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giffgaff review: what's the mobile network's appeal in 2024?

giffgaff logo, a SIM card and a phone iconVisit giffgaff.com

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We rate everything you get when you join giffgaff on SIM only or a phone contract, including their 4G coverage, data speeds and added benefits. Last updated: 22nd November 2023.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates giffgaff as safe pair of hands
 (3/5, good)

“giffgaff customers are amazingly loyal to the network. The way it's run like a community seems to appeal to many. But they also offer a reliable and steady network experience too.

No one beats them for call/texts coverage indoors and out, their 4G data coverage is excellent too. And they’re benefitting massively from O2’s rapid rollout of 5G technology, which you get as standard on giffgaff.

What’s holding them back is slow data and the lack of WiFi calling and 4G calling. These two features are becoming standard on giffgaff’s low-cost rivals. Online-only customer service is a drawback too.

Their prices are alright, not cheap, not expensive. Their SIMs are ultra-flexible and phone contracts too. giffgaff aren’t the world-beaters their customers think they are but they are a safe pair of hands on O2.”

The 3 best bits

1) Excellent coverage and 5G data
2) Ultra flexible phones and SIMs
3) Lower cost than O2 directly

The 3 worst bits

1) No WiFi calling / 4G calling
2) Online-only customer service
3) Slow data speeds

Which network does giffgaff use?

giffgaff uses the O2 network on 2G/3G/4G/5G.

Can you get WiFi calling on giffgaff?

No you can’t. This is one main disadvantage to joining them. Sky Mobile are the only virtual operator on the O2 network with WiFi calling.

Does giffgaff have 4G calling?

No. 4G calling or VoLTE is one of the missing network features on giffgaff.

Does giffgaff use 5G?

Yes, all their SIM only Goodybags come with 5G data as standard and all phone contracts where the model supports 5G as a feature.

Does giffgaff have an app?

Yes they do. And it’s pretty decent. Download for Android or iPhone.

Can I move my number to giffgaff?

Yes. You’ll need a PAC from your old provider. Text the word PAC to 65075 from your old SIM to get a code you can then give to giffgaff, which lets the move your number across.

giffgaff's mobile network

Their mobile coverage is excellent in our experience

giffgaff's coverage checker

Check signal near you before joiningUse network map

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

giffgaff are a sub-brand of O2 that were set up as a budget alternative with the interesting quirk of being partly run by their customers. As such, they get full access to O2’s 2G/3G/4G/5G network.

The best part about this is their excellent coverage for calls and texts (2G/3G). giffgaff’s hosts are the joint-largest network for call signal across the UK’s landmass, so total signal blackspots are hard to find.

For 4G data coverage (see 5G below), giffgaff are behind Vodafone and EE. Their 4G is just as good as those networks in urban areas, but you’re slightly more likely to lose 4G as you move into the countryside.

Overall, it builds into a good picture for giffgaff's coverage. But we'd still recommend checking your local signal on their official map before joining. Check everywhere you’ll use your phone, not just at home.

Useful link: Read differences between giffgaff and O2

Overall coverage rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Joint 2nd

Not as good as:

Better than:

4G data speeds are a weakness for giffgaff

giffgaff branded globe with 4G

The same 4G speeds as being on O2Read their 4G guide

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

While giffgaff provide an excellent mix of coverage, their data speeds are generally slower than on other networks. This is one of the big downsides of giffgaff being on O2’s network.

In their latest report, network testers Opensignal measured typical 4G data speeds of around 19.3 Mbps. That is an improvement over the last report, but is still much slower than what other networks typically offer.

In real life we got speeds up to 95 Mbps in the city centre. That’s still behind Vodafone and EE, but ahead of Three. But in rural areas we went as low as 5 Mbps over 4G, so we can see how it averages out downwards.

If you’re looking for super fast speeds, you might be better off on another network. Some users have said that speeds on giffgaff are slower than on O2, but in our own tests we got identical speeds on both networks.

Useful link: Our guide to networks with the best 5G

Our speed rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Joint last

Not as good as:
EE, Three, Vodafone

Same as:
O2, Tesco, Sky

5G coverage is impressive but speeds are underwhelming

giffgaff 5G announcement

5G coverage and speeds identical to O2See announcement

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

giffgaff have offered access to O2’s rapidly expanding 5G network for a while now, meaning you’ll get 5G in the same massive 2000+ locations as you would on O2. This comes at no extra cost on every giffgaff plan.

Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla measured typical 5G speeds of 75.0 Mbps - 78.88 Mbps over giffgaff’s hosts O2, with peak speeds up to 208.14 Mbps. Again, their speeds are the slowest of all networks.

giffgaff offer 5G access on all of their plans. Here are their current best value deals:

No network can cover their 5G locations entirely, it’s still on a street by street basis. giffgaff tend to offer pretty good coverage in their 5G locations, but speeds suffer significantly at the edges of 5G signal.

Overall, we’d say giffgaff’s 5G is fairly strong in terms of coverage, but the speeds can be a bit of a letdown if you’re looking to use your SIM for data intensive activities.

