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Best Sim only Deals

Pay £5mth for 1GB, 500 mins & unltd texts

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Nick and Weleid | Edited by Steve N

Updated Weekly

best cheap sim only deals from £5Sim prices have dived recently. For most there's no point paying over £10/month as that'll get you enough calls, texts and data – and if you're out of contract and hit by the price hikes from EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, now's a good time to switch and save. Read on to find out how to check your usage and which are the best deals for you...

Is Sim only right for you? Before you read this guide...

  • Are you happy with your current phone or able to buy a new one upfront? Sim only's probably a good bet. Read on...
  • Concerned about a credit check or want tighter control over your bill? Pay-as-you-go may be a better option.
  • Want a new phone but can't afford to buy it upfront? Traditional mobile contracts usually cost more – for other options, see Buying a new handset and our Cheap iPhone and Cheap Samsung guides.

    Sim only need-to-knows

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

  • Sim only is usually cheaper than a traditional mobile contract as it doesn't include the phone

  • Don't overpay for data you don't use

  • You'll need to have an unlocked phone - it's usually free to get it done

  • Check signal strength where you live/work

  • Switching from a contract? Serve your notice to leave ASAP

  • You can keep your number - here's how

Sim only top picks

Once you know which network(s) you're happy to go with and what allowance you need, find the best deal you can that fits with this. We've listed our top-pick deals below, sorted by value for money and levels of data allowance – up to 2.5GB, 3GB to 5GB and 8GB to 30GB.

In each category we've listed the best deal or deals we could find, but because for some signal is crucial, we've also listed the top alternatives for each of the other networks (or a network that piggybacks on it). All deals come with 4G data unless otherwise stated.

Can't find one that fits your criteria? Use a comparison site to see what else is out there – the most comprehensive and our favourite is MobilePhoneChecker*, or try newbie Ctrlio.

Up to 2.5GB

If you're usually connected to Wifi everywhere you go, these are our top picks with enough data for everyday on-the-go use.

iD Mobile

1GB, 500 mins, unltd texts: £5/mth*

1MTH CONTRACT

Part of the Carphone Warehouse group, iD Mobile* has a great value deal without the need to commit to a long contract. It's available for anyone who isn't currently with iD Mobile.

It costs £5/mth and comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data on a one-month rolling contract. iD also allows you to roll over any unused data to next month, and limit your bill to no more than £5 over the tariff price to avoid bill shock.

Need-to-knows
  • One-month contract.
  • Runs off the Three network.
  • Includes data rollover – keep any unused data from one month to the next.
  • If you're switching from another network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to iD
  • If you exceed your allowance, it's 10.24p/MB for data, 40p/min for calls to UK mobiles or landlines and 14p per text.
  • Tethering isn't allowed with this network.
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • iD may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.
Plusnet

1.5GB, 2,000 mins & unltd texts: £6/mth*

30-DAY CONTRACT

Until Thu 19 Jul, this Plusnet* deal for new customers offers 2,000 minutes, unltd texts and 1.5GB of data for £6/mth. It's on a 30-day rolling contract so you're not tied to a long contract. If you need more data, see the below deal for an extra 1GB for £1/mth more.

Plusnet allows you to set a limit on your bill from £2 up to £30 (initially set at £10) over the tariff price to avoid bill shock.

Need-to-knows
  • 30-day contract.
  • Runs off the EE network.
  • Monthly spending can be capped, from £2 over your monthly tariff charge.
  • If you're switching from another network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to Plusnet.
  • If you exceed your allowance, you can add on £1.50/day for data (250MB cap).
  • Tethering is allowed with this network.
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • Plusnet may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.
Plusnet

2.5GB, 2,500 mins & 2,500 texts: £7/mth*

30-DAY CONTRACT

Until Sat 21 Jul, newbies to BT-owned Plusnet* can get this deal. Costing £7/mth, it comes with 2,500 minutes, 2,500 texts and 2.5GB of data. It's on a 30-day rolling contract so you're not locked in for long.

