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Free Sim cardsCheapest for data, texts & international calls

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Mobile networks are doling out free no-contract Sim cards: used right they can get you unlimited texts, free Skype calls, cheap calls and even 2for1 cinema tickets.

So either switch to them or pop them into any unlocked handset (see unlocking info below) for specific tasks.

Also see: The Full Cheap Mobiles guide and Haggle Down Your Contract

Top Free Sim Offers

GiffGaff

GiffGaff* Cheapest for high users

Mobile provider GiffGaff, while officially a pay-as-you-go Sim-only provider, offers top up bundles which are as good, if not better, value than some contracts. You can get 2,000 inclusive minutes and unlimited texts per month, as well as unlimited data, when you buy the £18 GiffGaff goody bag.

This is a great deal for folk who use their phones a lot, but can't get or don't want a contract deal.

You can get a free Sim card, but you'll need to top-up by at least £10 to activate it. As it's a pre-pay deal, there is no credit check required and no contract lock-in. Plus sign up via the links and when you top it up with £10, you'll get £5 free credit.

You can use your existing handset but only if it's unlocked. Read the Mobile Unlocking guide if your phone needs unlocking.

How to get it incl £5 free credit: Order a free GiffGaff* Sim online (it should arrive within 1-3 days), then activate it and top up by at least £10 to get your free £5 credit.

Standard tariff costs (based on £ goody bag)
  • Calls. Free (up to 2,000 mins, then 10p/min)
  • Texts. Unlimited
  • Data. Unlimited
  • Other. Read the full tariff details for more info.
Tesco Mobile

O2 Top up for triple credit

Tesco offers 5,000 texts for £5 when you opt into its text bundle, making texts just 0.1p per message. You can also add 150 minutes bundle for £5. Tesco are also offering to triple your credit. You can top up £10, £15 and £20 and Tesco will give you £30, £45 and £60.


How to get it:
Get your free Tesco Sim* online - just fill in the form. Then add it via your online account.

The bundle will automatically renew every month until you stop it. If you use all 5,000 texts in one month you'll be charged the standard rate of 10p/text.

Standard tariff costs
  • Calls. 25p/min
  • Texts. 5,000 free (then 10p/text)
  • Data. 10p/MB
  • Other. Read the full tariff details for more info.
Orange

EEGreat for choice and flexiblity

EE has launched a range of new pay-as-you-go Sims and tariffs. There are three different Sim types (or 'packs' as they're called by EE) on offer: the 'Data Pack', the 'Talk and Text Pack' and the 'Everything Pack'.

With each, the pack is automatically added on when it expires, and the money taken from your existing credit, unless you've told EE not to do this. Here's what you'll get with each:

  • Data Pack. It costs £1 and comes with 100MB of 4G data, 10 minutes of calls and 10 texts. It lasts seven days.
  • Talk and Text Pack. EE offers three tariffs to choose from with this pack, none of which include any data. For £1 you'll get 25 minutes and 50 texts, which last for seven days. For £10 you'll get 250 minutes and unlimited texts, lasting 30 days. The final option costs £15, has 750 minutes and unlimited texts, and lasts for 30 days.
  • Everything Pack. This is a combination of the first two and has three different options. You can get 150 minutes, 500MB and unlimited texts for £10. Or for £15 you'll get 500 minutes, 2GB and unlimited texts. The third option costs £25 and has 1,000 minutes, 4GB and unlimited texts.


How to get it: Fill in the online application form to get your free EE Sim. Register it and top up £10 to get going.

Standard tariff costs (based on £1 Data Pack)
  • Calls. 10 minutes (then 30p/min)
  • Texts. 12p/text out of bundle
  • Data. 100MB
  • Other. Read the full tariff details for more info.
O2

O2 Best for international calling

If you frequently call friends or family abroad, O2's free International Sim can cut costs dramatically. Get the Sim and top up £15 every month and you can call landlines and mobiles in India and China for 1.5p/min, as well as unlimited free calls and texts to other O2 mobiles plus 100MB of data.

There's a raft of other countries which start from 1p/min bracket for landlines, and rates to mobiles overseas are also competitive (see all international rates).

If you tend to call the same people abroad, and you've both access to a computer, it may be more economical to use an internet phone service like Skype instead (see the Voip guide for full info).

How to get it: First go through to the free O2 Sim page, select the International Sim and fill in the form to apply. When the Sim arrives, top it up by £15 to get the cheap rates.

Standard tariff costs (based on International Sim, £15 top up)
  • Calls. 25p/min
  • Texts. 12p/text
  • Data.1p per 3 kilobytes capped at £1/day
  • Other. Read the full tariff details for more info.

Is your handset unlocked?

When you buy a new phone, chances are it'll be locked to the network you bought it on, and if you try to put another network's Sim card in it simply won't function. So to take advantage of most of the offers below (ie ones that aren't from your handset's network) you'll need to unlock it.

Unlocking most modern handsets will require you to buy a code from your network, though some older handsets can still be unlocked for free. For full details on the ins and outs of unlocking, read the full Mobile Unlocking guide.

Get a bit of cashback too!

It's possible to earn cashback when signing up for a few of these Sims too. Needless to say, the amounts you'll earn are pretty small, but if you're already a member of a specialist cashback website it is an option.

For more info on how this works read the full Cashback Sites guide beforehand.

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Duplicate links of the * links above for the sake of transparency, but this version doesn't help MoneySavingExpert.com: Giff Gaff, MobilePhoneChecker, Tesco Mobile

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