Best SIM Only deals: If you’re looking for the most cost-efficient way to get set up with a smartphone, look no further than these SIM only deals.
Signing up for a normal all-inclusive smartphone contract often feels like the least painful way to get a new smartphone. But when you tot up the costs, spread over a fixed 24 month contract, you’ll find that you’re paying a hefty premium.
Signing up to a SIM only contract proves to be much better value. You’re still taking out a contract with a network operator, but you’re not subsidising the cost of a handset. This means that your monthly payments are extremely low in relation to your data and minute allowance.
SIM only contracts tend to run for a year or less, too, which means you’re not tied in and can shop around for a competitive deal more frequently. What’s more, if you’re happy with your current phone, you don’t even need to foot the bill for a new one.
If you’re looking to bag yourself a new smartphone at this end of the year, the the Trusted Reviews team is on hand to help. We’ve gathered together all of the latest and greatest SIM only deals, so you can find everything you need to know about them in one place.
Check out our rundown of the best SIM only deals for December 2018. We’ve grouped them by the UK’s biggest networks or retailers, so you know where your chosen deal is coming from at a glance.
All prices were correct at the time of writing, but deals pricing can change at the drop of a hat. As such, move fast if you want to land yourself a worthwhile bargain.
Best Three SIM only deals
At present, there are two deals that are definitely worth highlighting from Three. The network’s 30GB and 100GB SIM only deals have been reduced to £17 and £20 respectively. Both tariffs come with all-you-can-eat minutes and text so it’s a fantastic deal all round. Three has also introduced travel upgrades with EasyJet as part of their SIM only packages, allowing you to check in your bag for free and ensuring that that same bag is one of the first to appear on the baggage carousel. For the frequent traveller, this is a great offer.
You also get to enjoy ‘Feel At Home’ in 71 countries around the world; allowing you to take your Three perks with you at no additional charge in any of the listed countries, including the United States, Spain and France.
Three – SIM Only Deals
More data than you can shake a stick at for just £20 a month. Unbeatable value.
Best Mobiles.co.uk SIM only deals
If you’re happy to stray away from buying directly through the networks themselves, Mobiles.co.uk has several fantastic deals that are made even better with the opportunity to save large amounts of money through cashback. These beat the options direct from the networks by some margin and the cashback is automatic, removing some of the hassle.
Mobiles.co.uk – SIM Only Deals
Once you factor in the automatic cashback, this is an incredible deal that gets you plenty of data for a minimal price.
Another 2 day flash deal that gets you double the data for not much more each month. The cashback is automatic, so you don't have to deal with the hassle of a claim.
£17.50 a month for 50GB? No need to rub your eyes, you read that right the first time. Given that most retailers don't offer a 50GB SIM for less than £30, this Vodafone SIM is an absolute steal.
Best Vodafone SIM only deals
Vodafone is currently offering a range of deals on its 12-month plans, all but the two cheapest of which come with unlimited texts and minutes. The data provision for each of these is generally plenty for light users, but caps are in place to make sure you don’t go over your limit.
For the heavy streamers among us (you know who you are), Vodafone has heard your cries and put out a fantastic offer with its £20-a-month SIM which comes with 20GB of data.
Vodafone - SIM Only Deals
This is one of the best all-rounder SIM deals on the market, giving you just enough of everything for under a tenner.
If 3GB is a bit too small for all your social media needs then you can nab an extra 3GB for just £2 more.
The grandaddy of all deals with a whopping 20GB of data plus your choice of entertainment for a whole year from either Prime Video, Spotify, Now TV or Sky Sports.
Best Virgin SIM only deals
Virgin Media often runs great flash deals and it’s launched more than a couple of tempting offers in the latter stretch of 2018. You can either triple your data or save money on several SIM only deals.
Virgin Mobile – SIM Only Deals
Get 3x the usual data allowance for a bargain price.
Best O2 SIM only deals
Signing up with O2 grants you access to more than 15,000 Wi-Fi spots up and down the country, alongside a handful of freebies each week with the O2 Priority reward scheme. O2 also allows its customers to tap into their own monthly allowance abroad (in select countries) at no extra cost. Our featured deal also includes six months of Netflix for free.
O2 - SIM Only Deals
For the sheer amount of data alone, this SIM is well worth the money. O2 is also offering roaming at no extra cost in 75 countries when you sign up. Definitely a fantastic option for anyone who loves to travel.
