Expert Picks: Best SIM-Only Mobile Plans (December 2020)

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If you’re looking to save money and break the ‘new phone every two years’ contract cycle, a SIM-only mobile plan is the way to go. Swapping to SIM-only gives you almost all of the benefits of a standard postpaid phone deal, without the added expense of a new handset, or the commitment of a long-term contract. And if you’d rather not be caught out running low on credit, it’s also a great alternative to prepaid plans.

Of course, with so many options on the market, it’s not always easy to the find the right plan for your needs. That’s why we’ve compiled this quick guide to some of the best value bring-your-own-phone plans available right now.

How we help you find the best SIM-Only plan

Using Canstar Blue’s unique Value Score feature for picking the best SIM-only plans, we’ve singled out several offers that combine great features with competitive pricing. We know that the cheapest deal is not always the ‘best’, which is why our rankings are determined by a combination of price and features, such as plan inclusions, customer service and support, plus billing and payment options. Overall, if a plan has a lower cost and better features and inclusions, it’s likely to receive a higher Value Score than a more expensive plan, or one with fewer features.

Each SIM-only phone plan on Canstar Blue’s database is given a Value Score of between 0 and 10, with a higher number indicating a better value product. It’s all about helping you make an informed decision about which SIM-only plans are worth signing up to. More information on how Canstar Blue’s Value Score works can be found here.

If you’re ready to pair your phone with the flexibility of a SIM-only plan, we’ve picked out several of the best options below. Whether you’re after a basic deal, or something with plenty of monthly data, here are the top picks on our website right now.

Best SIM-Only Plans December 2020

Best budget SIM-Only plan

Southern Phone X Small 12 Month Plan

Value score: 9.2

If you’re a very light data user who prefers to use your phone for calls and texts, Southern Phone’s $9 SIM plan gives you everything you need for less than $10 per month. This plan includes 1GB of data each month, as well as unlimited calls and texts to standard Australian numbers. You will need to sign up for 12 months, but the year-long commitment offers set-and-forget convenience for low-level mobile users.

The following table shows Southern Phone’s $9 X Small plan on a 12-month contract. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a product from a referral partner.

What’s good about this plan:

  • Complete Optus 4G Plus network coverage.
  • Unlimited talk and text in Australia, plus data, for less than $10 per month.
  • No setup fees or SIM card charges.

What to look out for:

  • Plan does require a 12-month commitment, so not as flexible as other low-cost options.
  • Users with heavy data needs may prefer a plan with more included full-speed gigabytes, such as Southern Phone’s $30 plan with 18GB.
  • Excess data is charged at $10 for one extra gigabyte, with up to 3GB of additional data available at this rate.

Best everyday SIM-Only plan

Moose Mobile 29 SIM Only – 12M

Value score: 8.6

Moose Mobile offers a variety of no-contract and 12-month plans on the Optus network, all of which include unlimited standard national talk and text in Australia. If you’re looking for a great mid-range plan with plenty of data and a price under $30, Moose Mobile’s 29 SIM Only plan offers a standard 35GB per month, plus $200 of international call credit. While this plan is only available on a 12-month contract, Moose Mobile also offers month-to-month deals if you’re after more flexibility.

The following table shows Moose Mobile’s $29 SIM-only plan. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a product from a referral partner.

What’s good about this plan:

  • Complete Optus 4G Plus network coverage.
  • Unlimited talk and text in Australia.
  • No setup fees or SIM card charges.

What to look out for:

  • Only offered on a 12-month plan.
  • International call inclusions are capped at $200 per month, and don’t include SMS.
  • Excess data is charged at $15.36 per gigabyte.

Best big data SIM-Only plan

Optus Medium Choice Plan

Value score: 8.8

Optus has become a go-to option for Aussies wanting plenty of monthly gigabytes, and its $49 Medium Choice SIM-only plan is no exception. For under $50 per month, you’ll get 60GB of data, plus unlimited standard talk and text in Australia and unlimited standard international talk and texting to 35 selected countries. This plan also includes data pooling and free access to Optus Sport.

The following table shows Optus’ Medium Choice SIM-only plan. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers.

What’s good about this plan:

  • Plenty of international and entertainment extras.
  • No lock-in contract, allowing customers to switch between Optus plans as required.
  • Generous data which can be shared between other Optus plans on the same account.

What to look out for:

  • International roaming isn’t included, but customers can add this to their account via the Build Your Own Plan option.
  • Doesn’t include unlimited speed capped data, which is available on similar plans from Telstra and Vodafone.
  • If you combine your plan with an Optus device payment, you’ll be under contract for your phone repayments.

Best Telstra SIM-Only plan

Small Plan

Value score: 4.3

Telstra’s $55 Small plan offers a huge 40GB of full-speed data each month, plus unlimited standard talk and text in Australia. Like Vodafone, Telstra also provides bill shock backup, including unlimited speed-capped data (limited to 1.5Mbps) on all postpaid plans. The Small plan also features data-free streaming from Apple Music, plus data-free AFL, AFLW, NRL and Netball streaming.

The following table shows Telstra’s Small SIM-only plan. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a product from a referral partner.

