The Best SIM Only Deals in 2018

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How a SIM only arrangement can save money over the typical two year term of a mobile phone contract and the types of SIM deal available nowadays at low prices.

Stay flexible and uncommitted to contracts to save money long term

While ‘all in’ mobile phone contracts can be tempting in that you often get a subsidised phone along with upgrade options after a year or two, it’s well worth looking at the SIM only route next time your contract is up for renewal. You may find long term you save with some of the attractive SIM only deals out there.

SIM only or a contract?

Whether you’re thinking of taking out a contract or opting for SIM only it’s important to ‘do the math’ as Americans might say.

While a contract phone may seem more appealing since the handset is subsidised or may even be free on pricier monthly contracts, it’s important to look at what you’re spending over the life of a contract.

Many contracts are over two years, so add up what you’ll be spending per month plus whatever the subsidised handset has cost you. Compare this with the cost over the same period of a SIM only tariff; nowadays you can get a lot of data, minutes and texts for very reasonable monthly costs.

While you will also have to factor in the cost of the phone itself, bear in mind you might choose to continue using your handset from your previous contract or buy used so saving you the cost of a new, full priced phone.

Compare costs over two years

This example illustrates the point:

Amongst other contracts, O2 currently offer a two year arrangement with unlimited minutes, texts and 15GB of data for the latest Samsung Galaxy S9 costing £34.00 per month with a fully subsidised handset; this would cost £816.00 over two years.

Compare this with a SIM only deal on the iD network with 1200 minutes, unlimited texts and 10GB of data costing just £12.00 per month (and this is a month-only commitment as opposed to the usual two year phone contract). This works out at £288.00 over two years plus the cost of a phone if you need to buy one.

You may already have a phone, but if not and you don’t need the latest in smartphone tech you can make considerable savings; for example, a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S6 makes for a very capable handset at a reasonable price. In fact one of these at approximately £120.00 would set you up with a phone and SIM for a little over £400 for the two years – less than half the price of the contract example above.

The picks of SIM only deals

It’s always worth checking of course before taking the plunge, but with the mobile market being ultra competitive and more options available it means monthly tariffs and bundle offerings make SIM only a sound choice.

Indeed, the iD SIM tariff used in the example above is one of the best SIM only deals to be had at present; £12.00 per month buys a lot of minutes and a very generous data allowance. Not being stuck with a two year contract helps and means you can keep your costs low by switching as deals become ever-more competitive without having to wait until your contract finishes.

If you don’t need much in the way of data or minutes then iD again come up trumps with a very reasonable £3.99 per month option; you get 500MB of data, 150 call minutes and unlimited texts each month.

At the other end of the scale, for heavier users Three offer a competitive deal with 12GB data, unlimited calls and texts for £16.00 per month although this is on a twelve month contract basis.

If you need as much data as possible without your costs soaring, then Giffgaff offer unlimited data, calls and texts for £20.00 per month – although once you’ve exceeded 9GB a month your data speed is reduced from 4G to 3G.

Haggling with your existing provider

If you wish to stay with your current provider but they’re not offering the most competitive SIM only deals, then it’s always worth asking them if they’ll match what others are offering.

As said above, the mobile market is highly competitive and service providers are very keen that existing customers stay on board, so they should make a decent effort to keep you. Make a note of the deals you’ve seen and what you’d get (data, minutes and so forth) and call your provider.

A few minutes on the phone to them may help you avoid the slight hassle of moving over to a new provider (although it’s much easier than it used to be) and staying with a service you’re happy with – assuming you are of course.

Elliot Preece
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