Best EE SIM only deals
EE is currently offering 20GB of data for £21 a month and 30GB of data for £25 a month. This offer ends on November 21 but they often come around again.
Each SIM also offers unlimited minutes and texts so you’ll never be stuck for options if you’re unable to maintain a connection to the internet.
Best iD Mobile SIM only deals
ID Mobile is known for having highly competitive prices across its SIM-only tariffs. It currently boasts the cheapest SIM card in the country, which comes with comes with 500MB of data, 150 minutes and unlimited texts for just £3.99 – a great option for kids.
ID Mobile - SIM Only Deals
One of the cheapest SIM cards available in the whole of the UK.
This Black Tag Event deal adds an extra 1GB of data onto an already generous package.
Further up the scale, this Black Tag Event deal adds an extra 2GB of data into the mix.
Best Tesco SIM only deals
Tesco Mobile is a great choice for those who aren’t too fussed with minutes and texts but are eager to get plenty of data at a reasonable price. Right now you can get a healthy 25GB of data for just £20, which is plenty to keep you streaming without worry.
Tesco Mobile - SIM Only Deals
Tesco’s current entry-level ‘Big data deal’ gives you a generous 5GB of data, and plenty of minutes and texts for £10 per month.
At the opposite end of the data scale, 25GB should be more than enough for the vast majority of people - and £16.50 should be comfortably cheap enough too.
Best Plusnet SIM only deals
Plusnet already has quite a reputation for offering low-cost SIM cards with a fair amount of data attached, but with its most recent deal, the company is on to a winner. The SIM provides 5GB of data, plus unlimited minutes and texts for just £10pm. What’s more, with the carrier’s ‘Roam like at Home’ initiative means you can use your phone when you’re travelling as you would when you’re in the UK.
Plusnet – SIM Only Deals
Plusnet is currently peddling this fantastic SIM, giving you one of the best data allowances that a tenner can buy. What's not to love?
Best Sky Mobile SIM only deals
If you’re already a Sky customer for TV or home broadband, the company has a selection of SIM only deals for its existing customers. Right now, though, even non-Sky customers can get a great deal.
Free calls and texts are also available to non-customers for the first six months of the deal.
Sky Mobile – SIM Only Deals
Sky's best offer if you don't need a lot of data.
If you need lots of data this is your best bet from Sky.
Looking for a bargain contract phone?
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How to choose a new SIM only deal
Keep your old phone number
If you do take out a new SIM only deal, there’s no reason you can’t keep your old phone number. Just ask your old provider for a PAC code, then give this to your new operator. This code essentially gives them permission to port your old phone number across to your new operator. No need to message everyone in your phonebook with your new digits and just think of all the money you’d save from not having to print any new business cards.
Check the network coverage
Everyone’s network coverage experience is going to be different because it’s all dependent on location and distance from the nearest cellular tower. As such, it’s important you check the network coverage for both voice and 4G wherever you plan on using your phone most. Typically, it’s a good idea to check your home and work address. A high data sim might be tempting but if a particular network doesn’t cover your intended destination, then those dreams of watching Netflix atop a mountain could fly out the window.
Simply pop your postcode into each network’s coverage checker to get an idea of what you can expect:
- O2 network coverage checker
- Vodafone network coverage checker
- EE network coverage checker
- Three network coverage checker
- iD network coverage checker
- Virgin Media Mobile coverage checker
- Tesco Mobile coverage checker
All of the UK’s big operators (that’s O2, Vodafone, EE and Three) support something called Wi-Fi calling now. This lets you use a Wi-Fi connection to make and receive calls and texts, bypassing any network coverage woes. This function is dependent on your phone being compatible with Wi-Fi Calling and you turning on the necessary settings.
Unfortunately, EE doesn’t provide Wi-Fi Calling for SIM only contracts, only on phones bought as part of a pay monthly contract.
What’s a MVNO?
This stands for ‘Mobile Virtual Network Operator’ and is used to describe networks such as Virgin Mobile, iD Mobile or Tesco. Essentially, these companies don’t own the network infrastructure they use, in the way that the mobile operators like EE, O2, Vodafone and Three own parts of the network spectrum. Instead, MVNOs have agreements with mobile operators to use part of their infrastructure at wholesale rates.
Virgin Mobile and Plusnet use EE’s network, Tesco Mobile uses O2’s network and iD Mobile use Three.
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