All you need to know when comparing SIM only mobile phone deals
What is a SIM only deal?
A SIM only deal offers a package of minutes, texts and mobile data for a monthly cost, much the same as a traditional mobile phone contract. The difference, however, is that you don’t get a new phone included in your contract – you get the SIM, and just the SIM.
Why choose a SIM only deal?
A SIM only deal is a great choice if you’re happy with your phone, or want to buy yourself a new one, without signing up to a long mobile phone contract.
What are the benefits of SIM only deals?
Flexibility: You can get a 1-12-month contract instead of being tied into a 12-24-month one, so you have the flexibility to change your deal if you want to
Can be cheaper: New handsets are expensive and as you’re not forking out for one with your contract, you might be able to reduce your monthly payments
Keep your existing phone or buy a new one: As you’re just paying for the SIM card, you can keep your existing phone or buy a brand new one
Easier credit check: Because mobile phone networks aren’t ‘lending’ you a mobile phone handset, it not only brings down the price of your contract, but it also makes you a lower risk candidate
How does SIM only work?
SIM only deals are simple: select the right package of minutes, texts and data that suits your needs, insert the SIM card into your phone, and you’re good to go.
What SIM card do I need?
There are three main types and sizes of SIM card available, which fit specific devices. These are:
- Standard SIM card (15mm x 25mm)
- Micro SIM card (12mm x 15mm)
- Nano SIM card (8.8m x 12.3mm)
Standard SIMs are hardly used these days, and even micro SIMs are rare. The latest smartphones will usually work with a nano SIM.
But don’t panic if you’re not sure what size to go for, as most networks and operators will send a 3-in-1 SIM card, which allows you to select the SIM size that fits your phone or tablet.
How do I switch to a SIM only tariff?
If you’re currently on a contract deal, you may have to wait for it to end to avoid paying a cancellation fee. Once your contact ends, you can shop around and sign up to a SIM-only plan instead.
If you’re switching networks, you may need to get your handset unlocked.
How can I tell if my phone is unlocked and will accept another network's SIM?
Simply insert a SIM card from a different network and attempt to make a call. If the call connects, the phone is unlocked.
Can I keep my mobile number if I change to SIM only?
Yes, you can keep your mobile number by asking your old network for a PAC code. You must provide this to your new network within 30 days.
How do I get my PAC code?
Contact your old network for your PAC code – you can usually do this over the phone or online. Alternatively, you can use Ofcom’s ‘text to switch’ service – just text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to get your PAC code delivered straight to your phone.
Once you’ve got your PAC code, you’ll need to provide it to your new network so they can transfer your number over.
How much data will I need on a SIM-only deal?
The amount of data you will need depends entirely on you and your phone usage. If you’re often somewhere with a good WiFi connection like home or work, you may not need much data. But if you’re usually out and about or without a decent WiFi signal, you may need more data.
Before choosing a new SIM only deal, it’s a good idea to have a look at your current plan to see how much data you tend to use each month. This will give you a good estimate to choose how much data you will need on your new plan.
Can I get a SIM-only deal for a tablet?
If you want to use your tablet while you’re out and not connected to WiFi, you can get a data-only SIM. These are like ordinary SIM cards, but they only come with data, not texts or minutes.
Before you buy, check that your tablet has a slot for a SIM card because not all do. Also check the manufacturer’s handbook to see what type of SIM you need.
What do I do with my old SIM card?
Your SIM card can contain a lot of personal information, including the names and contact numbers of your friends and family. To keep yourself safe therefore, the easiest thing to do is destroy your old SIM card. Cut the chip in half and recycle the plastic shell.
Will there be a credit check for a SIM only deal?
There might be a credit check, but the criteria you have to meet isn’t as stringent as a contract deal.
Will a SIM only deal improve my credit rating?
It has potential to. If you always pay your monthly bill on time, your credit score could increase. But be aware that if you miss your monthly repayments, your credit score could go down.