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Three business review: The best for cheap tariffs

three business mobile review - featured
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £5
per month, starting price. The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%

Three offers some unbelievably cheap deals, but it can’t match the service of its rivals


  • Unlimited data from £5/mth
  • Vodafone merger may improve coverage


  • Below average for customer service, coverage and reliability
  • Expensive roaming in some countries

Three was once the plucky young upstart of the mobile phone business, taking its name from the then-cutting-edge 3G network it rolled out in the early 2000s. Now it’s set to truly become a part of the establishment, with an imminent merger with Vodafone due to be finalised in the coming months.

While the regulators cast their eye over that potential deal, Three is still open for business. And new customers could well benefit from the improved coverage that becoming part of the Vodafone group should bring, addressing one of the big weaknesses identified in our survey of business customers.

Three doesn’t scoop any awards in the Expert Reviews Business Mobile Network Awards 2023, although it does come close, especially in the value for money section, which is definitely the network’s main selling point. However, whether Three remains the bargain proposition it has been while Vodafone mops up the premium customers once the merger is complete remains to be seen.

So, aside from the potential future benefits of joining the Vodafone group, is there any other reason to entrust your business mobiles to Three? Let’s find out.

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Three Business review: What do you get?

One glance at the table below will confirm that Three is certainly competitive when it comes to price – something that’s not to be sniffed at during a cost-of-living crisis that’s hitting small businesses every bit as hard as consumers, if not harder.

At the time of writing, Three was offering a frankly incredible SIM-only deal with unlimited data (subject to the obligatory fair-use policy) for only £5/mth, so long as you were willing to commit to a two-year contract. To put this in context, that’s at least £5 cheaper than the cheapest we’ve seen from any of the other networks on test here, with some of them offering deals with as little as 1GB of data. However, it’s worth noting that Three’s offer doesn’t include personal hotspot usage, so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want to connect laptops or other devices.

Three’s most expensive SIM-only deal is £24/mth, and that gives you unlimited data with the option to use it as a personal hotspot as well. You can even get that price down to £18/mth if you’re willing to commit for two years.

Value for money is one of Three’s strongest categories in this year’s awards, with 34% of Three customers declaring themselves “very satisfied” with the value on offer, which is more than on any other network. Unfortunately, it also has the highest proportion of customers who are “very dissatisfied” with value for money, dragging down its overall score.

The choice of handsets could be better, too. This is by no means an outright failure – 88% of Three customers said they were satisfied with the range of phones on offer to businesses – but its range is smaller than what’s offered by its rivals and clearly focuses on the big-hitting brands.

Cheapest SIM-onlyRecommended SIM-onlyMost expensive SIM-onlyRecommended iPhone 14 dealRecommended Galaxy S23 deal
TariffWeb Exclusive UNLTD Data 24m80GBUnlimited80GBUnlimited
Monthly fee (ex VAT)£5£10£24£40 + £30 one-off£31 + £30 one-off
Term24 months24 months1 month24 months36 months
The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%

Three Business review: Customer service

Three’s customer service was found to be wanting in our survey. Although 84% satisfaction is by no means a cause for alarm, it was still the weakest score of the four major networks and, likewise, the 5% of customers who said they were dissatisfied with the service was also the worst score of any network.

Perhaps the merger with Vodafone – winner of a Highly Commended award for customer service – will improve matters in this regard.

Three Business review: Coverage, reliability and speed

Coverage appears to be a black spot for Three customers. Although an 82% satisfaction score in our survey is by no means terrible, it’s ten percentage points behind both Vodafone and EE. An awful lot of Three customers sat on the fence in this category, with 15% saying they were neither unhappy nor satisfied with the levels of network coverage.

The network fares no better on speed and reliability. Three was the only network with fewer than 80% of its customers satisfied with speed in our survey, albeit by only slightly more than a percentage point. And while 82% were happy with the network’s reliability, a stubborn 5% said they weren’t happy.

Three business review: Roaming

If you do a lot of international business, check the small print carefully when you’re ordering a Three SIM or handset, as the roaming costs are variable.

Three claims you can use your data allowance in more than 70 “Go Roam” destinations around the world, including most of Europe, the US and Australia. However, unless it’s specifically stated otherwise in your plan description, that roaming comes at a cost of £2 per day and, for other countries, that cost climbs to £5 a day.

Those costs might not be super-prohibitive for short business trips, but if you spend a lot of time abroad then you might want to look elsewhere.

View deals at Three

Three business review: Extras

With Three’s super-keen prices, there’s not a great deal to shout about when it comes to extras. Business customers do get access to the Three+ rewards app – where you get discounts and offers for Caffè Nero, Nando’s, Moonpig and others – but we’d honestly struggle to call that an actual business benefit, and rewards apps like these are ten a penny.

Three Business review: Verdict

Three clearly competes hard on price, with the cheapest tariffs we’ve seen from any of the major networks by far. But cheap doesn’t necessarily equate to good value: if you want the best speeds, reliability and coverage then you’ll have to look elsewhere.

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