Plusnet allows you to set a limit on your bill from £2 up to £30 (initially set at £10) over the tariff price to avoid bill shock.

Need-to-knows
  • 30-day contract.
  • Runs off the EE network.
  • Monthly spending can be capped, from £2 over your monthly tariff charge.
  • If you're switching from another network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to Plusnet.
  • If you exceed your allowance, you can add on £1.50/day for data (250MB cap).
  • Tethering is allowed with this network.
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • Plusnet may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.

If you can't get Three or EE signal where you live...

These are our top pick lower use tariffs running on other networks:

  • Vodafone*: 500MB data, unlimited mins and texts - £6/mth on a 12-month contract. Warning: This is a UK-only plan – roaming is not allowed; you can't make international calls or use your phone abroad (except emergency calls).
  • Sky Mobile*: Existing Sky TV customers can get this deal for £6/mth with 500MB data, unlimited mins and texts on a 12-month contract. Warning: If you end your Sky TV subscription during this contract, the price will rise to £16/mth.
  • Giffgaff* (piggybacks on O2): 1GB data, 250 mins, unltd texts – £7.50/mth on a one-month bundle.

3GB to 5GB

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

iD Mobile

4GB, 500 mins, unltd texts: £8/mth*

1MTH CONTRACT

Part of the Carphone Warehouse group, iD Mobile* has a great value deal without the need to commit to a long contract. It's available for anyone who isn't currently with iD Mobile.

It costs £8/mth and comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data on a one-month rolling contract. iD also allows you to roll over any unused data to next month, and limit your bill to no more than £5 over the tariff price to avoid bill shock.

Need-to-knows
  • One-month contract.
  • Runs off the Three network.
  • Includes data rollover – keep any unused data from one month to the next.
  • If you're switching from another network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to iD
  • If you exceed your allowance, it's 10.24p/MB for data, 40p/min for calls to UK mobiles or landlines and 14p per text.
  • Tethering isn't allowed with this network.
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • iD may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.
Plusnet

6GB, 2,500 mins & unltd texts: £10/mth*

30-DAY CONTRACT

Until Thu 26 Jul, this deal is available for newbies to BT-owned Plusnet*. It costs £10/mth and comes with 2,500 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data. It's on a 30-day rolling contract so you're not locked in for long.

Plusnet allows you to set a limit on your bill from £2 up to £30 (initially set at £10) over the tariff price to avoid bill shock.

Need-to-knows
  • 30-day contract.
  • Runs off the EE network.
  • Monthly spending can be capped, from £2 over your monthly tariff charge.
  • If you're switching from another network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to Plusnet.
  • If you exceed your allowance, you can add on £1.50/day for data (250MB cap).
  • Tethering is allowed with this network.
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • Plusnet may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.
Vodafone

5GB, unltd mins & texts: £10/mth*

12MTH CONTRACT – BUT UK ONLY

This UK-only Vodafone Basics* plan for newbies to the network costs £10/mth and comes with unlimited minutes and texts plus 5GB of data on a 12-month contract. It's not a bad deal, provided you never need to use your phone abroad (or for international calls).

Vodafone applies an automatic data cap to prevent any unexpected bills, so if you run out of data, you won't be able to get online unless you buy more. Warning: It's a hefty £10 for 2GB of extra data, so only choose this tariff if you're sure you won't go over.

Need-to-knows
  • 12-month contract.
  • Vodafone newbies only, unless you're changing from pay-as-you-go or getting an extra line.
  • If you exceed your allowance, it's a hefty £10 for 2GB of extra data.
  • UK-only plan – roaming is not allowed; you can't make international calls or use your phone abroad (except emergency calls).
  • Calls to UK mobiles and landlines are included. Calls to 084 and 087 numbers are extra – see call costs. Calls to 090 numbers and MMS picture messages are blocked.
  • If you're switching network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to Vodafone*.
  • Tethering is allowed with this network.
  • Vodafone may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.
The best of the rest...

These are our other top-pick Sims, including alternatives running off other providers' signals to those above.

  • Giffgaff* (piggybacks on O2): 4GB of data, unltd mins, unltd texts – £12/mth on a one-month bundle.

