The popularity of SIM-only deals is on the rise and it's easy to see why. They're generally cheaper and offer more flexibility than a pay-monthly contract - there's no need to be tied into a 24-month contract, you can also choose from 1-month rolling and 12-month SIM only deals.
So, what is a SIM-only deal and how does it work? With a SIM-only plan, you pay monthly for an allowance of calls, texts, and data. There's no phone included in the plan, so you don't have to pay it off over the course of your contract. All you have to do is choose a network and select the best SIM-only deal for you based on the amount of minutes, texts, and data you need. You'll get a new SIM card to put in your phone. And you can even keep your current phone number.
Of course, you need to have a phone to take advantage of a SIM-only deal and it needs to be unlocked. If you originally purchased it on a contract deal it may be locked to a network. They should unlock your phone for free if the contract's up, but keep in mind that it can take up to 10 days.
Even if you don't currently own a mobile, it's worth considering buying a SIM-free phone. While it might seem like a lot of money to pay up front, it usually works out cheaper than a pay-monthly plan as you're not paying interest on the cost of the phone.
At Carphone Warehouse we offer Vodafone, VOXI, and iD Mobile SIM-only plans. We also offer SIM-only upgrades with Vodafone. If you've come to the end of your Vodafone pay-monthly contract and you're happy with your phone and network, upgrading to a SIM-only plan may be the best option for you.
Cheap SIM-only deals
SIM-only deals are great value for money and usually work out cheaper than a pay-monthly contract.
So if money is a bit tight at the moment - like it is for many of us - it's worth considering a cheap SIM-only deal to help reduce your outgoings. Because you won't be paying off an expensive handset, your monthly phone bills should be considerably less.
When choosing which SIM-only deal to go for, there are a couple of things to bear in mind: the amount of data included (most have unlimited calls and texts) and the length of the contract. You tend to get more data for your money if you sign up for longer, so the cheapest SIM-only deals are for 12- or 24-month contracts. 1-month rolling contracts usually cost a little more but they give you the freedom to leave if you spot a better deal or decide to move to a pay-monthly phone.
Compare our cheap SIM-only plans at Carphone Warehouse to make sure you're getting the best deal for you.
Unlimited data SIM-only deals
Whether or not you'll need unlimited data with your SIM-only contract will depend on how you use your phone. The average person uses 2-3GB of data per month. But how do you compare to the average person? If you're someone who mostly uses their phone for social media, browsing online, and checking emails, and has decent WiFi at home, then a 2-3GB SIM-only plan should be plenty.
If you're more of a heavy data user, it might be worth thinking about an unlimited data SIM-only deal. Maybe you love to stream podcasts, music, and videos while out and about, or maybe you spend a lot of time with no access to WiFi. An unlimited data SIM-only plan gives you peace of mind that you're not going to run out of data part way through the month.
SIM-only plans are usually offered on a 1-month rolling, 12-month, or 24-month basis. If you opt in for 12 or 24 months, you'll be locked in for the length of the contract, but you'll usually get a better deal on data.
1-month rolling SIM-only contracts - also known as 30-day contracts - are just the same as 12- and 24-month contracts except that you can leave at any time. All you have to do is give 30-days' notice. What that means for you is that you have the freedom to shop around for the best deal, and if you spot something better, you don't have to wait until your contract is up to leave.
One of the other benefits of a SIM-only contract - particularly 1-month rolling contracts - is that they require a less comprehensive credit check. It's a lower risk for the network as they're not trusting you with an expensive phone, and the overall price of the contract will be much lower. So you can still be accepted for a SIM-only contract even if you don't have the best credit rating.
Pay As You Go SIM-only deals
If you'd prefer not to commit to a contract, it's worth considering a Pay As You Go SIM-only deal. Unlike most SIM-only contracts, you can pick up a Pay As You Go SIM card without a credit check, then simply top up with credit as and when you need it. It's a simple, cost-effective way to pay, and is especially handy if you have a bad credit rating.
Can you change from a contract to SIM-only?
If you're currently in the middle of a contract, you may have to wait for it to end to avoid paying a cancellation fee. Your current network should notify you when you're reaching the end of your contract.
Can you keep your number with a SIM-only deal?
Yes. If you're staying with the same network, you shouldn't have to do anything, but if you're moving to a different network, you'll need to provide them with your PAC code. Text PAC to 65075, and your network will reply with your code.
Does a SIM-only contract improve your credit?
Taking out SIM-only contract is considered ‘borrowing'. You're technically borrowing a bundle of calls, texts, and data, which you pay your network back for on a monthly basis. Your credit score could improve if you make all your payments on time. If you miss any payments, your score could also go down.
Can you cancel a SIM-only contract?
If you're on a 12- or 24-month SIM-only contract, you'd be charged a cancellation fee for leaving the contract early - just like if you were on a pay-monthly contract. But, if you've chosen a 1-month rolling contract, you can cancel at any time, you just have to give 30-days' notice.
What happens when a SIM-only contract ends?
After your 12- or 24-month contract ends, you'll continue at the same tariff until you upgrade to a new SIM-only or pay-monthly plan, or cancel the contract.