Best SIM-only plans in Australia (May 2023)

Young woman using smartphone in Sydney
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you already own a phone you’re happy with, or you’re planning to buy your next phone outright, a SIM-only plan offers you flexibility and excellent value for money. This is because a SIM-only plan doesn’t lock you into paying off a handset. Instead, it simply offers data, calls and text messages.

You’ll find that the best SIM-only plans aren’t available directly from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone, but rather come from resellers known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). MVNOs are smaller telcos which don’t directly own the cellular networks they use to provide your mobile service. They resell access to the networks of the big three, and often at a much cheaper price – Amaysim, Belong and Circles.Life are all popular MVNOs.

We’ve compared SIM-only plans from 32 Australian telco providers to help you search for a better deal, and made our recommendations on this page. Whether you want something high on data, low on cost, or a perfect middle-ground overall. If you know what you want, jump ahead using the links below:

Jump to:
Best SIM-only plan for most people – Moose Mobile 25GB for AU$16.80p/m
Best cheap SIM-only plan – Moose Mobile 12GB for AU$11.80p/m
Best high data plan – Mate 120GB for AU$1p/m (first 3m)
Best 5G SIM-only plan – Mate 32GB for AU$1p/m (first 3m)
Best SIM-only plan on the Telstra network – Mate 22GB for AU$1p/m (first 3m)
Best SIM-only plan on the Optus network – Moose Mobile 25GB for AU$16.80p/m
Best SIM-only plan on the Vodafone network – iiNet 40GB for AU$15p/m
Best prepaid plan – Catch Connect 18GB for AU$15 per 30-day renewal

Noteworthy SIM-only deals for May 2023

We’ll get to our best SIM-only recommendations below, but first, we’re highlighting a number of ace deals on postpaid and prepaid SIMs. Here are the current offers worth considering before choosing your provider:

Best SIM-only plans: our picks

Best SIM-only plan for most people

Moose Mobile

Moose Mobile | 25GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$16.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$23.80p/m)

We’re recommending Moose Mobile as the best SIM-only plan overall because it has an epic discount over your first 12 months, and its data inclusion is plenty for most people. You’ll initially pay just AU$16.80 for 25GB of data, and that welcome discount holds for one year. After that, it only climbs to AU$23.80p/m. This small telco launched in 2017, and it’s well-loved by its users – just check out Product Review. Moose Mobile secures its good coverage with the Optus 4G Plus network.

Total minimum cost is AU$16.80 | Total cost for first year: AU$201.60 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$285.60

Best cheap SIM-only plan

Moose Mobile

Moose Mobile | 12GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$11.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$17.80p/m)

While 12GB of data may not seem like much, you might be surprised to learn that it’s the same amount of data the average Aussie uses each month. This plan from Moose Mobile will cost you next to nothing, at just AU$11.80 a month for your first 12 months on the service. Then, your bill will increase to AU$17.80 ongoing. Moose uses Optus’ 4G network, so you should get decent coverage across the country.

Total minimum cost is AU$11.80 | Total cost for first year: AU$141.60 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$213.60

Best high data plan


Mate | 120GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$1p/m (first 3 months, then AU$45p/m)

Never before have we seen so much data for such a little price – though this AU$1 deal only holds for your first three months with Mate. You’ll get 120GB of data for that price, but keep in mind that after the AU$1 deal ends you’ll need to pay AU$45 a month to get that same amount. The good news is, you can move down to a cheaper plan with Mate if you want a lower rate. To lock-in this offer, use the code MATE1 and sign up before the offer ends on May 31.

Total minimum cost is AU$1 | Total cost for first year: AU$408 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$540

Best 5G SIM-only plan


Mate | 32GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$1p/m (first 3 months, then AU$30p/m)

Mate is now offering a 5G trial on some of its cheaper SIM-only plans. That means you can get 5G download speeds for AU$1 a month over your first three months, and then you’ll only need to pay AU$30 each month ongoing. The 5G trial is only available on this plan until July 31, after which your connectivity will drop to 4G. Mate secures its 5G coverage through parts of Telstra’s network, and 5G speed is capped at 100Mbps on this plan. Get this deal by using the promo code MATE1 and signing up before May 31.

