The following table features a selection of SIM-only postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB data, listed in order of advertised standard monthly cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Compare more SIM plans from other providers using our comparison tool. These are products with links to referral partners.
If you’ve been locked into the two-year, new phone-on-a-plan cycle, you may not be familiar with SIM-only phone plans. An alternative to signing a standard 12, 24 or 36-month phone contract, a SIM-only plan allows you to bring your own device to a provider and select a plan of your choice, without being locked in long-term.
The obvious reason to jump to a SIM-only plan – also known as a bring-your-own (BYO) phone plan – is the potential to save some money, even just short-term. Reasons you might be better off include:
Essentially, if you’re happy with your current phone and want to save some cash, SIM-only plans are worth looking into.
There are plenty of telcos that offer SIM-only phone plans in Australia, and that includes big names like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. SIM-only mobile plans generally fall into two types: postpaid plans and prepaid plans.
Prepaid SIM plans allow you to pay for your talk, text, and data inclusions in advance. Some telcos offer both postpaid and prepaid, but there are many exclusively prepaid providers on the Australian market. Most prepaid plans are priced at a set amount for each renewal, and include unlimited standard calls and messages, along with a data allowance.
You’ll receive a set length of time — known as an expiry period — in which to use these plan allowances, after which your plan will reset. You may then need to manually ‘recharge’ your service by purchasing more credit or plan inclusions, but many providers now offer an auto-recharge option that instantly renews your plan after each expiry period ends.
Expiry periods can be from as short as seven days, or as long as a year. However, the standard length for most prepaid plans is 28 or 30 days, so you’ll recharge or renew your plan about once every month.
If you’re on a postpaid phone plan (or with a postpaid provider), you’ll receive a bill for your mobile use at the end of each month, which will include your standard plan price, plus any additional charges you may have incurred during your billing period.
Most postpaid plans offer unlimited standard talk and text, plus a monthly data allowance. However, you may be charged extra for items such as excess data use, international roaming or non-standard calls.
Postpaid plans are generally billed on a monthly cycle, and tend to be contract-free, although 12-month and 24-month plans are available. These plans are more or less identical to those offered with a new smartphone, but allow you to bring your own phone instead.
There’s now very little difference between prepaid and postpaid mobile plans, other than when and how you pay for your plan. If you prefer to know exactly what you’re paying for, and don’t want the surprise of an unexpected bill, you may be better suited to the pay-in-advance aspects of prepaid.
In comparison, going postpaid may give you access to features not always available with a prepaid service (such as international use). You’ll also have a buffer against being unexpectedly caught without access to calls, texts, or data, which can happen to prepaid users who haven’t recharged their plan.
While there’s no single best SIM-only plan in Australia, you can find the plan that’s best for you. If you’re comparing SIM-only phone plans, you may want to ask the following questions:
Once you’ve decided on plan type, budget, network and inclusions, you can use our SIM-only plan comparison tool to find the best plan for your needs.
If you’re on a tight budget, or just looking to save money, you can compare cheap SIM plans from as little as $5 per month. Light data users can easily find a plan with 1GB or 2GB for around $10 per month, and even plans with around 10GB of data are available for under $20.
Below is a quick comparison of cheap SIM plans for under $20 per month or expiry period.
Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by standard data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see a wider range of prepaid plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.
Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by standard data allowance, largest to smallest. Compare postpaid mobile plans from a wider range of providers using our comparison tool. This table includes products with links to referral partners.
If you’re comparing SIM-only plans in Australia, all telcos use either Telstra, Optus or Vodafone’s mobile networks.
Customers can find prepaid and postpaid Telstra SIM plans at a range of price points. Some of the SIM plan providers using the Telstra network include:
Optus SIM plans include postpaid and prepaid, with a variety of prices and inclusions available. Some of the major providers who also use Optus’ network are:
Vodafone’s SIM-only plans are available on both prepaid and postpaid terms and at competitive prices. Many well-known telcos also use Vodafone’s networks, such as:
If you’re planning to use your phone overseas, you may find it easier and cheaper to replace your normal SIM card with a travel or international SIM.
Travel SIMs are usually prepaid, and allow you to load and top-up your service with talk, text, and data credit. You’ll generally want to buy a travel SIM card before you head overseas, and they can often be used across multiple countries. However, data use in particular can be expensive when compared to rates in Australia.
International SIMs are cards which offer service in one country or region outside Australia, and can be bought after you’ve landed at your destination. Depending on the country you’re in ,and the SIM plan you opt for, this can be cheaper than buying a travel SIM. However, you’ll need to check that the network providing coverage is compatible with your phone, and that you won’t be continually billed for your overseas SIM plan once you’ve returned home – a prepaid plan that requires a manual recharge is usually the best option to avoid surprise fees.
The type of phone you have will determine which size SIM card you need. There are three types of SIM cards that can be used — Standard, Micro and Nano. A Nano SIM is the smallest size of SIM card, and the most common SIM card type you’ll need for newer smartphones.
If you’re not sure which SIM card you need, either look at the SIM card tray in your phone, or look up your phone’s model and SIM card size. Most telcos offer 3-in-1 SIM cards, so you’ll be able to snap out the size that you need for your specific smartphone.
Before you get a SIM-only plan, you’ll need to make sure your phone is unlocked from its original network. If you bought your device on a postpaid plan, it’s probably already unlocked, but there are exceptions.
Fortunately, unlocking a device from a specific telco’s network is easier than ever — you can usually do it yourself online, provided you have your phone’s IMEI number. However, sometimes unlocking your phone will require you to pay a fee, depending on which telco your phone is locked to.
Four Australian providers currently offer some form of unlimited data on SIM-only plans: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Felix Mobile. However, with the exception of Vodafone, this ‘unlimited’ data comes with speed restrictions, so isn’t necessarily as fast as what you’ll get on standard, data-capped SIM plans.
Telstra and Optus each include unlimited data on all their respective postpaid plans, which is capped at speeds of 1.5Mbps. This is fast enough for general browsing, and is available to customers who have exceeded their plan’s full-speed data allowance each month.
Likewise, Vodafone offers speed-capped data across postpaid plans, which is limited to speeds of 2Mbps or 10Mbps, depending on your choice of plan. The telco also now offers a truly unlimited Ultra+ SIM plan, which includes unlimited data at the fastest speed available across 4G or 5G networks.
In terms of prepaid, Felix Mobile’s sole plan includes unlimited data each month, restricted to speeds of 20Mbps. Unlike Telstra, Vodafone or Optus, this plan doesn’t include a full-speed data allowance. All your data is capped at 20Mbps, but this is fast enough for social media, HD streaming, and more.
You can choose the best SIM-only plan for you by comparing providers and plans with Canstar Blue’s free, easy to use comparison tool. You can filter results by price, data inclusions, network provider and more, to help you find the plan that best meets your needs.