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Three UK in Huge Hike to Standard Charges on PAYG Mobile Plans

Tuesday, June 7th, 2022 (1:02 pm) - Score 9,576
three uk mobile broadband

Customers of mobile network operator Three UK, specifically those who still take their Pay As You Go (PAYG) plans, have begun to receive a new notification that informs them of another significant price hike to their standard rates for calls, text messages (SMS) and data usage (mobile broadband).

At present Three UK charges PAYG customers a standard rate of 10p per minute for calls to standard UK landlines (starting 01, 02, 03), UK mobiles (any network) and Three voicemail, but from 12th July 2022 this will be increased to a shocking 35p. Similarly, the 10p charge for sending a text will also jump to 15p and the 5p charge for 1MegaByte (MB) of data will jump to 10p.

Customers can of course get around this by opting to top-up via one of their current Data Packs, which start at £10 for 16GB (usually 8GB) and goes up to £35 for unlimited data – these only last for 30-days and also give you unlimited calls/texts, but they’re more akin to a Pay Monthly plan than PAYG (sadly a lot of operators are now doing something similar).

The latest hike can be placed into an even starker contrast when you consider that, going all the way back before 16th February 2021, the standard PAYG charges were just 3p a min, 2p a text and 1p per MB of data! Credits to two of our readers, Gerald and Ryan, for pointing out the change.

In a brief text message, Three UK said: “If you would like to disconnect your Pay As You Go services with us because of these changes, you have the right to exit. You may also be eligible for a refund of any outstanding credit. Refund requests must be made no later than 17/07/2022. For full details, go to 3.uk/2ma.”

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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.
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41 Responses
  1. 3UK user says:

    Do you think 3UK are trying to become a “premium brand” by doing this?

    Seems like they want to shove all the 3UK branded PAYG customers over to SMARTY, so they keep only the “valuable paying customers” on the 3UK brand…

    3UK PAYG out-of-bundle is (was) pretty good as they don’t disconnect low volume users. Very handy when you just want to keep your number alive and not pay ongoing monthly fees.

    1. Gregowski says:

      I think they just want more people on contract and/or payg-packs as this is more stable income for them.

  2. NE555 says:

    I was sad when 123 went, and this is them basically exiting the PAYG market entirely.

    £10 only gives you 4GB for 30 days. That’s according to the info at 3.uk/2ma

    1. Gregowski says:

      My dad had this tariff, then moved him to 1p Mobile as I think this is the best network for very low usage.

    2. Mike80 says:

      The 4GB for £10 applies to the add-on only. Confusingly, you’re seeing the add-on prices on that page, not the standard “data pack” bundles.

      You would normally only take an add-on once you’ve used up all your standard monthly allowance, e.g. 8GB* on a £10 prepaid bundle, as Three doesn’t allow you to start a new bundle early.

      *current promo offer is 16GB instead of 8GB

    3. Lexx says:

      1p mobile sounds great until the minimum 3 month topup or lose it contract (actually cancel your account after 1 week once 120days has passed if you don’t topup)

  3. Terence Marsh says:

    I spent 40 minutes yesterday to get a PAC code to leave three also to ask for a refund because of their extortionate increase to payg customers. First they said I could leave but would lose my balance but after stressing I would complain to ofcom they said I could have a refund but needed the card details I last topped up with which I no longer have because I have changed banks. I then asked for a cheque which they said they cannot do so now Im waiting until later this week for a call back to try to sort this mess out. By the way I have just sent for 2 asda sims for myself and my wife at 4p a minute you know it makes sense.

    1. Mike says:

      Why not just get PAC code and switch via text to 65075?

    2. Jeff Cohen says:

      Same issue I am facing Terence – I don’t think Three are going to make it easy to get a credit refund.

      They should allow PAYG customers have credit refunded before porting out or disconnecting but that haven’t made this an option.

  4. Michael says:

    That’s shocking. But then Vodafone charges are similar for PAYG.

