Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers about SIM Only deals and price plans. Visit here if you would like to compare price plans, otherwise read on to find out more and have your questions answered.
WHAT ARE SIM-ONLY PRICE PLANS?
A regular mobile contract includes network service along with the phone of your choice, which you then pay for in monthly instalments along with the cost of the contract. With a SIM-only plan you are only paying for a SIM card and the network service that comes with it, so there is no obligation to buy a phone under contract.
HOW CAN YOU FIND A MONTHLY SIM-ONLY CONTRACT?
Monthly SIM-only contracts can be purchased from most of the major carriers (i.e. – Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, EE, Three, etc.) or from authorised resellers like electronics outlets and mobile phone providers. However, using a site like ours to find and compare exclusive Internet specials is by far the best way to compare the cheapest SIM-only deals from a wide range of carriers.
CAN YOU GET A SIM-ONLY PLAN WITHOUT A CONTRACT?
Yes, it is possible to use what is known as a Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) SIM-only plan, which allows you to top-up credits as needed. These plans are ideal for people who don’t use a high volume of talk minutes, text, or data. Some of the more popular PAYG SIM-only plans come from EE, Three, O2, Virgin, Vodafone, and Giffgaff.
WHAT IS THE BEST SIM-ONLY DEAL?
Although the answer to that will depend on the capabilities you need from your plan as well as your budget, some of the most comprehensive plans typically include the Pay & Go Big Bundle from O2, the Lebara UK PLUS plan, and the Everything Pack from EE. However, since these plans change often it is best to conduct a current comparison before deciding which plan would be best for you.
WHAT IS THE CHEAPEST SIM-ONLY CONTRACT?
One of the cheapest standalone SIM-only plans is offered by Three at a little less than £7 per month, but Virgin also offers a plan to existing customers for the low price of only £5 per month. However, keep in mind that the cheapest available plan changes often and will depend on the promotions and deals offered by each carrier at that specific time, which is why using a frequently updated comparison site can be so helpful.
WHAT LENGTHS CAN A SIM-ONLY CONTRACT BE?
SIM-only plans are typically available in lengths of 1 month, 3 months, 6-months, and 1 year. The most popular plans are the 1 year plans because they provide more value at a lower cost. However, the shorter 1-month and 3-month plans are also popular due to their flexibility. The 6-month plans are fairly rare.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BUY A SIM-ONLY?
To purchase and use a functional SIM-only plan you will need:
A compatible mobile phone – your phone will either need to be unlocked (so that it can be used with any carrier) or it will need to be compatible with the carrier network you intend to purchase the SIM-only plan from. Thus, unlocking your phone will give you more choices in regard to the SIM-only plans available to you.
Identity Information – to obtain a SIM-only plan you’ll also need to show proof of address (i.e. – bank statement or utility bill) and government-issued identification, as these are basic requirements for having a contract or plan with any carrier.
ARE THERE SIM-ONLY DEALS THAT COME WITH UNLIMITED DATA?
A couple of the top carrier networks offer SIM-only plans that include unlimited data, including T-Mobile and Three. However, Three is one of the only networks that provides truly unlimited data, with no data caps on their “All you can eat” data plan. With most networks you’ll get up to 2.5 GB of data included with the plan, after which you’d have to pay extra to top-up the data.
ARE THERE DATA-ONLY SIM-ONLY PLANS?
Yes, several carriers offer SIM-only plans that only provide a set amount of data. These plans are usually cheaper and sometimes also include a certain number of free texts, such as the Virgin Pay As You Go plan. Three is one of the only carriers to provide strictly data only plans.
ARE THERE MINIMUM AGE REQUIREMENTS FOR HAVING A SIM-ONLY CONTRACT?
Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to have a SIM-only contract with a carrier. However, you can get around this restriction by obtaining a parental guardian’s consent or by having them purchase the plan on your behalf.
ARE CONTRACT PHONES BETTER THAN SIM-ONLY PHONES?
No, the same exact devices are used with SIM-only plans. These plans will work on any phone that is unlocked or is compatible with the carrier you’re purchasing the plan from. Furthermore, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is usually lower when you buy the phone without a contract and then purchase a SIM-only plan separately. However, some people find it easier to afford more expensive smartphones by making payments on a contract rather than buying the phone outright.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO UPGRADE FROM A SIM-ONLY PLAN TO A MOBILE CONTRACT?
