SIM-Only Deals in The UK This November

Find cheap SIM-only deals in 2023
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SIM-Only Deals in The UK This November

If you already have a mobile phone, you don’t need to sign up for a contract which includes a handset - you just need a SIM. On this page, we provide a comprehensive guide to UK SIM-only deals so you can decide if they’re right for you.

Last updated: 13 November, 2023 | Estimated Reading Time: 9 Minutes

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What is a SIM-only deal?

SIM card only or SIM-only mobile plans offer variable texts, minutes and data every month for a fixed price. They’re often a cheap alternative to standard pay-monthly handset deals as you’re not paying for a new phone. You just get a SIM card, so be sure you’re happy with your existing mobile phone. If you’re looking for a phone upgrade as well as a SIM, you’re better off choosing a handset deal.

A SIM-only deal also offers flexibility, with the possibility of getting a 30-day rolling plan that doesn’t bind you to a long-term mobile contract. If you want to end your plan at any point, your only obligation when switching is to see out your last 30-day period.

Getting a deal on just a SIM could also suit you if you have a bad credit history. A credit check isn’t always necessary as it is with a monthly mobile plan. To find the best deal for you, take a look at our comparison of the best SIM-only deals in the UK.

Cheap SIM-only deals

In this section, you’ll find a quick and easy comparison of the cheapest SIM-only deals in the UK. All prices are accurate at the time of publication, but providers are constantly changing their offers, so it’s always best to check our comparison tool for the latest offers.

Compare the cheapest SIM-only deals below, all of which are £10 or under and come with unlimited minutes and texts:

Phone provider Data plan Contract length
SMARTY 16 GB 1 month
iD Mobile 5G 20GB 1 month
Three 25GB 12 months
Talkmobile 5G 40GB 1 month
Vodafone 40GB 12 months
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Find cheap SIM-only deals in 2023

Three Mobile 

You can get unlimited minutes and texts with any Three Mobile deal and benefit from 5G data at no extra cost if your handset supports it. You’ll also get free access to Three WiFi hotspots across the UK, which is ideal for frequent travellers.

Compare Three Mobile one-month contracts

Data Cost per month
4GB £19
25GB £24
Unlimited £30

Compare Three Mobile 12-month contracts

Data Cost per month
8GB £7
30GB £10
Unlimited £17

Compare Three Mobile 24-month contracts

Data Cost per month
1GB £6
25GB £8
Unlimited £18

Three Mobile 24-month SIM-only contracts offer the lowest monthly cost. Monthly rolling contracts are the most expensive plans in the long-term but also offer the most flexibility, allowing users to cancel at any time without having to pay an early termination fee.

Virgin Mobile 

Virgin Media SIM-only deals include unlimited texts and minutes, data-rollover, and use of WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter will not be deducted from your data allowance. Virgin TV customers also get lots of perks, with monthly discounts on their phone plan. Virgin Media offers four SIM deals:

Data Cost per month Contract length
8GB £12 1 month
16GB £14 1 month
25GB £8 1 month
30GB £10 1 month

Unlimited data is also available with a Virgin Media SIM, but the above plans are the best Virgin Media SIM-only deals according to the provider.

Vodafone

Vodafone SIM-only deals offer the choice to combine entertainment with a SIM. Vodafone SIM-only deals come as 12-month, 24-month, or 30-day contracts. Vodafone Entertainment packages offer unlimited access to YouTube Premium, Spotify Premium and Amazon Prime Video. The best Vodafone SIM-card deals are 24-month contracts:

Data plan Cost per month
150GB £31
200GB £30
Unlimited £50

There’s a speed limit of 10Mbps with the Vodafone SIMs included above. To get the fastest data speeds possible, you’ll need to upgrade to a Vodafone MAX plan. 

