WE’VE rounded up all the best SIM-only deals on the market from the top UK providers to stretch the most out of every pound.
There are deals to suit everyone, from unlimited plans for the most data-hungry users to basic plans for customers on a budget.
If you already own a handset or aren’t ready to part with the one you love, you could save yourself plenty of cash by opting for a SIM-only deal over costly pay monthly contracts.
The SIM-only market is full of competitive deals as providers try to outdo each other, but it can make searching for the best deal for you a headache.
So we have done all the hard work for you and rounded up the best SIM-only plans from the UK’s top providers, including deals from Three, EE, and Vodafone.
Whether you are looking for data-busting plans or are shopping on a budget, there is something to suit every kind of user.
Below you will find the best deals on everything from value and speed to the best Unlimited plans to 5G.
Best SIM-only deals UK: At a glance
Best Lebara SIM-only deals
Lebara specialises in short-term contracts with bundles including international minutes to 44 countries. Most bundles include 100 international minutes as standard, but some include more.
Lebara runs on Vodafone’s network so there’s great coverage.
- 3GB data, 1000 UK minutes and texts, £5pm – buy here
- 15GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £10pm – buy here
- 30GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £15pm – buy here
- Unlimited data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £25pm – buy here
Best Smarty SIM-only deals
Smarty runs on Three’s mobile network and boasts some of the best value short-term SIM-only deals around. The company also offers data discount plans that give money back for unused data.
- 4GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £5pm – buy here
- 12GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £8pm – buy here
- 60GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £10pm – buy here
- 200GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £17pm – buy here
- Unlimited data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £20pm – buy here
Best Voxi SIM-only deals
Voxi gives its users unlimited social data, which means you can use Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp without eating into your data allowance. Some packages now also include unlimited streaming.
Voxi runs on Vodafone’s network so there’s great coverage.
- 15GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £10pm – buy here
- 30GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £12pm – buy here
- 30GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £15pm – buy here
- 100GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £20pm – buy here
- Unlimited data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £35pm – buy here
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Best Three SIM-only deals
The below contracts are 24 months long.
- 1GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £8pm – buy here
- 4GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £9pm – buy here
- 120GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £16pm – buy here
- Unlimited data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £24pm – buy here
Best Vodafone SIM-only deals
The below offers are 24 months long and include 5G data. Some of Vodafone’s bundles also include unlimited roaming, which could be worth looking at if you travel a lot.
- 2GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £14pm – buy here
- 80GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £20pm – buy here
- 150GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £23pm – buy here
- Unlimited data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £33pm – buy here
Best O2 SIM-only deals
O2 has competitive prices and very good 4G coverage across most parts of the UK, so getting a SIM-only contract with them will mean you’ll get a good signal wherever you are.
Being part of O2 means you can enjoy VIP perks on O2 Priority, which includes treatments, discounts, freebies and prize draws. The below deals are on 24-month contracts.
- 75GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £18pm – buy here
- 150GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £11pm for six months then £22pm – buy here
- 250GB data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £12.50pm for six months then £25 – buy here
Best EE SIM-only deals
Being an EE customer means enjoying excellent coverage and fast speeds across the UK as they’re a step ahead of most rival networks.
You can even check your coverage on EE’s website before you commit, so you can be sure you’ll always have the signal you need.
Below are all 24-month contracts.
- Unlimited data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £14pm for six months then £28pm – buy here
- 1GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £15pm – buy here
- 5GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £18pm – buy here
- 25GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £21pm – buy here
Best iD Mobile SIM-only deals
iD Mobile is a good value network that doesn’t offer many extras but has competitive prices and a good range of both long-term mobile contracts and SIM-only plans.
The best thing about them is that they have data rollover so any unused data will just move to next month.
The below deals are one-month contracts and offer 5G data.
- 5GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £6pm – buy here
- 15GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £7pm – buy here
- 80GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £10pm – buy here
- 200GB, unlimited UK minutes and text, £12pm – buy here
- Unlimited data, unlimited UK minutes and text, £18pm – buy here
What is a SIM-only deal?
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.
There are a huge number of cheap SIM-only deals on the market from all of the biggest carriers and the key is finding the deal that most closely suits your needs.
The best SIM-only deals will match your level of usage in minutes, text messages and data. SIM-only plans vary in what they offer, and for what price, so it’s worth shopping around to find a good deal for your requirements.
Many also offer additional perks and extras to lure new customers in, or have exclusive deals for existing customers.
While many SIM-only deals are available on a rolling month plan, which you can cancel at any time, others are 12-month or longer contracts, which you are tied to, unless you want to pay cancellation fees to switch.
