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’ll 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’re a regular London commuter, or like to go out and about.
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 six SIM-only plans. With the cheapest starting at 4GB for £6 a month at the time of writing (December 2021), 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. But it does have a wider variety of options to choose from.
Known as goodybags, its regular pay-as-you-go plans range from 1GB to unlimited data a month. You can choose another goodybag once the month is up, or set your goodybag to recur if you prefer.
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, giffgaff is the only one to have that option. SMARTY doesn’t offer any mobile contracts at all.
But giffgaff’s offering is a little limited. All its plans are SIM-only deals, so you’ll pay for the phone on top of your normal monthly goodybag. 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.
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 recent 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 (December 2021), SMARTY has one of the highest TrustPilot ratings of any network. 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 8000 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.
On the other hand, members of SMARTY won’t have access to free Wi-Fi hotspots. Parent company Three only offers free Wi-Fi on London’s TfL network – and, even then, SMARTY customers won’t be able to use it.
So, giffgaff wins here, hands down.
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 20GB – here, giffgaff 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 free month. Plus, it has a Group plan, where you can save 10% on up to eight SIMS.
Meanwhile, if you refer a friend to giffgaff, they’ll get £5 worth of credit and you’ll get £5 Payback.
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: