SIM Only Deals

Ofcom price comparison accredited
  • Lebara SIM
    Lebara SIM
    • 100 international minutes
    3GB data
    • 1000 minutes
    • 1000 texts
    Lebara Sold by Lebara
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £54.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £4.50
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    Lebara SIM
    Lebara SIM
    Sold by Lebara
    3GB data 1000 mins + 1000 texts
    • 100 international minutes
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £54.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £4.50
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  • Lebara SIM
    Lebara SIM
    • Use code LEBARA25 for 25% discount for 3 months
    • 100 international minutes
    3GB data
    • 1000 minutes
    • 1000 texts
    Lebara Sold by Lebara
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    Lebara SIM
    Lebara SIM
    Sold by Lebara
    3GB data 1000 mins + 1000 texts
    • Use code LEBARA25 for 25% discount for 3 months
    • 100 international minutes
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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  • SMARTY SIM
    SMARTY SIM
    4GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    SMARTY Sold by SMARTY
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    SMARTY SIM
    SMARTY SIM
    Sold by SMARTY
    4GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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  • iD Mobile SIM
    iD Mobile SIM
    1GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    iD Mobile Sold by iD Mobile
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    iD Mobile SIM
    iD Mobile SIM
    Sold by iD Mobile
    1GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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  • Asda Mobile SIM
    Asda Mobile SIM
    3GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Asda Mobile Sold by Asda Mobile
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    Asda Mobile SIM
    Asda Mobile SIM
    Sold by Asda Mobile
    3GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    Three SIM
    Three SIM
    1GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Three Sold by Three
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £60.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    Three SIM
    Three SIM
    Sold by Three
    1GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £60.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    Three SIM
    Three SIM
    1GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Three Sold by Three
    Contract months:
    24
    Total ownership:
    £120.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    Three SIM
    Three SIM
    Sold by Three
    1GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    24
    Total ownership:
    £120.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.00
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    Talkmobile SIM
    Talkmobile SIM
    6GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Talkmobile Sold by Talkmobile
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.95
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.95
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    Talkmobile SIM
    Talkmobile SIM
    Sold by Talkmobile
    6GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £5.95
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £5.95
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    Virgin Mobile SIM
    Virgin Mobile SIM
    5GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Virgin Mobile Sold by Virgin Mobile
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    Virgin Mobile SIM
    Virgin Mobile SIM
    Sold by Virgin Mobile
    5GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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  • iD Mobile SIM
    iD Mobile SIM
    5GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    iD Mobile Sold by iD Mobile
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    iD Mobile SIM
    iD Mobile SIM
    Sold by iD Mobile
    5GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    Lebara SIM
    Lebara SIM
    • 100 international minutes
    4GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Lebara Sold by Lebara
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    Lebara SIM
    Lebara SIM
    Sold by Lebara
    4GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    • 100 international minutes
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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  • giffgaff SIM
    giffgaff SIM
    1GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    giffgaff Sold by giffgaff
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    giffgaff SIM
    giffgaff SIM
    Sold by giffgaff
    1GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    1
    Total ownership:
    £6.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    Three SIM
    Three SIM
    4GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Three Sold by Three
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £72.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    Three SIM
    Three SIM
    Sold by Three
    4GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £72.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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  • iD Mobile SIM
    iD Mobile SIM
    5GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    iD Mobile Sold by iD Mobile
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £72.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    iD Mobile SIM
    iD Mobile SIM
    Sold by iD Mobile
    5GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £72.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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  • Sky Mobile SIM
    Sky Mobile SIM
    2GB data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    Sky Mobile Sold by Sky
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £72.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
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    Sky Mobile SIM
    Sky Mobile SIM
    Sold by Sky
    2GB data Unlimited mins + texts
    Contract months:
    12
    Total ownership:
    £72.00
    Upfront:
    FREE
    Monthly:
    £6.00
    Save
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Last updated: 12 hours ago
SIM Only Deals

What is a SIM only deal?

A SIM only deal is a contract for a SIM card, which includes a set amount of data, minutes and texts per month.

A SIM on its own is unusable - you will need to pair the SIM with your own phone.

On the other hand, a phone contract will include both a phone and a SIM card.

What are the benefits of a SIM only deal?

