Giffgaff Review & Comparison to Pay As You Go Mobile Networks
July 17th, 2012
Giffgaff is an O2-owned mobile phone network. They offer low-cost calls and texts on Pay As You Go and with ‘Giffgaff Goodybag’ bundles.
Giffgaff is a low-cost mobile phone network owned by O2. Founded in November 2009, the Pay As You Go network runs on the same masts & infrastructure as parent network O2. In that time, they have been going from strength to strength and have become our Reader’s Pick of Pay As You Go tariffs in 2012.
Giffgaff have three main product offerings:
- Giffgaff Goodybags – “Goodybags” are bundles of minutes, texts and internet access which last for a month. For example, the £10/month Goodybag comes with 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB internet. Unlimited internet is available on Goodybags from £12/month.
- Giffgaff Gigabags – “Gigabags” are data-only packages. Designed primarily for 3G tablets such as the iPad and USB mobile broadband dongles, “Gigabags” start from £5/month for 500MB of data. Heavy downloaders can opt for the 1GB package which costs £7.50/month or the 3GB package which costs £15/month. We’ve got an in-depth guide & full review of giffgaff gigabags.
- Pay As You Go – If you don’t have a Goodybag, it’s possible to pay for your calls and texts on a Pay As You Go basis. For giffgaff Pay As You Go users, calls cost 10p/minute and texts cost 6p each. This compares favourably with other mainstream Pay As You Go offerings: for example O2 charge 25p/minute for calls and 12p per text message (despite the fact you’re actually on the same network!). Smartphone owners on giffgaff can access the internet for 20p/day for 20MB internet if they don’t have a goodybag.
It is possible to order a free SIM card through the giffgaff website. This SIM card can be used on either of the three product offerings.
If you’ve got one of the latest handsets such as the iPhone 4S, Galaxy S3 or HTC One X, you may find that it requires a micro-SIM card. As of June 2012, giffgaff micro-SIM cards can be popped out of any of their new SIM cards. It is possible to order a micro-SIM card in exactly the same way.
You’ll need to order a separate SIM card for each device that you plan to use on giffgaff.
- 1 How much do calls and texts cost on giffgaff?
- 2 What are giffgaff goodybag bundles?
- 3 What is the fair usage policy for “unlimited data” on giffgaff?
- 4 How do I qualify for free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls, texts and video calls?
- 5 Can I use giffgaff in my tablet or mobile broadband dongle?
- 6 What can I find a coverage map for giffgaff?
- 7 What are the pros and cons of joining giffgaff?
- 8 Is tethering allowed on giffgaff?
- 9 What is the Hokey Cokey goodybag?
- 10 What is giffgaff payback?
- 11 Do giffgaff provide mobile phones?
- 12 I’m switching to giffgaff. Can I keep my existing phone number?
- 13 How do I join giffgaff?
How much do calls and texts cost on giffgaff?
Outside of any inclusive allowances in your goodybag, the standard rate on giffgaff is 10p/minute for calls, 6p per text message and 20p/day for internet (up to 20MB). The flat rate charge of 10p/minute and 6p per text message applies regardless of the mobile number or landline number that you’re calling or texting (it’s a flat rate: any network, any time). The only exception is for calls and texts to other giffgaff members. These are free if you’ve topped up in the past 3 months.
Giffgaff’s rates compare exceptionally well to other mainstream Pay As You Go mobile networks:
|Giffgaff (O2 network)||10p/min*||6p*||20p/day for 20MB then 20p/MB||8p/call|
|O2||25p/min**||12p||£1/day (500MB free with £10 top-up)||15p/call|
|Orange||25p/min||12p||£2/day (100MB free with £10 top-up)||25p/minute|
|Three||26p/min||11p||11p/MB (150MB free with £10 top-up)||16p/minute|
|T-Mobile***||30p/min||10p||£1/day (500MB free with £15 top-up)||30p/minute|
|Vodafone||25p/min||12p||£1/day (500MB free with £10 top-up)||21p/minute|
* On giffgaff, calls and texts to other giffgaff mobiles are free providing you’ve topped up once in the last 3 months.
** On O2 Pay As You Go, the cost of calls to landlines and other O2 mobiles drops to 5p/minute after the first 3 minutes.
*** T-Mobile charge 30p/minute and 10p/text on their ‘Text’ Plan. Alternatively, you could opt for the ‘Talk’ plan which charges 25p/minute for calls and 12p/text.
What are giffgaff goodybag bundles?
Goodybags are set bundles of minutes, texts and internet which last for a month. The bundles start from £5/month. The most popular option is the £10 Goodybag: with this you’ll get 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB internet.
There are currently a choice of six Goodybag packages:
& 1 min per min
of calls received
Calls to voicemail are deducted from your inclusive allowance of minutes. If you use up the inclusive airtime allowances, you’ll pay giffgaff’s standard Pay As You Go rates. These are 10p/minute when you’re making a phone call and 6p when you send a text message. Data costs 2p per megabyte if you go over the inclusive allowance.
For more information, see our full guide to giffgaff goodybags.
What is the fair usage policy for “unlimited data” on giffgaff?
There is no fair usage policy for “unlimited data” on the giffgaff goodybags. This means you don’t need to worry about exceeding your download limits and you won’t incur any additional charges for using your smartphone.
Giffgaff Gigabag packages have well-defined download limits (either 500MB, 1GB or 3GB) with a 50MB buffer being in place before charging begins. If you use up your Gigabag data allowance, additional data usage costs 2p/MB.
