The rise of BYOD (bring your own device) and SIM-free phones, plus the growing popularity of dual-SIM handsets like the OnePlus 3 has made it increasingly attractive to businesses to kit their workforce with SIM cards rather than full devices.
As a reminder, companies do not have to report anything to HM Revenue and Customs or deduct or pay tax and national insurance if they provide the employees with one SIM card (or mobile phone) and the phone contract is between the employer and the service provider.
We’ve looked at the best SIM only deals from all the main mobile phone operators in the UK (the four big networks and three MVNOs) and, in no order of preference, here are the ones we think are the best for micro, small and medium businesses. (Note that Three doesn’t do SIM-only for businesses and is therefore excluded from our listing).
The cheapest around for data-hungry users
Unlimited minutes | Unlimited texts| 20GB data | 12-month contract | £16.67
Should you agree to sign a 12-month contract, then Vodafone’s Red bundle is possibly the best offer in the UK. You get unlimited data, minutes (usable both in the UK and in the EU) and a whopping 20GB data to use with an extra 4GB to be used in the EU in 40 countries; you can always opt for the WorldTraveller option which allows you to use your UK allowance in an additional 58 countries worldwide for a fiver a day. Vodafone also offers a 30-day money-back warranty. Check out this deal on Vodafone’s website
Terrific for globe-trotters
Unlimited minutes | Unlimited texts| 20GB data | 12-month contract | £24
The Telefonica-owned company offers one of the most impressive packages in the line-up. It has also got a major price drop, falling to just £24 a month (down from £30). Not only do you have unlimited minutes and texts in the UK and across Europe (well, there is a fair usage limit of 2,000 minutes and 2,000 texts in the EU), you also get 3GB to use in the EU and 100 UK to EU minutes. Great if you travel a lot to mainland Europe. O2 also offers a 30-day optional contract for an extra £2 per month.
It has a unique selling point
Unlimited minutes | Unlimited texts| 15GB data | 12-month contract | £17
O2 might win when it comes to versatility but EE almost grabs the top spot when it comes to sheer value for money. It undercuts its main rival by nearly £10 per month yet offers the same core features (unlimited data and texts, but data is slightly less at15GB). EE also upgraded its network to superfast 4GEE and you can even share your plan with three co-workers on the same bill; Note that, unlike many competitors, tethering and VOIP are allowed.
Not the most attractive package on offer
Unlimited minutes | Unlimited texts| 20GB data | 12-month contract | £30
EE is now owned by BT and yet somehow, the former easily trumps the latter when it comes to value for money. Just to put things in context, the equivalent BT package to the one above costs a whopping £72 a month, that’s an extra £52 compared to EE’s (or a 260% premium). You can choose to double your 4G speed to up to 60MBps for £4 per month and you will get access to five million BT Wi-Fi hotspots. This deal has also just got much better, as data has been doubled from 10GB per month to 20GB, without any additional costs!
The People's operator
Great for intra-team voice communication
1000 minutes | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | 30 day rolling contract | £9.99
TPO is a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that piggybacks on Three’s network to deliver its service. All its plans offer 10% of the value of the monthly spend to a nominated cause or charity, which is a rather laudable and uncommon marketing strategy. A 10-person SME can therefore, effortlessly donate a whopping £300 over the course of a year. This and the fact that calls between TPO colleagues are free could well entice SMBs towards this relatively new player.
View this deal on TPO’s website
Ideal for short contracts
Business Unlimited | Unlimited minutes | Unlimited texts | 3GB data | 12-month contract | £17
Perhaps the newest MVNO here, Co-op is better known for its supermarkets and its financial services. Like TPO, Co-op supports a few social and ethical projects and since it is a co-operative, its customers can become members as well. Its unlimited bundle – which is powered by EE - comes with no limit texts and minutes. Additional 1GB data bundles will cost £1.67 at a time. Note that a sharer bundle is also available but without the data component.
Virgin Media Business
Excellent for dual-play
Big Data | Unlimited minutes | Unlimited texts| 3GB data | 12-month contract | £11.67
If you plan to get mobile SIM-only services packaged with broadband, then the Big Data offer from VMB is worth looking at. The mobile service is underpinned by EE’s infrastructure and therefore like Co-op, provides with unlimited minutes and texts. Save £2 per month per SIM package if you opt for VMB’s Managed Internet Access package. Sadly, there is no sharer package for teams.