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What is a SIM-only deal?
A SIM-only deal gives you a monthly allowance of minutes, texts and data, but doesn't include a mobile phone. This type of plan typically works out much cheaper than mobile contracts, which require you to also pay off a handset.
How do I get a SIM-only deal?
It's really easy to find a SIM-only deal - you're already in the right place. On this page, you can compare deals for the UK's best mobile networks, from giants like EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three, to smaller operators like giffgaff and TPO Mobile.
When you check SIM-only deals, you can use the filters to set what type of deal you want. Some of the things to consider include:
How much data do I need?
Perhaps the biggest question to answer. The more you want to do online on the go, the more data you'll need. Video is particularly data-hungry - if you plan to regularly stream Netflix or BBC iPlayer, for example, you'll need a plan with a generous data allowance.
How much call time / texts?
Pick a plan that gives you enough call time. For some chatty people, that could be as much as unlimited call time. On the other hand, if you're someone who tends to ignore the 'phone' in mobile phone and instead use messaging services like WhatsApp instead, you may be able to save money by getting less call time.
What length contract should I get?
As a general rule, the longer you commit to a mobile plan, the cheaper it gets. A 12-month contract will work out less expensive over the same period as a 30-day rolling plan, but you lose the flexibility to change if a better deal becomes available.
Do I need extras like international calls?
If you have friends or family overseas, take a look at the add-ons available with different plans. You should be able to see what's available when you click through to a deal from the grid. Or, you could pick a network like Lebara, which specialises in international calls.
What's coverage like?
Almost every operator has a coverage checker available. Use them to see whether you'll be able to connect at home, work and other areas you regularly go to. Find out more in our guide.
What's my budget?
Another big one: how much do you want to spend. Have an idea of your maximum budget - we list deals by price, so once you've set your filters, it should be easy to find a SIM-only deal that balances the features you need, with how much you want to spend.
EE SIM-only deals
It's one of the biggest networks in the UK, with the fastest 4G and widest coverage... so of course EE has loads of SIM-only plans available. There's something for everyone - from a paltry 250MB to a massive 40GB a month.
Three SIM-only deals
Despite its name, Three definitely offers a lot more than three SIM-only plans. You can get a low-cost plan with 500MB a month, and data goes all the way up to infinity. That's right - Three is one of the very few operators that offers an unlimited data plan.
O2 SIM-only deals
O2 tries to be all things to all people... and largely succeeds. You can get SIM-only plans ranging from a diddy little 200MB with 150 minutes call time, all the way up to a massive 30GB a month and unlimited calls.
Vodafone SIM-only deals
All Vodafone's SIMs include unlimited texts, and the majority have unlimited minutes. As for data, it runs the gamut from 250MB a month - only suitable for the lightest users - up to 50GB a month.
giffgaff SIM-only deals
This popular SIM-only provider uses O2's network to deliver services. It uses community-based customer service rather than traditional call-centres, but this allows it to be considerably cheaper than others. It even does an unlimited data plan. ...well, sort of - it restricts the speed if you exceed 9GB in a month.
Tesco SIM-only deals
Tesco Mobile is another well-regarded operator that shares O2's infrastructure. Its SIM-only plans are very competitively priced, with monthly allowances ranging from 100MB with 100 texts and 100 minutes, up to 50GB data with 500 texts and 500 minutes.
Virgin Mobile SIM-only deals
It's probably still best known for TV and broadband, but Virgin Media's no slouch when it comes to mobile either. Tariffs start at 500MB data and 500 minutes a month and go as high as 100GB and 5000 minutes.
BT SIM-only deals
BT owns EE, so naturally its plans share the same network. Plans range from 500MB to 20GB a month, and it also sells excellent-value family plans that give you better discounts the more family members join.
TPO Mobile SIM-only deals
A network with a difference, The People's Operator (TPO) promises to give part of the money it takes from you to a charity of your choice. It shares Three's network, with plans starting at 500MB data per month and going up to 8GB.
iD Mobile SIM-only deals
You may not have heard of iD, but you'll definitely be aware of its parent company - Carphone Warehouse. Tariffs start at 500MB, 500 minutes and 5000 texts a month, and goes up to 6GB, 2000 minutes and 5000 texts.
Smarty SIM-only deal
Smarty comes with a unique hook - you'll get a discount on your next bill for any data left unused at the end of the month. It tries to keep things simple with only a few plans available - 2GB a month, 4GB a month and 8GB a month.
VOXI SIM-only deals
This one is purely for the youngsters - or at least those under 30. It has a number of unique benefits - including unlimited social data. That means you can use services like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and more without using any monthly data. Plans go from 2GB a month up to 15GB.
Plusnet SIM-only deals
Plusnet's mobile plans are good value for all, but it's their broadband customers who get the best deal. If you get your internet from Plusnet, you'll get better SIM-only deals, with more data, minutes and texts. Plans start at 500MB a month and go up to 6GB.
Can I keep my number if I switch to a SIM-only plan?
Don't worry - you'll be able to keep your phone number, even if you switch to an entirely new mobile operator. You just have to get a PAC - your old supplier will give it to you if you phone them - and then give it to your new provider once you sign up.
It's a really straight forward process - see full instructions in our guide.
What size SIM-card do I need?
Don't worry about the size of SIM-card you need. All mobile operators will give you a 'multi-SIM'. These all-in one devices can be popped out in three sizes, so you'll be able to get the exact size you need for your phone.
Why switch to a SIM-only deal?
Sometimes you find that phone that just feels... right. And if you're happy with your handset, why get rid of it? That's why a SIM-only deal is great - you get a whole new plan for your favourite phone, and you'll probably pay less too.
That's an important point actually - if you're out of contract on your old mobile plan you're probably spending more than you need to. In some cases, you'll even be charged the same rates as if you were still paying for your handset, even though you should have already technically settled that bill.
That's why switching is important - you may find you can save a substantial amount by switching to a SIM-only deal, and the breadth of choice is quite amazing.
Start comparing now to see what's available.
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