Best Sim only Deals

From £5/mth for 1GB, 500 mins & texts

best sim only deals

Whether you're a talker, texter or always online, we've handpicked the best Sim only deals starting at £5/month – plus we've lots of tips including how to unlock your phone and keep your number. Millions of mobile users are out of contract and overpaying, yet it's simple to ditch pricey providers, so check how much you could save. 

What is a Sim only deal?

A Sim is the little chip that slots into your phone. A Sim only deal covers just the mobile service, ie, it gives you a set monthly allowance of minutes, texts and data.

It's normally much cheaper than a traditional mobile contract, as Sim only deals don't bundle in the cost of the phone itself. You'll have to have your own handset to put the Sim into already, or buy one separately. 

Most deals are for new customers and providers carry out a credit check when you sign up, so if you struggle getting credit, you may want to check your credit score before applying. Although you're not paying for a phone, you'll still have to sign up to a contract – typically they're on a 12-month (remember to check the price when it ends) or a rolling 30-day basis. 

Sim only need-to-knows

Here are the key points to understand when looking for a Sim only contract.

  • Switching to a cheaper deal with another network has got a lot easier. Under new rules from regulator Ofcom, which came into effect on 1 July, you no longer have to call your current provider to ditch it, so you avoid the hard sell of it trying to make you stay. Here's how to switch providers and keep your number :

    • Request a switching code by text. Simply text 'PAC' for free to 65075 on any network and you'll be sent your 'porting authorisation code' (PAC) immediately via text so you can keep your number. To get a new number, text 'STAC' to 75075.

      Its text must include important info such as any exit penalties, outstanding handset costs or credit balances.

    • You need to give the switching code to your new provider within 30 days. You'll then be switched within one working day. You won't need to contact your old provider again.

    What's more, if you're out of your minimum contract period, mobile providers are now banned from charging you for the remainder of your notice period after you've switched (which is typically 30 days), putting an end to paying for your old and new contract at the same time. 

    If you're still in contract you could be charged early termination fees for leaving – check how much you'd be charged by sending a text with the word 'INFO' to 85075.

    • Though the process varies by provider and you may be able to do it on the phone, once you've got your new (temporary) number from your new network, you'll usually then need to fill in an online form. If you're switching from another provider, the links below tell you each network's process for porting.

      The number switch takes place the next working day after you give your PAC to the new provider.

      It's a different process if you're swapping within the same provider.

      If you're switching to a new tariff on the same network, for example if you're on pay-as-you-go and upgrading to a contract, you shouldn't need to carry out this process – just call your mobile provider's customer service helpline and they should be able to sort it.

  • Don't be sold on overly generous allowances you'll never use. Do you really need unlimited minutes or 10GB of data? Most don't use anywhere near that – so check your actual past usage with an online tool.

    There are two sites accredited by Ofcom to choose from. Both will analyse your bills from the last three months to determine your average usage and suggest deals based on this.

    • Billmonitor* works for customers of EE, O2, Tesco Mobile, Three and Vodafone. It's not the most user-friendly site, but it gives a detailed bill analysis.

    • Ctrlio will remind you when better deals at your usage level become available (monthly or just at the end of your contract). Currently it can read the bills of EE, Giffgaff, O2, Three and Vodafone customers.

    CompareMyMobile* and HandsetExpert are also useful for when you're ready to locate the best deal.  

    There's also a new app called Yboo* which will track your usage and present you with the best Sim only deals. It even shows you where it may be cheaper to opt for a lower allowance and pay extra for the data you actually need, though you'll usually need to have it downloaded for 7-30 days before it will start to match you to deals. Used it? Let us know what you think in our feedback thread.

  • If you bought your phone on a traditional contract, it may be locked to the network that sold it to you (to check, pop in another network's Sim and see if it works). If you find it's locked, you'll usually need to unlock it so your new provider's Sim will work.