Pay As You Go customers who do not have a Goodybag or a Gigabag can pay for data on a daily basis. You can use up to 20MB per day for 20p. Once you cross the 20MB threshold, data is charged at 20p/MB for the rest of the day.
How do I qualify for free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls, texts and video calls?
You’ll get free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls, texts and video calls providing you’ve topped up at least once in the last 3 months. Free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls can last up to 60 minutes per call after which you can re-dial to continue talking for free. Giffgaff is unique in offering free 3G video calls to members: most mobile networks charge 50p/minute for video calling.
Can I use giffgaff in my tablet or mobile broadband dongle?
Yes – you’ll need a giffgaff gigabag. Gigabags can be used in a smartphone, tablet or USB mobile broadband dongle with packages ranging from £5/month for 500MB of data up to £12.50/month for 3GB data.
|Monthly Cost||Data||Smartphone Usage||Tablet Usage||Dongle Usage|
|£5/month||500MB||✔||✔||✔||Get Deal »|
|£7.50/month||1GB||✔||✔||✔||Get Deal »|
|£12.50/month||3GB||✔||✔||✔||Get Deal »|
Once you exceed your monthly download limit, you’ll be charged 2p/MB. Each Gigabag includes a 50MB buffer before you start getting charged (e.g. if you are on the 500MB Gigabag, you won’t be charged until you reach 550MB).
Giffgaff do not make a distinction between goodybag and gigabag SIM cards – free SIM cards are available for both from the same online form.
What can I find a coverage map for giffgaff?
Giffgaff uses the O2 network as a “virtual network operator” – the coverage you’ll receive on giffgaff is identical to the coverage you’ll receive on O2. Hence, you can check Giffgaff coverage in your area by using the O2 coverage checker.
What are the pros and cons of joining giffgaff?
Some of the benefits of joining giffgaff are:
- Great value Goodybags. Some great savings can be had with a giffgaff goodybag – for example £10/month buys 250 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet. If you use up the entire allowance of 250 minutes every month, this works out costing just 2p/min (before considering the inclusive texts and internet).
- Free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls, texts and video calls. If your friends and family members are also on giffgaff, you can call and text each other for free. You can also make free includes 3G video calls to each other (if you both have compatible handsets). In order to qualify for free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls and texts, you’ll need to top-up at least once every 3 months.
- No contracts. You’re not tied in to a 24 month contract like you would be with many other mobile networks. This means you can leave at any time and you can take your phone number with you. You can also change your goodybag on a monthly basis if your calling habits change. giffgaff will send you a report each month with information about which plan is the most suitable one for you.
- Unlimited internet. Giffgaff Goodybags of £12/month and above come with unlimited internet – there are no download limits. The only other networks currently providing this are Three and T-Mobile. Three and T-Mobile offer unlimited data on their One Plan and Full Monty tariffs from £25/month. We’ve got a full review of ‘The One Plan’ and of ‘The Full Monty’.
Some of the drawbacks of giffgaff are:
- It isn’t possible to pay by direct debit. With most mobile phone contracts, you can set them automatic payment directly from your bank account using Direct Debit. This isn’t possible with giffgaff. However, you can set up automatic top-up from your debit card or credit card.
- You must provide your own unlocked phone. You must provide your own unlocked mobile phone to use with giffgaff as giffgaff do not sell mobile phones directly.
- No call centres. giffgaff does not have any call centres – instead you are expected to use the forums on their website for most of your support queries. For account-specific enquiries, customer service agents are available. Whilst forums can generally offer faster response times for most queries than a call centre can, using a forum for support can be an new concept for some people. It can also feel less friendly.
Is tethering allowed on giffgaff?
Yes – but not on the unlimited data Goodybag packages.
Tethering means connecting your mobile phone to a PC or laptop as a modem and sharing your phone’s 3G mobile broadband service. You can use tethering if you either pay-as-you-go for data or use one of the giffgaff gigabag packages. Giffgaff makes no distinction between goodybag and gigabag SIM cards: they can both be ordered from the same place. This allows you to switch between tariffs as per when tethering is required.
What is the Hokey Cokey goodybag?
The “Hokey Cokey” goodybag is a somewhat unique proposition in the UK mobile industry. “Hokey Cokey” is a £5/month airtime bundle with 60 minutes and 300 text messages. The key difference with “Hokey Cokey” is that for every minute you’re called, you’ll receive an one extra free minute. That is, if you receive 100 minutes of phone calls, you’ll get 100 extra minutes on top of the original 60 minutes which come from “Hokey Cokey”. Calls from other giffgaff members (which are free) do not count towards your minutes received. Other calls received from UK/international landlines and mobiles will all count.
For more information on Hokey Cokey, see our in-depth guide to the “Hokey Cokey” goodybag.
What is giffgaff payback?
Giffgaff claim that the main reason they can offer lower calling rates is due to low running costs of the network. This is because they outsource support and marketing to their members through an online forum.
Payback is giffgaff’s scheme to reward customers who take part and help the network by introducing their friends or answering questions in the forum. Once you’ve signed up and got an active giffgaff SIM card, you’ll be able to earn £5 in payback for every friend you introduce to giffgaff.
Do giffgaff provide mobile phones?
I’m switching to giffgaff. Can I keep my existing phone number?
Yes. You’ll need to ask your existing network for a PAC code and then to provide this to giffgaff. The entire process of transferring your phone number should take no more than 24 hours. Our PAC Code Finder tool provides a step-by-step guide to transferring your mobile number to giffgaff.
How do I join giffgaff?
I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.
Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.