A review of giffgaff mobile phone provider. I have used giffgaff for my phone contract for a few years, and would recommend it.
How does giffgaff work?
You order a free SIM, then activate the SIM by putting some money in your account, then choose your plan from there.
They operate two systems: credit and goodybags.
Credit is like pay-as-you-go that you top up as you need.
Goodybags are like bundles – you get a standard amount of data, minutes and texts. They aren’t a contract, because you can switch at any time, but you can set them to automatically renew every month using the app or website. Jump down the page to find out more on their plans.
Can I cancel giffgaff?
You can cancel online or using the app easily, simply by not buying credit or goodybags using their app – you aren’t tied in to a contract and there’s no pushy salespeople to get past.
After you get your free SIM and activate it, you have 14 days in which you can still cancel. You’ll get a proportion of your credit or goodybag refunded if you have used some, or in full if they are unused.
Can I change my plan easily?
Their app is pretty simple and it’s easy to upgrade or downgrade your goodybag, which takes effect the following month. The system will even recommend you downgrade your goodybag if you aren’t using all your data – I was impressed with this.
The 3, 4, 8 and 20GB goodbags have a ‘1GB extra feature’, whereby they give you an extra gig if you are about to run out.
If you still run out of data, you can pay for a new goodybag and start early. Their app is pretty simple and it’s easy to set your monthly bundle to renew if you want to, to start a new one early if you run out of data, or to upgrade or downgrade your bundle. They’ll even recommend you downgrade if you aren’t using everything, and I’ve had data increased from 2GB to 3GB for no added cost recently.
Jump down the page for more about their data.
Can I get a phone with giffgaff?
Yes you can, but this is not something I am recommending here.
I take a minimalist approach to life these days, and that means saving up and paying cash for my handsets. If you have to go in debt to get something, you can’t afford it! Paying more than you should to pay off a phone for 2 years isn’t my idea of being in control of your finances.
If you get a phone through giffgaff, you enter a loan deal with a third-party provider. It’s like most other networks – you are tied in to paying back that handset over a period of time.
The difference is that you aren’t tied in to your giffgaff goodybag for that time. You could still stop using giffgaff, but you’d still need to pay back your phone (either over the time remaining on the loan, or pay it off in full)
Giffgaff data plans
I am on the £10 per month plan which gets me 3GB data per month and unlimited texts and minutes (which I hardly use). Let’s face it, data is the main thing these days.
Giffgaff network coverage
Giffgaff doesn’t operate its own mobile network, like many mobile providers. There is actually a ‘big four’ British mobile companies that are the only ones licensed to build and maintain their own mobile network infrastructure – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Many other companies use the networks of the ‘big four’, and these other companies are called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVN)s).
Giffgaff is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses the O2 network.
I have foud the coverage to be pretty good, but there are parts of Scotland and other mountainous areas where it is weaker. You can check O2 network coverage here.
Giffgaff vs Lycamobile
Lycamobile is a good alternative to giffgaff.
Lycamobile is another low-cost MVNO that uses the O2 network.
It is a sim-only provider that offers pay-as-you-go and bundles (equivalent to giffgaff’s ‘goodybags’.)
Check out the Lycamobile bundles in more detail.
Lycamobile is better than giffgaff for international calls – this is Lycamobile’s selling point. It offers a series of international bundles that include data, texts and minutes for the UK but with cheap rates to call countries around the world – virtually anywhere you can think off. Check out this post on Ken’s Tech Tips comparing international rates – it’s the best article I’ve found.
The main feature that giffgaff has, that Lycamobile doesn’t, is that giffgaff offers money back on your account if you refer your friends. This is why I’m recommending giffgaff – of course, I’ll get a credit if you sign up using my affiliate link below (click the banner), but you can too in future.