Smartphones are great. I got a beautiful Samsung Omnia 7 Windows Phone this time last year and don’t think I’ll ever go back to a dumb/feature phone again. Part of the reason smartphones are so smart is that they have an always on internet connection. Unfortunately, the big mobile phone networks/carriers in the UK (Orange, Vodafone, Three & O2) see this as a great opportunity to squeeze even more money out of you. My phone was originally on Three’s network and although they had great speeds if you went over their measly data allowance you got charged a hefty sum. One month I got charged £15 for data alone! When I called their customer services I was told I’d have to pay if I wanted this itemised and it was my fault for going over the allowance. After about 30 minutes of arguing and being put on hold I gave up, chucked out the Three SIM card and looked into better value options.
GiffGaff came to my rescue. Not only are they pay as you go, they also have proper unlimited* data options. The reason they are so much cheaper is because of their low overhead e.g. no shops, support from the community. This video gives a good overview
It can be a bit confusing to get your head around how this works, mainly because it sounds to good to be true, so I’ve outlined a few of the key points here
- It actually piggybacks on the O2 network and gives you exactly the same signal and speeds as using O2
- Supports almost every phone including Windows Phone, iPhones, Android, Blackberry as well as older “dumb” phones
- Even if your phone is locked to a specific network, they offer free unlocking guides from their site
- Calls, texts, call forwarding and video calls to other GiffGaff users are free!
- Calls to landlines or other networks are 10p/min
- Text messages are 6p
- Once you have some credit you can buy a “goodybag”. These are bundles of minutes/texts/data to give you even better value. They last for one month and you can buy them when you like (pay as you go) or have them auto-update each month (like a no tie-in contract). The image below gives a good example of what is on offer
- I use the £10 one. So I get 250 cross-network minutes to any UK landline or mobile, unlimited texts & unlimited internet. Bargain!
- Support questions are handled by the community forums. I used them quite a bit to help get my wife’s iPhone set up. My Windows Phone was a bit more straightforward
- If you get really stuck you can elevate the request to a proper giffgaff agent, for free, and they will sort you out
- Payback gives you £5 credit for every SIM a friend of yours activates! You also get payback credit for participating in the forums. I’ve got £20 credit this way, although you can also choose to donate it to a charity
- You get an email each month telling you where you’ve spent your credit. It is a really useful break down of your habits, letting you know how much data you’ve used, texts sent and voice calls made. They even recommend a better value plan if you are spending more than necessary.
- Nothing is hidden. All the information is there on the website, including useful comparisons to other networks’ prices
You’ll often see adverts for networks offering unlimited data, but this rarely actually means unlimited. Just like how advertised Broadband speeds are never what they claim. Data is charged by the amount you download in MB. Some providers think unlimited means 200MB, 500MB or if your lucky 1GB. This is then broken into daily usage like, you can only use 20MB a day or some kind of Fair Use Policy. If you dare to go over that limit (and how would you know?!?) they will charge ridiculous amounts of money, usually per MB! Always check with your network when you’ve paid for “unlimited” data to make sure you stick within the restrictions
For an example, thanks to GiffGaff’s itemised billing, I can share my mobile internet usage for November:
- Total MB used – 270.19
- Number of days used data – 28
- Days where used over 20 MB – 3.00
- If not on a goodybag with unlimited Internet - £15.13!
So as you can see, I paid £10 saving me £5.13 on data alone, not to mention the savings I made on phone calls and text messages. GiffGaff’s “unlimited” limit is actually 20GB. That’s about 8 times my current monthly usage and even if I did go over that a little I wouldn’t get penalised. The reason that limit is their is to prevent people “tethering” their mobiles to a laptop. this causes much greater download levels as Laptop browsing isn’t optimised for low data like mobiles phones are. Of course, GiffGaff do offer a premium tethering/dongle goody bag if that is what you want.
People tended to balk when they hear GiffGaff uses O2 as the network and it made me a bit nervous I wouldn’t get the great data speeds I had with Three, or the coverage. However, that seemed to be more hearsay than anything I’ve experienced. I can get 3G speeds everywhere I’ve been and I’ve never been without a signal. It’s been so good, my wife, son and lots of my friends and familiar have joined too, meaning we get even better savings when calling each other.
So if you want to join too, I can offer you an extra bonus of £5 free credit for nothing! What have you got to loose! Just use this link to get a SIM mailed out to you http://bit.ly/thomgaff. This special link also gives me £5 credit if you start to use it. This affiliate scheme is another bonus of GiffGaff, potentially meaning you could get away with never having to pay again!
I really recommend them but if you have any more questions just give me a shout in the comments