O2 Mobile

O2 customers benefit from unlimited texts and minutes with any O2 SIM and can choose from a 1 month contract, 12-month contract, a 24-month contract or a one-month rolling deal. There are plenty of O2 deals with no data limit, but there are three main SIM plans. They have a contract length of 24 months and offer inclusive streaming of popular TV or music apps: 

Data Cost per month Contract length
20GB £18 12 months
50GB £30 1 month
150GB £22 24 months

Virgin Media broadband customers also get double data with any O2 SIM plan. Combining O2 mobile with Virgin Broadband can save you money if you’re interested in a broadband and phone plan. Before signing up to a broadband deal, check the available broadband in your area.

Plusnet

Plusnet offers 30-day rolling contracts with lower data allowances than its competitors, with 50GB being the highest data allowance. Plusnet features three main deals*:

Data Cost per month
5GB £8
15GB £10
30GB £12

*We don’t currently offer any Plusnet deals, but you can find these packages directly on the Plusnet website.

Plusnet offers less extras than some of its competitors but makes up for it with low prices and flexible contracts. Plusnet also offers award-winning customer service and has been named Best Broadband Provider of the Year by Uswitch.

giffgaff

giffgaff SIM plans come with unlimited texts and minutes and can be cancelled at any time. giffgaff’s best SIM-only contracts are always changing thanks to its generous short-term offers. The provider’s standard deals range from:

Data Contract Length Cost per month
1GB 1 month £6
15GB 1 month £10
80GB 1 month £20

Lebara

Lebara SIM-only plans are contract-free and come with unlimited texts and minutes. Lebara has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Trustpilot and is recognised for offering cheap tariffs on a reliable network: 

Data Cost per month
3GB £5
8GB £7
15GB £9
Unlimited £25

Talkmobile

Talkmobile offers cheap SIM-only deals with unlimited texts and unlimited minutes on 1-month contracts:

Data Cost per month
4GB £5.95
15GB £7.95
30GB £10
100GB £12.95

VOXI

SIM-only deals with VOXI are contract-free and offer unlimited texts and minutes. Customers also benefit from unlimited data usage on WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest. 

Data Cost per month
15GB £10
30GB £15
60GB £15
Unlimited £35

SMARTY

SMARTY offers six simple one-month SIM-only plans. SMARTY SIM plans are perfect if you have a bad credit rating because they don’t do credit checks. Here are the best SMARTY SIM contracts:

Data Cost per month
4GB £5
8GB £7
12GB £7
60GB £10
200GB £14
Unlimited £16

If you run out of data, SMARTY charges £1 for every GB of data you use outside your monthly plan.

iD Mobile

iD Mobile SIM deals include unlimited texts, minutes and data for £16 a month on a 24-month contract. The provider also offers 12-month plans and one-month rolling deals. One-month plans start at £6 per month and offer 4GB of data with unlimited minutes and texts. iD mobile is perfect if you’re on a budget.

Data Cost per month
4GB £6
10GB £7
15GB £7
50GB £10
200GB £14
Unlimited £18
Disclaimer icon
All iD Mobile plans come with unlimited texts and minutes and offer unrestricted tethering in the UK.

Monthly SIM-only vs PAYG

Pay-as-you-go SIM plans 

With a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) SIM, you only pay for the minutes, texts and data you use. You simply choose the provider you want, order a SIM and pay for your allowances based on the provider’s rates. A PAYG SIM offers users the flexibility to cancel whenever they want, and doesn’t require a credit check.

A pay-as-you-go deal is convenient, but bear in mind that it will be more expensive than a standard SIM-only deal if your usage is regularly high. Pay-as-you-go rates are expensive, and you pay for every call, text, and MB of data you use.

Disclaimer icon

Monthly SIM-only vs PAYG

With PAYG (pay-as-you-go) you won’t accumulate a large bill by going over your data limit. Instead, you will be informed that you need to top up your credit to continue using data on your phone.

How to compare SIM-only deals

There are a few important factors to consider when choosing your SIM-only plan. Nowadays, the most important thing to consider is whether the data allowance on offer meets your needs. Extras and add-ons can also improve your mobile phone experience, so it’s important to consider these as well.

Data allowance

Providers offer a wide range of data allowances, so it’s not difficult to find a plan that meets your needs. SIM-only deals can offer anywhere between 1GB of data and unlimited data, so there are plenty of plans to choose from. If you want to stream, play games and download files frequently while not connected to WiFi, you should consider getting a data allowance of 25GB or more.