    1. Brian says:

      Three hiked my sim only contract, I’d got sick of the consistently poor signal and tripling the monthly cost was final straw. Applied for a pac and switched, next day after the pac offered a contract at half the original cost. Gone to Tesco mobile instead better signal and none of the nonsense anymore!

  5. Disgusted three user says:

    I topped up less than a month ago – the first top up since I bought the phone in late 2018. If I had known this was coming I would not have bothered. My husband has had nothing but trouble with his three phone – it very seldomly works at all – and complaints get zero response. Both of these are very poor to non-existent customer service.

  6. Anthony Goodman says:

    When I got my very first mobile in 1999. The prices I was paying were less than what Three are wanting to ask now. That is extortionate prices. They are a joke company. Compare 35p per minute and 15p per text and 10p per MB with 1p Mobile who charge a penny for everything on the EE network. Its not even a competition.

    1. 1 says:

      How much did you used to pay? Adjusted for inflation, 35p in 2021 is equivalent to 19p in 1999.

      In any case, there are cheaper alternatives and it’s easy to transfer a number. We shouldn’t be loyal to brands. If there are better deals, get them.

    2. bert says:

      In 1998, I used vodafone with a motorla startac, I paid £30 a month for 30 minutes. No text messages.

      Fast forward to 2000, using BT Genie, I was paying £35 a month for 500 minutes and 500 texts.

      The price of mobile phones are steadily decreased in my opinion.

  7. Jackster says:

    They are obviously doing this to force as many people into monthly payments.
    I use to spend £20-30 a year on 123 and now £6 a month on SMARTY. That is over double what I use to spend.
    Granted I now spend £10pm for 60GB per month but my usage has changed.

    It’s a shame but cost have gone up and I am sure people on 123 started to cost more than they brought in…

  8. IgOg says:

    I don’t believe it!

  9. LeJimster says:

    I used to be with 3 for PAYG when it was 123. But the price hike caught me out the first time around. It wasn’t a good option anymore. I moved over to SMARTY and now pay £5 a month with 2GB data which is plenty for my needs.

  10. Max says:


    Get rid of the riffraff. Maybe the network will improve when all the bargain hunters aren’t on unlimited contracts for 35p a month.

    1. Graphics card says:

      Three has always been rubbish for voice calls. Zero chance of their network improving, had it for years because of the low cost, strangely enough I have moved away, its much cheaper and much, much better for quality of service. You are welcome to your 3 in that state, all us riffraff have gone to pastures greener so we can look back at you and laugh

    2. Max says:

      who uses three for voice calls. Only boomers make voice calls. Literally every time I see a “look at me” screenshot with over 300mbit of bandwidth, it’s three. The other networks can’t keep up. Three will absolutely improve when the bargain basement crew are removed and three starts charging a proper price to the majority of it’s customers.

    3. Graphics Card says:

      Voice calls are still an important part of the mobile phone structure. Oh and by the way……I am not a boomer

    4. Juan says:

      Main reason I went with EE, more expensive but keeps the riffraff out.

    5. Jackson says:

      Yes because raising the prices for PAYG – the people who at worst are just sitting on the network barely using anything cause even at 1p/MB none of them are downloading anything substantial and when they want a bundle they have to pay higher prices than the contract SIM deals – is going to affect any CONTRACTED “35p for unlimited” customers

      Like I get your point but the PAYG customers are essentially not taking up any bandwidth on the network even if it was at the old 321 rates

  11. Praful says:

    All operaters are same ,tie you to a contract, but how far will all these companies go? Utilities, insurance,and every other thing which is basic needs are jacking up prices,rich getting richer

    1. An Engineer says:

      This is a rate increase on a Pay As You Go tariff?

      You do know what ‘Pay As You Go’ means, right? The entire point of them is literally that you’ve no contract.

  12. alan jones says:

    Its funny that they have left the data reward sim on 321 rates,had a text saying im able 2 stay on the 200mb free per month for life. Glad iv got a few of these now,as they no longer offer them

    1. Roger says:

      They do still offer them, but you are forced with a £10 top-up to send the sim out.