There are several benefits for choosing a SIM only deal.

It’s often cheaper to get your own SIM only deal and purchase a separate SIM free phone, as opposed to phone contracts, which will generally work out more expensive over a longer period.

Furthermore, with a SIM only contract, you don’t have to get a long term contract. If you buy your own phone outright, you can get a 1 month SIM only deal, which can be cancelled or changed at any time you like.

In addition, it’s generally easier to pass a credit check for a SIM only deal, as it’s less risky for networks since they are not 'loaning' you a phone. Even if you have a low credit score, you’re more likely to be accepted for a SIM only plan compared to a phone contract.

Will I save money with a SIM only deal compared to a phone contract?

Yes, in most cases, it’s far cheaper to get a SIM only deal and purchase a separate phone off contract.

Phone contract deals are usually more expensive, as you are essentially taking out a loan on a phone with added interest.

However, buying a phone SIM free requires you to pay the full value of the phone upfront, which can be in the range of £1000 if you’re buying the latest Apple iPhone 14. That’s why popular brands like Apple and Samsung now sell their phones on credit with 0% interest, allowing you to split the payments over 24 to 36 months without paying any extra.

Furthermore, research has found most people keep their phones for longer than 24 months. As most phone contracts are 24 months in length, you’ll essentially be paying a premium after 2 years if you choose not to renew or upgrade, as the monthly amount you pay will not decrease, even though you have essentially paid off the ‘loan’ for the phone itself.

Can I use my current phone with a SIM only deal?

Yes, if you wish to keep using your current phone, you can pair it with any SIM only deal. However, you must make sure your phone is unlocked and not tied to a specific network.

Do I need to unlock my phone to use it with a SIM only deal?

Since December 2021, Ofcom have made it a legal requirement for all networks to sell their phones unlocked, even if sold with a contract.

Before this date, several networks chose to sell their phones unlocked, even though it was not a legal requirement for them to do so. These networks include Three, O2, Virgin Mobile, Giffgaff and Sky Mobile.

If you purchased your phone before December 2021, it will most likely be locked if purchased from one of the following networks:

However, unlocking your phone is easy and free. You will have to contact your network and request an unlock code, which you will be required to enter when inserting a SIM card from a different network.

Your network will ask you for your phone’s IMEI number, which you can find by dialling *#06# from your phone.

How can I find out if my phone is locked?

The easiest way to find out if your phone is locked is to simply insert a SIM card from a different network.

If your phone is locked, you will be asked to enter an unlock code before you can use it.

If your phone is unlocked, it will work as normal.

Ask a friend or family member to borrow their SIM card if they’re on a different network from you.

Can I keep my number when switching to a SIM only deal?

Yes, it’s very easy to keep your number when switching to a SIM only deal.

If you’re switching networks and wish to keep your number, you will need to get a PAC code from your current network. You can get a PAC code for free by texting PAC to 65075 from the number you wish to keep. You will then need to give the PAC code to your new network, which can usually be done when purchasing your SIM only deal. If you don’t have the option to do this at the time of purchase, or you wish to do this at a later date, you can. You simply need to contact your new network and ask them to transfer your number in. For more information, see our guide on transferring your number.

If you’re switching to a SIM only deal on the same network, you’ll need to contact your network directly and ask them to do this for you. Some networks may not be able to, so make sure to ask them beforehand.

Can I switch my phone contract to a SIM only deal?

If your phone contract is over, you can easily switch to a SIM only plan by contacting your network.

If you’re on a phone contract and you wish to switch to a SIM only deal on a different network, you will need to request a PAC code (text PAC to 65075) and hand it to your new network. See transferring your number for more information.

Before switching, make sure your contract is over, or else you may be required to pay an early termination fee.

What are the advantages of a 1 month SIM only deal?

With 1 month SIM only plans, you’re not tied to a long term contract.

This means you can change or cancel your plan at any time you wish, without any early termination fees.

In addition to the added flexibility, you’re likely to be accepted for a new SIM only deal, even if you have a low or bad credit rating.

Generally, 1 month SIM only deals work out more expensive compared to longer 12 month and 24 month contracts with the same amount of data. However, they are less risky and far more flexible.