The cost of your SIM will be based on the data plan you opt for, so you might have to adapt your data needs to your budget. Certain providers, such as Virgin, offer data rollover so that you don’t lose any unused data. Data rollover allows you to accumulate data from previous months, which might suit those with irregular usage. 

Minutes and texts

Many mobile providers offer unlimited minutes and texts allowances with their SIM-only contracts, allowing users to call and text as much as they want at no extra cost. Alternatively, a SIM could come with limited minutes and texts for a lower monthly price. If a plan with limited allowances is available to you, consider how many minutes and texts you’ll need and whether you’ll go over this limit. If you think you will, go for a SIM with unlimited minutes and texts.

Perks and extras

SIM-only customers can occasionally benefit from perks and extras as incentives to switch, but this will depend on how generous your provider is. Perks can include free features and discounts through the provider’s mobile app. For example, O2 offers its customers discounts on concerts and experiences via the My O2 app, as well as Priority rewards, where customers can enter prize draws and benefit from giveaways and weekly treats. Certain providers, such as Sky Mobile, even offer TV add-ons, or entertainment packs with their mobile-phone plans.

Review of SIM-only deals

Pros

    • You don’t always need a credit check.
    • More flexibility, with 30-day rolling contracts.
    • More affordable, as you’re not paying for a new handset.
    • Can be used with any unlocked phone.

Cons

    • You must have an unlocked phone.
    • Less likely to come with additional perks or benefits.

Whether you’re looking for flexibility or you want to save money on your phone bill, getting a SIM-only deal can be much better than getting a handset deal. Getting a SIM-only contract can be easier than other phone contracts if you have bad credit history, since it doesn’t require long-term commitment financially. It also means you can use your current phone as long as it is unlocked. If you’re looking for a cheap option, with flexibility to change contracts whenever you need to, then a SIM-only plan can be the right choice for you. 

That being said, if you prefer to regularly upgrade your phone, or you don’t necessarily need a rolling monthly contract, then you may prefer a handset deal instead that could even come with additional perks, or benefits.

FAQs - SIM-only deals

SIM-only deals are best suited to those who already have an unlocked phone and want a flexible phone plan with data, minutes and texts every month.

Each provider has a different activation process. In most cases, you’ll need to activate your new SIM on the provider’s website and then it’s ready to go. You’ll receive instructions with your SIM card.

First, you’ll need to find out how long you have left on your current contract. If you’re ending your contract early, you might need to pay an early termination fee. Once you’ve cancelled your contract, you’ll need to ‘text-to-switch’ following three simple steps:

  1. To keep your existing number, text PAC to 65075. To get a new phone number, text STAC to 75075.
  2. Wait to receive a switching code from the number you’ve texted. 
  3. Send the code to your new provider and they will complete the switch for you.

Yes, 5G is available with many SIM-only deals. If the provider has gone live with 5G, they’ll usually offer it at no extra cost.

A SIM card can store a lot of personal data, such as your name and phone numbers. To be on the safe side, its best to destroy your old SIM card once you get a new one. You can do this by cutting the chip and recycling the plastic.

To use the internet on your tablet when you’re not connected to WiFi, then you can purchase a data-only SIM. Unlike regular SIMs, they only have data, not texts or minutes. Make sure before you get one that your tablet has a SIM card slot, since some models don’t have them. 

You can also find useful information in the manufacturers handbook about what type of SIM card works with your tablet.

Some SIM-only deals require a credit check, but these won’t be as strict as contract deals. It’s worth comparing SIM card deals as some don’t require a credit check at all.

To get a PAC code, all you have to do is call your network provider and ask that they send it to you, or send the word ‘PAC’ via text to 65075 and you will get your code sent as an SMS.

If you sign up to a 12-month SIM contract, then you can improve your credit rating. Since you are committing long term to paying a fee every month for your plan, you show lenders that you are trustworthy. However, any missed monthly payments can also affect your credit score, so go with a rolling one-month plan if you’re not sure.