    2. alan jones says:

      On the three website it says data reward sim,the internet with legs free 200mb data offer is no longer availible and new registrations are not accepted

    3. Mike says:

      You can still order a data SIM but you will no longer get the 200mb free data. You will have to pay £10 which gives you 1GB of data but then you will have to top up to make calls and send texts.
      If you are a light user try Asda Mobile..

  13. zxcvbnm says:

    1pmobile but you have to spend £30 a year. I went with them but clocking up the credit…

    https://www.rwgmobile.wales/webshop/pay-monthly-sims/ £15 one off for 100 mins a month free and 750mb. Remarkable value, so good it’s a little worrying. I am trying to think if I’m brave enough.

    Asda and Tesco are adequate for the less adventurous low user.

    1. alan jones says:

      Do it. Im with rwg. No problems.im on the £15 one off bundle,but changed to the £22 bundle for roaming in spain. 100gb,with no £2 a day charge. I automaticly change bak 2 my original free bundle after a month. No need to put another £15 on.

  14. Adam Standen says:

    I think all the mobile PAYG tariffs will be going the same way. Low spending customers are not profitable so they all want you to be on a contract or a SIM only monthly bundle. As O2 is the only reliable network that covers where I live and where I work, I moved to giffgaff and am very happy with their monthly bundles (goodybags). Although their PAYG tariffs are very expensive like Threes are.

    1. Alex says:

      AFAIK O2 are the only network to not force people onto a more expensive tariff. I still seem to be on 321, was shocked to find out my mum on Three had been moved to a more expensive tariff.

      I moved her to Three when they introduced 321 so we have redundancy in case O2 went down, now really wish I hadn’t.

    2. Smythe says:

      Have you tried Vodafone. It is very rare for o2 to work and Vodafone to not. O2 and Vodafone share most masts.

  15. Grimreaper says:

    I reckon every network will be putting their prices up soon. Energy prices are going to be out of control for years, and I imagine masts and their infrastructure use a lot of energy and are metered just like any other commercial entity. Increased running costs and overheads will find their way on to bills, eventually.

  16. Mark says:

    3 are becoming evermore irrelevant in the market, named based on the false pretence that the 3G phone network was something special and now trapped in the dark ages.

  17. Jack says:

    All I can say is I’m glad I’m on a legacy O2 Classic PAYG 321 plan I managed to acquire straight after the last 3 price hike I don’t think you can get these SIMs anymore as the last batch they did on that plan have now probably expired. I deal with VoIP alot and have 2 providers who charge close to the wholesale termination rate for mobile minutes which is less than a penny and looking at the rate of 3p they aren’t making much on that considering the overheads and infrastructure but for 3 to increase the prices beyond 8p a minute that is absolutely disgustingly extortionate and I have found 3 to be extremely slow at connecting calls in and out.

    1. Neil says:

      I have several of these sims i used for a pet tracking project i’m working on, they’ve been expiring some of them without notification and saying they weren’t used, although i stuck within their 90 day mast connectivity and send 1 text within the 180 days (every 3 months).
      I complained to customer service, told me we don’t offer them anymore and you’ll be migrated away to their other plan… wouldn’t confirm when or offer any press releases regarding it.
      Now they’ve merged with virgin, watch this space.

  18. Ghost says:

    Ian Aitken has no issues with three.

    So anyone that does have issues should stop b*tching online & why not just use another provider

  19. Tony says:

    I’ve just switched to another network following the huge PAYG rate increases by Three mobile, but I’ve found it impossible to get a refund of my credit balance. I was asked for the name on my account and then told that the name I gave did not match the name on this account. I found this hard to believe so tried to log on to my Three account to check my registered name etc. but the logon details were no longer valid. It appears to me that Three are making it impossible to claim refunds before the specified 17/07/22 deadline.

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