GiffGaff Review – is this the best network?

An image of the giffgaff price plans

Updates: I’ve been using GiffGaff for a while now and have talked about the longer term experience here. There have been some major changes since I wrote this review so it’s worth checking out!

I’ve been using GiffGaff for a couple of months now and I’ve enjoyed the whole experience so here is my GiffGaff review:

They are an online only network that are “run by the community” which makes them different to any other network in the UK.

The main reason people are interested in GiffGaff is their insanely cheap prices! For people who actually use their smartphones but don’t want a contract, GiffGaff’s prices can’t be beat!

Get £5 free credit when you order a free GiffGaff Sim from this link.*

The other reason I’ve enjoyed GiffGaff is how it’s run by its members. GiffGaff users get involved by answering questions in the community and spreading the word about GiffGaff. The idea is that GiffGaff can save marketing and customer service costs if members help out which is why they can offer such great tariffs.

It also means that members can actually influence what GiffGaff do. The community wanted to be able to use Blackberry services so GiffGaff released an add on that made it possible. That’s just one example of many changes that came about because members asked for them.

The community answering your questions online almost works too well. If you ask a question about “how to set up your internet” for example, you will get many answers within minutes. While it’s great to get your answer almost instantly it can be quite annoying when 7 people give you the same answer.

So they have a great community and even better prices but are GiffGaff any good?

GiffGaff Coverage
GiffGaff uses the O2 network so the coverage is the same. This means it covers 99% of the UK population with a 2G connection and 80% with 3G. It’s a great overall amount of signal coverage although the 3G coverage could be better. You can check your coverage here.

Goody Bags
These are the “packaged deals” you can buy to get the best value out of GiffGaff.

giffgaff goodybag

All of the goody bags from £10+ give you free calls to other giffgaff users, unlimited text messages and unlimited internet! The number UK minutes you get varies depending on the price of the Goody Bag.

  • £10 gets you 250 minutes.
  • £15 gets you 400 minutes
  • £20 gets you 800 minutes
  • £25 is the largest goody bag and it gets you 1500 minites

You can only have one goody bag active at the same time so if you buy two, the second starts once the first expires. If you run out of your inclusive minutes or want to make international calls you need to top up with more credit.

Calls cost 10p per minute after you run out of your inclusive minutes so they are still much cheaper than what you get with some other networks.

Get £5 free credit when you order a free GiffGaff Sim from this link.*

GiffGaff voice mail calls cost 8p per minute once you run out of inclusive minutes. Calls to 0800 numbers are free! This is actually pretty rare on mobile tariffs!

The real value is in the unlimited texts and internet. Most smartphone users generally spend more time on the internet or texting so the £10 deal will be more than enough for most people.

Is the internet Truly Unlimited?
You can tell by the name of this site that we love tariffs with unlimited data. Unfortunately GiffGaff’s internet isn’t truly unlimited. You’re not allowed to tether your connection and if GiffGaff find that you’re using hugely excessive amounts of internet they could ban your account.

While this sounds quite unreasonable it’s actually been found that you really need to go far to get in any trouble. Many of the current tariffs on other networks offer 500MB to 1GB of internet but some GiffGaff users have reported using over 7GB in a month with no issues.

If you want an unlimited tariff that you can tether you’re going to need a contract tariff but if you want to use your mobile connection to download apps, watch videos and do pretty much anything you like on your smartphone GiffGaff is the ideal choice.

GiffGaff Gigabag
If you want to tether your GiffGaff connection or you want a connection to use in a Tablet  you need to purchase a Gigabag instead of a Goodybag. (NOTE: If you are using a Gigabag you can’t use blackberry services or you can’t also be using one of the standard Goodybags at the same time).

Here’s what the Gigabag data packages cost:

  • For £5 you get 500MB of internet that you can use in a month.
  • £7.50 gets you 1GB
  • £12.50 gets you 3GB

They are not bad prices at all. The popular network for mobile internet is 3 and for 1GB of internet for a month it costs £10 there. They have got much better 3G coverage though!

Blackberry Services
If you have a Blackberry and you want to use Blackberry services (Blackberry messenger and email) on GiffGaff than that’s possible too. All you have to do is pay £3 pounds a month which is a very fair price (T-mobile charges £5 a month for pay as you go users to use their Blackberry services).

Microsims – Can you use GiffGaff with your iPhone?

Update: GiffGaff sims are now hybrids that can be both regular sims or micro sims. Still waiting on nano-sims for the iPhone 5.

If you want to use GiffGaff in your iPhone 4S (like I used to), or in any other device that uses micro sims then your choice is slightly more complicated.

GiffGaff don’t actually produce micro sims because of the extra cost but there are some people in the community who do send out pre-cut sims.

I suggest you just order a free giffgaff sim and cut it yourself using a micro sim cutter. I show a micro sim cutter in action here so you can see how easy it is!

Obviously it’s up to you if you want to risk cutting the sim but if you’ve just ordered a free sim then you’re not risking much by cutting it! It’s worth the extra effort just to get the unlimited internet usage on your iPhone ;-)

Please not that your iPhone or any phone needs to be unlocked to work with GiffGaff. Most iPhones that are sold now lock to the first micro sim you put in them so be aware of this.

How do you get started with GiffGaff?
All you have to do is order a free GiffGaff sim*, and activate it by following the instructions you get with it once it arrives in the mail.

To top up your account and pick your goody bag you use an online interface called “my giffgaff” or call 43430. You can topup at some stores that provide giffgaff top-up vouchers or you could use an O2 voucher.

When using an O2 voucher to top up, call 43430 or do it online on My GiffGaff instead of calling the O2 number it mentions on the top-up voucher.

Conclusion and Verdict
I love the whole concept of GiffGaff and the prices are simply astonishing. The fact that it’s backed up by O2s network and has great coverage is a plus too. I also love the fact that you can deal with the GiffGaff community if you come across any issues instead of having to talk to someone in a call centre.

Not EVERY user would save money with GiffGaff. Very lite users could save money by using something like the “essentials” backage from Talkmobile. GiffGaff is ideal for anyone who uses data and sends text but doesn’t want a new handset or contract.

Say I wanted a new Samsung Galaxy S2 and I’m a heavy internet user but not so much on minutes and texts. I could either buy the phone and use GiffGaff or get an O2 pay monthly contract (I’m comparing to O2 because they use the same signal).

Say I needed 200 Minutes a month, 300 texts and 1GB of internet. What would it cost me over 2 years on each network? (The prices may have changed since the time of writing!)

  • GiffGaff - Price of Phone £419.99 at expansys.com £10 per month for 24 months = 240 = £659.99
  • O2 – Free phone and a tariff that’s closest to my needs is the cheapest tariff at £31 per month = £744

If I could spend the £419.99 in one go and go with GiffGaff I would save £84.99 over the 2 years but what’s even better is the freedom of not being on a contract!

This is obviously just an example of where money could be saved. Your own needs may be different so the savings could be less or even more in your case.

Incase you’re wondering where the name came from, giffgaff is an ancient Scottish word that means “mutual giving”.

Here’s a video we recorded that goes through most of what was talked about in this article.