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Data rollover plans: the best networks for unused data schemes

Data rollover plans

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We rate each of the UK mobile networks with data rollover plans to find the best scheme on SIM only, phone contracts and pay as you go. Last updated: 12th October 2022

Data rollover plans explained

How data rollover schemes usually work…

Data rollover explanation

Hold onto unused data for your next month

On your pay monthly SIM only or phone contract you’ll get an allowance of data that will last you until the end of the month. But what happens to your data if you don’t use it all up by that time?

With most networks you’ll just lose your unused data, even though you paid for it. Networks will also charge you extra if you do end up using more than your data allowance.

It’s frustrating to think you’re not using all the data you pay for each month. However, a few providers have what’s called data rollover. This lets you hold onto your unused data from one month to use in the next.

The benefits are two-fold. First, you’re getting more value for money, as you can actually use all the data you’ve paid for. Second, you’re less likely to go over your allowance as you have an extra data cushion.

But not all data rollover schemes are the same, and some are better than others. In this guide we’ll look at which networks offer data rollover, what their schemes are like and list them from strongest to weakest.

What's the meaning of data rollover?

Data rollover is a feature that automatically adds any unused data from one month to your next one, giving you another chance to use the data you paid for.

Does rolled-over data expire after one month?

It depends on which network you join. On iD Mobile, Virgin, EE and Vodafone the answer is yes: rolled-over data can only be carried over to the next month.

Sky Mobile and O2 exceptions. Rather than your data disappearing after one month, O2 let you keep it for a few months and Sky let you keep your data in a “piggybank” for up to 3 years.

Does rolled over data get used up first before my regular allowance?

Yes, on the networks where you only get to roll data over a month at a time. On iD Mobile, Virgin Mobile, EE and Vodafone, last month's remaining data will get used up first before this month's new data.

Sky’s scheme works differently. Your unused data is stored in your Piggybank (basically a savings account for data). Then you get through your allowance like usual and if you run out of data then you can withdraw data from your piggybank in 1GB increments.

How do I keep track of my rollover data balance?

Each network will let you check your rolled over data status using their apps or by signing in to your account online. They'll break it down into your regular data allowance balance and your rolled over data one.

Are there any disadvantages to data rollover?

It’s fair to say that rather than rolling over your leftover data every month, it might be a better idea to just switch to a cheaper plan with less data. After all, what’s the point of paying for data you don’t use and continuously rolling it over?

This isn't a bad point, and it's why SIM Sherpa tends to recommend flexible 1-month contracts if you're not sure about your regular monthly usage.

But it’s also true that your data usage varies month to month and isn’t always predictable. One month you might hardly use any data if you’re often connected to WiFi. Another month you might stream your new favourite show on your commute and end up eating through loads: data rollover helps put your mind at ease.

Useful link: How we rate each network's data rollover

How we rank each networks’ scheme

Best network for data rollover

There aren’t a lot of top choices for data rollover

The whole idea behind data rollover is to give the customer another chance to get through the data they paid for. So our favourite schemes are ones that give you more flexibility in using up your leftover data.

Essentially, the more time a network gives you to get through your rolled over data, the more data they let you hold onto and the easier it is to keep and use your leftover data the better.

And some networks restrict data rollover to certain types of plan. Most of the main networks only include it on their Pay As You Go plans. The best networks for data rollover will offer it on all or most of their plans.

Below, we’ve put every network that offers data rollover in order of worst to best.

Where to next within this article?

How it worksMobile networksSIM only plansFAQs

Rating each network's data rollover plans

These networks all offer some form of data rollover

Click a logo to learn more about their scheme (skips to the relevant article section):

1st place: Sky Mobile let you keep unused data longest

Sky Mobile Roll

The only network to let you keep leftover data for three years!See Sky's plans

at Sky.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Hold onto your leftover data longer than on other networks
Green plus sign Included on every plan
Green plus sign Unused data can be shared with other users
Green plus sign Data can be traded in for discounts on devices

What we don't like:
Red minus sign You don’t get money back for your unused data

Sky Mobile offer a unique data rollover scheme that’s truly in a league of its own. They call it their “Piggybank” scheme and it’s included on every SIM only plan and phone contract at no extra cost when you join.

The main reason their scheme is so good is that you keep your unused data for 3 years. No other network even comes close to that (usually you can keep it for 1 month).

Sky’s “Piggybank” benefit is included on every Sky Mobile plan. Here are their current best deals:

All your leftover data at the end of the month goes into what is essentially a savings account for data (hence the name “Piggybank”). You can take data out in 1GB increments and even share it with other users on the same account if they’re low.