    If you're out of contract, your network must do this for free. If still in contract or you bought it on pay-as-you-go, you may be charged up to £15 to unlock it – see our Mobile Unlocking guide for a full list of providers' unlocking policies and how to do it.

  • You can get an idea of signal strength in a particular area with Ofcom's Telecoms Coverage Checker. This will show you results for four main networks – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – but 'piggyback' networks use their signal too, and generally offer far better value, so don't think your options are limited to one of the biggies. See a full list of which provider is on which network in our Mobile Piggybacking guide.

    For a more accurate indication than Ofcom's checker can give you, it may be worth picking up a free pay-as-you-go Sim from the network you're considering, topping it up with a bit of credit and putting it to the test before committing.

  • Haggling on monthly mobile phone contracts can slash the price. If you have a contract deal and you're nearing the end of your fixed term, the network will be frantic to keep you, so it's the best time to haggle. Long-term customers have a better chance at success here.

    Our poll showed the best mobile providers to haggle with are EE and Vodafone  – see our Mobile Phone Haggling guide for help with getting a better deal. Bear in mind though it's usually harder to haggle on a contract for a new phone, particularly if you're after the latest model. 

  • Mobile networks are permitted to increase your monthly tariff price up to inflation each year, but only if their T&Cs state so before you sign up. And all the major networks have such terms, including EE, O2, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone.

    Changes are usually made in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI, a measure of inflation) between February and April each year. Occasionally some firms will choose not to exercise this right, but this year we've so far seen price rise announcements from all of the biggies including EEVodafoneVirgin MobileO2 and Three.  

    If a provider hikes your monthly bill by more than RPI – or hikes it and its T&Cs don't allow this – then you can leave your contract penalty-free.

  • It's possible to nab extra savings through cashback on some deals. There are three types of cashback available, and they all work differently:

    1. Redemption cashback. The biggest discounts are on 'cashback redemption' deals through mobile reseller sites. These require you to send off your bills at several points throughout your contract and get paid in instalments – miss one and you'll lose out.
    2. Automatic cashback. These deals, also via resellers, are where you're sent a cheque automatically within a few months without having to claim, though usually they don't offer as big a discount. Some deals can also offer part manual, part automatic cashback.
    3. Cashback via cashback sites. It's possible sometimes to beat the deals below with some powerhouse offers via dedicated cashback websites. However, don't think of this type of cashback as guaranteed – there are often problems. Read our Top Cashback Sites guide for full info.

    For more on claiming cashback and what to watch out for, see How to beat the cashback trap.

Best Sim only deals – up to 3GB of data

If you're usually connected to Wi-Fi everywhere you go, these are our top picks of the best Sim only deals with enough 4G data for everyday on-the-go use. 

1GB data, 500 mins & unltd texts: £5/mth 

This iD Mobile* Sim only deal offers good value, plus there's no need to commit to a long contract. You can also roll over any unused data to the next month and place a limit on your bill to prevent 'bill shock'.  

Cost: £5/mth
Contract length: One month
Allowance: 1GB of data, 500 minutes & unlimited texts
Network: iD Mobile runs off the Three network
Who can get it: Anyone who isn't currently with iD Mobile

Other top Sim only deals for new customers

iD Mobile* (Three) £4/mth 1mth 250MB 150 Unltd
iD Mobile* (Three) £6/mth 1mth 2GB 500 Unltd
Vodafone* - UK only plan (1) £6/mth 12mth 1.5GB Unltd Unltd
Plusnet* (EE) - Ends Tue 22 Oct £7/mth 1mth 2.5GB Unltd Unltd
iD Mobile* (Three) £7/mth 1mth 3GB 500 Unltd
iD Mobile* (Three) £7/mth 1mth 2.5GB 1,200 Unltd
(1) You can't use your phone abroad (or for international calls).

Best Sim only deals – 4GB to 9GB of data

If you're often online while on the go, these are our top picks of the best Sim only deals with a good amount of data each month and a decent number of minutes. 

