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Best SIM-only plans in Australia (August 2022)

SIM cards from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone on pink background
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to mobile plans, we tend to think of those that come bundled with a handset. But if you’ve already got a phone you’re happy with, SIM-only plans are an excellent opportunity to save some money.

A SIM-only plan is any plan that doesn’t include a phone, and it’s often on a no lock-in contract where you simply pay month-to-month – there’s often a great deal of value to be found in these plans.

If you want to switch to SIM-only, you’ll find that the best-value 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 resell access to the networks of the big three, and often at a much cheaper price. Some examples of popular MVNOs include Amaysim, Woolworths Mobile and Circles.Life. 

If you’re looking for a SIM-only plan with 5G access though, you’ll find that only Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and more recently Aussie Broadband and Spintel offer this capability. For the time being, you won’t get 5G from any of the other smaller telcos on the market.

To make choosing a plan for your needs easier, we’ve partnered with WhistleOut (opens in new tab) to compare SIM-only plans from 30 Aussie providers and help you search for a better deal, whether it’s big on data, low on cost, or a perfect middle-ground overall.

Noteworthy SIM-only deals for August 2022

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

Compare SIM-only plans

Best overall SIM-only plan

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

We’re recommending Moose Mobile as our best overall SIM-only plan because it has an epic discount over your first 12 months. 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 (opens in new tab). Moose Mobile secures its good coverage with the Optus 4G Plus network.

Total minimum cost is AU$16.80

Best cheap SIM-only plan

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

This plan from Moose Mobile is so good that as well as our 'overall' recommendation, it also gets the gong for the cheap option. For AU$16.80p/m you get 25GB of data, and that introductory price lasts for an entire year. Even once that initial discount is over, your monthly bill will only increase to AU$23.80, or AU$7 more. Moose Mobile uses the Optus 4G Plus network.

Total minimum cost is AU$16.80

Best high data plan

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Belong | 200GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$45p/m (100GB of data after first year) (opens in new tab)

Belong is offering double the data on this SIM-only plan for your first 12 months, so you’ll initially pay just AU$45 a month for 200GB of data. Your monthly data will drop down to 100GB after your first year on the plan, but because Belong offers unlimited data banking, you can stock up on any unused gigabytes. Belong uses the Telstra 4G network, and it’s 100% carbon neutral.

Total minimum cost is AU$45

Best 5G SIM-only plan

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Spintel | 80GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$40p/m (first 6 months, then AU$50p/m) (opens in new tab)

The telcos that offer 5G mobile coverage are Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Aussie Broadband and Spintel, and we’re recommending Spintel here because it’s got a generous amount of data for a reasonable price. For your first six months on this plan, you’ll pay AU$40 a month for 80GB of data, after which your bill will increase to AU$50 a month. Spintel is on the Optus 5G network – just be sure to check coverage (opens in new tab) in your area.

Total minimum cost is AU$40

Best SIM-only plan on the Telstra network

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Woolworths Mobile | 22GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$25p/m (opens in new tab)

If you want a SIM-only plan on the Telstra network, Woolworths Mobile offers plenty of perks. This plan gets you 22GB of data for AU$25 a month ongoing – no initial discount on this plan unfortunately. We recommend it because you’ll be able to rollover any unused gigs into a data bank, which will hold up to 500GB. Plus, the ability to get 10% off your grocery shop once a month is pretty sweet too – if you spend AU$250 on groceries a month, this plan is essentially free.

Total minimum cost is AU$25

Not the right plan for you? Check out our full comparison of all Telstra mobile plans (opens in new tab).

Best SIM-only plan on the Optus network

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

This plan from Moose Mobile has taken out a few categories 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

Not what you’re looking for? See our full comparison of all Optus mobile plans (opens in new tab).

Best SIM-only plan on the Vodafone network

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

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$29.99 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

Not what you want? We’ve also got a full comparison of all Vodafone mobile plans (opens in new tab).

Best prepaid plan

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TPG | 45GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$15p/m (first 6 months, then AU$30p/m) (opens in new tab)

You’re probably familiar with TPG as an NBN provider, but it too has moved into the mobile space. This prepaid plan will set you up with 45GB of data for AU$15 each month for your first six months, and after that, each 30-day renewal will cost you AU$30. TPG’s mobile plans are on the Vodafone network.

Total minimum cost is AU$15

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 you can change your plan up more regularly than on a normal, lengthier contract, it’s less crucial to get this nailed from the start. But if you’re considering a contract of any kind, or just put a personal pride on getting things right first time, then 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. Then, if you’re still unsure, check out our guidance:

0-5GB. 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.

5-10GB. For anybody who needs data for little more than the occasional Google Maps route planning, 10GB plans come cheap and give you much more freedom to scroll away online away from the Wi-Fi.

10-50GB. If you like to stream music and download podcasts when you’re out and about, or you use maps 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.

50-100GB. In this bracket, you’re going to have to be a real data-drainer for this to be necessary. This amount will be helpful if you download apps or other large files on the go, stream in HD, or work from somewhere that doesn’t have Wi-Fi.

100GB-unlimited. Unlimited data plans aren’t particularly common, with only Vodafone (opens in new tab) and Felix (opens in new tab) offering a truly unlimited data plan. Vodafone says its plan gives you the fastest speed the network can deliver at the time, while Felix caps 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
Jasmine Gearie

Jasmine Gearie is TechRadar Australia’s resident deals expert, with a keen eye for hunting down the best Aussie discounts on everything from laptops and phones to cameras, headphones and mobile and NBN plans. She doesn’t buy anything without doing a little research first, and she wants to help you do the same.