Finding a great mobile phone plan used to be all about the minutes and the texts. However, as mobile phones, and specifically smartphones, have evolved into fully-fledged on the go entertainment devices, our focus has switched towards data.
Unlimited data plans have been available in the UK since 2017, with Three the first mobile network to offer these. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take too long for the UK’s other mobile networks to follow. As a result, unlimited data plans are becoming more affordable all the time.
Here’s what you need to know about unlimited data plans.
How Do I Get an Unlimited Data Plan?
There are two ways you can get unlimited data for your smartphone.
- Take out a contract on a new device and get unlimited data as part of your package.
- If you own your device outright, you can buy a SIM-only unlimited data plan.
You might also choose an unlimited data plan for another device, such as an iPad. An unlimited data plan may also be suitable if your laptop has a SIM slot and you need mobile internet access on the move.
For the context of this guide, we’re going to look at getting an unlimited data plan on a SIM-only basis.
What is an Unlimited Data Plan?
Traditionally, when shopping around for a SIM-only deal, you’d have to make a choice based on how much data (or minutes or texts) you wanted. You would still have flexibility and the ability to buy extra data or upgrade your deal if you repeatedly ran out of data by the middle of your billing cycle.
Now, you can buy an unlimited data plan. Choosing an unlimited data plan simplifies the shopping process and takes away the guesswork. You won’t have to manage your usage to ensure you’re conserving data and making it last. When you have unlimited data, it’s like having a modern broadband package at home. You use it, pay monthly, and it’s all good.
However, there are several types of unlimited data plans available. Thankfully, the differences relate to devices and contract preferences, so don’t make shopping around for a plan too confusing.
Here are the plans you’ll find:
- Contract unlimited SIM-only plans – These are typically smartphone plans, and will give you minutes and texts, possibly unlimited, as well as unlimited data. These will usually be 12-month SIM-only plans.
- Pay as You Go unlimited SIM-only plans – These are also typically smartphone plans. Being able to access unlimited data plans on a pay as you go basis may be confusing. However, you can get unlimited data on such a plan because you buy a “data bundle” when you need to. So, if you want a 30-day unlimited data bundle, you buy one. However, if after 30-days you don’t want to top-up, you don’t have to.
- Unlimited Data Only SIM – These plans are most suitable for tablet devices, laptops with SIM slots, or mobile broadband devices such as a MiFi hotspot or dongle. These plans offer data only. While you can theoretically use them in your smartphone, you wouldn’t be able to make or receive calls or send and receive SMS messages. Contract options will often be flexible.
- 30-Day Contract Unlimited Data SIM – These plans are like pay as you go, but instead, you will receive a monthly bill. These are rolling contracts that continue until you cancel them by invoking a 30-day notice period. These plans can be used in a variety of devices. They can be useful if you need mobile data access for a brief period. If you’re looking for a longer-term plan, it is cheaper to take out a 12-month unlimited data plan.
Why Take Out an Unlimited Data Plan?
Do you know how much data you use or need? Most people use very little data, especially if their mobile device is logged into WiFi at home, their family and friends’ houses, and at work. If you drive to work, unless you use your phone as a sat nav device, or for listening to music, radio, or podcasts, you won’t use much data at all.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider an unlimited data plan. However, it makes sense to avoid paying for something you don’t need.
When might an unlimited data plan make sense?
- If You Stream a Lot of Content. If you spend a lot of time commuting on public transport, then an unlimited data plan might be worth it. You don’t want to run out of data on the train just as your favourite Netflix show reaches its climax!
- If You’re a Mobile Gamer. Not only do some mobile games have substantial file sizes these days, many of them rely on data connections to allow you to play them. An unlimited data plan can keep you gaming!
- If Your Device is Heavy on Apps and Notifications. If you use news and social media apps and notifications, you could easily be receiving hundreds of notifications a day. Your device will be using data in the background to refresh the content you see when you open them. Unlimited data will ensure you can always get your updates when you need them.
- If You Don’t Want to Worry About Data Usage. This is the most straightforward answer. If you have unlimited data, you take the prospect of running out off the table. One less thing to worry about!
How to Shop Around for Data Plans
Shopping around for unlimited data plans is easy. You can find unlimited data plans here at The Money Pig at great prices, as well as those that offer add-ons and incentives.