Sky also offer Piggybank Rewards. This scheme lets you convert unused data for savings against new phones, tablets and accessories. But you’ll need to spend more money to "get your money back".

Useful link: Learn how Sky's piggybank works

Our ranking:
1st

Keep unused data for:
3 years (read full terms)
or swap it for other discounts

Available on phone contracts?
Yes (from £5 a month)

Available on SIM only?
Yes (from £6 a month)

Joint 2nd: Virgin Mobile let you hold onto leftover data for your next month

Virgin Media data rollover

You’ll use up your rolled over data before your new allowanceRead FAQs

at virginmedia.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Another chance to use the data you paid for
Green plus sign Included on every SIM only and phone contract

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Rolled over data only lasts a month
Red minus sign No way to exchange unused data for discounts

Virgin Mobile were actually one of the first UK networks to offer data rollover, but their scheme hasn’t really evolved since then. It’s fairly standard. Your unused data is rolled over for one month and after that it’s gone.

Your phone will automatically use up your rolled over data before eating into your new monthly allowance. This means you have a better chance of getting your new allowance rolled over to the next month.

Here are the best current deals on Virgin Mobile that include their data rollover feature:

It’s offered on any SIM only deal or phone contract at no extra cost. Overall it’s a fairly standard scheme, but it’s just missing that special something that puts Sky Mobile’s scheme ahead of them.

Virgin offer some great benefits as standard on their plans. This includes free social media messaging with certain apps. You can read more in our review of Virgin Mobile.

 
Useful link: Get full details on Virgin Media's data rollover scheme

Our ranking:
Joint 2nd

Keep unused data for:
1 month (read terms)

Available on phone contracts?
Yes (typically from £14 a month)

Available on SIM only?
Yes (typically from £8 a month)

Joint 2nd: iD Mobile also let you keep unused data for a month

id Mobile data rollover plans

Every deal includes data rolloverSee iD's plans

at idmobile.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Get a chance to use all the data you paid for
Green plus sign Comes on every SIM only and phone contract

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Rolled over data only lasts for a month
Red minus sign Can’t trade in unused data for rewards

While iD Mobile’s data rollover scheme might look a bit tame compared to Sky, it’s worth noting that iD’s deals are some of the cheapest of all networks, all of which include their data rollover benefit.

The data you don’t get through on your pay monthly SIM only or phone contract will be rolled over into your next month. Your rolled over data is used up before your new allowance. It’s not offered on their pay as you go SIMs.

Every iD Mobile SIM only plan includes data rollover. Here are their current best value deals:

iD Mobile’s handy app lets you see how much rolled over data you’ve got remaining as well as how much of your new allowance of data you’ve got. You only keep your unused data for a month.

You could say iD’s lower costs mean that you can get more data per pound anyway, meaning you’re more likely to have leftover data each month. But, if you get a lot of rolled over data then you should take a smaller data plan.

 
Useful link: Read full details on data rollover with iD Mobile

Our ranking:
Joint 2nd

Keep unused data for:
1 month (read full terms)

Available on phone contracts?
Yes
(typically from £10.99 a month)

Available on SIM only?
Yes
(typically from £6 a month)

Joint 3rd: SMARTY offer money back for unused data on certain deals

SMARTY data rollover diagram

Get your money back for leftover data on some plansSee their guide

at SMARTY's help section
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Money back for the data you didn’t use
Green plus sign Your money back is calculated automatically

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Only included on plans that are worse value

SMARTY used to give you money back for the data you didn’t get through in a month as a discount for your next month (1GB leftover data = £1 discount) on every plan. Now this is only the case on certain plans.

We’ve written a guide going over all the details of this scheme. The basic idea is that you essentially get your money back (even to the penny!) rather than losing the data you’ve paid for.

The issue is that this data discount scheme is only offered on select plans. These plans tend to be worse value than their regular plans anyway, having smaller data amounts for higher prices.

All of these deals give you £1 back for every 1GB of data you didn’t get through in a month:

You might still be able to get some value out of these plans, but we reckon you’re usually better off taking one of their regular plans. While they don’t include data rollover, you’ll get more data for your money anyway.

