pay as you go phones

The Pros and Cons of Pay as You Go Phones

You’ve been tied into a 12, or even worse, 24-month contract, but now you see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The day of freedom is rapidly approaching, but that brings with it the big question – what next?

Will you ‘soldier’ on with your current handset, a little dated perhaps, but perfectly acceptable, and go the pay as you go route?

Or will you go for the newer, shinier and more powerful version – but with the contract handcuffs?

To help you make the decision, read on for our guide to the pros and cons of pay as you go phones.

How Does it Work?

Pay as you go phones broadly fall into two categories today – the traditional model and the monthly upfront payment model.

With a traditional pay as you go phone, you top-up a certain amount of credit and pay for minutes, texts and internet usage at a pre-set rate, until the credit is used up.

With a monthly tariff, you choose to pay for a monthly package each month (this can be set up to renew automatically, or renewed manually).

You pay a set amount for a certain number of minutes, texts, and data and have to pay extra if you need more.

The Pros – Pay As You Go Phones

Here’s our rundown of the advantages of pay as you go phones:

No Contract

The major plus of pay as you go phones is that there is no contract tying you down.

While these can seem very enticing initially, it is worth going back through your statements to see how much you use on average of the freebies on your contract.

Unlimited texts may have been a winner in the early noughties, but with most of us favoring web-based messaging apps, it’s unlikely you’re making a serious dent in that allowance.

However, it is worth checking your average talk time and web use. Think about how you use your phone. If your productivity is based on using apps that basically run your life, you may be using a lot of mobile data each month.

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Paying for add-ons or by the minute could start costing your more on pay as you go if you are a heavy user of either or both.

No Age Limit

To take out a mobile phone contract, there is usually a lower age limit.

However, because you are not effectively taking out credit, as you are with a traditional contract, there is no age limit on pay as you go phones.

This means that parents can give them to their children and remain in control of their usage. They can also have the reassurance of being in contact with their younger children who would not qualify for contract phones.

The Cons – Pay As You Go Phones

The pros are compelling, but there are drawbacks to pay as you go as well. Here are our top cons:

No New Phone

For many people, the main reason they take out a contract is the brand new phone. With mobile phone technology moving ahead at a cracking pace, it can be tempting to renew whenever you get chance.

With pay as you go phones, a free phone is not part of the deal. If you’re happy with your current one, that may not be a consideration. If not, read on for our solution…

Pay Upfront for the Phone

If you decide you’d like the freedom of no contract, but still want the latest gadget, you have little choice but to shell out for the phone upfront.

With Apple’s latest iPhone X starting at ?999 and Samsung’s S9 starting from ?739 you are looking at a major initial outlay.

That being said, over the course of the contract, you are likely to make a saving, rather than effectively buying it on credit. If you can afford the initial payment, then this con could turn into a pro for you.

Potential Deactivation

Although this won’t affect most customers, there is a possibility of losing your number if you don’t keep it active by using it at least once every 6 months.

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So while its great that you can go abroad and use a local SIM, without wasting money on a contract that you can’t use, you do run the risk of losing your number if you allow 6 months to go by without any activity.

If this could be the case for you, make sure that you pop your SIM back in and make a call, send a few texts or browse the internet, to make sure that your SIM and number are still active for the next time you need them.

Steeper Per Unit Costs

Particularly if you go for a traditional pay as you go model, you may find that costs per unit are considerably higher than either SIM only contracts, monthly packages or contract phones.

For the occasional user, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you are a regular phone user, then it is probably best to steer clear of traditional pay as you go phones.

Compare costs per minute, text and megabyte for a clear picture of what you will have to pay.


Choosing the right deal for your next phone contract is a big deal, and you want to make sure you’re getting it right.

If you’re still not sure whether pay as you go phones are the right choice for you, a website like HandsetExpert can help, by allowing you to compare SIM only, pay monthly and SIM-free handset deals.

The Verdict: Should I Get a Pay As You Go Phone?

If you’re an occasional phone user, then this is a no-brainer. Don’t pay for things you’ll never use – find the best pay as you go deal for you.

If you and your phone are inseparable then ask yourself a few questions: Can I afford a new phone upfront? Am I happy to stick with what I’ve got? Do I consistently make good use of what’s included in my contract?

Asking these questions should help you see whether pay as you go, or contract, is the right choice for you.

For more great tips, guides and productivity hacks, check out our blog today!