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Best SIM only deals for October 2018

ByDuncan Heaney
SIM card

Keep your phone, get the minutes and data you need, and pay less overall. These are three main benefits of choosing a SIM only plan. We’ve compared deals across the best UK networks and rounded up the top plans.

If you're happy with the phone you've currently got, or have inherited one from a friend or relative, then you could be much better off choosing a SIM-only plan. Plenty of UK customers get a 24 month phone contract and then keep paying the same monthly cost long after that initial term has finished. Is that you? Then good news - there's a fair chance you could save by switching to a SIM-only plan, even if you stay with the same network.

We like these pay-monthly SIM-only deals, because they're great value and give you more for your money than a pay-as-you-go plan. There are 1-month, 12-month, and 24-month plans - and even more over on our mobile site. But first let's take a look at the best of the best. 

Best contract SIM-only deals

Best value for mid-tier data

Vodafone

3GB data

6GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts 

£20 Amazon voucher

£10.00a month

12 month contract

Get deal 

This Vodafone plan features a lovely 6GB data a month, making it perfect for people who like to watch videos and listen to music on the move.

 

Best mid-priced deal for the heavy data user

three

 100GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

 £20.00 a month

12 month contract

 Get deal

There's no need to worry about data with this excellent Three SIM deal, which offers you a whopping 100GB at a very competitive price. You can also forget about text and call allowances, as this deal includes unlimited texts and minutes too. Throw in unlimited data use for Snapchat and its Feel at Home feature - which lets you use your allowance abroad - and you have a very attractive mid-priced SIM plan.

 

Best wallet-friendly deal

Tesco

15GB data

5000 minutes

5000 texts

£15.00 a month

12 month contract

Get deal

Tesco Mobile is a network that almost always comes with good value, and this deal gives you that in spades. You can claim Clubcard points for every £1 you spend too, and lots of perks - especially if more members of your household are added to the same plan.

You can also set monthly spending caps on your SIM, and even download the Xtras app to get an additional discount each month.

 

Best SIM for loads of 4G data

30GB data 

Unlimited minutes 

Unlimited texts 

 

£25.00per month

12 month contract 

 Get deal

O2's latest deal is fantastic for heavy users. This 12-month contract also includes unlimited minutes and texts, so you can communicate with friends and family with no restrictions. Factor in the fact that it's a 4G plan, and O2 has great coverage, and you have one heck of a bargain. 

 

A great deal with data rollover

sky mobile

 20GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£20.00 per month

12 month contract

 Get deal

This deal represents excellent value - particularly if you don't typically use all of your data allowance in a month. With Sky, your data rolls over, so any data unused can be carried into the next billing period. Add unlimited calls and texts for six months and a competitive price, and you have a Sky plan that will put you on cloud nine. 

 

 

Best 30 day SIM-only deals

A 30 day SIM-only plan is great if you want maximum flexibility. You're not locked into anything, so you can change your data, add more minutes or even switch networks at any time. Here are some of the best:

Best 30 day SIM for social media addicts

VOXI

15GB data

45GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

Triple data!

Unlimited social data

£20.00 a month

30 day contract

Get deal

Aged 30 or under? You qualify for this excellent deal from VOXI. It's got unlimited calls and texts, along with a nice bit of 4G data. This is the data allowance you get, buuuut... you can also use Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, Viber, and WhatsApp as much as you like - any usage of those apps won't come out of your allowance. Plus, there are more goodies available to loyal customers.

 

Best all-round 30 day SIM deal with plenty of data and texts

giffgaff

8GB data

 minutes

Unlimited texts

£15.00  a month

30 day contract

Get deal

We've researched the amount of monthly data, minutes and texts the average UK customer uses and searched through the networks for the cheapest way to get it. The overall best value SIM deal has to be with giffgaff. You get a decent allowance of internet data (4G), unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts. 

If you don't want this deal but you like the sound of giffgaff, you can click here to order a free SIM card.

