According to Angels Tadzembwa, Three pay as you go is a great mobile phone provider with fantastic prices for texts, minutes and data add-ons, which can be ideal in a student budget. Credit: Daniel Thorp
According to Angels Tadzembwa, Three pay as you go is a great mobile phone provider with fantastic prices for texts, minutes and data add-ons, which can be ideal in a student budget. Credit: Daniel Thorp

With student costs at an all-time high, Angels Tadzembwa investigated Three pay as you go SIMs to see if they suit modern student lifestyles.

With students often struggling to make ends meet, is it time to ditch monthly mobile contracts for pay as you go? Having struggled with payments of my mobile contract, l was excited when l got a chance to try out the Three mobile pay as you go SIM card. Three sent me a Samsung Galaxy Fame handset, and I spent 3 weeks testing its place in a student lifestyle.
Simply defined, pay as you is paying for a service before it is used, and it differs from a pay monthly contract in that you are not tied down for 6-12 months. I was rather sceptical of the amount l would have to use and my friends literally laughed when they heard that l would be trying to use my phone for a month with only £10 pounds credit on it. However, l was pleasantly surprised as it lasted me the whole month and also had some added incentives which l found to be a fortuitous.

Normally l would not even consider a pay as you go SIM, and even less a Galaxy fame handset having been used to bigger screens (i.e. Samsung Note 3 and the S3), but Three is slowly changing my mind. Their tariffs are really mind blowing, including calls for an average of 3p per minute whereas other networks generally range from 8p to 35p. The internet, at 1p per megabyte, is just out of this world, while other networks are charging from 20p to £2 a day with a fixed data allowance meaning you get charged more if you exceed the allowance. They also provide add-ons which includes 100minutes, 3000texts and 500MB of data so you find the bundle to suit you.

Scarlett Oliver, UWESU Vice President Community and Welfare, recognises that budgeting is particularly important to students, and that phones are a necessity. “If you’re going to get a mobile phone contract, make sure you read up,” she says. “The majority are more expensive than buying the phone and SIM card separately, so make sure to compare the total price of both methods, as buying separately can be the safest and cheapest option. Most importantly manage your money effectively and see if you can afford it until it ends.” She also warned that last year students had been defrauded and offered cash incentives to entice them into registering for personal mobile phone contracts, which are then used for the benefit of a private company, so it is important to be vigilant.

The more l used Three, the more disillusioned l became with my provider. Three is cheap and it let me know my balance of minutes, data and texts allowing me to plan my usage without having to shut down my mobile data. My overall experience with Three pay as you go was impressive, but l decided that a contract was a better fit for me. I use a lot of data through WorldStar, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – virtually all the social networks. I also watch a lot of American football through my NFL Gamepass app and am a self-proclaimed YouTube addict – where l watch a lot of documentaries on the road, meaning l would probably have to spend more topping up than l would on a contract. I loved the network so much that at the end of my trial l actually got a SIM only contract with them. The pay as you go is ideal if you are on a tight budget or you want to keep track and limit usage.

In conclusion, I’ve found that Three has good-priced options for students to choose the most appropriate for them, be it pay as you go or contract, and whether you’re subscribed to every Youtube channel or just want to call home now and again.

By Angels Tadzembwa

To find out more please see: http://www.three.co.uk/Store/SIM