Three launches social tariff through Smarty

14 February 2023 17:48   By Lyndsey Burton

Three UK has launched a new social tariff for mobile customers via Smarty in a response to the cost of living crisis.

Available through Smarty, the social tariff costs just £12 a month and includes unlimited data, calls and texts.

Eligible customers are those in receipt of certain means-tested benefits including Universal Credit, and the contract is just one month long, although customers can stay on the plan as long as they remain eligible.

Three are introducing their social tariff just weeks before mobile prices are due to be increased by record levels of inflation, with some rises as high as 17.3%.

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Smarty Social Tariff

The social tariff from Smarty offers customers unlimited minutes and texts, as well as unlimited data on Three's 4G network, with 5G connectivity where available.

The plan includes unrestricted tethering for anyone who uses their smartphone as a hotspot to get their tablet or laptop online, as well as no speed caps or speed restrictions.

Some EU roaming is also included with up to 12GB of data use abroad.

The social tariff costs just £12 per month, which is £4 per month cheaper than Smarty's standard unlimited SIM only deal.

To be eligible for the social tariff, customers need to be in receipt of one of the following means-tested benefits:

  • Income based employment support
  • Income based job seekers
  • Income support
  • Pension credit
  • Universal credit

The tariff can be access by visiting

Are mobile social tariffs needed?

While we've seen more mobile providers starting to offer social tariffs, including VOXI For Now from Vodafone, and EE Basics, it's questionable how needed these are in comparison to social broadband tariffs.

Ofcom, the industry regulator, have previously noted in their Affordability Reports the existing availability of cheap SIM only deals means social mobile tariffs aren't really required by the market.

For example, it's possible to get a SIM Only plan for less than £5 per month, including with unlimited calls and texts and a small data allowance, that's even 5G ready.

And even data hungry users can get a cheaper deal than this £12 social tariff with 60GB available on Smarty for £10 per month, or 30GB with Three UK for just £8.

VOXI For Now is a social mobile tariff which also offers unlimited data, calls and texts and is cheaper than the Smarty social plan at just £10 per month. In addition, network coverage is provided by Vodafone, which has wider availability than Three UK.

Overall, while it's pleasing to see more providers coming forward with social tariffs, the highest need remains in the broadband industry where social tariffs are still priced beyond the affordability of most people in receipt of Universal Credit, according to Ofcom research.

Three UK helps in cost of living crisis

In addition to bringing a social mobile tariff to market, Three UK have also been actively helping people financially struggling in the cost of living crisis in many other ways.

They've also:

  • Donated 1 million GB of data to help connect 40,000 people through the digital inclusion charity the Good Things Foundation.
  • Zero-rated seven websites that offer financial advice so customers can get help without using up their data allowance, or paying to access the sites.
  • Relaunched their Reconnected programme, which refurbishes devices to help people stay connected along with unlimited data and minutes on Three UK for six months.

Elaine Carey, Three's CCO said "With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to put financial pressure on many of our customers, Three is committed to playing its part in the solution. More than ever, people are in need of support and that should include access to affordable connectivity without restrictions.

"I am delighted that we are launching this tariff today, offering low-cost access to our network for the customers who need it most.".


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