Should I get a data-only SIM plan?

SIMs are a really useful thing. A SIM card lets you make phone calls and text people, and lets you access the internet on the go with your phone. But if you’re not big on calls or messaging, or you only need the internet for the family tablet, there’s also some great SIM plans out there for if you want to cut out the middle-man.

We’re talking about data-only SIMs: SIMs that don’t have any phone numbers, calling or texting involved. Only data – and for that, they can potentially be a lot cheaper. But how do they work, and what brands offer data-only SIM cards? Find out in this Canstar Blue article.

On this page:

What is a data-only SIM card?

Data-only SIM cards are pretty much exactly what they say they are – they’re SIM cards that only offer internet connection through data, meaning that they don’t come with a phone number, or traditional texting and calling capabilities. Primarily used for those who don’t really use traditional phone services, or just need a bit of data to get them through the month, data-only SIMs are also a potential alternative to mobile broadband and home wireless broadband, although the trade-off off not being able to call or text may not suit everyone.

How to use data-only SIM cards

Data-only SIM cards can be installed and used similarly to traditional SIM cards, in that you place the SIM card in the relevant SIM card slot in your phone or tablet. If you plan on using a separate SIM card for traditional texting and calling capabilities, ensure that your handset has two SIM cards slots, otherwise you may have to manually swap out SIM cards when you want to use them.

Once they’ve been inserted into your phone or tablet, complete the setup prompts, and then you’re SIM card should be good to go.

What data-only SIM plans are available?

Data-only SIM plans are available as prepaid, 365-day plans or locked-in contracts, although what’s available, and what’s included in your plan, will vary from provider to provider. Below are some examples of what’s available from major providers in Australia.

Data-only SIM plans

We’ve put together a long list of data-only SIMs for your consideration. None of these plans offer any calling or texting options, but they do have great data deals. Telstra, Amaysim, Vodafone and Southern Phone all offer data-only SIMs, and their prepaid data-only SIMs are worth checking out, amongst others.

Telstra Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Telstra mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Extra Small

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • No 5G access
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $15 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Small

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • No 5G access
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $25 over one month

30GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • 5G access included
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $55 over one month

75GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Large

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • 5G access included
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $85 over one month

400GBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Vodafone Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Vodafone mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Vodafone Logo

10GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $20 over first month

10GBMax Data**/billing period $20Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Vodafone Logo

40GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $40 over first month

40GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Vodafone Logo

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $60 over first month

100GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Amaysim Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of  published Amaysim mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Amaysim Logo

Sim Only 7GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $15 over 28 day billing period

7GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Amaysim Logo

Sim Only 50GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $40 over 28 day billing period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Amaysim Logo

Sim Only 90GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $60 over 28 day billing period

90GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Southern Phone Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Southern Phone mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Southern Phones Logo

Extra Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $180 over 12 month plan period

7GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Southern Phones Logo

Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $300 over 12 month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Southern Phones Logo

Medium

  • SIM Only

min. cost $480 over 12 month plan period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Southern Phones Logo

Large

  • SIM Only

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Is there an unlimited data-only SIM?

Unfortunately, unlimited data-only SIMs don’t exist in Australia. However, you have two options if you want unlimited (or seemingly limitless) data: you can either get a big data mobile broadband plan or you can get a mobile plan with unlimited data.

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Felix Mobile all offer such plans: Felix Mobile offers unlimited data off the bat, speed-capped at 20Mbps, whereas Telstra and Optus offer plans with unlimited data speeds until you reach your monthly data allowance limit, where it will restrict to 1.5Mbps speed. Vodafone offers the same deal, except instead of 1.5Mbps, the unlimited speed changes depending on your postpaid plan. You can find unlimited data phone plans below.

The following table shows selected published Optus SIM-only postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows selected published Telstra SIM-only postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows selected published Vodafone SIM-only postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Pros and Cons of data-only SIM plans

Putting SIM card in phone

As with any mobile or internet plan, there’s always a few pros and cons that you should consider before signing up. Below is a breakdown of some of the major advantages and disadvantages of data-only SIM plans.

Pros of data-only SIM plans

Pros of a data-only SIM plan include:

  • Cost & Value: As it comes with less features, data-only SIM cards may provide better value, or come at a cheaper price, than traditional SIM cards. While this depends on what you need your SIM card to do, researching into a data-only option may save you a few dollars down the line, or give you more of what you want in a plan.
  • Convenience: If you’ve got a family tablet that needs a SIM card to be fully operational, a data-only SIM is the perfect fit for it, allowing you to connect to the internet without having to opt for calls and text options.

Cons of data-only SIM plans

Cons of a data-only SIM plan include:

  • Limited text and calling ability: While you can still keep in contact with friends and family via messenger apps, if there’s no internet connection, you won’t be able to keep in contact with anyone, potentially leaving you in a tricky situation.
  • Variety of plans available: Data-only SIM plans aren’t as popular as traditional SIM cards and plans, meaning there is less offerings from providers, meaning you may not get as much value, or be offered additional extras as a result.

Should I get a data-only SIM?

Data-only SIMs service a market that’s hungry for more internet without the added extras of traditional talk and text. As a result, it won’t be necessary for everyone to utilise, but for those who don’t need big phone plans, or just need something for the household iPad, a data-only SIM can be a handy alternative than opting for a traditional SIM card. However, before you sign up to one, it’s best to really look at your data needs, as you may find simply upgrading your phone plan can give you similar results.

Share this article