Bill Pay vs Pay As You Go (Mobile Phone Plans) | Which is Cheaper?

  • By: Walter Dunphy ACCA
  • Date: October 14, 2022
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Upgrading your phone soon and not sure whether you should go with Bill Pay or with a Pay As You Go Plan? In this blog post, I will go through what is the cheaper option for you as well as the drawbacks of each type of plan.

What is the Cheapest Option?

The Irish market for mobile phone service providers is more competitive than it has ever been. You have many suppliers fighting it out to win market share, including the likes of Vodafone, Three, Eir, Tesco, GoMo, Virgin Media, 48, and Clear Mobile.

After reviewing all of the options available on the market – it is generally cheaper to buy your phone outright and go with a Prepay or SIM-only Plan. You can then shop around for the best Prepay/SIM-only offers on the market which could save you between €300-€460 compared to an equivalent Bill Pay plan.

Bill Pay and Pay As You Go plans work out to almost identical costs for the likes of Vodafone and Three.


For example, the iPhone 14 will cost you €1,639 on Bill Pay and €1,699 on Prepay over 24 months with Three – if you were looking for a bundle that gives you unlimited data, texts and calls.

But if we now take that same phone price of €979.99 and go with a much cheaper monthly SIM-only plan with GoMo it will give you unlimited data, texts and calls for €14.99 p/m – your total cost over the 24 months drops to €1,340 which equals a €359 saving compared to taking up Three’s equivalent plan.

It could be argued that Three however has much better coverage, so it may not be an option to go with one of the smaller providers if you live outside some of the major cities.

Don’t Forget to Check out the Fair Usage Policies

When you ultimately decide on what plan is the best one for your it will likely be one which best covers your needs, whether it be; unlimited calls, roaming charges, data limits, etc.

One important thing to be aware of is that some plans even though they say they are ‘unlimited data’ actually have a limit.

For example, Three’s All You Can Eat Data Service only covers up to 14GB per their fair usage policies.

The Downside of a Prepay (Pay As You Go) Mobile Plan

By far the biggest downside of going with a Prepay plan is that you need to have enough cash set aside to pay the upfront cost of the phone.

And phones are not cheap these days, if you are looking for a top-of-the-range phone you won’t have a lot of change left out of €1,000. When you are going with a Bill Pay phone you get to spread this cost over the length of the contract.

Bill Pay vs Pay As You Go Calculator

If you find yourself currently in the decision making process on whether to go with a Bill Pay or Pay As You Go plan then it is important to do plenty of research and compare the costs of all the options available to you.

I have put together the below calculator to make that task as simple as possible for you:

If you find yourself struggling with basic personal finance topics then there are plenty of Irish-specific resources on YouTube, Blogs like mine and even TikTok. You can always find my personal details on my about page and send me anything you would like to see covered.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice.

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