What is an eSIM?

eSIMs, also known as embedded SIMs, are digital SIM cards that are tied to your phone.

You can download an eSIM to your phone by simply scanning a QR code provided by your network. This means it is far easier to switch your SIM to a different phone, as opposed to traditional SIM cards, which require you to physically remove and reinsert them.

eSIMs are still a new technology, and are currently only supported with particular plans from EE, O2 and Vodafone. Three and Virgin Mobile have plans to launch eSIM plans in 2022/2023.

In addition, only the latest phones support eSIM technology, such as the Apple iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22.

Will I get good coverage with a SIM only deal?

Depending on where you live, coverage and speed may vary by network.

Before you purchase a SIM only deal, make sure you will receive good coverage around your area. You can do this by entering your address into the network coverage checker tool, which will be available on your network’s website. You will also be able to check if 5G is available in your area.

Do I need to take out a contract for a SIM only deal?

No, most networks offer 30 day plans, which are not contracts. This means you can cancel or change your plan whenever you like.

However, you should be aware that 1 month contracts are usually slightly more expensive. In most cases it’s cheaper to take out a longer contract with the same tariff allowances.

There are several disadvantages for choosing a long term contract. You will be entering a legal contract, meaning you will have to make the required payments every month. Failure to do so may negatively affect your credit score, and may eventually be handled by debt collectors.

What’s the cheapest SIM only deal?

On average, iD Mobile tend to have the cheapest SIM only deals.

The cheapest SIM only deals are generally longer term contracts with smaller data allowances, compared to more expensive plans which typically have more data.

The major 4 networks tend to be more expensive, compared to the smaller virtual networks.

Which SIM only deal should I choose?

There is no single SIM only deal for everyone. You need to consider your budget, salary and phone usage when choosing a SIM only deal.

If you have a good credit score and a stable salary, you can save money by taking out a longer 12 month or 24 month contract, which tend to be cheaper compared to shorter plans such as 1 month SIMs.

You’ll also need to consider how much data you use per month. You don’t want to go over your allowances each month, however at the same time you don’t want to be paying for a more expensive plan when you don’t need as much data.

If you’re a frequent traveller, you’ll want to find a network and plan that allows you to roam for free or at a cheap price.

Can I roam in the EU for free if I have a SIM only deal?

Since Brexit, not all networks offer free EU roaming with SIM only deals.

You may continue to roam for free in the EU if you have a SIM only plan with one of the following networks:

  • Asda Mobile (25GB / month fair usage policy)
  • BT Mobile (50GB / month fair usage policy)
  • giffgaff (20GB / month fair usage policy)
  • iD Mobile (fair usage policy varies by contract plan)
  • Lebara (no fair usage policy for data)
  • O2 (25GB / month fair usage policy)
  • Plusnet (15GB / month fair usage policy)
  • SMARTY (12GB / month fair usage policy)
  • Talkmobile (15GB / month fair usage policy)
  • Virgin Mobile (fair usage policy varies by contract plan)

Some networks still have free EU roaming for particular SIM only plans.

If you’re a Vodafone customer on one of the following SIM plans, you can still roam for free in the EU, with a 25GB / month fair usage policy:

  • Vodafone Limited data Xtra plan with 4 Xtra benefits
  • Vodafone Unlimited data Xtra plan with 4 Xtra benefits All other Vodafone plans will require you to pay for EU roaming.

EE customers who are entitled to a free Smart Benefit can choose the Roam Abroad pass to continue free EU roaming. If you’re not entitled to a free Smart Benefit, or you choose a Smart Benefit that is not the Roam Abroad pass, you must pay for EU roaming.

The following networks will require you to pay to use your allowances when roaming in the EU with a SIM only plan:

How much data do I need?

The amount of data you will require for a SIM only deal depends on how you use your phone.

If you’re a heavy streamer, and you watch a lot of Netflix and YouTube on the go, you’ll likely be using more than 30GB data per month.

If you only use your phone for internet browsing, texting and music streaming such as Spotify, you’re likely not using more than 10GB data per month.

Research has shown most people have more data that they require, and can save money by switching to a cheaper contract with a smaller data allowance.

Read our article on how much data you need for more information.

Which size SIM will I need for my phone?

