giffgaff’s a little different from other networks - it’s online only, community led and provides you with as much choice as possible when it comes to your monthly mobile bill.
giffgaff is a mobile network that does things a little differently.
For one thing it's online only - that means you won't find any shops on the high street, and it's prices are generally lower prices than other networks', partly because of peer-to-peer financing of the phones it offers.
Although it's owned by Telefonica - the company behind O2 - and uses the same network, it's almost completely community-led - customer service and other information is provided by people on giffgaff rather than hired team. That will either be an upside or a downside depending on how you use your phone. Read on and we'll explain, or to start comparing deals directly hit the button below.
Getting a mobile phone through giffgaff
Getting a phone on giffgaff is a little different to how you get one on other networks. You pay for your phone and airtime separately, like you do with O2 Refresh. When you've chosen the phone you want - what's available runs the gamut from the latest iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S handsets to more affordable devices - you set an initial payment, then choose for how long you want to make monthly payments.
Rather than being sold by giffgaff directly, phones are paid for through a peer-to-peer lending company called RateSetter. The more cash you splurge upfront and the longer the payment term, the less you'll pay each month.
However, you pay interest over the length of your payment plan, which means that although individual payments are manageable, you'll pay over the value of the phone in the long run.
Once you've pondered, perused and picked out your perfect payment plan, you choose the airtime - calls and texts - and mobile data plan you want - giffgaff calls these 'goodybags.'
Whether you pick a phone deal or choose a sim-only plan, your giffgaff sim is free. You then choose from a selection of goodybags containing calls, texts and data. These range from 60 minutes of calls, 300 texts and 20MB of data for £5 a month to 2,000 minutes of calls, unlimited texts and unlimited data for £20 a month.
Goodybags last for one month, and you can chop and change as you like. So, if you find you're running out of data one month, for example, you can pick a goodybag with more the next.
If you're after a low-cost pay-as-you-go deal, giffgaff should be on your radar. It offers some of the lowest call rates in the UK for both national and international calls.
giffgaff's a mobile virtual network operator. That means it doesn't have its own dedicated network - it uses O2's.
As O2 is one of the four major mobile networks in the UK, giffgaff's coverage is excellent, with 2G - calls and texts - available to 99% of the population and 3G - mobile internet - available to at least 90%. You can check what coverage is like in your area by using giffgaff's coverage checker. To see how it compares with that of other networks, check out our guide to UK mobile coverage.
giffgaff advertises itself as "the mobile network run by you" It isn't, of course, - it's run by Telefonica - but it does have a very active community that constantly interacts with the company , and this defines how the network operates.
For example, rather than having traditional customer service team, all technical support is provided by the community via the giffgaff forums. Providing useful advice wins you rewards, including money off your bill, so it's in everyone's interests to provide useful advice.
The network also rewards customers for promoting giffgaff. Here's how it all works…
How giffgaff rewards work
Interacting with the community or promoting giffgaff - for example, sending sims to friends, introducing them, sharing information about the network on Twitter and Facebook, and answering queries on the forum - earn you 'payback points'. These points can be redeemed for rewards like cashback, airtime credit and - one for the particularly noble - a donation to charity.
Each point is worth 1p, so it's easy to work out how much credit you have to play with. For example, if you send a sim to a friend, who then activates it, you'll net 500 points - £5 in the real world.
You can't claim on your points whenever you like, though - they're redeemed every six months or so. If you don't make a choice in the payback period, your points will roll over to the next time. Be careful though, as you can only roll over your points once. Fail to claim them a second time, they're gone forever. In short, use 'em or lose 'em.
What's good about giffgaff?
- Wide choice of phones, including iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5
- Flexible payment options for the latest phones
- Wide range of goodybags to suit all types of phone use
- Low-cost calls, texts and data
- Getting credit, cashback and other rewards for promoting the network
- You can sign up to plan without a credit check
What's bad about giffgaff?
- No dedicated customer service team
- Reliant on other customers for support and advice
- Interest rates on phones can mean you pay more than they're worth