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Three UK Hikes Standard Charges for PAYG Mobile Customers UPDATE

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 (12:38 pm) - Score 11,016
three uk mobile broadband

Customers of Three UK’s Pay As You Go (PAYG) plans look set to be hit with a significant price increase on their standard rates for calls, text messages (SMS) and data usage (mobile broadband), which will be introduced from 16th February 2021. EU roaming and international rates will also be hit.

At present Three UK charges PAYG customers a standard rate of 3p per minute for calls to standard UK landlines (starting 01, 02, 03), UK mobiles (any network) and Three voicemail, but this will now be increased to 10p. Similarly, the 2p charge for sending a text will also jump to 10p and the 1p charge for 1MegaByte (MB) of data will jump to 5p.

Previously, the operator also gave customers a free 150MB data allowance boost (automatically) every time they topped-up, which lasted for 48 hours, but this is no longer mentioned and seems to have been dropped.

Customers can of course get around all this by opting to top-up via one of their new Data Packs, which start at £10 for 6GB and goes up to £35 for unlimited data – these last for 1 month and also give you unlimited calls/texts, but that’s more akin to a Pay Monthly plan than PAYG (sadly a lot of operators are going down this route).

According to Three UK’s website (see here), “From 16th February 2021 some of our standard Pay As You Go rates in the UK will change. If you’re activating a new Pay As You Go account after this date, the new pricing will already be in place. Some of our international roaming rates are also increasing. This is to keep them in line with domestic standard rates, and not a result of Brexit.”

The new PAYG plan and rates are outlined in these terms, while the old ones can be found here. Credits to two of our readers, Chris and Mark, for pointing out the change.

UPDATE 2:38pm

A Three spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk: “From 16 February 2021, we’re changing our Pay As You Go standard pricing. Our new rates remain extremely competitive in the market, and our customers have access to 5G at no extra cost. Plus, we continue to focus on improving the customer experience through investment in our network, to deliver better connectivity every day for every customer.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
65 Responses
  1. craigyhay says:

    so does this affect existing customers or just new customers activating From 16th February 2021?

    1. Yorkie says:

      All new and existing customers.

  2. Sam says:

    It’s getting to the point it’s becoming so expensive to be on payg which is a shame…

    1. Ian says:

      Unlimited contract is cheapest option on three i think, beats all the otherson price too.

  3. Steve W says:

    Sam, check out 1p mobile. runs over EE. I’m not a customer and don’t use them but they are cheap

    1. mary joan says:

      Won’t last long before their price will go up sooner or later

    2. Gache says:

      1p Mobile has a minimum top-up of £10 every 120 days. Probably fine for people who are actively using the it, but could be a bit expensive for a backup/emergency number 🙂

    3. Roger says:

      1p mobile has a nice feature where you can use your credit balance to cover the next 120 days of service rather than have to add additional credit to the account. So £10 gets you 240 days of access to an EE based sim. Firstly you pay in £10 to get 120 days and yo then use the £10 to purchase the next £120 days.

      It still means that payg sims where you just need to make a 1 min call every year to maintain a service are far cheaper if you only expect to use them in an emergency.

    4. Bubblesthefish6 says:

      Would be good if EE could actually maintain a mast properly, I had in total 23 dropouts on EE in my area. Some lasted weeks, in particular one lasted 3 weeks but the rest of then were 4-5 days. Still that shouldn’t be happening at all.

  4. Global Britain says:

    Someone should tell Three that this is Global Britain now!

    No English Patriot cares about EU roaming! As no English Patriot would ever step foot in their rotten union ever again!

    We will only go on holidays in Patriot Red White and Blue countries like England and Trumps America.

    1. Lol says:

      Is this ironic? I hope it’s ironic.

    2. anon446464 says:

      Somehow I doubt the UK can prosper on ‘English Patriotism’ alone!

    3. Burble says:

      Phew, the France is OK then.

    4. Justin says:

      You stupid racist thug go back where you belong

    5. Justin says:

      Scum like you don’t belong in society

  5. anon446464 says:

    Also, it’s no longer ‘Trumps America’

  6. anon446464 says:

    Guys, I think you can just use this sim instead, it comes with 200mb data free p/m.
    Rates are apparently:
    3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

    1. Gache says:

      Yes, my Data Rewards SIM hasn’t had the notification about this (my basic PAYG sim has), so looks like they’re leaving that on the old rates for now.

    2. lwh says:

      And how long will this last???

    3. Frank says:

      Thanks. Ordered !

