When it comes to mobile plans, those that come bundled with a handset tend to steal the limelight, but if you've already got a phone you're happy with, then SIM-only plans present an excellent opportunity to save some money.
As the name implies, a SIM-only plan is any plan that doesn't bundle in a phone, whether it's on a 12-month contract or a no lock-in situation where you simply pay month-to-month, there is often a great deal of value to be found in these plans.
To make it even easier for you, we've gone through each of the SIM-only providers available to Aussies right now and have hand-picked the best deals we've come across, whether they're big on data, low on cost, or an excellent middle-ground overall.
- Discover our picks for the best outright mobile phones on the planet
- Compare Australian prices on the latest smartphones at Getprice
Editor's pick: Best SIM-only plans under $25
For a very limited time, you can score a sweet sweet deal on this Amaysim pre-paid SIM by using the code SAVE20 at checkout to knock $20 off your first month. You'll score an enormous 30GB of data (which is mammoth for this price, and still good value for the $30 you'll pay afterward) as well as unlimited international calls, SMS and MMS to select countries.
Although the pricing of this plan is a little confusing, it still works out to be great value. For the first 6 months, you'll be paying $8.98 (which is more like $11.04 once you've factored in the upfront cost), and afterwards it'll be $12.50 monthly. This comes with unlimited calls and text and 2.5GB of data, something that's unprecedented at this price, and if you're happy with a 12-month contract, your data doubles to 5GB. Plus, a percentage of the company's profits are spent donating free mobile services to people living with disabilities. Total minimum cost is $21.35
Another winner from Jeenee, offering a huge 15GB for less than $20 a month. You'll also get unlimited local talk and text and $50 worth of international calls. This plan is currently discounted, so grab it while it's hot. Plus, a percentage of the company's profits are spent donating free mobile services to people living with disabilities. Total minimum cost is $251.17
Editor's pick: Best SIM-only plans under $40
For a limited time, OVO is doubling its data on certain plans, which makes this one a monster. 50GB of data, unlimited local talk and text, 600 international minutes, as well as OVOPlay, which offers data-free streaming of a variety of sports and other shows. Total minimum cost is $34.95
Live-updated SIM-only deals: Plans under $40
Editor's pick: Best premium SIM-only plans
Getting into a 12-month contract means you can get some really big slabs of data – 80GB on this Optus Mobile plan and 4GB roaming data. You'll also score yourself unlimited national and international calls and texts and all the sweet Optus perks, like data-free Mobile TV and music streaming on certain services. Total minimum cost is $600
Telstra aren't normally worth considering when it comes to budget offerings, but Australia's biggest telco recently overhauled its plans and is offering a pretty decent mid-range option. For $60 a month, you'll get a 60GB data plan with 5G access until June 30, 2020. You'll also be able to opt out at any time thanks to its month-to-month payment style. Total minimum cost is $60
Live-updated SIM-only deals: Plans over $40
Should I go SIM-only?
If you a) want to save some money; b) don't want to be tied into a lengthy contract; c) already own a perfectly fine phone; or d) all of the above, then going SIM-only is well worth considering. In fact, you're probably in one of two situations if your thoughts are turning to a SIM-only mobile plan:
- You're coming to the end of your contract and your phone is still fighting fit (if it isn't, then head to our best mobile phones deal page to see what plan you can grab alongside a phone), but otherwise going SIM only on your current phone is a no-brainer. You'll wind up paying much less than you are under contract, and you can often stick to a rolling month-to-month arrangement so that if your circumstances change, you can change with them.
- It's time for a shiny new smartphone and you want to get the best value humanly possible. You'll have to find a few hundred bucks (or thousand at this stage) up front for the handset (be sure to check our SIM free comparison chart) but you'll end up better off at the end of it all. Plus, if you're a commitment-phobe, most SIM-only plans don't require you to sign up for two years like you would with a normal contract.
What SIM card size do I need?
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 (15 x 25mm) 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 (12 x 15mm) or nano (8.8 x 12.3mm) SIM – the iPhone 5 was Apple's first mobile with a nano SIM, while Samsung began using the smallest size in its Galaxy S6.
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.
What contract length should I get?
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.
How much data do I need?
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 12-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:
- 0-1GB Tiny amounts of data on SIM only plans could be a blessing or a curse. If you're putting it in a rarely used phone that will scarcely be away from wi-fi then it makes total sense. But if you end up with one because your head's turned by the incredible price, then you could end up paying more if you continually go over your allowance.
- 2-3GB For anybody who needs data for little more than the occasional Google Maps route planning, 2GB and 3GB plans come cheap and give you much more freedom to scroll away online away from the wi-fi.
- 4-8GB If you can't leave the house without having a music streaming service like Spotify pouring into your ears, then it might be worth paying for some extra GBs of data.
- 10-16GB This is a significant amount of data and some networks offer it for a very appetising price. Whether streaming music, downloading podcasts, watching social media videos, or all three is your thing - you should be covered.
- 20-30GB Only smartphone junkies that need regular (and hefty) data fixes need bother with this avalanche of GBs. You'll be able to rinse Netflix, Spotify and online games without too much fear of topping out.
The SIM-only plans on this page are checked regularly, so make sure you visit often if you want to get the most up-to-date information on the plans that are currently available!