Useful link: SMARTY's guide to their data discount scheme

Our ranking:
Joint 3rd
(out of 14 providers)

Keep unused data for:
Data is used for discounts on following month

Available on phone contracts?
No

Available on SIM only?
Yes (select plans only)

Joint 3rd place: O2 only include data rollover on Pay As You Go bundles

O2 logoO2 data rollover

It comes on every “Big Bundle”See O2 PAYG SIMs

at O2.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign An extra month to get through the data you paid for
Green plus sign Minutes and texts also roll over

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Isn’t included on pay monthly plans

Like the two other main networks listed below, O2 only offer data rollover on their Pay As You Go Big Bundles. But O2’s scheme works differently to the others when it comes to how long you have to use up your leftover data.

O2 let you keep your data for longer than most other networks, but the amount of data you can rollover is actually capped. So it’s a trade off between being able to keep data longer, but not being able to keep all of it.

You get another chance to get through your unused data on all these plans:

Your limit is typically the same amount of data you get in your plan (1GB plan = 1GB limit). So you’ll only really reach your limit if you’re rolling over loads and loads of data, at which point you’re probably better off switching to a smaller plan.

But you have to make sure you renew your bundle, or you run the risk of losing your rolled over data. You have to do this on the same day it expires.

Useful link: O2 help article about data rollover

Our ranking:
Joint 3rd

Keep unused data for:
Multiple months but only a capped amount (read terms)

Available on phone contracts?
No

Available on SIM only?
Yes (PAYG only)

Joint 4th place: Vodafone offer data rollover exclusively on Pay As You Go

Vodafone data rollover

You only get it on Pay As You GoSee PAYG SIMs

at vodafone.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Another chance to get through unused data
Green plus sign You get to keep your mins and texts too

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Isn’t included on pay monthly

Vodafone are another network that only offer data rollover with their Pay As You Go bundles, but not on their pay monthly contracts. It’s great for those customers that prefer the extra flexibility of Vodafone’s bundles.

Vodafone’s data rollover scheme lets you keep your bundle of minutes, texts and data for the next 30-days, so long as you take another bundle for the next month.

Here are all of Vodafone’s pay as you go bundles, which all include data rollover so you can hang onto your minutes, texts and data for a month:

The cons are fairly obvious. You can generally get better value on pay monthly plans than on pay as you go these days, so not offering it on pay monthly is a shame. You only get to keep unused data for 30-days too.

We rate Vodafone highly as a network, and this benefit adds another reason to join on Pay As You Go. But if you’d rather join on a cheaper monthly contract and still get data rollover, have a look at the networks above.

Useful link: See Vodafone's article on data rollover

Our ranking:
Joint 4th

Keep unused data for:
1 month (read terms)

Available on phone contracts?
No

Available on SIM only?
Yes (PAYG only)

Joint 4th place: EE roll your data over for a month on Pay As You Go

EE logoEE data rollover on PAYG

Hold onto your leftover data for one monthSee PAYG SIMs

at EE.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Get through all your unused data
Green plus sign They roll over your minutes and texts too

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Not included on pay monthly SIM or phone contracts

Like the other two main networks on this list, EE only include data rollover on their Pay As You Go plans. It’s not included on their pay monthly SIM only or smartphone contracts.

You get a second chance to use your unused minutes, texts and data on EE’s PAYG packs, but almost all of these include unlimited minutes and texts anyway. Make sure to renew your bundle so you don’t lose your leftover data.

Here’s every Pay As You Go bundle that EE currently offer, all of which come with data rollover:

Other than the actual networks themselves and plan costs, there’s basically no difference between Vodafone and EE’s schemes. You can see what sort of network experience you can expect from either network in our review here.

It’s a shame to not get data rollover on EE as they’re generally one of the more expensive networks. You pay a lot per pound for your data and then end up losing what you don’t use at the end of the month.

Useful link: EE's guide to their data rollover scheme

Our ranking:
Joint 4th

Keep unused data for:
1 month (read terms)

Available on phone contracts?
No

Available on SIM only?
Yes (PAYG)

Joint last: the rest of the UK networks!

Three no data rolloverTesco no data rollovergiffgaff no data rollover
 
Plusnet Mobile logoBT Mobile logoVOXI logo

No data rollover offered by these networks

Now we’re at the end of our list with all the UK networks that don’t have data rollover schemes whatsoever. This includes larger networks like BT Mobile and Three, who you might expect to offer it.

This isn’t a death blow to these networks. After all, each network offers its own benefits and many of these offer nice little incentives to join them other than data rollover. To see more, check our reviews of every UK mobile network.

But considering we’re focusing on data rollover in this review we can’t give these networks any points here. In any case you should look around and see which network suits you best.

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