Best SIM-only deals May 2024

SIM-only deals

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

Introduction to SIM-only plans

In the world of mobile technology, finding the perfect balance between cost and flexibility can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. However, if you're content with the phone you've currently got, or have inherited one from a friend or relative, then a SIM-only plan could be your golden ticket. Not only is it much more cost-effective than buying a phone contract, but it also offers a degree of freedom that traditional contracts can't match.

  • VOXI sim only
    5G
    • 30GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Unlimited social media
    • £10.00 per month
    1 month contract From VOXI
  • SMARTY sim only
    5G
    • 50GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • EU roaming included
    • £8.00 per month
    1 month contract From SMARTY
  • Talkmobile sim only
    5G
    • 25GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Free EU Roaming
    • £6.95 per month
    1 month contract From Talkmobile
  • Three sim only
    5G
    • 30GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £8.00 per month
    12 month contract From Three Mobile

Best contract SIM-only deals

For those who prefer a bit of stability without sacrificing value, contract SIM-only deals are a smart choice. Networks often reserve their most tempting rates for customers willing to stay loyal.

While these contracts commonly extend for 12 months, don't be surprised to find some providers offering even longer terms for those who are in it for the long haul. If you're the type to commit, these deals can be a boon.

Best 30-day SIM-only deals

Flexibility is the name of the game with 30-day plans. You're not locked in, which means you have the power to change or cancel your plan as you see fit. This is the perfect solution for anyone who likes to keep their options open.

With these plans, you can increase or decrease your data allowance depending on your needs, switch providers whenever you like, and take advantage of any special offers that catch your eye.

There are loads of options too, particularly from smaller operators like giffgaff, VOXI or iD Mobile.

  • VOXI sim only
    5G
    • 90GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Unlimited social media, music & video
    • £15.00 per month
    1 month contract From VOXI
  • ID sim only
    5G
    • 30GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • No annual price rise
    • £7.00 per month
    12 month contract From iD Mobile
  • Lebara Mobile sim only
    5G
    • Exclusive
    • 5GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Discounted price for 3 months
    • £4.99 per month
    1 month contract From Lebara Mobile
  • ID sim only
    5G
    • 25GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • No annual price rise
    • £6.00 per month
    12 month contract From iD Mobile
  • GiffGaff sim only
    5G
    • 25GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £10.00 per month
    18 month contract From giffgaff

Best 12-month SIM-only deals

Suppose you're willing to commit to a 12-month relationship with your network. In that case, you might just find that the prices are more appealing, and the benefits a little sweeter. Networks like to reward long-term customers, so while you're giving up a bit of freedom compared to the 30-day plans, your wallet might thank you.

Plus, making consistent payments on a 12-month contract can be a feather in your cap for your credit score, provided you keep up with your payments.

  • Three sim only
    5G
    • 120GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £12.00 per month
    12 month contract From Three Mobile
  • O2 sim only
    5G
    • Exclusive
    • 50GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Claim £20 Amazon voucher
    • £10.00 per month
    12 month contract From O2
  • Three sim only
    5G
    • 30GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £8.00 per month
    12 month contract From Three Mobile
  • Vodafone sim only
    4G
    • 6GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • VeryMe Rewards
    • £7.00 per month
    12 month contract From Vodafone
  • Three sim only
    5G
    • 120GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £12.00 per month
    12 month contract From Three Mobile
  • Vodafone sim only
    4G
    • 6GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • VeryMe Rewards
    • £7.00 per month
    12 month contract From Vodafone

Best unlimited and big data SIM-only deals

For those who live their lives online, especially the serial streamers among us, unlimited or big data plans are the way to go.

The biggest allowances tend to come from the big networks like Three, O2 and Vodafone. But don't count out the little guys - sometimes, the smaller providers can surprise you with what they have to offer.

Best data-only SIM deals

Looking for a SIM for your tablet or dongle? Plenty of networks offer data-only contract SIM plans tailored for these devices.

If you’re not sure how much data to pay for, use our guide to data usage to work out your usage.

  • Vodafone sim only
    5G
    • 4GB of 5G data
    • 0 minutes
    • 0 texts
    • download speed limit
    • £12.00 per month
    24 month contract From Vodafone

SIM deals on each network

Choosing the right SIM-only deal can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Broadbandchoices' SIM-only comparison tools are here to make your decision easier. Here's a brief look at what's on offer:

Switching networks

If you're contemplating a network switch, don't let dread of the process hold you back. Our guide talks you through making the leap, detailing how to keep your number and making the switch as painless as possible.

Whether you're a digital nomad, a streaming aficionado, or just someone looking for a good deal, there's a SIM-only plan out there that's tailor-made for your needs.

Frequently asked questions

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 then 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 permanentlylocked 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 acredit checkfor 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 somecheaper options.

Network exclusives - Somenetworkswill 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 - either per month and across the overall length of the contract.

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 reliable are the smaller, less well-known networks?

Lesser-known networks, such asgiffgafforSmarty, 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 asEEorVodafone, you shouldn't disregard the others.

Ultimately all the smaller providers use a network which belongs to one of the 'big four' - that isO2,Vodafone,EEandThree. Rest assured that all network providers listed on broadbandchoices are reputable and reliable.

What kind of SIM card do I need?

As mobile phone technology has improved, the size of SIM cards has got smaller and smaller. Depending on the age of your phone, it will use one of these SIM sizes:

  • Nano SIM- used by most modern phones, including the most recent iPhones and Samsung Galaxy handsets.
  • Micro SIM- 12 x 15mm. Typically found in mid-range phones as well as some older handsets.
  • Standard SIM- 15 x 25mm. Not actually the standard anymore. Some older phones or feature phones may still use this size, however.

If you’re worried about what size SIM card you need… don’t be. When you buy a SIM-only plan, your chosen network will supply you with a three-in-one SIM card that will work on any phone. All you have to do is pop out the size you need, and you’re ready to go.

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