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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GiffGaff vs Vodafone vs O2 PAYG smart phone internet (data) price and value comparison on a budget of £10 a month.


You want pay as you go internet for your phone. What can you get for £10 a month? (scroll to the end for the conclusion if you don’t want to see the sums)

1. £10 giffgaff Goody Bag (lasts 30 days) (O2 network)

250 minutes calls

Costs applicable to calling credit:

£10 the price of the goody bag + 24p per MMS (so no MMS or you will need to top up more than £10)

Unlimited texts

Unlimited Internet

Cost 360 days:

£115 (provided you don’t send any mms and you get the sim with free £5 calling credit)

How it works. The giffgaff Goody Bag costs £10. After the 30 days any unused minutes are lost and texts/ internet will be charged at the standard rate until you buy a new goody bag.

Extra benefits:

giffgaff to giffgaff  calls free. Calling credit/ paypal payments made for forum participation and signing people up to the network.

2. £10 Vodafone Freebee (text and internet last 30 days)

£10 calling credit (approx 50 minutes)

Costs applicable to calling credit:

Calls 21p a minute. 36p per MMS

300 texts

500MB Internet

Cost 360 days:

£120 (if you can ration calls and MMS to £10 per month)

Extra Benefits:

£2.00 IOU credit if you use all calling credit (35p charge levied on next top up)

How it works. The Vodafone FreeBee is applied to your account if you select it as an option via 2345. Provided you top up by at least £10 in the 30 days between allowances the FreeBee will automatically begin again the next month. Unused texts and internet are not carried forward but because this is a FreeBee that comes “free” when you top up £10 any unused calling credit will be carried forward to the following month.

3. £10 O2 Text and Web (text and internet last 30 days)

£10 calling credit (approx 50 mins)

Costs applicable to calling credit:

25p a minute to people who aren't on O2, or if you’re calling landlines it's 25p for the first three minutes and 5p after that. MMS 25p

300 texts

500MB Internet

Cost 360 days:


Extra benefits:

Free and unlimited use (fair use applies) of Cloud and BT Open Zone Hot Spots. 10% calling credit back every three months. So based on £10 top ups a month then after 3 months you would get back £3 which does not seem like a lot but over a year this would equate to slightly more than one “free” month ie £12.

How it works. As with the Vodafone FreeBee the O2 Text and Web is applied to your account if you have selected that account type and when you have topped up by at least £10 in the 30 days since your last allowance. Any unused calling credit will be carried over to the next month but you must have topped up by at least £10 for the allowances to restart the following month.


And the winner is, O2.

At first glance giffgaff seems to hold all the aces but there are a couple of big problems with the £10 Goody Bag. One is if you want to send any MMS then you are going to have to top up by more than £10 a month (which rules it out of our £10 a month test). Secondly, and this is the biggie the Goody Bag is time limited until 31/03/2011. With email and “unlimited” internet we can probably do without MMS but to go to the bother of porting one’s number over to giffgaff  to get this Goody Bag only to find it is discontinued after 31/03/2011 is a hassle we could do without. Close giffgaff but no cigar. If giffgaff  would commit to this Goody Bag in the longer term…

Vodafone does not come out of this comparison particularly well other than the fact that the package is very easy to understand. Nothing fancy with good clear pricing which should be applauded as it can be ridiculously difficult to compare deals these days. Unfortunately thanks to Vodafone’s clarity we can clearly see this is not the best deal.

The best deal is O2. For one thing, under their rewards scheme, over 360 days you can have calls, MMS, 500MB internet and 300 texts every 30 days not for £10 but for £9 a “month”. Also if you are worried that 500MB might not be enough (in my experience it certainly is) then you can take advantage of Cloud and BT Open Zone hotspots, when you are out and about, at no extra cost. Rationing calls to around 50mins is going to be difficult but the 5p a min to landlines after the first 3min will eek it out a bit and any unused minutes (calling credit) can be carried forward. Not one for the chatter boxes but for those who want internet, a reasonable amount of texts, the ability to make the odd quick call or fire off an MMS, this deal from O2 is very friendly on the pocket and comes with with no legal ties.

Obviously there are other carriers but their offerings are way behind these three. e.g. Orange Free Internet access on their £10 a month PAYG Dolphin plan is capped at 100MB because, they say, no one needs more than that. Actually if hot spots are few and far between where you are then 100MB is a cap that is sure to bite. Avoid.


  1. The details on GiffGaff aren't quite right. The bit that is limited till 31/03 is the bonus 100 minutes they've added due to hitting a target of "likes" on facebook. It'll just revert back to 150 minutes at that point.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Yeah, pay £10 - (cover the cost of MMS for a year) who the hell sends picture messages these days anyway!)
    £10 pcm for 250mins unlimited texts and internet...
    Really, Giffgaff is best.
    Plus, you get given a share in the company profits each time you top up.. So there you go, Giff gaff is best.

  4. Most people say Vodafone is bad. I have no problem with Vodafone coverage is the same as Telstra. Great value and great deals. I have been with Telstra before and it's a rip off way to expensive. I would give Vodafone 5/5 also the call centre is great and very help full. Vodafone is still the best value network. thanks all!~
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