Total minimum cost is AU$1 | Total cost for first year: AU$273 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$360

Best SIM-only plan on the Telstra network


Mate | 22GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$1p/m (first 3 months, then AU$25p/m)

Mate is our recommendation if you want to get on the Telstra network for cheap. You’ll get your first three months for AU$1 each, before this plan increases to AU$25 a month. The majority of MVNOs using the Telstra network only secure part of Telstra’s coverage, so Mate’s plans aren’t equal to what you’d get directly from Telstra. If you want full access to Telstra’s network (without the price tag) Boost Mobile is your best option. Lock-in Mate’s deal with the promo code MATE1, and sign up before May 31.

Total minimum cost is AU$1 | Total cost for first year: AU$228 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$300

Not the right plan for you? Check out our full comparison of all Telstra mobile plans.

Best SIM-only plan on the Optus network

Moose Mobile | 25GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$16.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$23.80p/m)

Moose Mobile | 25GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$16.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$23.80p/m)

This plan from Moose Mobile has taken out the best overall SIM-only plan this month, and it’s also our choice for the best plan available on the Optus network. When you first sign up, you’ll pay just AU$16.80 a month for 25GB of data, and that discount applies for your first 12 months on the plan, which is pretty unbeatable. This small telco is owned and operated in Queensland, with Australian-based support.

Total minimum cost is AU$16.80 | Total cost for first year: AU$201.60 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$285.60

Not what you’re looking for? See our full comparison of all Optus mobile plans.

Best SIM-only plan on the Vodafone network

iiNet | 40GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$15p/m (first 6 months, then AU$29.99p/m)

iiNet | 40GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$15p/m (first 6 months, then AU$29.99p/m)

You may know iiNet for its internet plans, but the provider has also moved into the mobile space, and it’s offering a ripper SIM-only deal. The plan is discounted by 50% for your first six months, so you’ll initially pay just AU$15 for 40GB of data. It then reverts back to its standard price of AU$30 each billing, which still makes it better value than any of Vodafone’s mobile plans. If you don’t mind prepaid, you could also consider the TPG option below.

Total minimum cost is AU$15 | Total cost for first year: AU$269.94 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$359.88

Not what you want? We’ve also got a full comparison of all Vodafone mobile plans.

Best prepaid plan

Catch Connect

Catch Connect | 18GB data | 30-day expiry | AU$15 per 30-day renewal

You might know Catch as an online-only retailer, but the brand has also launched its own prepaid mobile service called Catch Connect. This plan isn’t actually discounted, but its standard pricing of AU$15 per 30-day renewal is so compelling that it’s our best prepaid plan recommendation. Catch Connect is powered by part of the Optus 4G network.

Total minimum cost is AU$15 | Total cost for first year: AU$180

How we judge

To select our picks for the best SIM-only plans, our experts consider and weigh the following key aspects:

Data allowance: The average Australian only uses 12GB of data each month on a postpaid plan, so we only recommend plans with 12GB of data at a minimum. Conversely, we generally don’t recommend plans with exceptionally high data allowances either, as most Aussies simply won’t use that data, so there’s no point paying for it. 

Included calls and SMS: Most SIM-only plans now come with unlimited talk and text to standard numbers in Australia, so we don’t recommend plans without this feature.

Price: Price plays a big part in our decision-making process, and is weighed up alongside the included data allowance. We look for SIM-only plans that come with a good-value cost-per-gigabyte, both before and after any initial discount periods. Speaking of discounts, lots of telcos offer discounts for six months or more when you first sign up, but the ongoing price must also remain competitive in the market to get our recommendation.

Network coverage: Network coverage is our next big consideration when judging SIM-only plans. Regardless of their size, all Australian telcos use either the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone networks to provide their services, so knowing which network a provider uses gives us an idea of what that telco’s coverage is like. Telstra has the widest-reaching 4G and 5G coverage in Australia, and Optus trails not too far behind. Vodafone has the smallest network of the big three, but its 5G coverage now reaches 85% of the population in 10 major cities and regions.

