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SMARTY vs giffgaff: Which is better?

Both SMARTY and giffgaff operate on a no frills, no fuss basis, focusing on flexible SIM-only plans at low, low prices.

Read on for the lowdown and showdown between these two networks.

Overall Winner in snapshot

SMARTY and giffgaff are birds of the same feather: they’re all about affordable SIM-only plans for people who don’t want to be tied to a contract. It's a tie between the two – it really depends on your priorities.

Looking purely at costs, you generally get more data for the price you pay with SMARTY. 

But being a member of giffgaff gives you access to O2’s thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, including London’s TfL network – ideal if you like to go out and about.

There's also more choice when it comes to types of SIM plan, as giffgaff offers a range of pay-as-you-go, monthly rolling and 18-month SIMs.

  • SMARTY sim only
    5G
    • 5GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • EU roaming included
    • £5.00 per month
    1 month contract From SMARTY
  • SMARTY sim only
    5G
    • Exclusive
    • 33GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • EU roaming included
    • £7.00 per month
    1 month contract From SMARTY
  • SMARTY sim only
    5G
    • 100GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • EU roaming included
    • £12.00 per month
    1 month contract From SMARTY
  • GiffGaff sim only
    5G
    • 2GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £6.00 per month
    1 month contract From giffgaff
  • GiffGaff sim only
    5G
    • 2GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £6.00 per month
    1 month contract From giffgaff
  • GiffGaff sim only
    5G
    • 2GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £6.00 per month
    1 month contract From giffgaff

SMARTY vs giffgaff: Plans and pricing

Both networks have straightforward plans at extremely affordable prices. They’re SIM-only and work on a rolling monthly basis, meaning you’re not tied to a contract and have the flexibility to change or cancel whenever you like.

All plans from SMARTY and giffgaff come with unlimited calls and texts in the UK as standard. For the data and flexibility you get, they’re simply some of the best value plans out there.

SMARTY has eight SIM-only plans. With the cheapest starting at 5GB for £6 a month at the time of writing, it’s very good value for money.

Plus, SMARTY has a unique selection of ‘data discount’ plans – if you choose these, you’ll get money back for any unused data at the end of the month, saving you even more money.

While still very affordable, giffgaff does come out slightly more expensive than SMARTY. Data allowances range from 1GB to unlimited data a month.

But it does have a wider variety of options to choose from: as well as monthly rolling plans, you can choose one-month pay-as-you-go deals and 18-month contracts. The latter gets you the most data for the price you pay, as long as you're prepared to commit to a long-term plan (though you still have the flexibility to change your plan anytime during those 18 months).

Price-wise, you’ll get more data for your budget with SMARTY’s SIM-only deals. But our verdict is that you’ll be happy with either choice, as they’re both some of the cheapest on the market.

SMARTY vs giffgaff: Mobile phone contracts

If you’re looking for a contract with a handset, neither really offer a proper pay-monthly handset deal.

With SMARTY, you can buy a refurbished phone from reboxed®. You'll get up to £40 discount on your handset as a SMARTY customer, but that's it, really – there's no spreading out the cost of a brand new device over the course of a contract.

In that vein, giffgaff might be a little better – though it's still rather limited when compared to other phone contracts from bigger networks. All its plans are SIM-only deals, so you’ll pay for the phone on top of your normal monthly SIM plan. You can buy new or refurbished devices outright, or pay monthly over a two-year period. However, these monthly payments aren’t done through giffgaff, but through third-party credit company Klarna.

So, if you're looking for a proper pay-monthly phone contract, you'd be better off going to a major network like Three, EE, Vodafone or O2. There, you'll be able to find tempting incentives and more inclusive mobile phone packages.

SMARTY vs giffgaff: coverage

Thanks to the backing of their respective parent companies, Three and O2, SMARTY and giffgaff’s coverage is excellent. Both networks cover more than 99% of the UK – although it’s good to run your postcode through their coverage checkers, just to make sure.

SMARTY vs giffgaff: 5G coverage

Both SMARTY and giffgaff offer superfast 5G coverage with all its SIMs, so you can enjoy top speeds at no extra cost.

SMARTY vs giffgaff: customer service

As is typical with the smaller budget networks, neither SMARTY nor giffgaff have a dedicated customer support team on the end of the phone – much less an actual shop you can visit.

But, while they lack the resources of the major networks, they make up for it in customer satisfaction.

Instead of a call centre, giffgaff has a 24/7 online community where you can ask expert community members and agents any questions. You’ll find that the community helpers are happy to answer any question, even the most niche ones, and you usually get a reply within a few minutes – which certainly beats being put on hold in a phone queue.

And with giffgaff coming out top in a 2023 Ofcom report about mobile customer satisfaction, its members certainly seem to be happy.

Likewise, SMARTY’s customer service is 100% online. You can get in touch using its web chat – either with its 24/7 SMARTY bot, or with the support team – or you can send an email.

At the time of writing, SMARTY has a 'Great' rating of 4.1 out of 5 on Trustpilot. And when it comes to customer satisfaction, it’s placed far ahead of many household-name networks.

SMARTY vs giffgaff: Wi-Fi hotspots

Since giffgaff is powered by O2, giffgaff customers have the luxury of accessing O2’s thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK for free. With around 8,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, it’s one of the largest free wireless networks. Those commuting in London can also connect to WiFi Extra on the TfL network, which is a handy bonus.

Similarly, members of SMARTY can now connect to free Wi-Fi on the London Underground thanks to parent company Three.

Still, giffgaff wins here, as free Wi-Fi access isn't just limited to London's TfL network.

SMARTY vs giffgaff: Roaming

In a time where major networks are scaling back on inclusive mobile roaming, you’ll be pleased to hear that both SMARTY and giffgaff still offer free EU roaming across their plans. You can call, text and go online at no extra cost.

However, fair use limits do apply when you’re abroad, even if you’re on an unlimited data plan. SMARTY has a limit of 12GB a month, while giffgaff’s is 5GB – here, SMARTY comes out top. But both should be enough to cover your holiday, especially if you’re only going abroad for a short time.

Neither network offers roaming outside Europe. So if you’re travelling to another continent, you’ll need to pay more. Costs depends on the country you’re visiting, so check before you go.

SMARTY vs giffgaff: Bonuses and rewards

As both networks are focused on low costs for customers, there’s not much in the way of bonuses and rewards.

Still, both have a ‘refer-a-friend’ scheme. Here, SMARTY holds a slight edge – for every friend you refer to SMARTY, both of you get a £10 Gift Card for Amazon.co.uk, John Lewis Partnership or Uber. Plus, it has a Group plan, where you can save 10% on every extra SIM you add to your group.

Meanwhile, if you refer a friend to giffgaff, they’ll get £5 worth of credit and you’ll get £5 Payback. It also runs a double data deal that's exclusive to students.

How do other networks compare against each other?

Take a look at our other comparison guides, where we weigh up which network works best for you:

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