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Capped SIM Plans for Kids

Choosing a SIM plan for a child needs some careful consideration, as the SIM plan that you’re handing over will ultimately be linked to your credit or debit card.  This could lead to mammoth shock bills if not handled carefully.

All networks offer a spending cap though, right?

But is that SIM plan really capped?
But is it really capped?

What is a spending cap and what does it cover?

The ParentShield live chat team speak to 100’s of parents each week for general support, pre-sales questions and discussions around all things ‘kids mobile contracts’. Many pre-sales conversations will include the golden question – “can we add a spending cap?” 

We wondered, if the very same question was asked to all mobile networks, what would the ‘spending cap’ actually cover?

The ParentShield research team did a quick web search to compile some information to see how this looks with each network.

ParentShield spending cap

What is covered if you add a ParentShield spending cap?

You don’t need to.  ParentShield is totally capped out of the box.  It’s impossible for the child to put even 1p on the bill.  Ever.

What is not covered by a ParentShield spending cap?

Nothing. It’s totally impossible for the child to add to the bill in any way. Guaranteed.


EE spending cap

What is covered if you add an EE spending cap?

  1.  out of allowance calls, texts and picture messages to standard UK and EU numbers
  2.  EU Roaming £2 per day charge (on plans starting after 7 July 2021)
  3.  out of allowance calls and messages abroad from the UK (IDD)
  4.  access charges for premium calls and texts to numbers beginning with 09, 118, 083 084, 085, 087, 070 (if not covered by an allowance or an add-on)
  5.  call divert charges, calls via text relay, calls to 123, calls to bypass services 07744 and 07755, paging services, and calls to 101 non-emergency numbers
  6.  calls to satellite numbers
  7.  aeroplane and maritime calls and messaging

What is not covered by an EE spending cap?

  1.  data pass purchases, both whilst in the UK and roaming
  2.  data charges and run-on rates if you’ve exhausted your data allowance or data pass
  3.  add on purchases such as BT sport, Apple Music, or add-ons for extra minutes or texts. For use in the UK or abroad monthly plan charges (Price Plan)
  4.  service charges for premium calls and texts to numbers beginning with 09, 118, 083 084, 085, 087, 070 (if not covered by an allowance or an add-on)
  5.  charge to bill, for example: Digital Content, Music Subscription Services, in-app purchases
  6.  voice short codes (5-digit numbers)
  7.  premium rate texts you receive
  8.  admin charges or late payment fees
  9.  insurance for your device purchased through EE


O2 spending cap

What is covered if you add an O2 spending cap?

  • Additional calls, texts and data usage, when your standard bundle or Bolt On allowance has run out.
  • Calling and texting non-geographical or premium rate numbers, aside from those premium rate numbers relating to charities, as these sit outside your Spend Cap, as set out below.
  • Calling and texting any international number from the UK.
  • Calling and texting any number outside of our Europe Zone, when you’re in our Europe Zone (excluding the UK).
  • Calling, texting and using data, when you’re in a country which is outside of our Europe Zone.
  • Calling directory enquiry services.
  • The charge you pay to O2 for accessing any third party services.

What is not covered by an O2 spending cap?

  • Recurring elements of your bill, such as your Airtime Plan, Device Plan, and insurance.
  • The price for buying a Bolt On which you opt in to.
  • Any charity donations made from your phone.
  • Charge to Mobile, such as buying digital content and apps from your phone.
  • Any charges relating to the management of your account, which includes, but is not limited to, paper bills, itemised paper bills and late payment fees.
  • Any charges for third party services (our access fees for these services are covered in your Spend Cap, as set out above).


Vodafone spending cap

What is covered if you add a Vodafone spending cap?

  • The cost-per-minute part of premium rate calls
  • Out-of-plan charges for data, minutes and texts
  • Picture messages
  • Video calls
  • EU roaming
  • Global Roaming daily fee for using your phone in a Roam-further destination
  • The access charge proportion of premium rate calls
  • One-off premium rate texts
  • Calls to “short code” numbers (such as voting on TV shows)
  • Business Traveller daily fee

What is not covered by a Vodafone spending cap?

  • The service charge part of premium rate calls
  • Home phone and broadband services
  • Vodafone Insurance
  • Anything you Charge to Bill
  • Charity donations (e.g. JustTextGiving)
  • Any RPI-based price plan increases
  • Recurring premium text messages
  • Extras
  • Any fees and account-level charges (e.g. Paper billing or Early Termination Fee)
  • Vodafone Smart Tech


Three spending cap

What is covered if you add a Three spending cap?

Calls and texts:

  • After you’ve used up your monthly allowance 
  • To premium rate and non-geographical numbers like 0845 and 0345 
  • To international numbers from the UK – unless you have an Add-on 
  • When roaming in a country that’s not a Go Roam destination 
  • To non-EU countries from Go Roam in Europe destinations 
  • To anywhere other than the UK from Go Roam Around the World destinations 
  • Daily roaming charge

Data usage:

  • After you’ve used up your monthly data allowance 
  • When roaming in a country that’s not a Go Roam destination 
  • That exceeds our fair usage limits in Go Roam destinations

Go Roam:

From 23 May 2022, Pay Monthly customers who joined or upgraded their plan on or after 1 October 2021, will incur a daily roaming charge to unlock their UK allowances for 24 hours in Go Roam destinations. The daily roaming charge is £2 in Go Roam in Europe destinations and £5 in Go Roam Around the World destinations. The daily roaming charge is triggered as soon as a customer uses any of their plan allowances in a Go Roam destination. View here for further information.

Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man are exempt from the daily roaming charge. Fair use policies apply.

The charge counts towards your Spend Cap, so if that’s set at zero, you won’t be able to use your UK allowances in Go Roam destinations. 

If your Pay Monthly contract started before 1 October 2021 there’s no daily charge in Go Roam destinations. This means you can use Go Roam no matter which Spend Cap you choose.

What is not covered by a Three spending cap?

  • Using Three Pay to buy digital content on platforms like Google Play, App Store, Spotify, etc. 
  • Administrative charges for things like paper bills, copies of your bill, not paying by Direct Debit or other recurring methods 
  • Your monthly plan charge, Add-ons, insurance etc.

What is the difference between a Spend Cap and a Spend Limit?

A Spend Cap gives you control over your monthly spend on calls, texts and data usage not included in your monthly plan.

The Spend Limit is an additional measure to prevent excessive spend on third party services. This includes:

  • Calls and texts to premium rate numbers 
  • Premium rate or shortcode text messages 
  • Paying for digital content using Three Pay

The limits are:

  • £40 per single transaction 
  • £240 total charges per month

The Spend Limit is a legal requirement under the Payment Services Regulation. It can’t be removed or changed.

We’ll send a text notification if you’ve reached 80% of your monthly Spend Limit. Any transactions that exceed the Spend Limits will be blocked.



In summary, asking for a ‘spending cap’ is actually only part of the ‘no overspending’ puzzle on most networks. Always ask for a ‘charge to bill’ block in addition to a £0 spending cap, or choose a network that offers a truly ‘totally capped’ service out of the box, such as ParentShield.

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