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
Best SIM-only plans for under $25 a month
A plan that offers terrific value, Vaya's Unlimited 6GB plan on the Optus 4G network boasts unlimited national calls and texts with 6GB of data for just $24 per month – and best of all, no lock-in contract! Total minimum cost is $24
Best SIM-only plans for under $40 a month
A fantastic package on a pay-as-you-go plan, Amaysim (on the Optus 4G network) is offering 20GB data, plus unlimited national talk and text. You'll also get unlimited international calls to 10 specific countries, and all for only $40 per 28 days. Total minimum cost is $40
If you're happy with a 12-month contract, Optus offers a lot for the dosh. 30GB of data and 300 minutes international calls for only $35 a month is pretty great, and if you stream music via Spotify, Google Play Music or iHeartRadio it won't count towards your cap. Total minimum cost is $420
Best SIM-only plans for under $60 a month
For a SIM-only plan with decent data and no strings attached, Amaysim has a stellar deal right now – 60GB for $60 a month with no lock-in contract. You'll be on the Optus 4G network and get unlimited international calls to 10 select countries to boot. Total minimum cost is $60
Getting into a 12-month contract means you can get some really big slabs of data – 80GB on this Think Mobile plan. You'll also score yourself unlimited national calls and texts and be on the Vodafone 4G network. Total minimum cost is $576
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 network is calling you a million times a day to get you to upgrade. Well if your phone is dying a death or you just fancy a change, head to our best mobile phones deal page to see what bargains are lurking, 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 stick to a rolling 30 day contract so that if your circumstances change, you can get out of the arrangement tout suite.
- 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 up front for the handset (be sure to check our SIM free comparison chart) but box clever and you'll end up paying less over the next 24 months (see below). 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 you're quids in. 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 check the football scores and scroll Facebook away from the wi-fi without danger.
- 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.
Do I need unlimited calls and texts?
Call it practicality, call it greediness, call it what you want - it's human nature to want 'unlimited' anything if offered. But you should think genuinely about whether you really need it in a world where the likes of WhatsApp and Skype let you call and text for free over wi-fi or 4G. If you decide that a few thousand monthly minutes and texts should do you, then you could shave off some cash from your bill.
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!