Whichever network or SIM plan you chose, you will be sent a standard sized SIM, with easy cutouts to convert them to smaller micro and nano SIMs. You can also request an eSIM, if your network and phone supports the technology.

New phones, such as the Apple iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22, will require a nano SIM card.

  1. Standard (25 x 15 x 0.76 mm) - the largest SIM card size, which is generally obsolete and used with older phones.

  2. Micro (15 x 12 x 0.76 mm) - Once considered a smaller replacement for standard SIMs, micro SIMs are less prevalent today, being replaced by the even smaller nano SIM. Older smartphones or budget phones may still use a micro SIM.

  3. Nano (12.3 x 8.8 x 0.67 mm) - The smallest and most common sized SIM card used in phones sold today.

  4. eSIM - A digital SIM card. eSIMs are still a new technology, and are not offered by all networks in the UK.

Recent data has shown more and more people are opting for SIM only deals compared to phone contract deals.

A rise in cheaper plans and more networks for SIMs means there’s more competition than ever.

Furthermore, in today's uncertain economic landscape, customers are looking for flexible and short term plans, and tend to look away from long term phone contracts that often cost a premium at the expense of begin slightly more convenient.

Both Apple and Samsung are now offering 0% interest plans with their latest iPhone and Galaxy devices, which have the benefit of splitting payments without interest, and allows the customer to choose their own tariff and network, with flexibility to switch at any time.

Will I get 5G with a SIM only deal?

Most networks now offer 5G with all their plans at no extra cost. However, you’ll need a 5G phone to benefit from the faster speeds.

The following networks offer 5G with all SIM only deals:

  • BT
  • EE
  • giffgaff
  • iD Mobile
  • Lebara
  • O2
  • Sky Mobile
  • Smarty
  • Talkmobile
  • Tesco Mobile
  • Three
  • Virgin Mobile
  • Vodafone
  • VOXI

Currently, Plusnet only have a maximum 4G signal with all their plans. Asda Mobile only have 5G with plans that cost £10 or more per month.

See our 5G SIM Only deals to compare the cheapest prices.

Will SIM only deals work with tablets and laptops?

Yes, all SIM only deals will work with tablets and laptops, as long as there is a SIM card slot within the device.

Laptops tend to use more data compared to phones, so if you’re using a laptop with a SIM for data, make sure you track how much data you’re using, as it’s far easier to go over your allowances. In addition, if you have an unlimited data plan, some networks have a fair usage policy in place if you’re using too much data, which may see your download speed limited.

Can I get a SIM only deal if I have a bad credit score?

If you have a bad credit score, you’re more likely to be accepted for a SIM only deal compared to a phone contract, as there’s less risk for the network.

However, your chances will decrease for longer term contracts, such as 12 and 24 months SIM plans.

Even if you have a bad credit score, you’re almost guaranteed to be accepted for 1 month plans, as you won’t need to sign a contract.

See our bad credit score SIM only deals to compare all available offers.

Will a SIM only deal improve my credit score?

Yes, if you take a long 12 month or 24 month contract, and you continue to make the monthly payments on time, your credit score will increase. Be aware that requesting to sign up for a long term SIM contract will often result in a soft credit check, which will show up on your record. 1 month SIM plans will not improve your credit score, as they are not contracts.

What is a virtual network?

A virtual network, also known as MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), is a network that essentially piggybacks from a larger network.

There are 4 main networks in the UK (EE, Virgin Media O2, Three and Vodafone), each of which have their own network infrastructure. These 4 major networks all ‘rent’ their infrastructure to smaller networks, know as virtual networks:

  • Asda Mobile (Vodafone)
  • BT (EE)
  • iD Mobile (Three)
  • Lebara (Vodafone)
  • Plusnet (EE)
  • Sky Mobile (O2)
  • SMARTY (Three)
  • Talkmobile (Vodafone)
  • Tesco Mobile (O2)
  • VOXI (Vodafone)

Virtual networks are often cheaper for SIM only deals compared to the 4 major networks, as they don’t have to worry about the cost of maintaining expensive infrastructure and equipment.

Although you will receive the exact same coverage and speed, customer service often isn’t as good with virtual networks. Most virtual networks only offer online support, and do not have call centres.

What is a PAC code and how can I get one?