8GB to 30GB

For the data fiends out there, these are our top picks with bundles of data each month, plus a healthy number of minutes.

iD Mobile

8GB, 500 mins, unltd texts: £10/mth*

1MTH CONTRACT

For newbies to the network, iD Mobile* - owned by Carphone Warehouse - offers a great value deal without the need to commit to a long contract. It's available to anyone who isn't currently with iD Mobile.

It costs £10/mth and comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and a generous 8GB of data on a one-month rolling contract. iD also allows you to roll over any unused data to the next month, and limits your bill to no more than £5 over the tariff price to avoid bill shock.

Need-to-knows
  • One-month contract.
  • Runs off the Three network.
  • Includes data rollover – keep any unused data from one month to the next.
  • If you're switching from another network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to iD
  • If you exceed your allowance, it's 10.24p/MB for data, 40p/min for calls to UK mobiles or landlines and 14p per text.
  • Tethering isn't allowed with this network.
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • iD may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.
Virgin Mobile

24GB, 2,500 mins, unltd texts: £15/mth*

12 MTH CONTRACT

Until Tue 17 Jul, if you're not in contract with Virgin Mobile*, you can get this 12-month contract with 2,500 minutes, unlimited texts and 24GB of data for £15/mth.

Virgin Mobile piggybacks on EE's network and includes a one month data rollover as standard - meaning you keep up to 8GB of unused data at the end of each month, which is then added to the next month's allowance.

Need-to-knows
  • 12-month contract.
  • Runs off the EE network.
  • Includes a one month data rollover - keep any unused data from one month to the next.
  • Switching from another network? Here's how to port (ie, move) your number to Virgin Mobile.
  • If you exceed your allowance, it's £3/day per GB for data, 50p/min for calls to UK mobiles or landlines and 15p per text.
  • Tethering is not allowed with this network.
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • Virgin Mobile may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.
Three

30GB, unltd mins & texts: £18/mth*

LOADS OF DATA – PLUS INCLUSIVE ROAMING

This Three tariff* gives you unlimited minutes and texts plus a hefty 30GB of data for £18/mth over 12-months. It's available to new customers, and to existing Three customers who want a second line.

As it's an 'Advanced' plan (as opposed to 'Essential'), you can use your data, text and call allowances in 71 destinations (including the EU) at no extra charge, plus it lets you tether in the UK. You also get Three's 'Go Binge' which means you can stream from your Netflix, TVPlayer, Apple Music, Deezer, Snapchat or SoundCloud account on your phone without using up your data.

Need-to-knows
  • 12-month contract.
  • You can use your allowance at no extra charge in 71 destinations via Three's 'Feel At Home'.
  • If you're switching from another network, here's how to port (ie, move) your number to Three.
  • If you exceed your allowance, data add-ons start from £2.50 for 250MB.
  • Three may increase the price annually in line with inflation.
  • Tethering is permitted within your data allowance on Advanced plans (up to a max 30GB/mth).
  • Calls to UK mobiles, landlines and 0800/0808 are included – calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 cost extra.
  • You'll be credit-checked – see our Credit Scores guide.

If you can't get Three signal where you live...

These are the best of the rest with over 10GB data (4G) a month.

  • Tesco Mobile*: 20GB of data, 5,000 mins and 5,000 texts – £18/month on a 12-month contract.
  • O2*: Until Wed 8 Aug. 18GB of data, unlimited mins & texts - £20/mth on a 12-month contract. It also comes with a 6-month subscription to Netflix and O2's Travel Inclusive Zone Bolt On at no extra cost; with inclusive data roaming in 27 international destinations.
  • Vodafone*: Until Mon 3 Sep. 18GB of data, unltd mins and texts – £19/month on a 12-month contract.

How to complain about your network

The mobile industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include limited network coverage, slow data speeds, unexpected charges and more. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

resolver complaints toolThis tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it to the free Ombudsman Services (or CISAS if you're complaining about Virgin Mobile).

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com instead as that's usually quicker.

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out