Best Sim Only Deals In 2022

L.A Rads

3 March 2022

A few months ago, I took my mum to get a new only to find out that she was still paying the same monthly fee towards her contract that she was paying back when she took the contract out.

When she first took the contract out she was paying for both her SIM and the phone itself. Once her contract had ended the phone would have been paid off in full and she would have been able to reduce her monthly fee down to cover only the cost of the SIM.

This happened to me a few years ago and the other day my partner told me that he too has been paying over the odds for the last few months.

It made me realise how easy it was to fall into this trap. I’m hoping that this article will help others to not fall into the same trap we did.

What is a SIM-only deal?

A SIM-only deal is a contract between you and your network provider that doesn’t include a cost for your mobile phone device. Your network provider is the company that supplies your monthly allowance of data, texts and minutes.  

For this, you may either be sent a SIM card to place inside your phone or switch to a SIM-only alternative with your current card when the contract is up. it is also quite possible that you don’t even need to change your sim and that moving over to a Sim only deal is as easy as talking to your provider and changing your plan

SIM-only contracts are an effective solution if you’re happy with your existing phone or if you wish to purchase a new one or even a second hand upgrade paid upfront. Generally, they are cheaper because they do not include a monthly cost towards your device.

Need-to-knows

Before we begin exploring the different deals, there are a few things to let you know about.

Payment options

Typically, SIM-only contracts are for a duration of 12 to 24 months. However, there are also 30 day rolling contracts available if you’re looking to avoid entering into a contract altogether. Generally, SIM only deals work out as best value for money, if you use all the texts, minutes, and data allotted.

In addition to SIM-only contracts, there are pay as you go (PAYG) options available. With a PAYG sim you’re not bound into a specific time period with your respective provider. Instead, you pay for a specific number of texts, minutes, and data, as and when you need it. If one month you need more data than you normally do, you simply top up accordingly.

PAYG plans are great if you think you’re not one to use your phone enough to consume the allotted texts, data, or minutes regularly within a month, however, be aware that if you don’t top up regularly enough, usually within 30 days, then your SIM will be deactivated.

Credit checks

Some companies may choose to run credit checks on you before entering into an agreement. If you’re concerned that you may not pass these checks, considering deals on a rolling contract or PAYG SIMs may be the solution for you.

Price rises and inflations

Your network provider may increase your monthly fee at any time, but they’re only allowed to do this if they’ve included it in their contract with you. Most providers normally include clauses to cover themselves making these changes but its always worth making sure you’ve double checked for yourself.

Generally, these increases are in line with inflation, but there is no guarantee a provider will not choose to change their own pricing structure.

If you’re concerned about these increases, it may be wise to go for a contract that doesn’t max your entire expendable income or to choose a plan that you can easily cancel, such as a rolling 30-day contract.

Considerations before buying a SIM-only?

When working out which deals to go for, there are a few things to consider before making your final decision.

Phone
Buying a new phone at the same time as your SIM could mean you have access to good deals and promotions that may work out more cost effective in the long run. That said, many people upgrade their phones before their current phone has broken. Though this can be tempting, there are a few advantages to not upgrading your handset until you need to.

1. Reduced costs: Keeping your existing phone means your monthly fee is reduced. This is because you’re no longer paying off the cost of the phone on top of your SIM contract.
2. Avoidance of wasted money: With plenty of mobile contracts extending 12 or 24 months and more, SIM-only deals leave you open to upgrade your phone as and when you need to. There is nothing worse than being stuck paying for a phone that you no longer have.
3. Environmentally friendly: Keeping your existing phone is also the most environmentally friendly option. By making your phone last for a long time, you can also cut your own carbon footprint.
According to the ofcom 2021 report, the average person used 4.5GB of data per month in 2020. This is an increase of 27% from the year before.

Many deals can seem appealing because it only costs a couple of pounds extra for loads more data, but those couple of pounds can rack up over time. £3 a month, is £36 a year and £72 over two years. Whilst it doesn’t sound like much, its additional money that could be going towards other expenses that you do use, rather than data that you potentially don’t use.

The best thing to do is work out how much data you actually need each month. You can do so with our handy calculator, or alternatively could even ask your current provider and they may tell you.

Dont forget, if wifi is available there is no need to use your mobile data, simply make sure you're logged into your wifi network. If you already have a good home internet package it may be better to make sure you are always using your home wifi, especially if you work from home, and take out a SIM package with less data.
Have you ever been out with friends, gone to send a text only to realise you have no signal? But wait, your friend just pulled her phone out and she’s able to make a phone call. - Me too. Very frustrating.

Don’t waste your money. Its never been easier to check before you buy. Ofcom have a mobile and broadband checker tool for you to use and each of the providers have a coverage checker tool on their own websites which is specific to their own network.

ASDA Checker
BT
EE Checker
giffgaff Checker
iD Mobile Checker
O2 Checker
Plus Net
Sky Checker
Smarty Checker
Tesco Checker
Three Checker
Vodaphone Checker
VOXI

Best SIM Only Deals - Up to 5GB

Ordered from lowest to highest price, below are our top picks for up to 5GB of data.

PROVIDERCOSTCONTRACT DURATIONDATATEXTSMINS
Sky£6 p/m + spare data rolls over12 months2GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Smarty£6 p/m1 months4GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Plusnet£6 p/m30 days4GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Talkmobile£7 p/m12 months3GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Tesco Mobile£7.50 p/m12 months2GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Virgin Mobile£8 p/m24 months4GBUnlimitedUnlimited
O2£10 p/m24 months5GBUnlimitedUnlimited

Best SIM Only Deals - 6GB+

Ordered from lowest to highest price, below are our top picks for 6GB of data or more.

