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Three Hikes PAYG Prices


Three is dramatically hiking prices on one of the last remaining true pay-as-you-go mobile deals on the market.

From 16 February, the costs of sending a text, making a phone call or using any data on Three’s standard PAYG service will skyrocket.

Within the UK and in European countries where Three’s “Go Roam” service applies.

  • Texts will now cost 10p, up from 2p (a 400% increase)
  • Phone calls will now cost 10p/minute, up from 3p/minute (a 233% increase)
  • Data will cost 5p/MB, up from 1p/MB (a 400% increase)

Outside the UK and Europe, the price hikes are even steeper.

  • Texts will cost 35p, up from 2p (a 1650% increase)
  • Data will cost 5p/MB, up from 1p/MB (a 400% increase)

Additionally, the network used to give customers a free 150MB boost to their data allowance, lasting 48 hours, every time they topped up their PAYG balance. They appear to have discontinued this bonus.

The price hikes will affect existing PAYG customers who joined Three’s network before March 2020 and who pay standard rates rather than buying bundles. Three won’t say how many customers will be impacted by the rate hikes but says it will contact everyone affected.

Three contends that its new rates are “extremely competitive” but it appears to be the latest mobile operator to push customers off traditional PAYG services, toward bundles and pay-monthly tariffs. 

Three notes that its PAYG add-ons and Data Packs are a better value and that rates on those, like its prices on its pay-monthly tariffs, won’t be changing. 

Those Data Packs start at £10 for 6GB and go up to £35 for unlimited data—lasting for one month and coming with unlimited calls and texts. However, these bundles are more like contract-free pay-monthly plans than PAYG and won't suit all customers.

A spokesperson for Three said: “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.”

Three’s announcement follows Vodafone’s overhaul of its PAYG service. Starting yesterday 12 January, customers on Vodafone’s Pay as You Go 1 Tariff will incur a £1 charge every day they send a text, make a call or use any data. That £1 daily charge will then buy them unlimited voice calls, texts and multimedia messages to UK numbers and 50MB of data.

Vodafone customers who use their phones sparingly will see huge bill hikes, including a £1 fee for a single text message if it’s the only one they send that day. Their data use will also be curbed with £1 buying just 50MB of data for the day—which can be eaten through by a few websites—instead of 500MB as previously.

O2 and Virgin Mobile also made similar changes to push customers away from their PAYG services in 2019.

O2 shuttered its traditional PAYG service to new customers in November 2019 while expanding its range of bundles. That same month Virgin Mobile introduced a new pricing scheme for its PAYG customers, leaving them facing charges of up to £6 a day for sending a single text message, making a short call and using just 1MB of data.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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