Ditch the contract: is pay-as-you-go cheaper?

Before the rise of smartphones, pay-as-you-go plans (often abbreviated as PAYG) were aimed at the ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish’.

Sure, you didn’t have to commit to any large monthly payments, but getting charged for each minute of conversation and every individual text message had a way of adding up. Compared to the unlimited plans that came with a one or two-year contract, pay-as-you-go was hardly an enticing prospect.

Nowadays, however, things have changed. With the advent of free messaging apps and pay-as-you-go bulk-buy options, contracts aren’t necessarily the gold standard anymore. Depending on how often you use your phone, and what you use it for, a pay-as-you-go plan may actually wind up saving you money.


Today’s pay-as-you-go plans allow you to purchase minutes, texts and data in pre-packaged bundles, rather than paying for each minute or SMS individually. In essence, PAYG bundles are just like a contract, except you’re never locked into any plan for longer than a month.

Pay-as-you-go bundles are particularly beneficial if your phone usage tends to vary from month to month. For example, if you know that you tend to call and text more people during the Christmas season, you can simply choose to buy a larger bundle for the month of December. Alternatively, if you’re planning a three-week holiday to Spain in July, you can choose a small bundle for that month and only buy what you need.


Even if you opt for a PAYG bundle with unlimited calls, texts and data, it can still work out cheaper than signing up for a 12- or 24-month contract. Many providers, such as Three or GiffGaff, even offer ‘unlimited everything’ for just £10-£15 a month.


One of the biggest perks of pay-as-you-go is the upfront, predictable cost. Unlike with 12- or 24-month contracts, you’ll never have to worry about getting hit with an unexpectedly large bill. With pay-as-you-go, you only pay for what you need and it’s impossible to “go over” your allotted minutes or data. You are always in control of how much you spend.


Pay-as-you-go plans have always been the preference of the noncommittal—and for good reason! Financial circumstances and phone technologies change, and being stuck in a two-year contract can be extremely irritating.

One huge benefit of pay-as-you-go plans is the freedom they afford you. There’s no agonising wait for a free phone upgrade. There’s no frustrating realisation that you’ve paid for a plan you don’t need. You never find yourself bound to a provider that has poor coverage or substandard customer service.

With pay-as-you-go, you can adjust your tariffs every month, upgrade whenever you feel like it and even ditch the plan completely at any time. So, before you sign on the dotted line, consider whether pay-as-you-go might make more sense for you (and your wallet).

Do you use pay-as-you-go? Would you ever consider switching? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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