What’s good about this plan:

  • Unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps – no data overage fees in Australia.
  • 3G and 4GX networks cover around 99% of Australians.
  • Plenty of extras, including data-free Telstra Sport and data-free Apple Music streaming (subscription not included).

What to look out for:

  • International extras aren’t included, but are available as optional add-ons from $10 per month.
  • 5G access isn’t included on the Small plan — you’ll need to upgrade to the Medium, Large or Extra Large plan.
  • Comparatively more expensive than other plans with similar data inclusions.

Best Vodafone SIM-Only plan

$40 SIM Only Lite Plan

Value score: 6.2

If you’re looking for a simple SIM-only plan with average monthly data inclusions, Vodafone’s $40 Lite month-to-month plan has you covered. This plan includes 10GB of monthly full-speed data and unlimited data at capped speeds of 2Mbps, plus unlimited standard national talk and text in Australia and unlimited standard texts to overseas.

The following table shows Vodafone’s Medium $40 SIM Only Lite plan. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a product from a referral partner.

What’s good about this plan:

  • Unlimited international texts as well as unlimited standard Australian inclusions.
  • Includes unlimited data, known as ‘endless data’ at capped speed of 2Mbps.
  • Customers can bundle this plan with other eligible Vodafone mobile and NBN plans to save up to 20% on plan fees.

What to look out for:

  • Network coverage not as extensive regionally when compared to Telstra or Optus.
  • No international call inclusions on this plan, however international call value included on $55, $65 and $120 plans.
  • International roaming not included, but $5 and $10 Roaming available in selected countries.

Best Optus SIM-Only plan

Small Choice Plan

Value score: 6.4

Winner of Canstar Blue’s 2020 Provider of the Year award for Phone on a Plan, Optus offers something for everyone, including massive data allowances, international extras, and bonus features. The telco’s Small Choice plan with 10GB is priced at just $39 per month, and includes unlimited standard talk and text in Australia, plus the option to pool data across multiple plans on a single account.

The following table shows Optus’ Small Choice plan. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers.

What’s good about this plan:

  • Separate from your phone payments, so you can change between Optus plans without affecting your repayments.
  • Data pooling available – share data across eligible plans on a single account.
  • Build-your-own-plan options available if you decide to upgrade – customers can add or subtract international features and save on monthly fees.

What to look out for:

  • Doesn’t include features found on other Optus Choice plans, including Optus Sport
  • International calls and texts not included
  • Heavy data users may prefer to upgrade to a larger plan with more monthly gigabytes

Our Value Score Methodology for SIM-Only plans

While price is clearly important, there’s more to finding a great SIM-only plan than simply looking for the cheapest deal. After all, an extra few dollars could earn you a bucket load more data. That’s why, in addition to comparing on price, Canstar Blue gives you the opportunity to search for plans based on our unique Value Score, so you know you’re getting a great deal, not just a cheap price.

Value Scores range from 1 to 10, with a higher score indicating a better value phone plan. The Value Score consists of a Price Score and Feature Score: the Price Score accounts for 70% of the overall ranking, with the Feature Score contributing to 30%.

Phone Plan Value Score Methodology

Price Score

Price Scores are calculated by comparing a plan’s monthly cost to the price of other plans in the market. Canstar Blue uses a plan’s average cost, rather than advertised prices, to account for plans that don’t renew on a standard monthly basis – for example, prepaid plans that expire every 10, 14, or 28 days. Using a plan’s average monthly cost, mean average monthly cost, and the standard deviation of the average monthly cost, Canstar Blue calculates and assigns a Price Score between 0 and 100.

Feature Score

The Feature Score compares over 100 features found on mobile plans, which are grouped into the following three categories:

  • Customer Service and Support (40% of score): Application channels, website functionality, online help/support, call centres, etc.
  • Inclusions (35% of score): Call, data, and SMS allowances, additional plan inclusions such as international calls or data free streaming.
  • Billing and Payments (25% of score): Payment, statement, and billing frequency and options.

The Value Score, Pricing Score and Feature Scores of plans are re-calculated daily, with changes then reflected on Canstar Blue’s comparison tool. When you visit our site, you know you’re looking at the best deals around.

How we pick the best value plans

  1. Best Budget SIM Plan: The best-ranked SIM-only postpaid plan under $10 per month, as determined by Canstar Blue’s Value Score.
  2. Best Everyday SIM Plan: The best-ranked SIM-only postpaid plan with around 20GB of monthly data, as determined by Canstar Blue’s Value Score.
  3. Best Big Data SIM Plan: The best-ranked SIM-only postpaid plan with a minimum of 60GB of monthly data, as determined by Canstar Blue’s Value Score.
  4. Best Telstra SIM Plan: The best-ranked Telstra SIM-only postpaid plan, as determined by Canstar Blue’s Value Score.
  5. Best Vodafone SIM Plan: The best-ranked Vodafone SIM-only postpaid plan, as determined by Canstar Blue’s Value Score.
  6. Best Optus SIM Plan: The best-ranked Optus SIM-only postpaid plan, as determined by Canstar Blue’s Value Score. 

In the event that two or more plans have the same value score in any given category, the cheapest option will be featured.

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