Our Most Popular Pay As You Go Phones
Compare the best pay-as-you-go mobile phone deals
What is a pay as you go mobile phone?
A pay as you go mobile, or PAYG, is an alternative to the traditional monthly contract where you pay a set fee each month for a phone and a SIM with a pre-determined calls, texts and data limit. With monthly contracts you are usually tied in for up to 24 months and face a hefty penalty if you want to leave before the time is up.
Pay as you go phones give you the option of buying a phone upfront - and if you aren't too picky about the brand or model of phone you can get a handset for as little as £5 - and then adding pre-paid credit to the phone that enables you to makes calls and send text messages.
Some providers also offer the option of buying 'bundles' of calls minutes, texts and data - where you pay in advance for a set amount of calls, text message and GB of data. These allowances often last for a month, but providers are increasingly offering to roll-over unused data, minutes and texts (up to a set amount) to the next month rather than losing them.
So what are the pros and cons of having a pay as you go phone versus a contract phone and tariff?
What are the benefits of pay as you go mobile phones?
There are several advantages to having a pay as you go phone:
- No long contracts - if you like to live life on the fly, this no-strings-attached option could be perfect. So, if you spot an amazing new tariff deal that you can't ignore you can get straight on it - without enduring a painful early exit fee. And if your provider's service isn't up to scratch, no problem, you can walk away no questions asked.
- Only pay for what you use - with pay as you go phones you buy credit for calls, texts and data that remains until you use it up. You keep any unused credit at the end of the month rather than losing it as is the case with monthly contracts. So if you rarely use your phone but need one so friends and family can keep in touch with you - this may be the perfect option. And because you pay for your calls etc upfront, it makes it much easier to keep a track of your expenditure.
- In the words of Wham, FREEDOM! - because you are not tied in to a protracted contract not only can you change provider in the blink of an eye you can also change your phone. Chop and change at will!
- Get a handset, cheap as chips - if you rarely use your phone, have broken it more times that you care to mention, or just aren't interested in the latest smartphones, then you probably don't want to be splashing out on an eye-wateringly expensive handset. With pay as you go phones you can pick up a new or refurbished handset at an absolute steal. You can still get the latest phones on a pay as you go basis - though as you'd expect these are far more expensive.
How can I find a cheap pay as you go mobile deal?
Take a look at our pay as you go deals up above, if you have a particular mobile phone model or network you are interested in, select that via the filter. If you are free and easy, then just head straight for the deals - they are ordered by price starting with the cheapest. Select the deal you like to see the full details of what is included.
Find a pay as you go phone by manufacturer
If you are interested in a phone by a particular manufacturer, then head up to the top of the deals table, click on the dropdown box labelled 'Handset' and scroll down to your chosen manufacturer e.g. Samsung, and select '--- all Samsung ---' to see all models by that manufacturer. Same goes for pay as you go Apple phones, pay as you go Huawei phones and any other brand of phone. There are some excellent PAYG handset deals to be had.
You can search for:
- iPhones - Remember you'll pay the top market price if you go for the latest iPhone model, so it might be worth opting for an older model to keep your costs down.
- Samsung - As with iPhones, a flagship Samsung model is an expensive phone and you'll need to pay this up front, so consider older Samsung models if you'd rather avoid a hefty initial handset fee.
- Huawei - Huawei have an excellent collection of mid-range handsets to choose from, which still offer plenty of great features and style.
- Alcatel - A great value range of phones that will suit a light phone user and help you stay in contact at an affordable price.
- Blackberry - You may be surprised to hear Blackberry is still going, but you can still get your hands on a range of Blackberry models, complete with business-friendly features and high-powered security.
- Google Pixel - These quick and stylish Android phones come with one of the best cameras on the mobile market.
- HTC - Not quite the go-to mid-range collection of recent years, but you can still get some good-value deals on HTC handsets, which will tick boxes for the light-to-moderate phone user.
- Motorola - Reliable and durable, Motorola phones tend to be a little light on innovation but have solid stamina in the battery department and come at affordable prices.
- Nokia - The Nokia brand looked like it was being put out to pasture, but some of the classic old-school designs are back - and at very good prices too!
Looking for a pay as you go SIM only deal?
If you already have a phone or have purchased a SIM free phone and want a pay as you go SIM to go in it, head over to our PAYG SIM card page to compare bundle deals available for pay as you go SIM cards. You can filter by minutes, text or data allowances, or by preferred network.
And if you prefer to keep your ties to a minimum check out our best 30 day sim contracts
Can I use a pay as you go phone on any network?
If you are looking for a pay as you go phone but want flexibility on which network you join, tick the SIM free phones option in our results table. All of our SIM free phones are unlocked so that you can use them on whatever network you want.
If you already know which network you want to join, then good news! Many of the networks, including EE, O2 and Vodafone, offer pay as you go phone and sim deals with a wide choice of handsets available.
Find refurbished phone deal:
If you are looking for a pay as you go deal in order to keep a close eye on your expenditure then it might be worth considering a refurbished phone deal.
Refurbished phones are handsets that have been returned to the manufacturer within the cooling off period, because the owner has upgraded, or possibly because of a fault with the phone. The manufacturer will check the phone over and restore it to full working order before selling it at a big discount. Allowing you to get an absolute bargain.