To help you compare the best SIM-only deals from all major networks, we’ve included a wide variety of price plans and data limits, so it’s simple to see what’s available.
*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 SIM-only deals?
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 (although longer contracts are available too, and often offer a discount).
SIM-only deals are particularly useful if you’re buying second-hand and refurbished phones; the combination of 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.
What are the drawbacks of SIM-only deals?
If you don’t already own a good smartphone, a SIM-only deal could end up being frustrating, as you won’t have a proper device to make the most out of your data deal, for example.
In cases like this, you could end up saving some money by getting a phone contract, particularly if you’re in the market for the latest phones.
In addition, before getting a SIM-only deal, make sure your phone is unlocked if it isn’t, you won’t be able to use your new SIM card with it.
How can I tell if my phone is unlocked?
If you have an iPhone updated to iOS 14, it is very easy to check if your device is unlocked. Simply go to ‘Settings’, then ‘General,’ and finally, tap ‘About.’ You will see a ‘Carrier Lock’ setting there.
If it shows ‘No SIM Restrictions’, your phone is unlocked, otherwise, there will be the name of a network service provider there, showing that your iPhone is locked to that particular carrier.
With Android phones, the situation is a little bit trickier, as there’s no way of checking if the device is locked via the settings.
Instead, what you can do is simply try a SIM card from a different carrier. If you’re able to make phone calls and access the mobile network after the switch, your phone is unlocked. If you can’t, it is locked.
Which mobile network is best?
According to uSwitch, EE offers the UK’s widest and fastest 4G coverage, with a whopping 99% of the UK covered. O2 is a close second, with its 3G/4G connection covering 99% of the country, though speeds are generally a little bit slower than EE’s. Three, Vodafone, and iD Mobile are also valid options, all with coverage rates above 90% nationwide, and in many parts of the UK, fast speeds.
Additional mobile networks with solid coverage are Tesco Mobile, GiffGaff, Talkmobile, and Sky Mobile, together with Smarty, which uses Three’s 4G network.
In terms of 5G coverage, the technology is still patchy across the UK, but Vodafone and EE are at the forefront of the technological race here, with speeds faster than any other mobile network provider.
Can you cancel a SIM-only contract?
Yes, but check what type of contract you have.
On some SIM-only deals, you’re locked in for 12 or 24 months, in which case you may be charged an early termination fee.
As a rule of thumb, the early termination fee amounts to the total monthly fees left on your contract at the time of cancellation. So, for example, if there are ten months left in your £10-a-month contract and you want to cancel now, you will have to pay £100.
Is it easy to switch mobile phone networks?
Yes, it is. All you have to do is to wait until your current contract expires (to avoid paying cancellation fees), then switch providers.
In order to do that, just go to the website of your chosen provider and complete the registration process. A SIM card will then be posted to your address, ready to be activated.
I’ve found a SIM-only deal with a different network, what do I do now?
Generally speaking, it is convenient to wait for your current contract to end before starting a new one, to avoid cancellation fees.
However, if you found a deal that is absolutely unmissable (or you don’t mind paying the cancellation fee), you can simply start a new contract with them, and cancel your current one.
How do I keep my phone number when I switch networks?
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 your number unless you do something called double porting where you switch your number to another provider and then switch back.
What do I do with my old SIM?
If you migrate your old number to a new SIM card, you can destroy the old one, as it will be deactivated the moment the number is transferred.
If you start a new contract with a new phone number, however, your old SIM will stay active for a while. In that case, you may want to keep your old SIM, if you intend to use it again.
Just a heads-up, if you have any credit left in your old SIM card, you may want to use it, as if left unused, it may expire after six or 12 months.
Will a SIM-only deal improve my credit rating?
Whether or not the provider will run a credit check on you, a SIM-only contract will involve a credit agreement. Because of this, you could build up your credit rating by keeping up with your monthly, SIM-only contract payments.
Will there be a credit check when I apply for a SIM-only deal?
Legally speaking, there’s no minimum credit score needed to get a phone contract, but some companies will run a check anyway. Different network operators will also score you differently, so if you can’t get a contract with one, you could try checking with others.
For context, 30-day rolling SIM-only contracts do not usually require credit checks since they are extremely low-risk to the company. However, if you’re signing up for a 12 or 24-month SIM-only contract, it is more likely that they will check your credit score.
Which network has the best SIM-only deals?
Here’s a selection of mobile phone networks which have great SIM-only deals:
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 £18 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.
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 are three sizes of SIM cards 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:
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