 

Best unlimited and big data SIM-only deals

The more you do online, the more mobile data you'll need in your plan. Video is particularly data-hungry, so if you want to watch the likes of iPlayer and Netflix on the go, you'll need an unlimited or big data plan. Like this one: 

Top SIM deal for heavy users

 

30GB data 

Unlimited minutes 

Unlimited texts 

Roaming included!

£17.00per month 

12 month contract

Get deal 

Three's data plan is probably the best deal you'll find if you regularly watch videos, stream music, play online games, or donwload apps whilst you're out and about. Besides, we're fans of Three - it's got good network reliability and speedy 4G included at no extra cost. 

 

Best data-only SIM deals

Looking for a SIM for your tablet or dongle? Plenty of networks offer data-only SIM plans. Here's our pick of the best this month:

6GB data

 £15.00

 per month

12 month contract

Get deal 

 

SIM deals on each network

Still not sure if there's a SIM only deal that's right for you? You can compare all SIM only plans by using the broadbandchoices SIM only comparison tools.

Compare O2 SIM Only deals - Join O2 to get 4G SIM deals and benefits such as exclusive offers on big High Street brands.

Compare EE SIM Only deals - EE has the fastest network in the UK and gives customers extras like EE TV and discounts on Fibre Broadband.

Compare Three SIM Only deals - With Three you can get unlimited internet data and free roaming abroad.

Compare Vodafone SIM Only deals - Vodafone's network gives unlimited data for 3 months to new SIM only customers with a 12 month contract. You can also get NOW TV, Spotify and Sky Sports Mobile app subscriptions included on selected 4G plans.

Compare BT Mobile SIM plans - BT has great discounts for existing BT Broadband customers and gives all SIM Only customers free access to the BT Sport app.

Compare all SIM Only deals

 

What is a SIM-only deal?

A SIM-only deal is a contract that includes minutes, texts and data - just like a regular mobile phone contract. The main difference is that with a SIM deal you do not receive a phone - only the SIM card. As a result, these plans are usually much cheaper.

How do SIM-only deals work?

With a SIM-only deal, you choose the plan that best suits your needs - in terms of minutes, texts and data. The network sends you a new SIM card, which you pop into your phone.

When you opt for a SIM-only deal, you're only paying for the SIM card. This means you can either use it with your old phone, or you can buy a new phone and use it with that one.

Once you purchase a SIM deal from a network and it is activated, this means this SIM card is permanently locked to that network, though not to your phone. You can easily swap handsets but keep the same SIM card - containing all your personal information, such as contact numbers, photos and messages.

Should I switch to a SIM-only deal?

Pros

  • Cost - SIM deals tend to be cheaper than regular mobile phone contracts. Whether you're paying a monthly fee or pay-as-you go, you're not paying for a brand new handset, so straight away (in most cases) your costs are lower.
  • Flexibility - With a SIM deal, you have more options on contract length. Most mobile phone contracts will lock you in for at least 12 to 24 months. SIM-only deals tend to be more flexible and are available on 30-day contracts.
  • Credit check - It's easier to pass a credit check for a SIM-only deal. If you've ever struggled to pass a credit check for a mobile phone contract, then a SIM plan could be for you. As the network provider isn't including an expensive mobile handset in your contract (just a relatively inexpensive microchip) - you're deemed to be a lower-risk customer.
  • Keep your old phone - As you're only getting a new SIM card, you get to keep your tried and tested old handset.

 Cons

  • Network offers - You may find the best plan that fits your needs is only available through a particular network on a longer contract. So you may need to compromise slightly on your call, text and data allowances.
  • Initial outlay - While your SIM-only deal costs will be relatively low, if you do need a new handset, you'll need to fork out the full cost upfront. With most handsets, we're talking hundreds of pounds, though you can get some cheaper options.
  • Network exclusives - Some networks will reserve exclusive deals for specific phones. You may discover a phone you have your eye on is only available via a long mobile contract.

