Pay-as-you-go mobile: use it or lose it

Published: 15 June 2023

Although nearly four in five mobile users in the UK now have a contract, others still prefer a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) bundle.

A PAYG deal means you only pay for the calls and texts you use. You can also change or end your deal at any time.

These deals can be flexible and convenient, particularly for people who only use their phone occasionally.

For example, you might keep a PAYG mobile in your car in case of a breakdown, or give it to an older relative or a child so they can get in touch in an emergency.

But if you don't use your PAYG phone at least once every few months, when you do try to use it you could be left without a signal.

Unused numbers can be recycled

If a PAYG phone number is not being used to make a call, send a text message or use data, the mobile provider can suspend the service and recycle the number. This is to ensure that the numbers they have are being used efficiently.

The length of time before a provider deems a phone inactive varies: for some providers it can be as little as 70 days, while others wait six months or longer. Check your provider’s terms and conditions to find out how much time you have.

If you're concerned that your PAYG phone might be suspended because you don't use it enough, ask your provider:

  • How long will it be before they suspend an inactive phone?
  • What can you do to make sure your phone stays active? Do you have to make a call, or can you simply send a text?

Request an alternative format

Call 020 7981 3040, use textphone 020 7981 3043 or write to the Digital team.

Rate this page

Thank you for your feedback.

We read all feedback but are not able to respond. If you have a specific query you should see other ways to contact us.

Was this page helpful?
Back to top