    4. frank says:

      So I followed your suggestion and ordered the ‘Data Reward Sim’. Received it today and find that it is ONLY for data usage & NOT for calls. For use in tablets etc. on 4G.

    5. BaldEagle says:

      Frank – are you sure it’s DATA ONLY?

      The link above shows:
      >>>> Voice Calls 3p/minute (any network, any time) <<<<
      Text Message (SMS) 2p
      Mobile Data 1p/MB
      Free Allowance 200MB free data every month (no top-up required)

  7. Joe Pineapples says:

    Time for me to look elsewhere then.

    1. Ray says:

      Go to https://www.three.co.uk/New_My3/My3_home to add call credit to a data reward SIM. This link only works on mobile data network, so disconnect Wi-Fi

  8. ian says:

    I love this part “our customers have access to 5G at no extra cost”

    We’ve significantly rammed our prices up but you get 5g for freeeeee

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Its literally a few thousand customers across the entire country.

    2. AnotherTim says:

      There’s a typo in their statement – it should read “our customers have no access to 5G at extra cost”.

    3. Connor says:

      Was wondering when Three would start using that line even though each network (other than maybe EE) provide 5G at no extra cost, just like with 4G.

  9. Buggerlugz says:

    I presume this is due to the number of people using they’re sims for in smart home devices, camera’s, doorbells and the like. Either that or they are just greedy.

    Yeah, probably the latter.

    1. LWH says:

      just digging their own grave slowly?

  10. Michael V says:

    When comparing the main 4 operators, Vodafone 20p a min & txt.
    O2, 35p a min, 15p txt.
    EE don’t make it easy to find charges. But I think it’s 50p a min.
    [correct me if I’m wrong]
    Unfortunate Three have done this but it still makes them one of the cheapest.

    1. RP says:

      Three claim this on the table that’s on on the webpage linked to from the text notifying of the price hike, but I have an O2 classic PAYG SIM in the other slot on my phone, which is 3p/min, 2p/SMS, 1p/MB.

    2. RP says:

      Tho I’ve just checked, and apparently it’s not available to new customers… How long before a price hike on 02 as well? 😐

    3. David says:

      Yes you are probably right. I am surprised they kept the rates so low for so long. I don’t use my phone much so not worth having a monthly contract.

  11. James says:

    Greedy with all networks since we had lockdown almost last March data usage has decrease guess what they hike the prices….

  12. Bill says:

    Amazing. Which other company gets away with a 300-500% increase?


    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Well, hopefully people will leave. I could do with some more bandwidth on my mast anyway.

  13. Guy Cashmore says:

    5p per MB = £50 per GB for data, yet for £18 a month you can get effectively unlimited data. We put 500 GB a month through ours regularly, on PAYG that would now cost £25,000 a month. Totally crazy pricing.

    1. Ian says:

      You wouldnt be so stupid as to have payasyougo and do that. Contract is the way to go . Not even a pound per day for unlimited everything.

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      I disagree Ian. If Three can offer a contract at the £18 a month price point, they could simply contact customers and inform them it’d be wise to move to a fixed monthly contract. They won’t because this price increase is a cash cow, nothing less.

    3. lwh says:

      All this is about is trying to get people on to contracts???

    4. dean says:

      i pay 15 pounds a month for unlimited three with 20 pounds cash back so works out like £13 ish

  14. André says:

    In their defence, I think that 3-2-1 pricing has lasted nearly a decade on PAYG? I suppose an adjustment was inevitable…

    1. LWH says:

      You must be a employee of 3 if u are defending them???

    2. frank says:

      Like 300+% ?

  15. James says:

    Classic payg on O2 is still 3p calls 2p texts and 1p mb data

    1. Gsche says:

      Thanks, that’s worth a look!

      For people who can’t get an O2 signal, Asda (on EE) is 8p calls, 4p texts, 5p mb data.

    2. lwh says:

      Unfortunately if people change suppliers tomorrow they will probably do exactly the same???

    3. Jack says:

      But for how long?… ASDA is the next cheapest alternative but at the moment you can’t get a SIM due to them being in a network switching process from EE to Vodafone. Luckily for myself I got a SIM card from them in November for a dumb phone I have in a drawer. Asda Mobiles Customer service is top notch on the phone as-well as my Father’s on them as he likes the traditional PAYG method and doesn’t have a smartphone and I usually have to speak to them if theres a small issue but they manage to fix it on the phone and no hold times.