Should I go for a short-term or long-term SIM deal?

It depends what your priorities are when choosing a SIM deal. If you want greater flexibility, then there are some good 30-day SIM deals available which mean you're not tied to a long contract. If cost is your biggest concern, you may find a 12-month SIM-only deal is worth going for, as this reduces your monthly expense. Ultimately, it's all about balancing your call, text and data needs with what you're happy to pay for that plan per month and across the overall length of the plan.

Can I keep my current telephone number?

You can keep your mobile number, even if you switch networks. It's actually a pretty straightforward process - here's how you do it:

How to keep your phone number 

How reliable are the smaller, less well-known networks?

Lesser-known networks, such as giffgaff or Smarty, can offer cheaper SIM-only plans because they don't operate expensive high street shops and customer service. So while you may feel more reassured by opting for a bigger and better-known network, such as EE or Vodafone, you shouldn't disregard the smaller ones.

Ultimately all the smaller providers use a network which belongs to one of the 'big four' - that is O2, Vodafone, EE and Three. Rest assured that all network providers listed on broadbandchoices are reputable and reliable.

What kind of SIM card do I need?

Not sure if you need a Micro, Nano or Standard SIM for your phone? You can get a comprehensive list of handsets and their respective SIM card size on our SIM Only comparison calculator. Here's a quick overview:

Got a new phone?  If you've got one of the latest phones (like an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5C or 5S) then you will need a Nano SIM. Among many other handsets, Nano SIMs are also used in the HTC One (M9) and the Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact.

Got an iPhone 4S or a Samsung phone? For the older iPhones you will need a Micro SIM. Almost all Samsung phones take the Micro SIM card too. Micro SIM cards can come on their own, or as part of a Combi-SIM - either is fine. A Combi (or combination SIM) is simply a Micro SIM card that can be popped out of a Standard SIM card template, so that the SIM card can be used for phones that take either Standard or Micro SIM card sizes.

Got a Blackberry, an old smartphone or a non-smartphone? Most of the older Blackberry handsets use the standard SIM card size. Only the Blackberry Z and Q series use a Micro SIM and the Blackberry Passport uses a Nano. Old dumb-phones take the standard SIM card size, such as the basic Samsung and Huawei handsets.

Combi and 3-way SIMs: To make things simpler, some networks now offer Combi and 3-way SIM cards. A Combi SIM is a Standard SIM card with a Micro SIM card inside. You either use it as it comes, for a standard phone, or punch out the Micro SIM if you want to use the card for a phone that takes Micro SIM cards. A 3-way SIM does the same, but also incorporates the Nano SIM card size too, meaning you can use a 3-way SIM card for any type of phone. We got there in the end!

If you're still unsure what SIM card size you need then check on our SIM Only comparison calculator that we've linked to above.

I'm ready to switch networks

Thinking about switching networks, but not sure on the next step? Check out our handy guide on switching your mobile network and keeping your number, and we'll guide you through the surprisingly simple process.

Got a question or suggestion? Post a comment below!

Find out about data-only SIM deals

Best value data

Image
No macro content available for WYSIWYG editing

2GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts  

£10 Amazon voucher ans discount on unused data!

£7.50 a month

30 day contract  

Get deal  

Best value data

Image
No macro content available for WYSIWYG editing

2GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts  

£10 Amazon voucher ans discount on unused data!

£7.50 a month

30 day contract  

Get deal  

The amazing thing about getting a SIM deal from  Smarty  - powered by Three - is that if you don't use up all your data for the month, the network will buy it right back from you. That's money off your next bill, and you know for sure that you're never being overcharged.  The amazing thing about getting a SIM deal from  Smarty  - powered by Three - is that if you don't use up all your data for the month, the network will buy it right back from you. That's money off your next bill, and you know for sure that you're never being overcharged.