking people their experiences. Here's how some of the bigger mobile phone networks shape up on overall satisfaction in summer 2016:

What we suggest, as you can probably guess, is to compare prices and find the right pay as you go mobile for you. And the coverage, check you can get a signal. Compare and coverage. That’s our message. We’re hanging up now, bye.

Key points

Did you know? Emergency calls don't require credit, and can be made at any time from a PAYG mobile phone with a signal