Best £10 mobile-phone tariffs

I've spent all my Christmas money on carpet-flavoured crisps, so I'm happy to see the networks are locking horns with uber-cheap deals, sparking a new low -- the £10 tariff

It's February and I've spent all my Christmas money on gadgets, pints and carpet-flavoured crisps , so I'm happy to see the networks are locking horns with uber-cheap deals, sparking a new low -- the £10 tariff.

You're not going to get the sexiest new smart phone for free on this tariff, but there are some good budget phones available at the moment that I wouldn't throw out of bed for eating crackers.

I've rooted through the deals so you don't have to, but it's always a good idea to compare contracts using an independent retailer, such as Carphone Warehouse or Phones4U, or a comparison site, such as BillMonitor or our own Mobile Deals section.

I've listed these tariffs in approximate order of awesomeness, but check out the details and keep your own particular needs in mind -- a text addict's perfect deal could be a Web surfer's nightmare. 

Orange's version includes 100 anytime minutes, 300 texts and your choice of a handful of decent cheap phones, including the excellent Nokia 6303 Classic . You're locked in for three years, but at least you get an upgrade after 18 months. If you want some data on there to check out our Facebook page, you can add 500MB on a rolling 30-day contract for a fiver.

If even a tenner is too much, Orange also has a £5-a-month, 36-month tariff that gives you 50 minutes and 50 texts, and a free budget phone.

T-Mobile's £10 bundle lasts a paltry two years in comparison, and includes 100 minutes, 100 texts and one free ' booster ' -- an optional extra from a list that includes unlimited data, roaming and unlimited texts. The booster is handy because you can switch it every 30 days in case you need a little extra roaming for a long holiday, for example. T-Mobile's choice of free phones on this plan also includes the 6303, as well as the popular touchscreen Samsung Tocco Lite.

 

Virgin Mobile offers a similar 100-minute, 100-text package for a tenner a month for 18 months, but with heaps more free phones to choose from, including the quite pleasant Nokia E63 and Sony Ericsson W705 Walkman. But beware of the check-out process on Virgin's Web site, which automatically adds the optional insurance to your basket.

Vodafone's £10 deal has 75 minutes, 250 texts and lasts two years, but only has a small selection of phones to choose from.

SIM-only
If you're happy with the phone you've got, there's also a bunch of SIM-only deals that only cost a tenner a month, and only lock you in for 30 days at a time.

T-Mobile has the same plan mentioned above without a phone for £10 a month. We hate being tied down, but it's such a pain to switch that, unless you think you can be bothered, it's probably worth getting the longer contract and selling the free phone on eBay or sending it in for a fat cheque .

O2 doesn't offer any free phones on its £10 tariff, but, if you're happy with the phone you've got, the operator's SIM-only plan gives you 150 minutes and 300 texts for a tenner.

Tesco Mobile's odd SIM-only £10 plan gives you £40 of flexible credit, which is enough for 400 minutes of calls or 800 texts to your five favourite numbers.

Finally, Talkmobile does several SIM-only plans for £10 and under. For £7.50 a month, you can have 100 minutes and 100 texts. Data is available too, but it'll cost you 30p per day up to 25MB, and £1 per megabyte that you go over.

 

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