IF YOU prefer to buy your phones SIM-free, second hand or refurbished, SIM-only contracts are a must have.
Combine a cheap handset with the best SIM-only package and you can save yourself a bundle compared to getting a contract through your network.
Best Live SIM-only deals
- 2GB data, £5pm, 1,000 minutes + texts, Lebara – buy here
- 30GB data, £10pm, unlimited minutes + texts, Smarty – buy here
- Unlimited data, £20pm, unlimited minutes + texts, Smarty – buy here
*Prices in this article are correct at the time of writing but are subject to change. Shop around before you buy a SIM-only contract to ensure you're getting the best price.
What are the benefits of a SIM-only contract?
The main benefit of getting a SIM-only contract is flexibility.
Instead of being locked into a two-year contract like you are with most phone providers, you can easily snap up a rolling-one month deal that's easy to walk away from.
SIM-only deals are particularly useful if you're buying second-hand and refurbished phones; the combination between a cheap handset and a good value SIM-only contract means you can pay much less for the same package than you'll ever be offered in a store.
Which network has the best SIM-only deals?
Here's a selection of mobile phone networks which have great SIM-only deals:
- EE SIM-only
- GiffGaff SIM-only
- iD Mobile SIM-only
- Lebara SIM-only
- O2 SIM-only
- Plusnet SIM-only
- Sky Mobile SIM-only
- Smarty SIM-only
- Tesco SIM-only
- Three SIM-only
- Virgin SIM-only
- Vodafone SIM-only
- Voxi SIM-only
What is a SIM-only contract?
SIM-only means you're purchasing a SIM card, without a handset, which can be paired with an unlocked phone.
The SIM card carries your phone number, contacts list, and text messages, making it easy to swap to a new phone.
Can you keep your number with SIM-only deals?
If you're ending your existing contract and want to keep your number while moving onto another network's SIM-only deal you can.
You'll need to contact your existing provider and request a PAC code.
A PAC code will be used by your new network to register your number on their service.
However, if you're moving to a SIM-only deal on the same network you may have to change number.
How much data should I look for in a SIM-only deal?
To find out how much data you use each month, simply log into your account with your provider, check how much data you use each month and buy a SIM-only plan accordingly.
Some SIM-only providers, such as Voxi, offer unlimited social media data too, which means you might get through a little less data than normal.
If you burn through data very quickly, some providers, such as Smarty, offer unlimited data packages for as little as £25 a month.
Should I get a 30-day or 12-month SIM-only contract?
You'd think companies would try and lure customers in by giving them lower prices on 12-month SIM-only contracts, but that's not necessarily the case.
After examining comparable SIM-only contracts on price comparison sites, we've noticed there's much correlation between length of contract and lower prices.
The decision to get a short-term or a long-term SIM-only contract should be made on a case-by-case basis.
What size SIM card do I need?
There's three sizes of SIM card available: standard, micro and nano.
The size you'll need depends on your phone and should be made clear in your handset's instruction manual.
As a rule of thumb, iPhones tend to take nano SIMs, Samsung Galaxys take micro SIMs and standard SIM cards have been relegated from the mainstream altogether.
How do I change my SIM card?
Each phone will have a different method for changing the SIM card. Head to the brand's website to find out how to swap yours:
If you're thinking about upgrading your phone, we've rounded up the best camera phones you can buy right now.
For more top tech recommendations, check out our dedicated section at Sun Selects.
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