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Spending caps on mobile plans: the best networks in the UK

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We show you the best and worst networks for avoiding spending extra on your mobile bill than expected. The most flexible wins. Last updated: 2nd August 2023.

Spending caps in a nutshell

Some networks’ spending caps are better than others

BT Mobile spending cap screenshot

Each network has different incrementsSkip to best networks

at simsherpa.com

When you set a spending cap, you’re limiting how much you can spend on extras outside of your plan, such as non-inclusive roaming, calls abroad, calls to premium numbers or anything else not included in your deal.

Every pay monthly mobile network has to let you set a spending cap by law, and give you the option to set your cap to £0 to stop any extra spending. But networks still choose the increments in which you can cap overspending.

Some let you set a cap in £1 increments. Others only let you set a cap at £5 or even £10 increments. And while some let you change your cap up or down whenever, others make you wait until your next month to do so.

The best networks are the ones that let you set a cap of £1 at a time and change it up or down when you want. So, we’ll now go over all the networks’ spending caps scheme and which ones are the most or least flexible.

Useful link: Networks that offer unreasonably inflexible spending caps

Mobile networks with best spending caps

1st - Providers that let you change your cap in small steps, whenever

Sky Mobile logoiD Mobile logoTalkmobile logo

We rate Sky Mobile, iD Mobile and Talkmobile as having the best spending cap schemes of all networks, because they’re the most flexible.

They all let you set your cap in £1 increments and change your spending cap up or down, whenever you need (others only let you do it monthly). That gives you maximum control over what you’re spending.

The main difference between the networks is the maximum spend limit you can set. Sky let you set a cap of up to £100 and iD up to £25. Talkmobile let you set a cap up to £30 for your first three months and then after that it goes up to £99.

Useful link: Sky Mobile’s super flexible spending cap scheme

2nd - Networks where you pay up front are ‘naturally’ capped

VOXI logoSMARTY logogiffgaff logo1pMobile logoASDA Mobile logoLebara logoLycamobile logo

When taking a deal from VOXI, SMARTY, giffgaff, 1pMobile, ASDA Mobile, Talk Home, Lebara or Lycamobile you buy your minutes, texts and data up front as a bundle.

To be able to use any other service that would cost extra, you actively have to go and top up with credit or buy an add-on. If you don't do that, the service simply won’t work, so you won’t be able to accidentally overspend.

If you never top up with credit, you’ve effectively got a cap of £0 overspending. The issue is that when you do top up with credit there’s no way to set a limit on how much of this credit you can use on extras.

So it’s important to be wary with your topped up credit on these networks. Make sure you know what’s not included in your plan and be careful to avoid using these if you want to use your credit for something else.

Useful link: 1-month rolling contracts vs 1-month plans

3rd- Tesco’s spending caps are decent enough

Tesco Mobile logo

Tesco Mobile have a decent spending cap scheme, which isn’t quite as flexible as the networks above but still gives you more flexibility than the networks below.

You can set your cap in £2.50 increments and you can increase your cap whenever you need. But if you want to decrease your cap you have to wait until your next month for it to start working.

That makes sense if you’ve already spend over the amount you want to reduce the cap to, but if you haven’t, we don’t see why you can’t move the cap downwards mid-month.

Either way, Tesco are still a decent choice thanks to the nice small £2.50 increments.

Useful link: How to cap overspending on Tesco Mobile

Last place - Networks with inflexible spending caps

Virgin Mobile logoO2 logoEE logoThree logoVodafone logo

At last, we come to the networks with very inflexible spending caps that you can’t change when you please. Some are more flexible than others, but all of them are much less flexible than the above networks.

Virgin, O2, Co-op, Honest Mobile and EE set their first cap at £5 and have inflexible increments after that. Three and Vodafone start their first caps at £10 and only let you set it at £10 increments after that.

O2, Vodafone, Honest and Three let you change your cap once every 24 hours, and your new cap will come into effect after 24 hours. EE, Co-op and Virgin only let you decrease your cap for your next billed month.

In all we’d say O2 are better than the rest. But every one of these networks only do the least possible to comply with the law. That’s just how it is, but we think people should be aware of it before joining them.

You’re more likely to rack up a big bill on extras with these networks if you went over your data allowance or used any other extras. If you’re worried about that we’d recommend joining the networks above instead.

Useful link: Which networks offer the cheapest extra data add-ons

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1p Mobile logo
Three logo
ASDA logo
Boshhh Mobile logo
Coop Mobile logo
EE logo
Genius logo
giffgaff logo
Honest logo
ID logo
IQ logo
Lebara logo
Lycamobile logo
O2 logo
Sky logo
spusu logo
Talkhome logo
Talkmobile logo
Tesco logo
Vodafone logo
VOXI logo


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