  16. Mark says:

    Not sure why anyone would even want to be on Three to start with. The signal for calls and texts is OK but the data speeds are horrendous! I’m still in contract with them for another year but the Three SIM card is sat in a drawer due to the terrible speeds. The problem is they sell unlimited really cheap and then you get idiots using more than their fair share and over saturating the network (Newbie789 on TBB Forums bragging that he uses 10TB a month on Three’s unlimited plan for instance). Then you’ve got all the MVNO operators like Smarty, iD, Superdrug etc all offering similar unlimited deals for £20 LESS than the next provider!

    1. james says:

      Yes MVNO is dirty cheap 15 pounds for unlimited smarty deal last year cancelled my home virgin broadband for this saving me hundreds each year…my monthly usage only 3000gb even I thought that was heavy but 10tb he/she must be powering up the whole street with wifi. lol

    2. Jack says:

      Spot on there Mark! Can’t give a better comment myself.

      From the day I got my first smartphone back in 2012 I was on Virgin but changed over to Three in 2013 as it was a little more generous data wise (4GB for £10 a month) back then unlimited was unheard of or at least £40 a month. Also back in 2013-2014 when 4G started to reach our large town bordering a city speeds on Three’s 4G were a constant 100MB DOWN and 80MB UP but since the price dropped of Unlimited Data with Three which I have to say they were one of the only networks to have unlimited for around £23 a month a few years ago the speeds started to drop to around 30MB Down around 2017 time. Since around 2018 maybe earlier they’ve added MVNO’s Superdrug, Smarty, iD and they have gone even lower price to the £10’s of pounds a month the speeds have been getting to Dial up or sometimes nothing at all especially in the last year. I had to do a switch back in November 2020 to Vodafone who I have to admit for my area are really good and extremely consistent with speed and signal and they have unlimited data plans but don’t push them into your face as Three do (moderately priced & restrictions of use in modems in the terms and conditions) so not many choose Vodafone and thats why I feel they’re more reliable.

      As for Three PAYG, I still have a secondary SIM on that plan for when my Vodafone runs out of data so I can just use some megabytes in emergency than use the expensive Vodafone extra usage charges but as Three have decided to pull a dirty one on all of us I might just ditch them once and for all; absolutely no need to increase costs when the wholesale call termination rate is less than a penny.

  17. Wolfie says:

    Leaving the EU, now this is where we start paying!

  18. steven says:

    333% price hike.

    That’s how I will think of 3 now.

    outrageous greed

  19. lwh says:

    Three have said that Our new rates remain extremely competitive in the market, which is possibly correct as my partner pays approximately the same rates with vodafone payg, but with every £10 topup she gets 500mb of data “Free”

    1. Zxcvmnm says:

      I’d double check that. It’s meant to be changing for the worse if it hasn’t already.

  20. Joe Thompson says:

    I wonder what these greedy capitalists would have thought of me if I’d wanted 300/500 per cent pay rises whilst I was working perhaps they are going to do just that to their own work force

  21. Andras Roth says:

    Why do it if there’s a cheaper alternative on the market? They’ll loose many customers. I will definitely try 1pmobile which is even cheaper. They did me and my wife a favour, it seems like.

  22. elvis says:

    Can t seem to find out info – if top up before the date of new charges will all remaining credit be applied at the old rate.As when you top up now it gives you the rates as they are 3p minute etc, not time limit.

  23. LWH says:

    Anybody got any info on 1p Mobile? I read that they use the EE network.

    1. Aaron says:

      Yes, 1p Mobile uses EE’s network. (No 5G though)

      Minimum top up for 1p Mobile is £10 however this expires every 4 months, so could end up costing more in the long run if you was just looking to top up once or twice a year.

    2. lwh says:

      Thanks for the info Aaron, sounds good to me.


  24. Dainius says:

    After being 7 years with then, I will definitely move.

  25. Carol Holloway says:

    I have been with 3 now for over 15yrs on PAYG. When I first used them I think it was about 49p per minute as I don’t use it much. Last year they said they were changing me to a different one. I was pleased as it was cheap to make calls and send texts. I usually put £10 on and it lasts about 4yrs!! I am nearly 80yrs old and am disabled so I need to contact someone if anything happens. When I was first with them, we could ring anyone on 3 free for quite a few days after top up. This was good because my daughter is on 3. Last week I had a text saying the prices are going up to 10p for a minute or a text. I also had a dongle with them for a few years, and had a LOT of trouble trying to cancel. VERY disappointed with them and don’t know who to change to.

  26. Barbara.mellish says:

    I have payg .Last week I had £10:35 credit, after installing a security camera to check on my dog I now have £3:07. This was used in setting up and learning to use the camera. I can’t work out how much per minuet I’m being charged

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