Ends Fri. 5GB, unltd mins & texts: equiv £6.67/mth

This MSE Blagged Vodafone* Sim only deal offers a decent allowance for the cheapest price we've ever seen for 5GB. 

You'll pay £15/mth over the 12-month contract, but go via our link by 11.59pm on Fri 18 Oct, and you'll be sent a £100 Amazon voucher within four months. If you were going to spend that at Amazon anyway, factor that in and it's equivalent to £6.67/mth.

Important: Vodafone automatically adds its anti-virus 'Secure Net' to any contract. It's 'free' for the first three months, then £1/mth, so you'll need to cancel via its app or online if you don't want it.

Cost: £15/mth
Rewards: £100 Amazon voucher (see Rewards tab for full info)
Contract length: 12 months
Allowance: 5GB of data, unlimited minutes & texts
Who can get it: Anyone who isn't currently with Vodafone

What will I receive? A £100 Amazon voucher. Go via our link and enter your name and email address. You'll be sent your voucher within four months. You then have 12 months to redeem your voucher and once activated, you have 10 years to spend it. 

What if I have difficulties? The best bet is to get in touch with Vodafone first – If you still have difficulties after that, let us know and we'll do our best to help.

Other top Sim only deals for new customers

iD Mobile* (Three) £8/mth 1mth 4.5GB 500 Unltd
Three* £10/mth 12mth 8GB Unltd Unltd
Vodafone*UK only plan (1) £10/mth 12mth 8GB Unltd Unltd
Voxi* (Vodafone) £10/mth 1mth 6GB (2) Unltd Unltd
Giffgaff* (O2) £10/mth 1mth 6GB Unltd Unltd
O2*  via '£11.50/mth' (3) 12mth 9GB Unltd Unltd
(1) You can't use your phone abroad (or for international calls). (2) All Voxi plans also offer unlimited data for social and chat apps as standard. (3) You pay £19/mth but you're sent a £90 cheque within two months. Factored in, it's an equiv £11.50/mth.  

Best Sim only deals – 10GB to unlimited data

For the data fiends out there, these are our top picks of the best Sim only deals with bundles of data each month, plus a healthy number of minutes (we've listed them in ascending price order). 

Ends Thu. 10GB, unltd mins & texts: £10/mth

Newbies to Sky Mobile* can get this deal which offers unlimited calls and texts, plus a sizeable amount of data until 11.59pm on Thu 17 Oct. You can also roll over any unused data for up to three years, which you can use once you have at least 1GB stored up. 

Cost: £10/mth
Contract length: 12 months
Allowance: 10GB, unlimited minutes & texts
Network: Sky Mobile runs off the O2 network
Who can get it: Newbies to Sky Mobile

Ends Mon. Unltd data, mins & texts: £18/mth

We've blagged this Three* Sim only deal which offers unlimited data from a big name – good if you're a serious data gobbler and don't want to worry about hitting any limits.

Cost: £18/mth
Contract length: 12 months
Allowance: Unlimited data, minutes & texts
Who can get it: Newbies to Three, or existing customers who want a second line 

Other top Sim only deals for new customers

Three*  £12/mth 12mth 12GB Unltd Unltd
'£13/mth' (1) 12mth 15GB Unltd
Vodafone* - via Fonehouse '£14.06/mth' (2) 18mth 25GB Unltd Unltd
O2*  - via '£15.50/mth' (3) 12mth 25GB Unltd Unltd
O2* £20/mth 12mth 50GB Unltd Unltd
EE* £20/mth  12mth 20GB Unltd Unltd
(1) You pay £23/mth but you're then sent a £120 cheque within two months. Factored in, it's an equiv £13/mth. (2) You pay £20/mth but you'll receive £107 back, paid into your bank account after three months. Factor that in and it's an equiv £14.06/mth over the 18mth contract. (3) You pay £28/mth but you're automatically sent a £150 cheque within two months. Factor that in and it's an equiv £15.50/mth over the 12mth contract.