Social media and chat apps have exploded in recent years. Certain networks have taken advantage of this and incorporated separate unlimited allowances in their SIM-only plans for certain services.
We take a look at what you can get in the way of free social media data and other data-saving features and SIM-only plans…
What is a free social data plan?
Whenever you use your phone to access the Internet, you use a certain amount of data. It could be a small amount to browse your email or a chunk of it to stream music or watch video - and it might be that a lot of your data allowance is taken up using social and chat apps.
If so, you’re in luck, as there is now a selection of SIM-only mobile plans, from networks such as VOXI and Virgin Mobile, which offer free social data. This means you can Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to your heart’s content, and it won’t affect your plan’s data allowance.
Cheap SIM deals with free social data
There aren’t loads of plans to choose from with this network, but all VOXI plans are SIM-only and include endless social data, which means unlimited data for Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, Pinterest and Facebook Messenger as standard. You must, however, be under 30 to sign up to the network. Sorry Gran.
What are the benefits of a VOXI plan?
- Reasonably priced plans with varying data allowances
- Unlimited social data on all SIM-only plans - without using your data allowance
- Unlimited minutes and unlimited texts on all SIM-only plans
- Flexible one-month contracts
- Endless roaming - use your phone in Europe at no extra cost
- Video and Music passes for endless use of Netflix, YouTube, Spotify etc
- Gift cards when you introduce your friends to VOXI online
Virgin’s SIM-only plans include data allowances from 1GB to unlimited data (though to get this one, you need to be an existing Virgin customer), and all these plans let you use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as much as you want - the data used won't be deducted from your monthly allowance. Look out for flash sales and exclusive offers.
What are the benefits of a Virgin Mobile plan?
- Data-free use of WhatsApp, Messenger, and Twitter
- Flexibility - you can easily change your allowance every month
- Data rollover - keep any unused data from your allowance to use the next month
- Free use of Virgin Media Wi-Fi hotspots
- Free calls to other Virgin Mobile numbers, if you have Virgin Media broadband or TV
- Excellent coverage, thanks to EE's network
Other data-saving SIM-only deals
All of Three’s SIM-only Advanced plans of 12GB and above include the Go Binge feature, which lets you access selected music and video services, such as Netflix, Apple Music, Deezer, SoundCloud and TVPlayer, at no extra cost and without using your own data. You also get free Snapchat too!
Its Personal Hotspot feature allows you to use your own data allowance to connect other phones and devices - useful when there's no Wi-Fi.
On selected SIM-only plans, Vodafone include a few extras. A Red Entertainment plan (12-month only) gives you a free one-year subscription to an entertainment app of your choice - either Spotify, NOW TV, or Sky Sports Mobile TV.
Vodafone also offer a range of passes, where for a set fee you can access a variety of popular apps and sites without eating into your data allowance. For example, a Social Pass gets you access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, while the Video Pass lets you use Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Vevo etc.
If you’re a 30 day or 12-month SIM-only customer with EE, you’ll get six months’ free Apple Music membership, which means you can stream music from this service without using up your regular data allowance.
Unlimited data SIM-only deals
If your online habits include lots of watching videos and streaming music, you’re going to need a decent data allowance. But how much data are you likely to use each month? If you’re not sure, check out our guide: How much data do you need?
If you decide you do need unlimited data, there are some good SIM-only plans on offer:
With varying call allowances, Three offers a selection of plans that include unlimited 4G data and unlimited texts, for either a one-month or 12-month contract. However, you can’t use unlimited data abroad.
Though you can only take advantage of this Virgin Media SIM-only plan if you’re an existing customer, there aren’t any restrictions on the use of this data.
While giffgaff offers unlimited data with its ‘Always on’ plans, once you download 9G of data, the rest of the usage (which is unlimited) is subject to some speed restrictions.
Can I keep my mobile number?
It’s easy to keep your number if you decide to switch plans. Ask your existing supplier for your PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) - usually three letters and six numbers long. Give the code to your new supplier who will take care of the admin and port the number from your old SIM to your new SIM. You have a 30-day window to do this. If you exceed this time, you’ll need to request another PAC code.