The best UK mobile phone network you've never heard of

So you've heard of Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (that's Orange and T-Mobile), and 3. But have you heard of Giffgaff ?

Giffgaff is a virtual operator on O2's network, but they have a totally different way of working. It's essentially a community project - run mainly by its members. They don't advertise in the traditional media, but rely on the members to spread the word. And, I'm being perfectly honest here, members get rewarded for helping bring new customers on board.

Giffgaff don't sell phones (you'd need either a phone currently on O2, or an unlocked phone), they just supply SIMs. They don't have shops, or telephone helpdesks in far away countries with operators who you can't understand. This is the Internet age, you use the web instead.

Giffgaff don't have twenty different tariffs named after animals, they have just the one. It's a PAYG tariff with calls to UK geographic landline numbers and all UK mobile networks charged at 10p/minute, and texts at 6p each. For heavier users, you can buy bundles of calls/text/data which last a month (they're called Goodybags). Goodybags can give you unlimited texts and data. To ensure you never run out of credit, you can setup to automatically credit your account when your balance drops below £3.

Oh, and calls to freephone numbers are free. As in no cost. And once you've persuaded your pals onto Giffgaff too, calls/texts to them are free too (for up to 60 minutes at a time).

And if this doesn't sound good enough, Giffgaff pay you for contributing to their community forum, so you could end up being paid to have a mobile phone.

If you've go this far, you probably realise that I'm quite keen on this operator. If you'd like to give them a try, you can order a free SIM below. You get a bonus £5 credit when you first topup with £10, oh and I get some community points too.

Get a free Giffgaff Sim

Updated September 2011 to reflect new call/text prices from 6 October 2011 [previously 8p/min and 4p/text]