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SIM only deals are becoming increasingly popular, and more and more network providers are jumping on the bandwagon and offering bargain tariffs.
We get into the nitty-gritty about what these mobile plans are, the pros and cons, and how you can compare SIM only deals.
Unlike phone contracts, SIM only deals are contracts that just give an allowance of minutes, texts and data. They depend on you having a handset already.
Generally, SIM only deals tend to be either one month or twelve months in length. With the latter, you’re locked into paying your chosen tariff for a year. Conversely, one-month contracts – also known as rolling contracts – mean you just purchase a 30-day deal. At the end, you have a few options: you can auto-renew; you can modify your package by upgrading or downgrading (for example, if you know you’ll need more data next month); or, if you find a better deal with another provider, you’re free to leave.
Once you’ve chosen a tariff, you’ll be sent a SIM card that’ll fit your phone, whether you have a Standard, Micro or Nano SIM slot.
Of course, SIM only deals do have their disadvantages as well. You have to own the phone outright first, which can mean a hefty upfront cost, especially if you want the latest releases.
In addition, don’t forget that a SIM only deal on a twelve-month contract is still a contract. It must be paid in full. Therefore, should you want to exit early, you’ll have to settle the remainder, which could cost you more than it’s worth. If you don’t fancy entering into a long contract, our advice is to compare SIM only deals with short-term contracts instead.
Switching to a SIM only deal can be a great way to save on your monthly expenditure. If you’re satisfied with your current handset and feel no need to change, then you don’t need to pay the premium of a new phone. Alternatively, if you have a SIM-free phone already – perhaps you’ve bought it outright or a very kind pal has passed it on – you’ll have to look for SIM only deals.
SIM only deals are available on most UK networks. And often, this is where some of the lesser-known carriers come up trumps. Giffgaff, Voxi and ID, to name a few, are known as piggyback providers, meaning they pay a fee to use the service infrastructure of the Big Four (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone). As such, the quality of your coverage will be the same.
These smaller providers can offer bargain deals at extremely competitive prices. Your only compromise may be that you won’t have access to all of the same perks you’d otherwise get with a major carrier (think O2 Priority or VeryMe), nor may customer services be quite so developed – so do weigh this up when you compare mobile deals. However, it is worth knowing that year on year smaller providers are highly commended for their cheap mobile deals.
So long as you’re switching to another UK number, you can always keep your number. Whether you’re going from a Pay Monthly contract to a SIM only deal or switching networks altogether, you can keep your numerical identity by a method called Porting. We’ve got a whole guide on Porting Your Mobile to a New Network.
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Last reviewed: 13 November 2020
Next review: 13 December 2020