PROVIDERCOSTCONTRACT DURATIONDATATEXTSMINS
Smarty£7 p/m1 month8GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Plusnet£8 p/m30 days14GBUnlimitedUnlimited
ID Mobile£8 p/m - First month free12 months15GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Virgin Mobile£9 p/m24 months12GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Giffgaff£10 p/m1 month15GBUnlimitedUnlimited
VOXI£10 p/mNo Contract15GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Three£12 p/m12 months12GBUnlimitedUnlimited
O2£16 p/m24 months60GBUnlimitedUnlimited
ID Mobile£16 p/m - First month free12 monthsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
EE£20 p/m24 months150GBUnlimitedUnlimited

Best SIM Only Rolling Contract Deals

Once a contract reaches the end of its term, often it will automatically convert into a rolling contract which will continue until you cancel it. Below are some of the best short term contracts that automatically renew for you.

PROVIDERCOSTCONTRACT DURATIONDATATEXTSMINS
Smarty£6 p/m1 month4GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Plusnet£6 p/m30 days4GBUnlimitedUnlimited
iD Mobile£7 p/m - First Month Free1 month8GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Plusnet £8 p/m30 days14GBUnlimitedUnlimited
VOXI£10 p/mNo Contract15GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Plusnet£10 p/m30 days30GBUnlimitedUnlimited

Best Options For International Calls

PROVIDERCOSTDESCRIPTIONCONTRACT DURATIONDATATEXTSMINS
Three£6 p/m for 7 months. £12 p/m from them on.71 destinations. Daily charge of £2/£524 months12GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Smarty£8 p/mRoam like home in the EU1 month12GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Virgin Mobile£9 p/mRoam like home in 43 destinations.24 months12GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Lebara£15 p/m1 Month15GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Three£21 p/m71 destinations. Daily charge of £2/£512 monthsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Vodaphone£22 p/m51 EU destinations24 months6GBUnlimitedUnlimited

The package that is right for you is going to come down to more than just your required data, but also the destinations you wish to cover. Below are some links to each providers details of what is included in their roaming packages, to help you make the right choice for you.

Best PAYG Bundles

The cheapest option available is the 1pmobile and is perfect for people who only want to pay for the data, text, and minutes as and when they need it.

If you’re considering a PAYG deal because you rarely use your phone, then the 1pmobile option is likely not the option for you. This SIM will be deactivated if they’re not topped up with at least £10 every 120 days (4 months).

If you don’t think you will need to top up that regularly, it may be worth considering a bundle. Bundles provide you with an allotted amount of credit each month for a regular fee but you’re not tied into a contract and are still able to top up more if needs be.

PROVIDERCOSTDATATEXTSMINS
Lebara£5 p/m3GB1000 txts1000 UK mins / 100 International Mins
iD Mobile£6 p/m1GBUnlimitedUnlimited
ASDA£7 p/m10GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Three£10 p/m8GBUnlimitedUnlimited
EE£10 p/m5GBUnlimited500
O2£10 p/m7GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Vodaphone£10 p/m5GBUnlimitedUnlimited

FAQ's

Switching network providers has never been easier. In June 2019, Ofcom implemented the text to switch regulation which made the process much simpler for customers. The way in which you switch providers varies depending on whether you choose to keep your existing number or not.

Keeping your existing number

You will need to obtain a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) and provide this code to your new network provider. It should take no longer than two hours for the code to come through and to avoid having to get a new one you will need to make sure you use it within 30 days.

• Step 1: Text PAC to 65075.
• Step 2: Once the code has been received, contact your new provider and give the code to them. If you’re unsure how to get in touch with them, see the section ‘Contacting Your Provider’ below.

Obtaining a new number

The only difference between obtaining a new number to keeping your existing one is the type of code you need. You will need what is a called a Service Termination Authorisation Code (STAC) instead. This allows your new provider to end your old contract for you.

• Step 1: Text STAC to 75075.
• Step 2: Once the code has been received, contact your new provider and give the code to them. If you’re unsure how to get in touch with them, see the section ‘Contacting Your Provider’ below.

Contacting your new provider

So, you now have your code, and you’re ready to complete step two. Its time to get in touch with your new provider and to give them the code they need. The method of doing this varies per provider. Below you will see a list of links to guides for each provider

Asda
BT
EE
giffgaff
iD Mobile
Lebara
O2
Plus Net
sky
smarty
Tesco Mobile
Three
Virgin Mobile
Vodaphone
VOXI

Once you’ve provided the code to your new network provider, they will begin the cancellation of your old contract and begin setting up your new one for you. It normally takes one working day. If you send the code on a Friday, it may be the following Monday when the set-up is complete.

Old contracts

Once you’re outside of your minimum contract period, network providers are no longer allowed to charge you an early termination fee if you cancel your contract with them. If you’re still within this period, you may incur this cost and so it may be wise to double check. Text ‘INFO’ to 85075 to find out how much this fee could be.
To check if your phone is locked it’s as simple as popping an alternative SIM card into your phone and seeing if it works. If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to get it unlocked.

Due to new rules, if you bought your phone after December 2021 then your phone should already be unlocked, provided that it was new and not second hand. For those of you that bought your phones before then, you may still need to get it unlocked before you can use it.

To get your phone unlocked, you will need to contact your network provider, usually via an online form or through their network login. Most providers will do this for free, but some may charge you a fee.

Below is a list of links to guides on how to unlock your phone for each provider.

BT
EE
giffgaff
O2
Three
Vodaphone
VOXI
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