If you want something simple and affordable with great customer service, look no further
Pros Simple, flexible monthly plansCheap roaming outside the EUExcellent customer satisfaction scoresGrowing 5G presenceCons Disappointing 4G performanceNo competitive phone deals
Giffgaff was a pioneer of the no-frills virtual mobile network, giving you a halfway house between the traditional monthly contract and PAYG services with monthly bundles. With Giffgaff there are no long-term commitments; you just pay a rolling monthly fee for a “Goodybag” of minutes, texts and data, which you can cancel at any time. This gives you a lot of flexibility – you can switch Goodybags if you need more data or want to save some cash – and everything is predictable and straightforward, with no chance of getting locked into a bad deal.
Giffgaff review: What do you get?
While you can buy your phone from Giffgaff, it’s not the cheapest way to do so. Giffgaff doesn’t subsidise phone costs to lower its prices, and what you’ll pay for, say, an iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy A52 is roughly what you’d pay to buy the phone from any normal retailer, if not a little more. And while you can pay upfront or in monthly instalments, the interest payments only drive the costs up further. It’s smarter to shop around and buy your phone elsewhere.
If you’re only interested in a flexible SIM-only deal, however, then Giffgaff is a much more tempting option. All its Goodybags come on simply monthly rolling contracts, unlimited texts and calls come inclusive, and you just pay more to get a larger allowance of data. The most basic £6 Goodybag isn’t much of a bargain, with just 500MB of data, but once you get to the £8 and £10 Goodybags you get a decent allowance at a nice, low price. Only Tesco Mobile and iD Mobile really compete on the lower-end packages.
To make things a little more complex, some Goodybags can be turned into Golden Goodybags if you’re happy to set your plan to recur every month. These give you more data for the same price, so that the £10 Goodybag gives you 9GB rather than 6GB, while the £15 one gives you 25GB instead of 15GB. The £20 Golden Goodybag goes one step further, with 100GB instead of 80GB. You’re still not tied into any long-term contract, either, making these Golden Goodybags an even better deal.
Giffgaff also has a couple of Unlimited options. The £25 Goodybag gives you Always On data for £25, though there’s one small catch. Once you’ve gone through 80GB, your connection will be throttled to 384Kbits/sec between 8am and midnight. If you’re a really heavy data user then you’re better off with the £35 Golden Goodybag, which is a true unlimited data plan.
|£10 Golden Goodybag||£10||9GB when set to recur||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|£15 Golden Goodybag||£15||25GB||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|£20 Golden Goodybag||£20||100GB||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|£25 Goodybag||£25||Always On||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|£35 Golden Goodybag||£25||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
As you might expect, there aren’t any thrills, but also little of the usual contract nonsense. You can switch Goodybags month to month if you need more data (or not) and you’re never trapped into paying for an allowance or benefits that you’re never going to actually use. And if you see a better offer elsewhere? You can just move next month without incurring any penalties. All plans are sold as 5G ready, so if you have a 5G phone and it’s available in your area, Giffgaff has you covered.
Giffgaff review: Coverage and connection speeds
Like Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile, Giffgaff is a virtual network hosted on O2. O2 has expanded its 4G network over the last few years to cover over 99% of the UK population, and the latest coverage maps from RootMetrics show that, outside a few coastal areas and some islands and highlands of Scotland, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a 4G signal.
The story isn’t so great with connection speeds, where O2 still comes last behind EE, Vodafone and Three according to the latest RootMetrics report. It’s catching up with the latter, with a median UK download speed of 12.9Mbits/sec to Three’s 13.9Mbits/sec. Yet both are some way behind Vodafone with 21.1Mbits/sec, let alone EE with 42Mbits/sec. Plus, while O2 has improved performance in some cities, particularly Leicester, it has recorded slower speeds in two than it did in RootMetrics’ previous survey. Basically, the performance of the O2 network is holding Giffgaff and its customers back.
There’s better news when it comes to 5G. RootMetrics’ data shows that O2 now has 5G in more cities – 11 rather than the four in the last survey – with median download speeds of over 85Mbits/sec in every one. Giffgaff offers 5G wherever O2 offers 5G so, as the latter’s 5G network grows, Giffgaff users should be able to take advantage of it.
Giffgaff review: Roaming
EE roaming still comes free on Giffgaff, so you can still use your inclusive data, minutes and texts within the EU without any issues. What’s more, you won’t pay ludicrous charges even where that isn’t the case. Calls come in at £1 to make and £1 to receive, while texts are 30p and data comes for just 20p per MB. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder why, if Giffgaff can keep the costs this low, other networks are so keen to rip their customers off?
The only downside is that you’ll need to top up your account with credit before you venture abroad, as Giffgaff has no facilities to pay later through your monthly contract charges, as another network would.
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Giffgaff review: Other services and spending caps
Due to the way Giffgaff operates, there’s no option (or reason) to set a monthly spending cap. Instead, you can set up a plan to recur automatically, then start your next Goodybag early if you need to. The alternative is to pay extra for data at a charge of 5p per megabyte, or simply top-up your account.
Giffgaff review: Customer satisfaction
Giffgaff’s customers definitely seem to like the network’s approach. Ofcom’s latest customer satisfaction figures give it the highest score for overall satisfaction of any UK network – 93% – and it also tops the chart for Satisfaction with value for money. Only 5% of customers had any reason to complain during the last survey period – well below the 10% industry average.
Giffgaff review: Verdict
Giffgaff’s thing has always been that it delivers a good service at a decent price, without any of the usual things attached, and nothing has happened in the last year to change that. While it still faces stiff competition from iD Mobile, the latter seems to be pivoting more towards long-term contracts while Giffgaff doubles down on flexibility, so Giffgaff is still the best choice if you want to be able to flex up and down according to your needs.
True, connection speeds aren’t up there with the best, but they’re still fast enough for, say, music or video streaming, and 5G should kick them up another level. Most of all, Giffgaff has a lot of very satisfied customers, so it has to be doing something right.