Shopping around for a SIM-only deal doesn’t have to be complicated.
However, if you’re shopping around for a SIM-only deal for the first time, or are only just learning what SIM-only deals are, there can be a lot to take in.
This guide will help you decide whether a SIM-only deal is for you and ensure that you know everything you need to know before opting for this or an alternative solution.
What is a SIM Only Deal?
When you take out a SIM-only deal, you’re paying just for the services themselves. You’re not paying for a smartphone handset, a tablet device, or anything else on top of the cost of the data or services you use.
When you choose a SIM-only deal, you can select the length of the contract you want, or even whether you want a contract at all.
We’ll help you work out which is the best deal for you.
What are the Benefits of SIM-Only Deals?
SIM-only deals can bring a range of benefits.
You Can Keep Your Current Device
If you take out a contract on a new device, you’re paying for the device, too. Unless you’re a hardcore technophile, it’s unlikely you will notice much difference when you “upgrade” to a newer device. Your current device might have a lot of life left in it, too. With a SIM-only deal, you can keep your current device and save your money.
SIM Only Deals are Cheaper
We alluded to this before, but it’s such an essential aspect of a SIM-only deal.
You’re not paying for a new device on top of the services you use. The price of a new smartphone or tablet device can easily exceed £1,000 and represents the vast majority of the cost of a contract.
More Flexibility Thanks to Shorter Contracts
SIM-only deals usually come as 30-day rolling or 12-month contracts. Even with a 12-month SIM-only agreement, you have much more flexibility than you would if you took out a contract with a new device. The cost of smartphones and tablet devices has got so high that many mobile networks now even lock you into a 36-month contract to break down the cost of the device itself!
What are the Drawbacks of SIM-Only Deals?
While SIM-only deals can be cheaper, they’re not always right for everyone. What should you consider when taking out a SIM-only deal?
You Might Need to Unlock Your Device
If you got your device from one network, you’d need to unlock it before you can use it with a SIM from another network. While this is easy to do, it does represent an extra cost.
You Don’t Get a New Device
While you can combine a SIM-only deal with buying a smartphone or tablet device outright, it usually works out cheaper to take out a new contract. If you want the latest tech in your hand, forget about a SIM-only deal and get a contract device instead!
How do SIM-Only Deals Work?
When you opt for a SIM-only deal, you’ll have a choice between pay monthly or pay as you go deals.
Pay Monthly SIM-Only Deals
Two types of pay monthly SIM only deals are available:
- 30-day rolling contracts.
- 12-month contracts.
Pay as You Go SIM-Only Deals
With a pay as you go SIM-only deal, you top up when you need to, rather than paying a fixed amount each month. However, most modern pay as you go plans has expiry time on their usage. If you top up £10, for example, you might only have a month to use it! Different mobile networks offer different expiry limits, so factor this in when shopping around.
Benefits of Choosing a Pay Monthly SIM Only Deal
What are the benefits of choosing a pay monthly SIM only deal rather than opting for pay as you go?
You Can Pay for Your Plan via Direct Debit
Whether you opt for a 30-day rolling SIM-only deal or a 12-month SIM-only contract, you’ll usually pay for it via direct debit. All you need to do is ensure you have the cash in the bank, and you can use your services without needing to deal with anyone or even check your bill.
Credit Doesn’t Expire
While you usually can’t roll over any unused minutes, texts, or data, at least your allowance gets reset at the start of each billing cycle. If you find yourself running out of your allowance before the next billing cycle, you can always change to a different plan, too.
Usually Better Value for Money
The best deal is different for everyone, but you’ll usually find that a pay monthly deal represents better value than a pay as you go one.
Benefits of Choosing a Pay as You Go Deal
When might pay as you go deals be a better option?
You Don’t Get Credit Checked
The credit check for a pay monthly SIM only deal is far less strenuous than if you are taking out a contract for a new device. However, if you’d prefer not to undergo a credit check at all, you can opt for a pay as you go deal.
You Only Pay for What You Use
If you use your smartphone or tablet on a fairly consistent basis and you know what you use, you can get a pay as you go deal that gives you what you need within any expiry window. Ideally, find a pay as you go SIM-only provider with a longer expiry window so you can ensure you maximise the value of your plan.
Can Be Cheaper, But Not Often
Due to the nature of credit expiry, pay as you go can work out cheaper, but this isn’t often the case. It will usually be better value to have a pay monthly deal where you don’t always use your allowances, rather than a pay as you go deal where you may spend more to get less.
Which Monthly SIM Only Plan is Best?
If you opt for a monthly SIM only plan, how can you choose between 30-day and a 12-month contract?
30-Day Contracts are Ideal, If….
- You’re waiting for a new device to be released and are looking for the best deal to keep yourself ticking over.
- You’ve seen a great deal from a mobile network, but you haven’t used them before. This can be great for discovering whether you get good service signal, for example.
- You can’t commit to a 12-month deal for whatever reason.
12-Month Contracts are Ideal, If….
- You want the cheapest and best value SIM-only deal you can get. Longer commitments are often rewarded with lower prices and more substantial allowances.
- You’re happy with your current network and just want to save money by not upgrading your device.
- You want to lock in the price and specific deal you see when you are shopping.
How to Choose the Best SIM Only Deal for You
The best SIM-only deal will look different for everyone.
Think about which SIM-only deal best suits your circumstances and use The Money Pig to help compare what’s available!