Useful link: Check giffgaff 5G in your area

The lack of WiFi calling is still disappointing

WiFi calling substitutes signal diagram

See networks that do have WiFi callingRead our guide

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

giffgaff’s call signal is usually good at getting into buildings, but you can still find indoor blackspots especially if there are things between you and the mast. WiFi calling is usually a good way around this.

But you don’t get WiFi or 4G calling on giffgaff. So if you do run into blackspots in your home your phone won’t be able to use WiFi or 4G signal as a backup like you could on most other networks.

You can use apps like WhatsApp or Skype to call over WiFi if signal is too weak, but that’s not always possible. You might be using a different app to someone, or maybe you’re trying to call a bank or business.

If you want WiFi calling and access to O2’s network but don’t like the look of O2’s deals, then Sky Mobile are a good alternative with WiFi calling. And Tesco Mobile are starting to roll out their WiFi calling too.

Useful link: Our guide to the networks with WiFi calling

Our WiFi calling rating:
☆☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Joint last

Not as good as:
Three, EE, iD, Vodafone, O2, Sky

Same as:
All others

Extra network features are a strength on giffgaff

WiFi and TFL logos with a mobile phone

Get free WiFi on the UndergroundHow to connect

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

giffgaff offer free access to WiFi hotspots on the Underground (via Virgin Media) and around 8000 of O2’s hotspots above ground (download the app here). It’s a great way to stay connected and save data on the go.

You can also tether without limits on giffgaff. So if you’ve got unlimited data and you want to stream video on your laptop on the go, you can do so without worrying about how much data you’re using.

Call forwarding is included on giffgaff, letting you forward incoming calls onto a different number. They’re one of the few budget networks to include this feature.

But giffgaff don’t offer visual voicemail, which usually lets you sort through your voicemails one by one. You can now get an eSIM on giffgaff, but only if you take out a physical SIM first, which is inconvenient.

Useful link: How to get free WiFi on giffgaff

Our network features ranking:
★★★☆☆ (good)


Not as good as:

Same as:

giffgaff benefits

Their inclusive EU roaming is nice if a little restrictive

Flags of roaming destinations

Limits on data usage while roamingSee all costs

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

A lot of UK networks have scrapped their inclusive EU roaming schemes, but giffgaff still let their customers roam in the EU at no added cost. Check their destination list here to see where you can go.

giffgaff let you use your calls and texts in the EU like at home on all their plans. Your data usage is limited to 5GB while there, but lots of users won’t hit that limit. If you do, you'll start paying at these rates.

And there is no inclusive worldwide roaming on giffgaff, so to roam beyond the EU you’ll have to top up and pay at these rates. This can get expensive fast, so check the best networks for worldwide roaming here.

giffgaff are a good choice if you want to go on short trips to the EU. For longer trips you may want to keep an eye on your data usage, while if you go beyond the EU you’ll definitely want to limit your usage.

Useful link: Using your phone abroad help guide

Our EU roaming rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Joint 6th

Better than:
All others

The flexibility of their plans might appeal to you

giffgaff benefits on a black background

Lots of flexibility on all plansRead About Us

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

On giffgaff, you can either take a 1-month deal or an 18-month contract on SIM only. Their longer contracts tend to give you more data for the same costs, but their shorter plans also have their upsides.

With their 1-month deals you can leave giffgaff at any point without giving notice, while if you leave early on an 18-month contract you’ll have to pay a fee. But both kinds of deals let you change plans each month.

If you want to use extras outside your plan, such as international mins, on either kind of plan you can top up with credit and pay out of that. This means there should be no nasty surprises on your monthly bill.

You don’t have to pass a credit check for their 18-month contracts, but you do for their phone deals as they’re based on finance. They also offer great flexibility that we go into in more detail below.

The choice between an 18-month contract and 1-month deal comes down to whether you want to stay free to leave giffgaff whenever. Otherwise, their 18-month contracts are a better value and still very flexible choice.

Useful links: Compare phone contracts | Compare SIM only deals

Spending caps are handy for avoiding massive bills

giffgaff's out of bundle costs screenshot

You only use what you actually paid forSee extra costs

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

Mobile networks are required by law to let you set a cap on extra spending so you don’t rack up a huge bill outside of your regular monthly payment.

The kinds of extras that are outside of your plan include premium rate numbers, calls abroad, non-inclusive roaming, picture messages, which are all listed in giffgaff’s extra tariffs here.

But with giffgaff’s plans you only get what you’ve already paid for and you can’t use any extras unless you top up with credit. Just make sure to turn auto-top up off, or you may end up spending more than you like.

Bear in mind if you’ve got leftover credit from topping up then there’s no way to avoid using this up on extras, other than keeping an eye on what you use.

Useful link: Why you can and can't cap spending

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)


As good as:

Better than:

You might like some of the smaller benefits they offer

International calling on giffgaff

International mins from just 1p per minSee their list

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

giffgaff let you make calls to foreign countries by topping up with credit and paying out of that. Calls to some of these countries are as cheap as 1p per minute, while others can be a bit more expensive.