Yes it is usually possible to upgrade from a SIM-only plan to a contract as long as you don’t have any past-due bills with the carrier and have kept the SIM-only plan for a minimum amount of time, which will vary depending on the provider and length of term. On Three you can upgrade to a contract after renewing the 1-month SIM-only plan for at least 3 months or after having the SIM-only 12-month plan for at least 11 months. Vodafone is the same for 1-month plans and also allows you to upgrade to a contract within 75 days of the end of a 12-month SIM-only plan. These terms are different with each carrier so it is important to check before attempting to upgrade to a contract.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CHANGE YOUR NUMBER WITH A SIM-ONLY PLAN?
Yes, all you have to do is contact the carrier or sign up for a new SIM-only plan and a new number will be assigned with the SIM card. When you initially set up the plan you’ll be assigned a new number automatically.
CAN YOU KEEP YOUR OLD NUMBER WITH A SIM-ONLY PLAN?
Yes, it’s actually very simple to keep your old phone number with a SIM-only plan. Just be sure to specify this preference to the carrier you’re setting up the plan with.
CAN A SIM-ONLY PLAN BE CANCELLED?
Yes, to cancel a SIM-only plan all you need to do is contact the customer care department of the network provider and request that your contract be cancelled. They may transfer you to a representative who will attempt to offer you a better deal in order to retain the contract, but if you’re not interested just insist that you’d like to cancel. There are no early cancellation fees with SIM-only plans, but if you have a 12-month plan you may be required to pay for the remaining months in order to cancel the plan
CAN YOU CALL AND TEXT ANYONE ON ANY NETWORK WITH A SIM-ONLY PLAN?
Yes, all talk minutes and texts are cross network on all SIM-only plans, which means you’ll be able to call any number on any network. So for example, if you have a SIM-only plan with EE you’ll be able to call someone who is with O2 or Virgin, for example.
ARE THERE FEES FOR USING MORE THAN YOUR ALLOWANCE ON A SIM-ONLY PLAN?
In most cases you will not be able to exceed your allowance as service will be discontinued when you reach the limit. However, some carriers will allow you to exceed the allowance and then charge for the talk minutes and texts at a special rate known as the “outside allowance” rate. Each network has their own terms regarding allowance exceeding so it is important to pay attention to the terms when comparing plans.
DO SIM-ONLY PLANS INCLUDE MMS MESSAGING?
Most SIM-only plans do not include the cost of MMS (multimedia) messaging (i.e. – sending pictures and videos) within the price of the SIM-only tariff unless the terms of the plan specifically state otherwise. However, you’ll still be able to send MMS messages, but they would be charged at the usual network rate. Some carriers like Vodafone offer add-ons that let you add a certain number of multimedia messages to your plan (i.e. – 100 MMS messages for £2.50 per month).
CAN YOU USE A SIM-ONLY PLAN IN ANOTHER COUNTRY OR WHILE ABROAD?
Yes, you’ll be able to use your SIM-only plan to make calls and texts within the limits of the plan while travelling internationally. However, you will usually be charged the international roaming rate unless you have a plan that specifically allows for international calling or data-roaming.
ARE THERE SIM-ONLY PLANS THAT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL CALLS?
Yes, several carriers offer packages that include international calling. For example, there are several plans from T-Mobile and Orange that include international minutes, while O2 and Vodafone let you purchase add-ons that allow for international calling.
IS A CREDIT CHECK REQUIRED FOR A SIM-ONLY PLAN?
Yes, you’ll need to pass a very basic credit check to obtain approval for a SIM-only plan, just as you would with a typical mobile contract. However, this credit check isn’t very stringent and you should be fine as long as you don’t owe any of the major carriers.
CAN YOU USE ANY PHONE WITH A SIM-ONLY CONTRACT?
Yes, as long as it is it can be bought without a contract/SIM card, unlocked, or compatible with the network you’re buying the SIM-only plan from. However, if you’re getting a SIM-only plan from the Three network you’ll have to make sure it is 3G compatible, but this shouldn’t be a problem since this includes most modern phones.
CAN YOU SWITCH TO A SIM-ONLY PLAN FROM A MOBILE CONTRACT?
Yes, but you’ll need to pay off the remaining months left in the contract term. In order to cancel the contract before switching to the SIM-only plan. Thus, it is often makes more sense to simply wait until the contract is about to expire, or discuss your options with the carrier’s customer care department to see if they can offer a better deal.
CAN YOU SWITCH A SIM-ONLY PLAN FROM ONE PHONE TO ANOTHER?
Yes, you should be able to remove your active SIM card from the current phone and insert it into any phone that uses the same type of SIM card. However, if the phone you wish to switch to uses a Micro SIM or Nano SIM then you’ll need to contact the carrier about obtaining a compatible SIM card for the new phone.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET SPECIAL DISCOUNTS OR PROMOTIONAL CODES FOR SIM-ONLY PLANS?
Yes, carriers frequently offer promotions in the form of exclusive online deals and discount codes. We specialise in keeping track of these deals and making it easier for you to find and compare them in a single user-friendly interface.
CAN YOU CANCEL A SIM-ONLY PLAN AND RETURN THE SIM CARD?
If you find that you’re not satisfied with the service and performance of your SIM-only plan you usually return the SIM card within 7-14 days to cancel the plan, depending on the return policy of the carrier you’re using. However, if you have opted for a 12-month SIM-only plan and the first month has passed then you may need find out if the carrier is willing to waive the remainder of the months left on the plan.
IF YOU BUY A PHONE BY ITSELF DOES THAT MEAN IT IS UNLOCKED?
No, not necessarily. There are pay-as-you-go phones that are sold by themselves without a contract but they are still intended to be used with a specific network. Thus, before buying a phone that you intend to use with a SIM-only plan it is important to ensure that the phone is not locked to any specific carrier, unless you plan on using that carrier’s SIM-only plan.
WHAT IS A NANO-SIM CARD?
This is the smallest kind of SIM card available and it is only used in the latest smartphones after the iPhone 5.
WHAT IS A MICRO SIM CARD?
This is simply a more compact version of a regular SIM card. It was introduced in Apple’s iPhone 4 and has since been featured in other smartphones.
IS A SPECIAL SIM CARD NEEDED TO HAVE SIM-ONLY ON BLACKBERRY?
No, since Blackberry devices use standard SIM cards you’ll be able to opt for the regular SIM card when you set up your SIM-only plan. However, as mentioned, it would be ideal to use a plan that includes support for Blackberry Internet Service.
WHAT IS THE BEST SIM-ONLY PLAN TO USE WITH A BLACKBERRY?
Blackberry users should look for SIM-only plans from a network that includes the Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) package for best performance. However, you can still use any SIM-only pan with a Blackberry, even if it doesn’t include BIS compatibility, but then you wouldn’t be able to use the BIS feature on your Blackberry.
ARE THERE SIM-ONLY PLANS THAT INCLUDE BLACKBERRY INTERNET SERVICE?
Many of the top carriers offer SIM-only plans that include Blackberry Internet Service. However, some carriers like Vodafone will require you to purchase an add-on to add this functionality to the plan.
CAN YOU GET A SIM-ONLY PLAN FOR THE IPHONE 6 AND IPHONE 6 PLUS?
Yes, it is now possible to purchase Nano SIM cards from most of the top carriers. Usually the representative will work with you to make sure you have the right kind of SIM card for your phone when you set up the plan.
CAN YOU USE A NORMAL SIM-ONLY PLAN WITH AN IPHONE?
Yes all SIM-only plans will work with any iPhone, however you will need to make sure you specify that you need a Micro SIM if you have the iPhone 4 or 4s, or a Nano SIM if you have the iPhone 5 or a later model.
HOW CAN YOU UNLOCK AN IPHONE SO IT CAN BE USED WITH A SIM-ONLY PLAN?
There are several ways to unlock an iPhone so that it can be used with a SIM-only plan from any network. However, the safest and most reliable way is to simply contact your carrier and find out what they will charge to unlock it for you. Most of the top carriers will unlock your iPhone for a nominal fee.
If your iPhone is not on a contract then you’ll need to enlist the assistance of an unlocking service provider or third-party software.
WHAT IS THE BEST SIM-ONLY PLAN FOR THE IPHONE?
We suggest getting a SIM-only plan that will include plenty of data, as iPhones are known to be lightning-fast data consumers. Thus, we typically recommend the more robust plans for iPhone users.