A PAC code (Porting Authorisation Code) is a short code which you will need to transfer your mobile phone number to a new network.

The easiest way to get a PAC code is to text PAC to 65075 from the number you wish to keep.

Once you have your PAC code, you should give the code to your new network to begin the transfer process.

Requesting a PAC code will always be free.

A PAC code will expire after 30 days. If you haven’t used your PAC code after 30 days, but you still wish to transfer, you will need to request another PAC code. There are no limits on the amount of times you can request a PAC code.

Will I lose service if I switch to a SIM only deal?

If you’re switching and transferring your number to a SIM only deal on a different network, you may temporarily lose service on the day the transfer occurs. However, disruption should be no longer than 30 minutes. For more information, see transferring your number.

How should I dispose of my old SIM card?

SIM cards will often hold personal information, such as your contacts and text messages.

Therefore, it’s important to dispose of it correctly, particularly in an age of ever increasing data theft.

To properly dispose of your SIM card, cut directly through the middle of the gold plated chip with a pair of scissors. You can then safely throw it into the bin.

Can I get an unlimited data SIM only deal?

Most networks offer unlimited data SIM only deals for 1 month, 12 month and 24 month contracts.

Although advertised as unlimited, some networks may limit your speeds if you’re disrupting other customers, by using too much data for excessive periods. Such limitations will be noted in a network’s fair usage policy.

You can find the cheapest unlimited SIM Only deals by using our comparison tools.

Which SIM will I need for an iPhone?

Since the iPhone 5 in 2012, iPhone models use nano SIM cards. All networks will provide a nano SIM card when purchasing a SIM only deal.

You can find the cheapest iPhone SIM Only deals by using our comparison tools.

What is an end of contract notification?

When your contract is coming to an end, your network will send you an end of contract notification via text, post or email. They should inform you of the following details:

  • The exact date when your contract will come to an end
  • The remaining payments you need to make for your contract
  • Information about upgrading your phone if you choose to renew your contract
  • How to end your contract if you no longer require it

You can request information about your contract at anytime by texting INFO to 85075. You will receive a reply within 30 seconds. This is a free to text service that every UK network must provide, in accordance with Ofcom regulations.

​​Will I lose my number if I switch to a SIM only deal?

If you’re switching to a SIM only deal, and you wish to keep your number, make sure you provide a PAC code to your new network.

If you don’t want to keep your number when switching, and you want a new number, you should provide a STAC code to your new network. You can request a STAC code for free by texting STAC to 75075. Note that your old number will be disconnected, and will no longer work.

For more information, see transferring your number.

Will the monthly cost of a SIM only deal rise with inflation?

Most networks state in the terms and conditions that monthly payments required will increase in line with inflation each year. This applies to both SIM only deals and phone deals.

However, not all networks will increase prices with inflation. Some promise fixed rates for the contract length, without any changes.

The rise of inflation is attached to the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

Networks may also add their own fixed rate, which will be stated in your contract. This can be up to an additional 2%.

With inflation through the roof, a network may increase prices by as much as 12%.

If you believe your network has unfairly increased prices, or you have been misled, you may be able to cancel your contract early without paying termination fees.

FAQs

What’s the cheapest SIM only deal?

On average, iD Mobile tend to have the cheapest SIM only deals.

The cheapest SIM only deals are generally longer term contracts with smaller data allowances, compared to more expensive plans which typically have more data.

The major 4 networks tend to be more expensive, compared to the smaller virtual networks.

Can I keep my number when switching to a SIM only deal?

If you’re switching networks and wish to keep your number, you will need to get a PAC code from your current network, by texting PAC to 65075. You will then need to give the PAC code to your new network, which can be done before or after purchase.

What is an eSIM?

eSIMs, also known as embedded SIMs, are digital SIM cards that are tied to your phone.

You can download an eSIM to your phone by simply scanning a QR code provided by your network. This means it is far easier to switch your SIM to a different phone, as opposed to traditional SIM cards, which require you to physically remove and reinsert them.

eSIMs are still a new technology, and are currently only supported with particular plans from EE, O2 and Vodafone. Three and Virgin Mobile have plans to launch eSIM plans in 2022/2023.

In addition, only the latest phones support eSIM technology, such as the Apple iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22.

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