Mobile Wi-Fi, also known as MiFi or a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, is the perfect way to get online when you’re travelling or out and about. It’s a little gadget that you can carry around with you - these gizmos are so small that they’ll fit in your bag or even your pocket - which connects to mobile internet and broadcasts Wi-Fi.
All you need to do is switch it on and connect your laptop, tablet, Kindle, or other devices to the Wi-Fi, and boom - you can use the internet.
Wi-Fi devices are available on long-term contracts - compare MiFi contract deals here, if that sounds more your jam - or on a more flexible pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis. Here’s how to get a PAYG mobile Wi-Fi deal.
How does PAYG mobile Wi-Fi work?
First of all, you need a mobile Wi-Fi device itself. Pick one you like from the table above - some have enough battery life to last all week, others are cheap and cheerful, and some have specific functions, so you have plenty of choice.
When you get your device, it comes with a SIM card loaded with a data allowance. If you’re going for pay-as-you-go rather than a long term contract, you’ll have 30 days to use that allowance once it’s activated.
At the end of those 30 days, the plan either automatically rolls over to the next month - remember to cancel it if you don’t want it any more, or change up your allowance if you want a different tariff - or it just runs out. In that case, you can buy another 30-day bundle or sign up for a longer contract whenever you like.
To find PAYG-style plans on mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, just make sure you’re looking at 30-day or one-month contracts.
How to choose a PAYG mobile Wi-Fi deal
Choosing a deal is easy peasy. All you need is the comparison table above, which we’ve filled with dozens of mobile broadband deals.
Choose a device - All MiFi devices fit in your pocket and let you connect your gadgets to Wi-Fi, but some offer specific features. For instance, 4GEE WiFi from EE is made for delivering the network’s superfast 4G speeds. Alternatively, if you already have a device, all you need is a SIM to put in it. Compare PAYG data-only SIMs here.
3G or 4G? - 3G plans are cheaper and offer the best coverage, but 4G is way, way faster, and gives you a better quality connection.
Pick an allowance - On a pay-as-you-go deal, your device will come loaded with 30 days’ data allowance, so you’ll need to pick your tariff for that first month. See our guide to choosing a data allowance if you’re not sure what to go for. And remember you can always change it or pick a different bundle later.
Sort by cost - Once you’ve selected your most important criteria in the table, sort the results by cost using the toggle in the top right corner. We’ll show you the cheapest deals first.
Can I get mobile Wi-Fi with unlimited data?
Unfortunately, you can’t currently get a PAYG mobile Wi-Fi deal with unlimited data. You can buy bundles with pretty high allowances, though - tariffs with 20GB and above are available.
What’s the cheapest pay-as-you-go mobile Wi-Fi?
The best value deal for you depends on what you’re looking for. We recommend narrowing down the results to only show plans that have what you want - whether that’s 4G deals, plans from certain networks, or particular data allowances - and sorting them by cost to find the cheapest ones that fit.
There are a few ways you can keep costs down, though:
- Look out for special offers - Networks sometimes put out cheaper limited-time deals.
- Pick a budget device - Some gadgets are cheaper than others. It may mean sacrificing a feature or two, but it costs less.
- Go for 3G - It’s not nearly as fast as 4G, so do bear that in mind, but 3G-only plans are usually far cheaper.
Which networks offer pay-as-you-go mobile Wi-Fi?
Most mobile networks that offer mobile Wi-Fi or MiFi devices offer them on a pay-as-you-go basis. That includes:
Or, if already have a device and just want a PAYG data SIM to put in it, you can get a plan from one of the above networks or: