Have an idea of your maximum budget - we list deals by price, so once you've set your filters, it should be easy to find a SIM-only deal that balances the features you need, with how much you want to spend. It's one of the biggest networks in the UK, with the fastest 4G and widest coverage There's something for everyone - from a paltry MB to a massive 40GB a month. Despite its name, Three definitely offers a lot more than three SIM-only plans. You can get a low-cost plan with MB a month, and data goes all the way up to infinity. That's right - Three is one of the very few operators that offers an unlimited data plan.
O2 tries to be all things to all people You can get SIM-only plans ranging from a diddy little MB with minutes call time, all the way up to a massive 30GB a month and unlimited calls. All Vodafone's SIMs include unlimited texts, and the majority have unlimited minutes. As for data, it runs the gamut from MB a month - only suitable for the lightest users - up to 50GB a month. This popular SIM-only provider uses O2's network to deliver services. It uses community-based customer service rather than traditional call-centres, but this allows it to be considerably cheaper than others.
It even does an unlimited data plan.
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Tesco Mobile is another well-regarded operator that shares O2's infrastructure. Its SIM-only plans are very competitively priced, with monthly allowances ranging from MB with texts and minutes, up to 50GB data with texts and minutes. It's probably still best known for TV and broadband, but Virgin Media's no slouch when it comes to mobile either. Tariffs start at MB data and minutes a month and go as high as GB and minutes.
BT owns EE, so naturally its plans share the same network. Plans range from MB to 20GB a month, and it also sells excellent-value family plans that give you better discounts the more family members join. A network with a difference, The People's Operator TPO promises to give part of the money it takes from you to a charity of your choice. You may not have heard of iD, but you'll definitely be aware of its parent company - Carphone Warehouse. Tariffs start at MB, minutes and texts a month, and goes up to 6GB, minutes and texts. Smarty comes with a unique hook - you'll get a discount on your next bill for any data left unused at the end of the month.
This one is purely for the youngsters - or at least those under It has a number of unique benefits - including unlimited social data. That means you can use services like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and more without using any monthly data. Plans go from 2GB a month up to 15GB.
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Plusnet's mobile plans are good value for all, but it's their broadband customers who get the best deal. If you get your internet from Plusnet, you'll get better SIM-only deals, with more data, minutes and texts. Plans start at MB a month and go up to 6GB. Don't worry - you'll be able to keep your phone number, even if you switch to an entirely new mobile operator.
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You just have to get a PAC - your old supplier will give it to you if you phone them - and then give it to your new provider once you sign up. It's a really straight forward process - see full instructions in our guide. Don't worry about the size of SIM-card you need. All mobile operators will give you a 'multi-SIM'. These all-in one devices can be popped out in three sizes, so you'll be able to get the exact size you need for your phone.
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Why switch to a SIM-only deal? Sometimes you find that phone that just feels And if you're happy with your handset, why get rid of it? That's why a SIM-only deal is great - you get a whole new plan for your favourite phone, and you'll probably pay less too. That's an important point actually - if you're out of contract on your old mobile plan you're probably spending more than you need to.
In some cases, you'll even be charged the same rates as if you were still paying for your handset, even though you should have already technically settled that bill. That's why switching is important - you may find you can save a substantial amount by switching to a SIM-only deal, and the breadth of choice is quite amazing. Contract Length 1 month. Retailers - All None Networks only Asda. BT Mobile. Chitter Chatter. Not all the savings you can make are as extravagant, and on big data it's frequently more cost effective to dive into a contract instead.
But if you can afford to splash a few hundred pounds up front then the savings over the next couple of years could well be worth it. The times have passed since most phones were locked to a network and you had to pay a dodgy backstreet 'engineer' to unlock it. Nowadays, it's standard practice for networks to let you use whatever SIM you want in the phone as soon as you've paid up the original contract or earlier if you pay them a fee - and Three ships all its handsets unlocked from the outset.
The exception, alas, is Apple iPhones. They're generally sold locked to the original network that you purchase them with for the life of the handset. Very frustrating if you're looking for a tasty SIM deal once your 24 month sentence is up. The good news is that your iPhone or any other mobile before the end of your contract can be unlocked - the bad news is that most networks make you pay for the privilege.
Insert a friend or family member's SIM into your phone to see whether it's already unlocked and, if it isn't, look for your network below to see how to cut ties with them:. There are three sizes of SIM card that you can get for your phone, and the one you need will depend on your handset. It's been a while since the traditional, so-called standard SIM 15x25mm has genuinely been the staple in new phones.
Instead, any phone you've bought within the last five or so years is much more likely to require a micro 12x15mm or nano 8. Before you purchase your new SIM, double-check the manufacturer's website to see what size you require. And if you're simply not sure, most networks now simply send out a triple SIM, so you'll get one of each size.
SIM only deals
Ever heard of PAC codes and wondered what a classic 80s arcade game had to do with telephone numbers? It actually stands for Porting Authorisation Code, and it's the set of digits that you need to grab from your old network to let you transfer over your existing mobile number. If you're on one of the major networks, you can see what phone number you can contact them on here:.
If you want to grab a bargain SIM only plan above, but it's on your existing network then your network won't release a PAC code and you'll be forced to take a new phone number. At least you would have, if it wasn't for this clever if convoluted work-around.
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You have to order a free pay-as-you-go SIM from another network. Once you have it, you can tell your old network that you're moving and they'll give you that precious PAC code. Then, once your number is registered to the substitute network, simply get another PAC code from them. Take that to your old network, and they'll move your number to your new contract. Simple - kind of! Unlike with a contract, there's a lot more flexibility available when it comes to how long your SIM only plan will last.
Two year commitments are virtually unheard of, with the norm being either one year or rolling one month contracts for ultimate flexibility. You can often get better prices if you tie yourself in for 12 months, especially on larger data tariffs. But sticking to one month at a time means that you can effectively hand pick a new plan to suit you every 30 days or so. Because you can change your plan up more regularly than a normal, lengthier contract, it's less crucial to get this nailed from the start. But if you're thinking of grabbing a monther or just put a personal pride on getting things right first time, then we'll help you pick out the sweet spot of data for you.
Firstly, check your phone to see how much data you've been using to date, and whether you have the tendency to use more than your current allowance every month. Then, if you're still unsure, check out our guidance: Call it practicality, call it greediness, call it what you want - it's human nature to want 'unlimited' anything if offered.
But you should think genuinely about whether you really need it in a world where the likes of WhatsApp and Skype let you call and text for free over wi-fi or 4G. If you decide that a few thousand monthly minutes and texts should do you, then you could shave off some cash from your bill.
While EE, O2, Vodafone and Three are generally considered the major four networks for contract plans, when it comes to SIM only there are some other key players are well worth a look. See what we think of them below, and whether you'll get any free perks to help persuade you to sign up. Plus, we'll tell you about a couple of other SIM sellers that might be able to wrangle you an even better deal.
It's one of life's many little frustrations - you sign up with a network, get your SIM up and running and then discover that you get no coverage at all in your house. Well this little pain in the neck can be avoided by using the dedicated coverage checker that most networks provide. Enter your postcode and you'll see whether your address has 2G calls, texts and email , 3G the basics plus picture messaging and faster web browsing and 4G all the powers of 3G, plus faster downloads, online gaming and media streaming coverage.
See our pick of the best deals at EE. O2's best claim for your contract is with its Priority rewards - from cheap lunch deals and pre-order privileges on gig tickets, to ad-hoc discounts and competitions. Plus, they have s of Wi-Fi hotspots in shops and cafes that you can connect to for free and save your precious data.
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See our pick of the best deals at O2. Vodafone seems to have been around since mobile phones were cumbersome bricks, but they remain a major player. See our pick of the best deals at Vodafone. Three is still the only network to offer unlimited data and it often features unbeatable deals on other big data plans - that makes them a natural choice of many a data hungry smartphone addict.
And it has has just started getting generous with perks - you can get cheap dinners and free coffees through its Wuntu app. See our pick of the best deals at Three. That familiar old stalwart of telecommunications BT is so-so when it comes to SIM only tariff prices. That's unless you're already a BT broadband customer, in which case you get some really favourable prices - a fiver less than the rest of the hoi polloi.