Perks: We consider additional perks as nice to have, but they’re not a key driver of our best SIM-only plan picks. Some examples of perks include Australian-based support, or the ability to bank any unused data each month. Some providers offer financial perks too, for instance, Woolworths Mobile gives its customers 10% off a grocery shop each month.

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 a logical choice. In fact, you’re probably in one of two situations if your thoughts are turning to a SIM-only mobile plan:

1. You’re coming to the end of your contract and your phone is still fighting fit (if not, then head to our best mobile phones deals page to see what plan you can grab alongside a phone). On a good SIM-only plan, 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.

2. 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) upfront for the handset, but if you choose a sensible SIM-only plan 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 of handset repayments, like you would with a normal contract.

What is an MVNO?

A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a telco that does not own the network which it uses to provide mobile services to its customers. Many SIM-only providers are MVNOs, meaning they resell access to the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone networks – usually at much lower prices than the big three will offer themselves.

For this reason, you’ll find that we frequently recommend MVNOs for some of the best SIM-only plans in Australia. Some of the major MVNO brands are Amaysim (Optus), Belong (Telstra), Circles.Life (Optus) and Woolworths Mobile (Optus).

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 send out a triple SIM, so you'll get one of each size.

What contract length should I get?

Unlike with a standard post-paid mobile plan, there’s a lot more flexibility available when it comes to how long your SIM-only plan will last. Because there are no handset repayments to factor in, 2-year commitments are virtually unheard of here, with the norm now being rolling one-month contracts for ultimate flexibility.

You can occasionally get better prices if you tie yourself in for 12 months. But sticking to one month at a time means that you could effectively hand-pick a new plan to suit you every 30 days or so.

How much data do I need?

Because most SIM-only plans come on a lock-in contract, and you can change your plan up more easily than you could on a lengthier 24- or 36-month contract, it’s less crucial to get your data requirements perfect from the start. But if you’re considering a contract of any kind, or just put a personal pride on getting things right the first time, we’ll help you find the data sweet spot.

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, or less. This should provide a good estimate of how much a new plan needs, but if you’re still unsure, here's some general data-use guidance:

0-5GB: Tiny amounts of data on SIM-only plans could be a blessing or a curse. If you’re aiming for a SIM to put in a rarely used phone that will scarcely be away from Wi-Fi then this amount makes some sense. But if you end up with a plan that only has 5GB or less because your head’s turned by the incredible price, you could ultimately end up paying more if you continually go over your allowance.

5-15GB: A report published in December 2021 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that the average mobile user in Australia only uses 11.8GB of data a month, though we suspect that figure may have crept up with more people back to commuting for work. If you use Google Maps while you’re out and about, and occasionally stream music and check social media, plans in this bracket will give you enough freedom to safely scroll while you’re away from Wi-Fi.

15-50GB: If you like to stream music or videos and download podcasts when you’re on 4G or 5G, or you use map apps on a daily basis and generally have a data-intensive lifestyle, this is likely to be the cap you should be looking at. Keeping under 50GB can keep your costs at an affordable point, too.

50-100GB: You’re going to have to be a real data-drainer for more than 50GB a month to be necessary. This amount will be helpful if you download apps or other large files on the go, stream in HD, frequently use your phone as a hotspot or work from somewhere that doesn’t have Wi-Fi.

100GB-unlimited: 100GB+ plans are for the truly heavy users; let’s be frank – if you’re using this much per month, you’ve either got a serious YouTube/TikTok addiction, or you’re tethering to your phone as your only internet connection. Unlimited data plans aren’t particularly common, with the small MVNO Felix being the only telco to offer a truly unlimited mobile data plan. Felix caps its speeds at 20Mbps, which is still good for streaming video and music. But for most people, unlimited data simply isn’t necessary.

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.

Jasmine Gearie
Ecommerce editor

Jasmine Gearie is an ecommerce editor at TechRadar Australia, with a primary focus on helping readers cut through the jargon to find the best mobile and internet plans for their needs. She crunches the numbers to maintain dedicated guides to the latest phones, NBN and broadband plans of all types, and covers the important telco industry news. She also hunts down tech deals on laptops, phones, gaming consoles and more, so readers know where to buy the products they want for the cheapest prices.