Pay as You Go (PAYG) mobile phones allow you to top up your phone with credit as and when you need it rather than paying a fixed monthly fee. With PAYG you can choose how much you would like to spend on your phone each month and can spend as little or as much as you like.
One of the benefits of PAYG is that you can still use your phone to receive calls or messages even if you have not spent any money on topping up. One of the main drawbacks of PAYG phones is that calls and messages can cost more than they would on a monthly contract.
PAYG phones are a good choice if you do not want to spend much money on a phone each month or if the amount of money you will have available may change from month to month. Most contracts will cost around £20-30 a month and you may feel that you do not want to spend that much on a monthly basis. With PAYG you can spend as little as you like, or even nothing at all.
This option may be ideal for people such as students who may not have much disposable income or do not have a regular income. It may also be well suited to people who are not inclined to make many phone calls or send many messages as they may not use anywhere near the amount of free minutes and texts on offer from a monthly contract.
In such a scenario the monthly fee for a contract phone would be a wasted expenditure as they may be able to have a phone for much less per month with the amount of calls and messages actually used. This is a bit like buying a multipack of crisps every time you are hungry, eating one bag and throwing the rest away when you could simply purchase a single bag of crisps.
With a contract phone you pay a monthly fee and then your minutes and texts are automatically added onto your account. There is no limit to how much you can use and if you go over this amount you will be charged for each additional minute, text and MB of data used. With PAYG you choose when you would like additional credit and as such you will need to top up this credit yourself. There are a number of different ways that you can do this.
You can top up in most shops and newsagents by specifying your network and the amount of credit you would like. Usually the minimum amount of credit that you can add to a phone is £5 but some network providers have now started allowing smaller amounts too. For example, since the start of 2011 Orange allows people to top up their phone credit from as little as 10p. This service is not available when paying via a credit or debit card though, and can only be purchased through Orange stores.
When purchasing credit from a standard shop or newsagent you will either be provided with a receipt containing a number or you can use a top-up card that comes with the SIM card. The receipt will contain a code that you can enter through your phone by dialling a specific phone number or you can simply hand your top-up card to the shop assistant and have the credit added on this way.
Additionally, you can phone your network provider´s designated phone line and associate a credit or debit card with that account. Then all you have to do whenever you need credit is phone the number and specify how much credit you would like to be added to your phone.
Many cash machines now also allow you to top up your phone in a similar manner. Once you have inserted your bank card into the machine there may be an option to purchase phone credit. This service is not available through all cash machines but is on offer from over 50,000 machines across the UK. Cash machines where this service is supported should display the green TopUp scheme logo, either nearby or on the machine´s screen itself.
Many network providers now allow you to top up online as well simply by entering your phone number and the amount of credit you would like added. You will need a credit or debit card to make use of this service although some networks may offer credit payable by Direct Debit directly from your bank account.
As well as allowing you to choose how much money to spend on your phone many networks now offer incentives and bonuses when you top up by certain amounts. Topping up by certain amounts can get you additional free texts, free minutes, free internet or free calls to selected phone numbers. Vodafone can provide an emergency £2 IOU credit when you run out and Orange will add 10% of all top-up purchases to a Phone Fund, to help you buy a new Orange phone.