You can also get extra rewards for bringing friends or family members onto giffgaff. You’ll get £5 for each friend you refer which you can get as credit, as money back via Paypal or you can donate it to charity.

giffgaff give you special offers to certain services. They’re called “member perks” and include things like a £25 voucher for a phone repair service and others that you might find useful (read their full list here).

Finally, at the time of writing giffgaff have promised not to raise prices for the rest of the year. That’s great considering their main selling point is their low-cost plans.

Useful link: Our guide to the best networks for calling abroad

But other networks provide benefits you might prefer

SMARTY's unused data

Unlimited data streaming on VOXIHow it works

at voxi.co.uk
(opens in new window)

giffgaff don’t offer data rollover, which usually lets you keep your unused data for another month. Fellow O2-users Sky have the best data rollover scheme, letting you keep your leftover data for up to 3 years!

Here is Sky Mobile’s best current deal with data rollover included:

Sky Mobile also include unlimited data to stream their TV apps on every plan, letting you stream without eating into your data. Low-cost rivals VOXI offer something similar. giffgaff don’t offer anything like this.

If you run out of data in the middle of the month there are no data add-ons to tide you over. Instead you have to top up with credit and pay out of that, but data can get expensive this way (1GB for £100!).

Finally, you’re out of luck if you want a family plan on giffgaff. You can’t manage multiple plans from one account, nor do you get any sort of discount on additional plans, but you do get the £5 free credit.

Useful link: Our Sky Mobile vs giffgaff review

giffgaff's pricing and deals

giffgaff’s SIM only plans



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giffgaff’s Pay As You Go rates

There are cheaper Pay As You Go options than giffgaff

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How to top up

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

Not a lot of networks still let you pay as you go in the traditional way where you top up with credit and pay for your mins, texts and data. But giffgaff still let you do this, you don’t need to buy a monthly plan.

The issue is that giffgaff’s rates have steadily gone up over time, making paying as you go much worse value than just taking a monthly bundle:

In our rankings for the cheapest PAYG networks, giffgaff are in the middle of the pack. But they’re a much more expensive choice than 1pMobile who offer tariffs of 1p per min, text and MB of data.

Calls to other giffgaff numbers are free if you top up with £10 every three months. And your credit won’t expire if you make a chargeable action every six months. But we prefer their monthly deals for sheer value.

Useful link: All giffgaff payg rates

Phone contracts on giffgaff

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giffgaff’s phone contracts are some of the most flexible

Phone contract benefits listed

Read more

at giffgaff.com
(opens in new window)

giffgaff base tier phone contracts on finance agreements (basically loans) where the cost of paying off your phone and your monthly goodybag or 18-month usage contract (mins, texts, data) are on separate bills.

What this means is you can change your plan every month. Or if you’re on a 1-month deal you can leave giffgaff once the month is up and go with a different network while still paying giffgaff for your phone.

And you can set your own upfront cost. You can set it higher to reduce your monthly payment. And you can choose a contract length to suit your budget and reduce your contract length by paying lump sum amounts.

In the end it’s more expensive than buying from the manufacturer (they have to turn a profit after all) but giffgaff tend to be cheaper than other networks. You can get most new iPhone and Android models.

Useful link: giffgaff's latest phone range

Their credit checks can be quite difficult to pass

Screenshot of our phone comparison tool

Compare phone deals

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

These sorts of phone contracts essentially work out like bank loans, so giffgaff have to show the government that they’re lending responsibly to people who can actually pay them back.

To get a giffgaff phone deal you’ll have to pass a credit check. We don’t have any insider info, but we think these are stricter than on other networks. Any missed bills in the past could mean you fail.

And if you’re unable to keep up with your monthly bills then this could be very bad for your credit score. We’d say it’s best to properly suit your contract to your budget before taking one out.

The various combinations of contract lengths and upfront costs makes it harder to compare deals to other networks. But you can compare giffgaff’s prices on all models to other networks with our comparison tool.

Useful link: Compare mobile phone contracts

Customer service

Their customer service won’t be good for everyone

Ofcom customer service rating table

They don’t appear in Ofcom’s reportsSee latest report

at ofcom.org.uk
(opens in new window)

giffgaff have an estimated two million customers and as such should be large enough to appear in Ofcom’s network complaints data. But they don’t since they’re not technically a pay monthly network.

That makes it a bit harder to say whether giffgaff are good at resolving their customers’ issues, since Ofcom’s report is the easiest way of seeing whether a networks’ customer service is helpful or not.

They’re able to keep costs low by not having call centres. That can be a bit frustrating if you’re someone who prefers to call up your network when you run into an issue to get it solved directly.

giffgaff also don’t have an online chat. Instead you’ll have to ask an agent or other giffgaff users in their community forums, which can be slow. So it’s a trade off of low prices for less robust customer service.

Useful link: How to get help on giffgaff

Our customer service rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)


Better than:

Worse than:
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